Tag Archives: words

No, the Chicago Manual is NOT stuffy!

I found this on the Chicago Manual of Style website, and felt compelled to share it with my readers (both of you).

Q. In a software application that catalogues musical albums in a sidebar column for playback selection the main developer insists on using italics for the album titles. I advised to drop the italics mainly because on today’s low-resolution screens italic typefaces are rendered poorly. I reasoned that the CMOS advice that artwork titles should be set in italics is to be construed as a device of emphasis that sets the respective title off from the flowing text. If the context would consist of titles only (and no surrounding text) there would not be a need for emphasis, hence no italicization. Is this correct?

A. You make a good argument. The fact is, any time italics are unreadable, they are inappropriate. Although Chicago style is to put titles of albums in italics, CMOS was not written with Web design in mind. Even in Chicago books, there are separate rules for display type. For instance, book titles are often set in roman type on a title page. It’s probably best for you to ditch the italics.

It’s common for people to complain that the Chicago Manual is stuffy, or too constricting. But it’s this kind of common sense that makes me love it.