BLOG SERIES: NEW IN CMOS-17 “Commas with ‘Then’”

The online version of The Chicago Manual of Style (available by subscription) has a Q&A section that can be accessed, along with the full text of the book, through the search feature. I have found answers in that Q&A section to many questions that weren’t topics covered in the book.

The new 17th edition of CMOS contains some sections that were only addressed in the Q&A section before. Here’s one of them that deals with something I come across with a lot in the manuscripts I edit:

6.57: (In the category of Semicolons with “however,” “therefore,” “indeed,” and the like)

The adverb then is often seen between independent clauses as shorthand for and then, preceded by a comma. This usage is perfectly acceptable, and it is more or less obligatory in the imperative (as in the example below).

  • Touch and hold the icon, then drag it to the trash.

Some writers may prefer to use a semicolon, which is strictly correct.

  • First we went out for shiitake burgers; then we enjoyed vegan sundaes.

This is the second-to-last post in my series on changes and new things in the 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. But it’s not an exhaustive list.

If you have the online subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style, you can search for the word departure to find the “thousands of little edits and tweaks” in the new edition. (Quote from September’s CMOS Q&A.)