Chicago Style Workout 3:
Abbreviations Overview

Wrist exercise.nypl.Building Chicago-style strength

Today’s workout, “Abbreviations Overview,” centers on sections 10.1–10.10 of CMOS.  (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.)

Remember: 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.

Note: In this discussion, as in the Manual, the word abbreviation may also refer to initialisms, acronyms, and contractions.

Chicago Style Workout 3: Abbreviations Overview (CMOS 10.1–10.10)

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 ___ items are true/false statements, and the last ___ ask you to judge whether the example does or does not follow Chicago style.

1. All abbreviations must be spelled out on first occurrence.
a.  
b.  
2. Periods are used after initials standing for given names: E. B. White.
a.  
b.  
3. Periods are omitted in an entire name replaced by initials: JFK.
a.  
b.  
4. Space is usually left between abbreviated words, unless an abbreviated word is used in combination with a single-letter abbreviation: Dist. Atty., but S.Dak.
a.  
b.  
5. OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
a.  
b.  
6. S&P 500
a.  
b.  
7. a NATO member, a AA meeting, a UFO
a.  
b.  
8. AHD (American Heritage Dictionary)
a.  
b.  
9. e.g., i.e., et. al.
a.  
b.  
10. B.A., M.D., Ph.D.
a.  
b.  

 

Photo: George Arents Collection, New York Public Library Digital Collections, Exercise 23: Wrist exercise, Accessed February 18, 2016.

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!)

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11 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 3:
Abbreviations Overview

  1. On my computer the reCapcha verification test still does not work. It simply does not transmit entered answers to the questions, print or oral. Please email answers to Workout 3.

  2. Like several others who commented above, I missed numbers 5 and 8–
    OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
    AHD (American Heritage Dictionary)
    I thought both questions was whether the abbreviation or the spelled-out form should be placed in parens, not whether caps / italics should be used for the abbreviations. According to CMOS 10.3: “Others [i.e., other abbreviations], though in more or less common use (CGI, FDA, HVAC, MLA), should generally be spelled out at first occurrence—at least in formal text—as a courtesy to those readers who might not easily recognize them.” “OCD” and “AHD” would probably be somewhat unfamiliar to general readers. I’m a courteous editor.

  3. Since Mr and Mrs are contractions, why are they followed by the period?? And why aren’t USPS state designators used instead of clumsy abbreviations like Penn., Penna., Calif. and Cal.?

    • Because this is America! Making Great aside, that’s how we do Mr. and Mrs. The British contract these as you suggest.

      Rule 10.4 prefers SD instead of S.Dak. But if you use the traditional abbreviations, as posited in Question 4, you don’t put a space between S. and Dak.

  4. In questions 5 and 8, why do the full names in parentheses follow the acronyms? In accordance with Chicago style, shouldn’t full names (spelled out names) appear first, followed by the acronyms in parentheses?

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