Few readers will be puzzled by the capital D in the first example and the small d (and s) in the second. “Detective MacSwain” is treated like a name, a proper noun; “detective” (like “sleuth”) is a common noun. But what form would you choose in the following examples?
In manuscripts of yore (centuries ago), the text would appear in one huge unbroken block. At some point breaks in thought or theme came to be indicated in the line of text with marks of various kinds, which in late medieval times included a pilcrow (¶), essentially the same symbol your word processor hides at the end of a paragraph in your documents today.
Anyone familiar with the grammar and style rules and guidelines in CMOS knows they come with a lot of qualifiers: normally, in most cases, in running text, in regular prose, depending on the context—I could go on and on. In life, very few rules are meant to cover every situation. The same is true in CMOS.
Everyone makes mistakes, but if you goof online at your author website or in social media, the potential for ruin these days is downright scary. That doesn’t mean you should hide in fear or shame.
Your author website probably has a nice banner image, and if you blog, you probably look online for eye-catching artwork to illustrate or decorate your posts or pages. Maybe your About page features a professional headshot or images from book signings or other events. When you borrow images from another creator, whether you found them…
A great many common abbreviations behave perfectly well in any fiction or nonfiction context, including dialogue, when the general guidelines in CMOS are observed: Mr., Ms., CEO, p.m., PhD, UFO. Editors should have no quarrel with them, as long as they’re styled consistently.
Blurbs are quotations of praise that appear on book covers and jackets, in press releases, on author websites, posters, and ads, in social media, and in the unnumbered pages at the beginning of a novel or creative nonfiction book. They may be solicited or excerpted from published reviews.
In our Fiction+ series, we set out to help CMOS users adapt Chicago style to creative writing contexts. Sometimes, Chicago’s general guidelines already work just fine; other times, they need a little noodge to sit comfortably on a page of fiction.
Editors are never happy. First they throw a fit if you send in a manuscript without page numbers, but once you send them a paginated work, they complain when you try to discuss a sentence on page 67.
When we think about writing numbers, we tend to think of research papers, financial reports, sports columns, and other quantity-laden nonfiction settings. But novelists and playwrights and poets also puzzle over how to style numbers.