Chicago Style Workout 1:
Series and the Serial Comma

IMG_20150818_160326_881What’s your Chicago style fitness level?

Does your résumé claim that you are familiar with The Chicago Manual of Style? If a potential employer decided to test you on that claim, would you come out looking strong—or would you be left dangling halfway up the rope?

Today we’re launching a new monthly feature at Shop Talk that will give you regular opportunities to evaluate the strength of your knowledge of Chicago style. If you’re a beginner, exercise with us! Build some editorial muscle.

Each Chicago style workout focuses on a small part of CMOS. Advanced editors might tackle the exercises cold; learners can study the related sections of the Manual ahead of time.

One important caveat: the workouts are all about Chicago! If you’re an expert in MLA, AP, or New York Times style, you might be surprised to find that your instincts don’t quite match Chicago’s. That doesn’t mean that your answer is necessarily “wrong”—it just means it isn’t Chicago style.

Today’s workout zeroes in on the section of the Manual called “Series and the Serial Comma,” specifically sections 6.18–6.21 (16th edition). (Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual. For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

[Editor’s update: These styles did not change in the 17th edition, although their section numbers may have changed.]

Ready? Go!

Chicago Style Workout 1: Series and the Serial Comma (CMOS 6.18–6.21)

Note: These questions are designed to test knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style. Other style guides may have different rules and guidelines. The first five items are true/false statements, and the last five ask you to judge whether the example does or does not follow Chicago style.

1. When a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series of three or more, a comma (known as the serial or series comma or the Oxford comma) should appear before the conjunction.
a.  
b.  
2. In a series whose elements are all joined by conjunctions, no commas are needed unless the elements are long and delimiters would be helpful.
a.  
b.  
3. When an ampersand (&) is used instead of the word and (as in company names), the serial comma is omitted.
a.  
b.  
4. When elements in a series include internal punctuation, or when they are very long and complex, they may need to be separated by semicolons rather than by commas.
a.  
b.  
5. The phrase as well as is equivalent to and.
a.  
b.  
6. On Twitter, she follows her school librarians, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
a.  
b.  
7. Jeremy and Loretta gave $12.50 toward the $100 gift; Aisha, in a rare show of generosity, gave $67.55; Stuart found $4.00 in his sofa cushions; and Denys made up the difference with a contribution of $15.95.
a.  
b.  
8. This chapter offers tips on kitchen organization; an overview of equipment, measures, and cookbooks; and ways to achieve perfect jams and jellies.
a.  
b.  
9. Do you have class on Monday, or Wednesday, or Friday?
a.  
b.  
10. The dog growled, the cat meowled, and the boy just chewed on a straw.
a.  
b.  

 

Previous Chicago Style Workouts

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P.S. We welcome discussion! Please use the comments feature below.
(Spoiler alert: commenters may discuss the workout and their answers!)

54 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 1:
Series and the Serial Comma

  1. Loved the quiz. Need more of them! And yes, I also noticed that ‘meowed’ was misspelled but I thought it was just the editors being cute.

  2. Having appreciated the sense of humor in so much of the “Chicago” publications, I, too, thought that the “librarians” were named Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. I also thought #10 was not “Chicago style” because “meowed” is misspelled.

  3. I made a 100 on the first try 🙂 I use the Chicago Manual regularly. I have it flagged throughout. Love it!!

  4. I missed question 5 for an 89. But I’m at peace with my answer—for me, “as well as” carries a sense of subordination—admittedly slight—that isn’t there with “and.”

  5. Wow–would have been perfect except that I thought that Gaga and Taylor WERE the school librarians and their names were appositive.

  6. My editing style is based on a lifetime of reading, but lately I’ve been trying to learn the actual differences between the various styles. I answered the above questions exactly how I would edit them and am pleased that I scored 100%. Looking forward to more of these!

    • Hello,

      That error may appear if you forget to enter the CAPTCHA or enter it incorrectly. Please let us know if this isn’t the case. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy the quiz.

      —The CMOS Team

      • Benet, we’re sorry you’re having trouble with this. We’ll be monitoring the Captcha issue; we might have to find another way to fight the robots!

        —CMOS

        • On my screen, three characters appeared: the first was unrecognizable—was it an “f” or a European-style “7” with a cross?—and appeared to be only partly on the screen, followed by 1 and 9. I finally used the audible.

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