Teresa at Shelf Love, a far better writer than I am, recently posted about her excitement over the new edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Her post and the comments that followed were fun to read, but it wasn’t until my friend Steve (inspired by Teresa’s blog) posted a link to the CMOS website that I actually clicked over and checked it out. The Question and Answer section makes for fascinating and fun reading–at least for someone with my proclivities.
I am by no means an expert on style or grammar. I am sure I make plenty of mistakes, and unless they are egregious, I don’t really care. This is, after all, a blog that I do for fun. If it isn’t perfect, so what? There are some rules that I don’t seem to grasp no matter how they are explained. Part of my problem is that I am very bad with parts of speech, especially the more technical distinctions. I have a pretty good sense of what works and what is proper, but nine times out of ten I wouldn’t be able to accurately identify various parts of speech. Somewhere in my education the system failed me on that one.
In my comment on Teresa’s post, I noted how I am often too lazy when blogging and commenting to be consistent on certain points. I find myself having the style discussion in my head but don’t always come to the same conclusion. So, as I read through the Q & A on CMOS’s website I decided to make some decisions, once and for all, on certain issues of style that regularly crop up in my writing.
Important note: These are rules for me. You may use whatever style you want (or no style) in commenting on my posts.
I have been wildly inconsistent in the way I capitalize headlines and other headings. Even after considering the issue closely, a single answer doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Since I would like My Porch to be more than a one-sided conversation there are times when my headlines are meant to be conversational in tone. In those cases I will use regular sentence capitalization. In other cases I will use headline capitalization which caps every word except for words like “of” and “the”.
Oh, the dogs I could love… [sentence capitalization]
Bits and Bobs [headline capitalization]
War and Peace Progress (with visual spoiler) [headline with a conversational side w/no caps]
And when it comes to the capitalization of deities, I will follow CMOS in not capitalizing any of them. So your god, whether him or her, will not be capitalized.
I use italics for titles in my text. But I don’t know how to do italics in my headlines so they remain without them. And if I remember, I will italicize foreign words in my text.
This one is much easier for me. I have always preferred the use of serial commas. However, it seems that they are used less and less which has shaken my conviction in using them. Until today. From now on, serial commas will the standard on My Porch.
No periods for me (thus U.S.A. will be USA or US) except when it comes to titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms.
No matter how much of an Anglophile I may be, I will only use American spellings. No favourite colours here. There are some though that I no longer remember which is which (e.g., cozy/cosy, gray/grey). And I won’t Americanize words in quotes or titles or proper names. I abhor The Washington Post’s standard of Americanizing “Labour Party” so that it reads “Labor Party”.
Tell me UK readers, can I use “Britain” interchangeably with “UK”?
Right or wrong I will not use “an” before hotel or historic or similar.
CMOS has accepted the split infinitive since 1983. Who knew? But I think they prefer that one limits it to cases where one wants to add emphasis. Which reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Upstairs, Downstairs. Hudson, the paternal butler always keen on providing instruction to his employees, says to one of the footman (I paraphrase): “You are correct in noting that the Master split an infinitive over luncheon.”
Things I Doubt I Will Ever Get Right
Affect and effect
You and I, You and me
Given that this is my blog, and it is meant to be a conversation and not at all formal, I reserve the right to be as ungrammatical or stylistically impure as I wish.