Saturday, October 4, 2008

answers from Chicago

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) has a delightful online Q & A feature, with editors bravely answering writers' questions about abbreviations, bibliographies, footnotes, quotations, punctuation, and which vs. that, among others. Sometimes they'll send you straight to the rules that govern the question:

Q. Can you direct me to the reference in CMOS that would cover writing 15mph (no space) or 150 mph (with space) and 8mm (no space) or 8 mm (space)? Thank you!

A. That would be CMOS 9.17–18, showing a space between the number and the abbreviation.

Some of their answers are more opinionated:

Q. Microsoft Word says that I need to put an apostrophe in the word students in the following sentence. Why? Where is the possessive? “We will be enrolling new students right up to the day school starts.”

A. Grammar-checking software is still relatively clueless. I think Word decided that right is a noun in your sentence, probably because in its unbending mind “up to the day” looks like a prepositional phrase modifying right. (Perhaps right up is a little too colloquial to compute in Word’s dictionary.) So Word thinks you are enrolling the right of new students (students’ right), up to the day school starts. Luckily, you know what you mean.

Sometimes the editors get a little impatient:

Q.For those who make a hobby of cruising garage sales, are they going “garage sale-ing,” “garage saling,” or “garage saleing?” Or are they not permitted this usage?

A.Oh, my. Is garage saleing anything like parasailing? The mind boggles. As you suspected, this phrase would not survive the red pencil at Chicago. (Why can’t you just go to garage sales?) I can tell you that suffixes like “ing” don’t normally take a hyphen. After that, you’re on your own.

To receive a free monthly e-mail from CMOS with the latest Q & A, go here.


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Always interesting to see Microsoft Word's mess ups. I have to say that I too have seen some pretty hefty errors on the spell check/grammar check as well! Gates needs to polish up the system! :)

Posted by: Legal Transcription | Oct 5, 2008 7:01:30 PM

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