To a copyeditor working on a manuscript, a space is usually just a space, and line breaks are random, fluid occurrences that vary as text is added and deleted and moved around. Designers and typesetters will take the edited text and make it pretty for publication, in part by applying different types of spaces as needed to prevent unwanted breaks.
Recently, I was listening to the audiobook of James McBride’s Deacon King Kong, and at some point it struck me that we’d been in the middle of a sentence for quite a while. But it wasn’t just long—it was lyrical and purposeful. Pretty early on in the sentence, I began to realize it wasn’t primarily about an annual infestation of ants.
Interruptions happen all the time in real life. People talk over each other and past each other; words collide and overlap. Sometimes an action or a thought rather than a person intrudes, causing a speaker to stop abruptly or, less dramatically, to trail off midsentence.
This month’s quiz focuses on adjectives, which are covered in CMOS paragraphs 5.68–96. Adjectives are words that describe things, like the word “favorite” in the heading above. To learn more about this descriptive part of speech, take the quiz.
People sometimes worry about honoring the personal pronouns of those who don’t identify with the gender binary. They’re concerned that using (for instance) “they/them” in place of “he/him” or “she/her” will be complicated or confusing.
Editors spend a lot of time attending to the smallest of details. And though many of us also take care of the bigger stuff—rewriting for clarity, checking facts, formatting for different media, and so on—the little things will always be there, in every document, to keep us busy.
Books are the anchors of the publishing world, at least judging by the weight of The Chicago Manual of Style. They’re also the subject of CMOS’s first seventy-six numbered paragraphs (1.1–76)—and of this month’s “Chicago style” workout. Take the quiz to learn more.
I’ve used this space before to caution copyeditors against scrubbing voice and character out of fiction manuscripts by adhering too closely to a style manual.
For this month’s quiz we return to the grammar chapter—specifically, paragraphs 5.172–95, which cover prepositions. The main job of prepositions is to set up other words, an important job that usually goes unnoticed (except, maybe, at the end of a sentence).
Do you sometimes dither over whether to put a comma between two or more adjectives? Although the guidelines for deciding in CMOS work well for any kind of writing, there are times when creative writers prefer to ignore them.