Coordinating conjunctions join pairs of words, phrases, or clauses, but when such a conjunction is interrupted by an intervening phrase or clause, it can be difficult to know where to put the commas. This is especially true when the conjunction joins the parts of a compound sentence.
If you’ve ever had to learn how to use commas with relative clauses—especially clauses introduced by which or that—you may have also encountered the word restrictive and its opposite, nonrestrictive. What do those two words mean, and what do they have to do with commas?
When you read a book that includes source citations, do you prefer footnotes or endnotes? Publishers usually assume that the average reader will prefer endnotes, on the principle that they’re less distracting than footnotes.
There’s more to nouns than people, places, and things. Some nouns are countable, and some are not. Most nouns are common, but some are proper. There are mass nouns and collective nouns, attributive nouns and nouns that can function as verbs. Some even take on adverbial roles.
A “the” at the beginning of a word or phrase that would normally be capitalized—including the name of an organization or the title of a work—presents a dilemma. When is the “the” capitalized? In Chicago style, the answer comes down to a few rules that can help you decide in each case.
Verb tenses are all about establishing the time that something happened: past, present, or future. They can also specify whether an action has been completed or is ongoing.
Even the most straightforward rule will be subject to an exception sooner or later. That’s why CMOS qualifies so many of its rules with usually or generally. But some exceptions are so common that they deserve to be called rules themselves.
Most editors encounter at least the occasional symbol in the documents they edit, so it’s good to know a little bit about them. Thanks to Unicode, it’s easy to find out a symbol’s name—which can help you figure out whether it’s the right one in the right context.
Ellen Jovin is a cofounder of Syntaxis, a communication skills training firm based in New York City. The author of several books for business professionals, she has a BA in German studies from Harvard and an MA in comparative literature from UCLA.
People who work in publishing have their own vocabulary, including many terms related to printing, typesetting, and design. You’ll find some of these terms in the glossary at the back of CMOS. How many do you know?