Friday Fun Facts: CMS Rules

The_Chicago_Manual_of_Style_16th_editionHappy Friday! We can’t wait to start getting your book selfies. They’re going to be awesome.

Today, I thought we’d take a look at just how detailed the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is. (CMS is our editorial bible, if you will.) This style guide is much more involved than most style guides, which helps us make quick decisions and keep our texts consistent. In fact, even when I’m working on a project that uses APA or MLA, I fall back to CMS for topics those style guides don’t cover.

How many of the following CMS rules did you already know?

6.21 Omitting serial commas before ampersands

When an ampersand is used instead of the word and (as in company names), the serial comma is omitted.

Winken, Blinken & Nod is a purveyor of nightwear.

13.27 Run-in poetry quotations

If space or context in the text or in a note requires that two or more lines be run in, the lines are separated by a slash, with one space on either side (in printed works, a thin space to an en space).

Andrew Marvell’s praise of John Milton, “Thou has not missed one thought that could be fit, / And all that was improper does omit” (“On Paradise Lost”), might well serve as our motto.

For running in more than one stanza (to be avoided if at all possible), see 13.32.

7.20 “For . . . sake” expressions

For the sake of euphony, a few for . . . sake expressions used with a singular noun that ends in an s end in an apostrophe alone, omitting the additional s.

for goodness’ sake
for righteousness’ sake

Aside from these traditional formulations, however, the possessive in for . . . sake expressions may be formed in the normal way.

for expedience’s sake
for appearance’s sake (or for appearances’ sake [plural possessive] or for the sake of appearance)
for Jesus’s sake

7.82 Adverbs ending in “ly”

Compounds formed by an adverb ending in ly plus an adjective or participle (such as largely irrelevant or smartly dressed) are not hyphenated either before or after a noun, since ambiguity is virtually impossible. (The ly ending with adverbs signals to the reader that the next word will be another modifier, not a noun.)

10.33 “US” versus United States

In running text, spell out United States as a noun; reserve US for the adjective form only (in which position the abbreviation is generally preferred). See also 10.4.

US dollars
US involvement in China
China’s involvement in the United States


5.220 Good usage versus common usage

on; upon. Prefer on to upon unless introducing an event or condition {put that on the shelf, please} {upon the job’s completion, you’ll get paid}. For more about on, see onto.

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