This week at Shop Talk we’re thrilled to announce two new books from the University of Chicago Press guaranteed to inform and entertain writers, editors, and anyone else who works with words. Both are now available at your favorite bookstore, online or off.
Q. Is it “happy medium” or “happy median”? My author writes: “We would all be much better served as stewards of finite public funds if we could find that happy median where trust reigns supreme.” Thanks!
A. The idiom is “happy medium,” but I like the image of commuters taking refuge from road rage on the happy median.
Q. How do I write a title of a song in the body of the work (caps, bold, underline, italics, etc.)? Example: The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” looped in his head.
A. Noooo! Now that song is looping in my head (“but it’s too late to say you’re sorry . . .”). Use quotation marks. Thanks a lot.
The Chicago Manual of Style Q&A turns twenty next year and we’re celebrating early. But Can I Start a Sentence with “But”? brings together the best of the Q&A. Curated from thousands of entries, it features some of the most popular—and hotly debated—rulings and also recovers old favorites long buried in the archives. You might even pick up some new favorite phrases: “It’s not so much an issue of correctness as of ickiness” or “Holy metaphysics!”
Shop Talk readers know Carol Fisher Saller from our Editor’s Corner. As a longtime manuscript editor and Chicago Manual of Style’s own Subversive Copy Editor, she has negotiated many a standoff between author and editor. Her guide for keeping the peace advocates seeing authors as partners instead of adversaries. She also teaches copy editors to embrace the sometimes heretical idea that “it’s not a matter of being correct or incorrect. It’s only a style.”
This new edition of The Subversive Copy Editor includes new chapters on the dangers of allegiance to outdated grammar and style rules and on ways to stay current in language and technology. Saller also expands her advice for writers on formatting manuscripts for publication, on self-editing, and on how not to be “difficult.”
For students, professors, copy editors, businesspeople, and writers who are sometimes dogged by indecision or confusion over rules of style and grammar; for those of you who know the rules but agonize over when or whether to apply them; for those who copyedit for a living and those who don’t and those who would like to. In the following pages, I hope to soothe and encourage and lend power. I am not going to do this, however, by setting your teacher/student/author/colleague/boss/editor straight. And I’m not going to help with your homework. You won’t learn the fundamentals of copyediting from me. Rather, consider this a ‘relationship’ book, because I’m going to talk about the main relationships in your work life—with the writer, with your colleagues, and with yourself—in ways that you might not have considered before. Ways that might be called subversive.
Bonus: You can enter to win a copy of The Subversive Copy Editor at Goodreads.
Wednesday: Your Top 10 Q&As
Of the thousands of questions and answers available for browsing at The Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A, which do readers access the most frequently? You might be surprised . . .
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