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Staying Ahead of Style Guides

Staying Ahead of Style Guides

Note: This article originally appeared in Copyediting newsletter, which explains the low word-to-humor ratio, and is reproduced with permission.

Were you delighted by the ruling on Internet by The Associated Press Stylebook? Effective June 1, 2016, Internet became internet, no longer capitalized. Though many reacted with trepidation, others have desired this change for the last decade or so. Susan C. Herring wrote in Wired last year that “the lower-case version will eventually win the day . . . driven by age-old principles of language change.”Because certain patterns are predictable, you can stay ahead of the game by altering style before it becomes convention.
Consistent inconsistencies in well-edited works will be understood to be deliberate.
Following popular usage helps publications appear progressive but won’t serve ones aiming for a buttoned-up style. Departing from the dicta of style guides is best done with the client, employer, and publisher on board and when it supports the tone and mission. (See the In Style column “Consistency vs. Flexibility” in Copyediting’s February−March 2015 issue.) Here are examples of safe style departures:
  • Closing compounds. The typical progression for compounds is hyphenated, open, closed. Google’s Ngram Viewer bears this out, as seatbelt and rollercoaster rise and seat belt and roller coaster dip.
  • Not overitalicizing non-English words. Consider your audience before italicizing non-English words not in your dictionary. For example, leave Sanskrit names of asanas in roman for yoga magazines and Spanish words in roman when italics might distract.
  • Using portmanteau words. Chances are you don’t blink at spork, emoticon, or mockumentary. A coinage becomes accepted when usage is wide and sustained, so if it works, use it.
  • Breaking patterns. It’s nice when style is consistent across the board, but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe you resisted email because it deviated from e-book, but the latter has been falling out of favor, with ebook rising steadily on the Ngram Viewer.
Pedants and sticklers may not like it, but some will find fault even when spelling, grammar, style, and usage are correct. Consistent inconsistencies in well-edited works will be understood to be deliberate.
Nine Obscure (but Useful) Recommendations from The Chicago Manual of Style

Nine Obscure (but Useful) Recommendations from The Chicago Manual of Style

Note: This article originally appeared in Copyediting newsletter, which explains the low word-to-humor ratio, and is reproduced with permission.

Reading The Chicago Manual of Style while on deadline is different from curling up with it for a leisurely read. If you haven’t had time for the latter, not to worry. I’ve compiled a list of lesser-known but useful recommendations from the sixteenth edition. [Update: Corresponding references for the 17th edition are in brackets.]
In informal writing, a comma need not follow an introductory yes or no: “Yes we can.”
  • CMS 6.39 [6.34]. In informal writing, a comma need not follow an introductory yes or no: “Yes we can.”
  • CMS 6.104 [6.106]. If one of the terms separated by a slash is an open compound, you can add a space before and after the slash to clarify word groups: exclamation point / period.
  • CMS 7.49 [7.53]. Only the first appearance of a non-English word needs to be italicized if, through repetition, readers will become familiar with it.
  • CMS 7.83 [7.87]. In compound modifiers where an adjective modifies an adjective-noun compound, the first hyphen is not necessary if the meaning is clear: late thirteenth-century music.
  • CMS 8.153 [8.154]. Proper nouns beginning with a lowercase letter followed by a capital—eBay, iTunes, iPhone—are considered capitalized and can begin a sentence or heading with the case of the initial letter intact. (Also see the In Style column “Lowercasing the First Word of a Sentence” in Copyediting’s August–September 2014 issue.)
  • CMS 8.163 [8.165]. Colons and commas omitted on title pages for design reasons should be added to the titles in running text, such as the colon between the title and the subtitle.
  • CMS 8.171 [8.173]. An italicized title used within an italicized title should remain italicized and be enclosed in quotation marks. Other italicized terms (e.g., non-English words, species names, ship names) used within a title should be set in roman.
  • CMS 8.196−7 [7.61–2]. Mottos and common short signs—such as Watch Your Step—are capitalized headline style but not italicized or enclosed in quote marks.
  • CMS 14.105 [14.96]. Though a colon usually separates the main title and the subtitle in running text, it does not follow a main title that ends with a question mark or exclamation point: Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life.
Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb: Open, Hyphenated, or Solid?

Compounds Ending with a Preposition or Adverb: Open, Hyphenated, or Solid?

It seems as if I’m always rifling through my reference books to check whether a compound is open, hyphenated, or solid in a particular style. Movie goer, movie-goer, or moviegoer? There is no consistency, no logic apparent to the naked mind . . . or is there?

Nope. Not much. Sorry for getting your hopes up. Where a compound term lands in its journey toward becoming one word is arbitrary with a capital F-U.

Where a compound term lands in its journey toward becoming one word is arbitrary with a capital F-U.

In this post, I will discuss compound terms ending with a preposition or adverb (e.g., -in/-out, -up/-down, -on/-off, -over) and, of course, which version The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style prefer. If you love lists, I’m sharing one compiled in a so-far-successful bid to avoid organ herniation from hoisting those heavy books. In short, I will run down my run-down rundown. (Note to self: Raise standard for items on my “Things to Say” bucket list.)


Looking for Patterns

First, I analyzed my list of compound nouns and compound adjectives (aka phrasal adjectives and compound modifiers) for logical patterns. I pondered questions such as, if the first element ends in a vowel and the second element begins with a vowel, are they always joined by a hyphen to keep the vowels separate and the compound readable? Then, I had a gluten-free cookie and watched some TV. Really, there is no logic. Drive-in and trade-off . . . but lineup and takeover. See?

Chalk it up to popular whim. According to CMOS 7.79, “With frequent use, open or hyphenated compounds tend to become closed (‘on line’ to ‘on-line’ to ‘online’). Chicago’s general adherence to Webster’s does not preclude occasional exceptions when the closed spellings have become widely preferred by writers (e.g., ‘website’) and pronunciation and readability are not at stake.”

According to the AP stylebook (“hyphen entry), “Use of the hyphen is far from standardized. It is optional in most cases, a matter of taste, judgment and style sense.”

Really, there is no logic. Drive-in and trade-off . . . but lineup and takeover. See?

And then they both go on and on about how to wield a hyphen. Let me break it down for you . . .

Reference Preference

Look words up in the following order. (Online dictionaries are listed at the end of the post.)

AP:

  1. AP Stylebook Online.
  2. The Associated Press Stylebook (“dictionaries” entry).
  3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary: Use the first spelling if more than one spelling is listed in the same entry. Use the spelling in the entry with a full definition if there is more than one entry. (See “dictionaries” entry.)
  4. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (“dictionaries” entry).
  5. Use hyphens to avoid confusion or to join words to form a single idea. Avoid duplicated vowels and tripled consonants. (See “hyphen” entry.)





Special notes:

  • Precede -in with a hyphen (see “-in” entry). Exception: login.
  • Hyphenate compounds ending in -down, -off, -out, -over, and -up if not found in the AP stylebook or Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Exception: charge off.

Really special note:

  • These exceptions are not acknowledged by AP, but you do the math.

Chicago:

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style (7.77–85).
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Use the first spelling listed, even for equal variants (7.1).
  3. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (7.1).
  4. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, or other standard dictionary (7.1).
  5. If an example or analogy cannot be found in the above, hyphenate sparingly and only to enhance readability (7.85).

Special notes:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style is not set up like The Associated Press Stylebook, meaning it doesn’t contain, as AP puts it in its table of contents, “an A to Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage.” But you knew that.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style Online‘s forum and Chicago Style Q&A may use spellings which differ from those on my chart, but their authority does not override the sources prescribed in CMOS.

Often, you can identify a compound noun (ending with a preposition or adverb) from its non-compound form . . . by the way the first element is stressed.



Extra Credit: Stress Patterns in Pronunciation

Often, you can identify a compound noun (ending with a preposition or adverb) from its non-compound form (usually verb but not always) by the way the first element is stressed. You can hear the equal stress on the words make up in “Let’s kiss and make up.” Compare this to the heavier stress on make when you say “Let’s kiss and share makeup.”

More examples of stress on the first part of a compound noun (also examples of a stressful weekend): meltdown, blackout, hangover. Exception: time-out (equal stress on both elements).

Examples of equal stress on both elements of a phrasal adjective: far-off, washed-up, worn-out. Exception: wake-up (stress on first element).

I try to stick to style and avoid talking straight-up grammar, because there are so many blogs out there for that—plus I might make stuff up, like “Nounify the verbular gerundity”—but, yes, use two words when any of these play the part of a phrase consisting of a verb, noun, adjective, or participle plus a preposition or adverb. Crap, I just lost 95 percent of my readers.

  • I had a meltdown when I watched the ice cream melt down my arm.
  • I black out when there is a blackout.
  • I felt a black cloud hang over me while I had a hangover.
  • I took some time out for a timeout.

Using This Compounds List

  • Deviations by the AP stylebook from its official dictionary, Webster’s New World College Dictionary, have been noted in the “Notes and Exceptions” column.
  • The words in the “AP Style” column can be found in the AP stylebook under those word entries in the “Stylebook” section unless indicated otherwise in the “Notes and Exceptions” column.
  • It’s interesting to note that both Chicago and AP use Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as a secondary source, after their dictionaries of choice. It retails for $129, but it’s $75 on Amazon. Knock yourself out.



 

AP StyleChicago StyleNotes and Exceptions
backup
blackout
blastoff
breakdown
break-in
breakup
brownout
buildup
buyout• AP book: see “leveraged buyout”
call-up
carry-on
carry-overcarryover
cave-in
changeover
change-upchangeup
charge offcharge-off• Note: two words
• AP dictionary: no entry
check-in• AP dictionary: no entry
checkout
checkup
cleanup
close-up
cop-out
countdown
cover-up• AP dictionary: coverup
crackupcrack-up
crossover
cutoff
drive-in
dropout
fade-out
fallout
far-off (adj.)
flameout
flare-up
follow-up
frame-up
grown-up
hands-off (adj.)
hangover
hang-up
head-on (adj., adv.)
hideout• AP online: hideout
• AP book: hide-out
(see “-out”)
• AP dictionary: hide-out
holdover
holdup
layoff
letup
liftoff
lineup
loginlog-in• Note: Closed compound contradicts AP’s hyphenated compound style for all -in constructions (see “-in”).
• AP dictionary: no entry
logoff• AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
logonlog-on• AP dictionary: no entry
makeup
mashup• AP book: see entry in “Social Media Guidelines” section
• AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
meltdown• AP book: see “nuclear terminology”
mix-up
mock-up
mop-up
pat-down• AP dictionary: no entry
• Chicago dictionary: no entry
pickup
pileup
playoffplay-off
pullout
pulluppull-up• AP dictionary: pull-up
pushuppush-up• AP dictionary: push-up
putout
rip-off
rollover
roundup
rundown

rundown (n.),

run-down (adj.)

• AP dictionary: rundown (n.), run-down (adj.)
sellout
send-off
setup
shake-up
shape-up
shoutoutshout-out• Note: only listed on AP Stylebook Online
• AP dictionary: no entry
showoffshow-off
shutdown
shut-in
shut-offshutoff
shutout
sign-up• AP dictionary: no entry
sit-down
sit-in
situpsit-up• AP dictionary: sit-up
slowdown
smashup
speedup
spinoffspin-off
stand-in
standoff
standout
startupstart-up• AP dictionary: start-up
stopover
takeoff
takeout

takeout (n.),

take-out (adj.)

takeover
takeuptake-up
thumbs-down• AP dictionary: no entry
thumbs-up• AP dictionary: no entry
tie-in
tie-up
timeouttime-out• Note: AP says that this is an exception to the dictionary, but they match.
tipofftip-off• AP dictionary: tipoff for basketball term meaning “jump ball”; otherwise,tip-off
trade-in
trade-off
tryout
tuneuptune-up
wake-up (adj.)
walk-in
walkout
walkover
walk-up
washed-up (adj.)
washout
windup
workout
worn-out (adj.)
write-down
write-in

 

Thanks for making it to the end! If you can find a way to turn this into a drinking game, then give me a heads-up.

Online Dictionaries

 

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