Style Guide


  • Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition
  • Merriam-Webster online dictionary


Words and names ending in an unpronounced s form the possessive in the usual way—with the addition of an apostrophe and an s (which, when such forms are spoken, is usually pronounced). For example, Chavers’s, Perkins’s, etc. See CMS 7.18.


Serial commas used throughout, except when used in quotations/extracted material.

Commas always appear in pairs when they are setting off an element (oftentimes a date or a state name); e.g., Tucson, Arizona, is a great place to live. See CMS 6.17.

No commas before jr., sr., etc.


CMS 7.57: Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard (or slang), ironic, or other special sense. Such scare quotes imply “This is not my term” or “This is not how the term is usually applied.” Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused. See also 7.59, 7.60.

My rotary simulation app allows me to “dial” phone numbers again.
“Child protection” sometimes fails to protect.

CMS 7.59: A word or phrase preceded by so-called need not be enclosed in quotation marks. The expression itself indicates irony or doubt. If, however, it is necessary to call attention to only one part of a phrase, quotation marks may be helpful.

So-called child protection sometimes fails to protect.
Her so-called mentor induced her to embezzle from the company.
These days, so-called “running” shoes are more likely to be seen on the feet of walkers.

CMS 7.60: Quotation marks are rarely needed for common expressions or figures of speech (including slang). They should normally be reserved for phrases borrowed verbatim from another context or terms used ironically (see 7.57).

Myths of paradise lost are common in folklore.
I grew up in a one-horse town.
Only techies will appreciate this joke.
Though she was a lifetime subscriber to the Journal of Infectious Diseases, she was not one to ask “for whom the bell tolls.”

CMS 7.63: When a word or term is not used functionally but is referred to as the word or term itself, it is either italicized or enclosed in quotation marks (with italics being the traditional choice). Proper nouns used as words, as in the third example, are usually set in roman (see also 7.64).

The term critical mass is more often used metaphorically than literally.
What is meant by neurobotics?
You rarely see the term iPhone with a capital i.

Although italics are the traditional choice, quotation marks may be more appropriate in certain contexts. In the first example below, italics set off the Spanish term, and quotation marks are used for the English (see also 7.53). In the second example, quotation marks help to convey the idea of speech.

The Spanish verbs ser and estar are both rendered by “to be.”
Many people say “I” even when “me” would be more correct.

Extracted material only blocked off when it reaches 100 words or more, per CMS preference.