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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Punctuation Rules in the 16CMS

I remember my daddy once saying, the incredulity in his voice evident, "There are comma rules?" And this is a man with a mechanical engineering degree and probably a genius IQ. Yet the 16CMS has thirty-eight numbered rules regarding commas alone (see below). So this goes to prove that someone, even with an expert standing in one field, can be not-so-expert in another.

So, just to show you some of the ~8,600 grammar rules within the 16CMS, here's a quick breakdown by punctuation mark:

  • Periods (see 16CMS 6.12–6.16)
  • Commas (see 16CMS 6.166.53)
  • Semicolons (see 16CMS 6.546.58)
  • Colons (see 16CMS 6.596.65)
  • Question Marks (see 16CMS 6.666.70)
  • Exclamation Points (see 16CMS 6.71–6.74)
  • Hyphens (see 16CMS 6.75–6.77)
  • N-Dashes (see 16CMS 6.78–6.81)
  • M-Dashes (see 16CMS 6.82–6.89)
  • 2-M and 3-M Dashes (16CMS 6.90, 6.91)
  • Parentheses (16CMS 6.92–6.96)
  • Brackets and Braces (16CMS  6.97–6.102)
  • Slashes (16CMS 6.103–6.110)
  • Quotation Marks (16CMS 6.111, 6.112)
  • Apostrophes (16CMS 6.113–6.115)
  • Multiple Punctuation Marks (16CMS 6.116–6.120)

For ebooks, the 16CMS even has rules for stray spaces and manual tabs [see 16CMS 2.77(7)] and stray returns [see 16CMS 2.77(8)]. NOTE: There is only one space between each sentence, per 16CMS 2.9.

So I caution anyone who thinks they know enough about grammar to check out the 16CMS for yourself. You'll be surprised at what you don't know.

Granted, for each rule number (e.g., 16CMS 6.18), various rules are within this one designation. Plus Chapter 6 is comparatively short, spanning pages 305–348 within a 1,026-page book, so this chapter is not even 5 percent of the book. Remember too, as organized as 16CMS is, that doesn't mean a stray rule on punctuation won't pop up elsewhere. Just FYI.

So a ton of data awaits you to review. Even if you just peruse the first couple pages, I'll bet you grow a new appreciation for your copy editor.

Yes, I'm a grammar geek.

Have a good week, folks!

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
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