Chicago Style Workout 55: US vs. UK

It’s the Little Differences That Matter

This month we’re doing something a little different. Instead of focusing exclusively on CMOS, this quiz highlights some of the differences between US style and UK style (commonly called British style). But we won’t be quizzing you on trunk versus boot or fries versus chips. Instead, we’ll be looking mostly at the differences in punctuation that come up frequently for editors and proofreaders.

For US style, we’ve relied on The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (University of Chicago Press, 2017). For British style, we consulted New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2014), among other sources.

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Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in the answers). (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Chicago Style Workout 55: US vs. UK

1. Chicago, like most US publishers, places commas and periods inside closing quotation marks—“like this,” and “like this.” In British style,
2. Chicago, like most US publishers, uses double quotation marks, switching to single for a quote within a quote (“as in ‘this’ phrase”). British style
3. In British usage, a period is known as
4. Chicago uses em dashes—like this—with no space on either side, a style that’s typical in the US. In the UK, en dashes – like this, with a space on either side – are more common.
5. In British usage, en and em dashes are sometimes called
6. British style always retains the Oxford comma, or what Chicago calls the serial comma.
7. In British style, the personal titles Dr., Mr., and Mrs. are spelled without periods.
8. Words formed with prefixes like non- and anti- are more likely to be hyphenated in British style than in US style.
9. In British usage, parentheses are called
10. Words that can end in either -ize or -ise (like realize and criticize) always end in -ise in British usage.


Top image: English Language Grunge Flag, by Nicolas Raymond, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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3 thoughts on “Chicago Style Workout 55: US vs. UK

  1. I am a British-based copyeditor and proofreader. I have never heard of the full stop referred to as a ‘full point’, or the en and em dashes as ‘rules’. I would also say that parentheses are just ‘brackets’, as the shape tends to be specified only if the square kind is meant.

    • Thanks to the feedback here and on social media, we now realize that the terms “full point,” “en rule,” and “em rule”—used throughout not only Oxford’s New Hart’s Rules but also Butcher’s Copy-editing, 4th ed. (Cambridge, 2006)—aren’t necessarily in common use. To try to improve the quiz, we’ve edited the question on en and em dashes to say “are sometimes called” rather than “are known as.” And though we’ll continue to let New Hart’s Rules speak for us on full points (in the answer to question 3), we’ll make a note not to start calling them that on our next trip to the UK. (Thanks also for the insight into brackets.)

  2. I don’t have the New Hart’s Rules so maybe I’m just behind the times, or ignorant of publisher jargon, but I must say I’ve never heard of full points or en and em rules.

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