In editing as in life, things tend to come in pairs. Life has its ups and downs, left and right, sea and land, victory and defeat. In editing you have capitals and lowercase, justified and ragged right, insert and delete.
Few people will accept that up means down simply because you say so in writing, not even if you’re perfectly consistent about it. Still, when it comes to editorial principles, consistency is second only to being right.
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.
There are a few simple conventions for presenting thoughts in fiction, and these overlap with the conventions for setting off dialogue and other quoted speech or text—or anything that might normally take quotation marks.
Ready for more action? This month’s workout, “Verbs, Part 2,” focuses on paragraphs 5.117–43 of CMOS 17, which cover mood, tense, number, and other useful concepts.
An en dash can function either as a strong hyphen or as an ordinary dash. As a strong hyphen, it can connect numbers or words. As an ordinary dash it’s nothing special.
Verbs are famous for their ability to show action, but they can also express a condition or a state of being. You might even say (an action) that verbs are (a state of being) the most important part of speech.
It may not be possible to go to a café or a boîte right now for pie à la mode, but there is an alternative. You can take this month’s quiz and test your knowledge of accents and other diacritical marks.
If you’ve been following the stories in the media about the ongoing pandemic, you’ve probably seen both “COVID-19” and “Covid-19.” Which version is correct, and which one is Chicago style?
It hasn’t reflected publishing standards since the Jazz Age. And it isn’t Chicago style. But some people continue to do it in their own documents—from manuscripts to emails. You’ll even see it occasionally on social media.