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Cocking a snook

The 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style is coming out this fall, and Carol Fisher Saller, the Subversive Copy Editor herself, has been tweeting peeks of what is to come.*

The latest, which I am prepared to adopt here, is that the titles of blogs are to be written in italics, the titles of blog posts in roman type surrounded by quotation marks. Chicago prefers headline casing, or what newspapers call “upstyle”: capitalization of the first word and everything else except the definite and indefinite articles and prepositions.

What Chicago advises is not necessarily the practice that newspapers, too slavishly devoted to AP, will follow, but when I brought this blog back to, I swore that I’m keeping the Oxford comma, and I will continue cock a snook at the AP in these posts whenever it suits me.


*You people who get giddy when you get your hands on a new edition of the AP Stylebook might keep in mind that Chicago is the manual for serious fetishists.



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:45 AM | | Comments (11)


I'm slavishly devoted to the Oxford comma, and I heartily endorse it on You Don't Say!

I hope I'm not breaking a rule, but I didn't have the foggiest idea what "cocking a snook" meant, so I pursued it. My blog post today ( explores it's meaning. I do so with the greatest of respect for your blog, John. What a great phrase.

I can't believe I used "it's" when it should have been "its." Blame it on the hour.

The You Don't Say in Joel's post above made me think that it is the title of a game show.

I've been using italics for blog names and quotations posts for at least six years now. It's good to know Chicago has finally caught up.

Okay, I will admit that I had to look up both "oxford comma" and "cock a snook".

Turns out, I am slavishly devoted to the oxford comma. Here in the tech writing world, there is often discussion about whether to use it. The oxford comma usually wins.

Yes, we followers of Chicago are indeed serious style fetishists. Bwahahahaha!

I get about a half-dozen hits per day on my blog via Google search regarding the question of italics and blog names. Here's the 2009 post that these people land on:

Maybe now they will come here instead.

What is the Oxford comma? The final comma in a series? I've never heard the term before. Perhaps I'm too old...or too young.

There's even a song about the Oxford comma (fifth one down in the songs list):
(but most of us here DO give a ...)

I love the Oxford Comma. I love CMS!

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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