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.
A prefix is a partial word that joins to the front of another word (and sometimes a phrase) to create a new word with a different meaning. The pre- in prefix is a prefix, for example.
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.
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.
We learn from CMOS 6.23 that “a comma is not normally used to separate a two-part compound predicate joined by a coordinating conjunction.” In other words, when the subject isn’t repeated after a word like “and” or “but” in a compound sentence, a comma is usually omitted.
Grammatically speaking, “appositive” is a fancy word for “equivalent.” For example, when we refer to your dog Smurf, “Smurf” and “your dog” are appositives—or the same thing (or animal, in this case) restated in different words.
According to The Chicago Manual of Style, commas and periods are almost always placed before a closing quotation mark, “like this,” rather than after, “like this”. This traditional style has persisted even though it’s no longer universally followed outside of the United States and isn’t entirely logical.
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.
The seventeenth edition of CMOS was the first edition to rule explicitly on whether “too” in the adverbial sense of “also” should be set off by commas. The rule applies also to “either,” which as an adverb can play a similar role in a sentence or clause.
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.