Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thanks, CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE, for that Big Helping of Crow!

As a publishing person, I treat the Chicago Manual of Style a bit like my bible.  If it says jump in a manuscript, I check CMS to see if it has to say how high?  Alas, I can't say I ever expect it to change anything, as much as expand on things.  But apparently it changed something big and I had no idea.  As in, for years I have had no idea.  So I hang my head here in shame.

That said, I completely disagree with CMS on this one.

So, what are we talking about?  6.2  Punctuation and italics.  Previously, if you ended a sentence with a word that was in italics, e.g., "I just finished reading Moby Dick," the comma following would be set in italics also.  Apparently, in the 15th edition, they changed that and I missed it completely.  So, to all those authors I've chastised for this, I apologize.

That said, one of the arguments in favor of setting the punctuation following a word in italics in italics also was that in some cases two characters would physically touch, e.g., "Get the damn ball!"  See how close that lowercase L and the exclamation point are?  Well, in some typefaces, they would touch.

Now, Chicago goes on to say in 6.4 that the old way is okay, but only for print publications.  Could that get any more confusing!  Especially since there are now electronic versions of most of what is in print!  Does Chicago want us to create two different versions of each document?  Oy!


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