Proper Names

Q. When I’m writing a press release with different bird species, should they all be capitalized or only the specifically named bird? Example: The common birds include rufous hummingbirds, Steller’s Jays, ravens, varied thrush, mountain bluebirds, red crossbill, ruffed grouse, spotted and barred owls, and many more.

Q. Blonde, or blond? I was taught that the adjective is always blond —a blond woman. And blonde (noun) describes a woman who is blond—the pretty blonde lounged by the pool. But can blonde also be used as an adjective? Her hair was blonde?

Q. “Smart phone” or “smartphone”?

Q. Dear Editor, I was wondering if you could help me with a style query. I am copyediting a 10-chapter document on fish. The author has asked me to include the scientific name in parentheses after the common name of fish species. It seems to me that repeating this each time the fish is mentioned would make the text bulky (the names are repeated often in each section). Can we mention the scientific name of the fish in parentheses just once in each chapter, or should we keep repeating this style after each species is noted? I hope I’m being clear. . . . Many thanks for your advice on this!

Q. With regard to capitalizing city and state, we as reporters are taught to be “consistent,” which can be near impossible. Here is my particular dilemma: The City of Anywhere is being sued. Is city capped throughout as a governmental agency being sued? I thought so, fine, until the matter came up that someone gets paid by the state. Great, now what? Cap one but not the other? It’s really quite maddening and I am in a state of frustration.

Q. What does CMOS say about names of pets? I can’t find it in the index or the section on names.

Q. Dear Chicago experts, do we italicize a ship’s name in quoted dialogue? My client says it should be italicized generally, but not in dialogue.

Q. While CMOS states that a ship’s name should be set in italics, what if it is used as a part of the name of a larger body, such as the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group? Would the ship’s name be italicized in that instance?

Q. When pluralizing surnames, are there instances when using an apostrophe could be considered appropriate? For example, “We’re going to dinner with the Laos” is potentially confusing. This sentence could easily be reworded (We’re going to dinner with the Lao family), but I’m wondering if Lao’s could be allowed in this context; that is, when pluralizing short, traditionally Asian surnames that could be misread when an s is added (e.g., the Gus, the Hans).

Q. The author has italicized the names of fashionable gowns (e.g., “the Primavera gown, inspired by Botticelli”), perhaps as a work of art. My inclination is to remove the italics. Do you have a guideline on this?

Q. Should the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual be italicized in the text? What about when it is referred to only as the DSM?

Q. I’m editing a translated interview transcription for publication by a university press. The sentence in question reads as follows: I asked, “Mr. agent, why don’t you do me a favor.” The speaker is addressing an unidentified agent of a Colombian paramilitary. The uncapitalized agent looks strange following the title of address, but then of course agent isn’t an actual capitalizable name. Should I go with “Mr. Agent,” or would “Mister Agent” take some of the formal edge off, or is “Mr. agent” preferable?