More Chicago Style Updates by Bobbie Christmas


Q: I’m told not to use the Enter button or the Tab button. How do I go to the next line and to the next paragraph?

A: You’ve been told a little bit wrong. First, you absolutely must hit the Enter (or Return) key to start a new paragraph. In addition, to indent the first line of each paragraph, you can either set an automatic five-space indent using the indentation tool on the ruler at the top of the document or you can hit the Tab key after starting each new paragraph. In the past we were taught not to use the Tab key to indent, but the seventeenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style now allows it.

Q: In answer to my question about inner dialogue, you wrote this:

If a thought begins midsentence, it normally begins with a capital letter.

Will you please give me an example?

A: Of course.

The boy saw the package and wondered, Is this what I think it is?

I prefer the old-fashioned way of using italics to show unspoken discourse, but Chicago style now likes quotation marks or no marks, so if using quotation marks, it might go like this:

The boy saw the package and wondered, “Is this what I think it is?”

Q: In your update of Chicago style, I am not sure what this means:

It’s now okay to use US (for United States) as a noun, provided the meaning is clear from the context. (10.32) (Used to be used only as an adjective)

Can you explain, clarify?

A: Sorry I wasn’t clear. The sixteenth edition of CMOS said to use US only as an adjective modifying a noun, such as this: US Post Office, US government, US territories.

The seventeenth edition, section 10.32, now says that US can stand as a noun, as long as the meaning is clear.

Examples: I’ve been to only twenty of the fifty states in the US.
Flying over the US gave me an idea of how its topography compares to Africa’s.

Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more Ask the Book Doctor questions and answers at


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