Dr Abel Scribe PhD

1.0 Chicago Style Text Rules

The English language has no firm usage on a variety things. Those most likely to catch a knowledgable reader's eye include the use of abbreviations, capitalization of titles and places, adding emphasis words and highlighting terms, and when to write numbers as words and when to use numerals. Styles vary in their preferences, especially in the presentation of numbers.

CMS Basic for Research Papers: Contents

2.0 Page Layout
  • 2.1 Title & Text Pages
  • 2.2 Headings & Lists
  • 2.3 Quotations
  • 2.4 Tables & Figures
3.0 Endnotes/Footnotes
  • 3.1 Page Layout
  • 3.2 Books & References
  • 3.3 Articles in Periodicals
  • 3.4 Documents & Reports
4.0 Bibliographies
  • 4.1 Page Layout
  • 4.2 Books & References
  • 4.3 Articles in Periodicals
  • 4.4 Documents & Reports

References are to the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (CMS, 2010) and the Turabian manual, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, (Turabian, 2013). The Chicago manual devotes hundreds of pages to grammar and usage; it is too tedious to master everything. When in doubt, follow your own preference, consistent with the general sense of this guide, but be consistent with your usage once you have made your choice!

1.1 Abbreviations (TOP)

symbol Abbreviations--other than acronyms/initialisms--are rarely used in the text, except in tables, figure captions, notes and references, or within parentheses. Follow these general rules:
  1. Beginning a sentence. Never begin a sentence with a lowercase abbreviation. Begin a sentence with an acronym only if there is no reasonable way to rewrite it.
  2. Traditional forms. A number of traditional honorifics and initials continue to be used, such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., A.M., Inc., Ltd., and J. S. Bach, E. E. Cummings, C. S. Lewis.
  3. Scholarly abbreviations. Abbreviations such as etc., e.g., and i.e. may only be used in parenthetical comments injected into your text. For example—"various authorities support this rule (e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style and the APA Publication Manual)." They are not used outside parentheses; spell them out Instead. For e.g. (exempli gratia) use for example; for etc. (et cetera) use and so forth, for i.e. (id est) use that is.
Acronyms/Initialisms. When first used in the text, an acronym must be introduced. This is done by placing the acronym--or its source phrase--in parentheses, and thereafter using just the acronym.
  1. The American Sociological Association (ASA) publishes several journals. The ASA also publishes a newsletter.
  2. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia) monitors the nation for emerging infectious diseases. A special notification system was established by the CDC after the hantavirus outbreak in 1993.
  3. Plurals. Write the plural form of an acronym without an apostrophe. For example, write "the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is popular at the university because MBAs command high starting salaries."
Geographical Terms: Places & States. "In text, always spell out and capitalize the names of countries, states, counties, provinces, territories, bodies of water, mountains, and the like" (Turabian, 2013, 336).

  1. Prefixes. Most prefixes to places, such as Fort, North, Port, South, are spelled out in the text; as are suffixes such as Peak or Fork. Write: North Platte, Fort Collins, Port Huron, South Bend, Long's Peak.
  2. Postal Abbreviations. Use postal and other abbreviations for place names in references and notes. But spell out these, and other address abbreviations, in the text. Write: Martin Luther King Boulevard (not Martin Luther King Blvd.) William Bruce Randolf III Avenue (not W. B. Randolf Ave.), Monaco Parkway (not Monaco Pkwy.)
  3. Adjectives. The abbreviation U.S. or US may be used as an adjective in running text, but not as a noun. Either form is acceptable, but be consistent throughout your text.

Pointer   "In most papers, use abbreviations only sparingly in text because they can make your writing seem either too informal or too technical" (Turabian, 2013, 331).

1.2 Capitalization (TOP)

symbol Definitions. Capitalization may follow three forms: full caps, heading caps, or sentence caps. Full caps capitalizes every character of every word. These are used only in major headings. Headline or heading caps capitalize the first character of each word, subject to exceptions listed below. Sentence caps capitalize the first word of a title or heading, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns.

Heading caps capitalize "the first letter of the first and last words of the title and subtitle and all other words" (Turabian 2013, 312-313). Also capitalize the first character after a colon in a title or heading. Otherwise, do not capitalize:

  • Articles: a, an, the.
  • Prepositions, including: against, between, in, of.
  • Conjunctions: and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.
  • Infinitive: to.

Books and Articles. Titles of books and the names of journals always use heading caps in the text, titles of articles and documents generally do so too, and are placed in quotes.

Other languages. "Chicago recommends following a simple rule: capitalize only the words that would be capitalized in normal prose—first word of the title and of the subtitle and all proper nouns [sentence caps]" (CMS 2010, 320).

Ethnic/Racial Groups. "[Formal] names of ethnic or national groups are capitalized. Adjectives associated with these names are also capitalized" (CMS 2010, 401). Do not insert a hyphen in compound names even if used as an adjective. "Common designations of ethnic groups by color are usually lower-cased," but follow your own preference (CMS 2010, 402). Be consistent! Some color terms may have disparaging connotations: red, yellow, brown. Do not use these terms.

Geographical Names. Capitalize place names when these terms are accepted as proper nouns. When a name applies to a well-recognized specific place, it should be capitalized as a proper noun.

  1. Geographical terms. Lowercase terms for abstract geographical measures, such as equator, equatorial Africa, prime meridian, tropic of Cancer, west, east, south, north.
  2. Regions. Capitalize Central America, but not central Europe, or central Asia. Capitalize North Africa, West Africa, and East Africa, but not western, eastern, central, or southern Africa. Capitalize Midwest, West, South or Southwest, but generally write westerner, midwesterner, southerner.
  3. Compounds. "Leave open [do not hyphenate] most compounds that include proper nouns" (Turabian 2013, 288). Do not hyphenate: Middle Eastern journey, North Atlantic fog, . . . , Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Internet Terminology. Usage in this area has moved past many style manuals. Most web terms are now lowercased, no longer hyphenated. Be consistent!
  • e-mail [email]. The hyphenated form is found in the AMA, APA, CMS, and MLA style manuals!
  • website, webpage, web. . . Most web terms are spelled lowercased and closed (without a hyphen): webcam, webcast, webhead, webmail, webzine, etc.
  • Internet is still a proper noun and capitalized.

1.3 Compound Words (TOP)

symbol Compound words are two or more words that work together in a specified order. This order cannot be reversed or rearranged without destroying the compound word's meaning. A dictionary is the best guide to spelling and usage. If it is not in the dictionary it is not likely a hyphenated compound.

Full-time compound words are hyphenated whatever their role in a sentence—as an adjective or a noun. "The court-martial hearing is set for 1000 hours. The hearing will determine whether a court-martial is warranted." Court-martial is a full-time compound word (as is "full-time"). Consult a dictionary.

Conditional compounds are hyphenated as adjectives, but not when used as nouns.

  1. Adjectival compound. "The counselor suggested a role-playing technique to reduce the stress of encounters, but cautioned that role playing alone would not solve the problem." Role playing is a compound adjective, but not a compound noun.
  2. Add a hyphen to any prefix attached to a proper noun, capitalized abbreviation, or number. For example, the post-Freudian era, the pre-1960s civil rights movement, the pro-HMO lobby.
  3. Fractions. "Hyphenated in noun, adjective, and adverb forms" (CMS 2010, 376). "Alway use a hyphen to spell a fraction with words" (Turabian 2013, 289). One-fourth the audience was comprised of former refugees. A two-thirds majority was required to pass the initiative.
  4. Made-up compound. A compound may be of the made-up-for-the-occasion variety: "The up-to-date figures were unadjusted." But when these terms are used in the predicate they are not hyphenated: The compound word was made up for the occasion. "The unadjusted figures were up to date."
  5. Serial compounds. When two or more compound modifiers have a common base, this base is sometimes omitted in all but the last modifier, but the hyphens are retained. Long- and short-term memory, 2-, 3-, and 10-min trials.
  6. Do not hyphenate a compound term using an adverb ending in -ly. "The widely used term was not yet in the dictionary. Such clearly understood terms are eventually documented if they endure."

Pointer   Avoid confusion! A re-creation is not the same as recreation. A fast sailing ship is one designed for speed. A fast-sailing ship is one that made a fast passage.

Prefixes. Most common prefixes do not require a hyphen: aftereffect, antifreeze, cofounder, Internet, microwave, oversight, preempt, reexamine, supermarket, unbiased, underground. There are many exceptions. When in doubt check a dictionary. Note the following exceptions:

  1. Same two letters. If the prefix puts the same two letters together, a hyphen is sometimes inserted. For example, write: anti-industrial, co-op, non-native, post-trial. But also write: cooperative, coordinate, nonnegotiable, overrate, overreach, overrule, reelect, unnamed. Be consistent!
  2. Superlatives-diminutives. Some prefixes, best-, better-, ill-, lesser-, little-, well-, are hyphenated when they precede the noun they modify, but are not hyphenated when preceded by a modifier, or when used as a predicate adjective. The ill-advised attack failed, the strategy was ill advised.
  3. Weird terms. If the prefix creates an unfamiliar or weird term, a hyphen may improve clarity, for example, pro-ally, anti-college instead of proally, anticollege.

The following prefixes always require a hyphen:



1.4 Emphasis: Italics & Quotation Marks (TOP)

symbol Italics and quotation marks are used in the text to highlight words, note and translate words in a language foreign to a reader, indicate irony (scare quotes), or mark words and letters that are referred to as words, not to the meaning they convey.

Special formatting is appropriate only the first time it is applied to a word a phrase. Thereafter, the word or phrase is presented in plain text unless clarity demands the continued use of italics.

Italics. "Use italics for emphasis only as an occasional adjunct to efficient sentence structure. Overused, italics quickly lose their force" (CMS 2010, 363). Add italics to a word or phrase only the first time it is used, thereafter use plain text.

  1. Keywords. Emphasize a keyword or phrase in your text by placing it in italics. The next time the term or phrase is used it should be in plain text.
  2. Titles. The titles of books and the names of periodicals are placed in italics in your text and references.
  3. Words as words. Words and letters that are referred to as words or letters are set in italics . For example, "the term American Indian is inclusive of over 500 ethnic communities."
  4. Foreign terms. Non-English words or terms used in your text are set in italics. For example, "Ya-te-hay is a form of greeting in the Diné (Navajo) language." This practice excludes those words that have become incorporated in the English language, such as laissez-faire, or arroyo.

Quotation marks. Use quotation marks other than for quotes only in the following circumstances:

  • Use quotation marks for a word or phrase to give it a special sense or indicate it is purposefully misused. For example, The Population Council criticized the "outrageous" position of the Church on birth control. Chicago calls these "scare quotes."
  • Use quotation marks to enclose a translation of a non-English term in your text. Addis Ababa, the name of the capital of Ethiopia, is literally translated "new flower."

Within quotations. Emphasis may be added to a word or phrase in a quotation by placing it in italics. When this is done the note [emphasis added] or [italics added] in brackets must follow the word or phrase in italics.

1.5 Numbers & Dates (TOP)

symbol "If you use numerical data only occasionally, spell out numbers from one through one hundred. If the number has two words use a hyphen (fifty-five). Also spell out round numbers followed by hundred, thousand, . . . million, . . . and so on. Use arabic numerals . . . for numbers that are part of physical quantities (distances, lengths, temperatures, etc.) and do not use abbreviations for units" (Turabian 2013, 318-319).

"If your topic relies heavily on numerical data . . . spell out only single-digit numbers and use numerals for all others" (Turabian 2013, 319). APA style follows this rule for all numbers.

  1. Round numbers. By virtue of their rounding, these numbers are imprecise. They are written out. For example, write "The federal deficit was increased by two hundred billion dollars," or "San Francisco is about twelve hundred miles from Denver." But also write, "The race followed a straight course from Denver to San Francisco, a distance of 1,255.6 miles."
  2. Beginning a sentence. When numbers or a date are required to open a sentence, write them out. For example: "One hundred five girls and sixteen boys tried out for the varsity soccer team." If you can, rewrite the sentence so it does not begin with a number.
  3. Mixed numbers? Do not mix numerals with written numbers when they refer to similar things. For example, write "Only 10 of the 150 tourists were willing to visit the city after the riot." Do not write, "Only ten of the 150 tourists . . ."
  4. Mixed sets of numbers. Sometimes two sets of numbers are embedded in a single sentence. For clarity, present one set written out, the other as numerals. For example, write "There were eighty-three contestants who dropped out before covering 50 miles, and one hundred thirty-five before covering 250 miles."
  5. Numbers & units. Generally, do not mix numbers that are spelled out with symbols, write out the term for the symbols as well. For example, write: the temperature was 45 º, or forty-five degrees; $20 or twenty dollars. Chicago style makes an exception for percentages: it is OK to write 45 percent and even 45 % when you have many such number to present (Turabian 2013, 320).
  6. Decimal fractions. Put a zero in front of a decimal fraction unless the number can never be greater than one (as with probabilities). Write 0.45 and p < .05.
  7. Compound numbers. Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine, compounds with a number as the first element, and the written form of fractions.
  8. Ordinal numbers. Follow the general rules as for other numbers. For example, write: "The window for applications was the third to twenty-third of August." But use numerals with ordinal numbers above one hundred. For example, write: "Haile Sellassie I was the 225th Emperor of Ethiopia."
  9. Centuries. Write out references to centuries, the eighteenth century, the twenty-first century, in lowercased letters.

Calendar dates. Chicago now recommends using the standard American format--Month Day, Year (e.g., April 1, 2018)--for all full dates, both in the text and in end/footnotes, references, and bibliographies.