Since long before the days of email, the Manuscript Editing Department at the University of Chicago Press has had the honor of replying to comments and questions from users of The Chicago Manual of Style, usually typed but sometimes written in longhand or even called in by phone.
Q. Would you add a comma before the quotation marks in the following sentences?
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.
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.
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?
Careless quoting is a writing crime. Fiction or nonfiction, a writer must be scrupulous in quoting words precisely and crediting their source. Most publishing contracts hold the author liable for misrepresentations and plagiarism, but even without that legal pressure, a writer, of all people, should naturally respect the intellectual property of others.
Quotation marks, or “quotes” for short, like to work in pairs. But they’re not all the same. They can be double or single, left or right, curly or straight. Part of an editor’s job is to know which marks to use in which context—and to make sure they’ve been used consistently.
Not all fictional characters are meant to be smooth-tongued and lyrical in their speech. Rather, just like us, they sometimes mumble or stumble. Giving a character flawed speech is a way to make dialogue more realistic. And this very human kind of talking often involves the use of interjections.
Parentheses and brackets (specifically, square brackets) normally come in pairs, as do other types of brackets and braces. Their main job is to set things off from their surroundings.
A chapter is a chunk of a book that comes to a recognizable end, usually marked by a page break or by an extra space followed by a new numbered or titled chapter. Chapters give readers of long works a place to pause. They provide a rhythm to the experience of reading.