BLOG SERIES: NEW IN CMOS-17 “Formatting”

The 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style has some new formatting guidelines. Check these out:

2.11: Tabs versus indents

Tabs are entered with the Tab key. Indents are applied using a word processor’s indentation feature. Tabs can usually be identified on-screen by the right-pointing arrows that will appear in most word-processing programs when nonprinting characters are revealed. There are three basic types of indent:

  • First-line indent. A first-line indent is normally applied to each new paragraph of regular text. A first-line indent can be applied either using a word processor’s indentation feature or with a tab. Choose one method and use it consistently.
  • Left or right indent. A left indent applies an equal indent relative to the left margin for each line in a paragraph, including the first line and any runover lines, and can be used to set off prose and poetry extracts. Never use tabs to achieve left indents. Indents from the right margin are usually not needed at the manuscript stage.
  • Hanging indent. A hanging indent, in which every line but the first is indented from the left margin, is used for the items in a list, including a bibliography or reference list or an index. Never use tabs to achieve hanging indents.

In some cases, it will be necessary to use a first-line or hanging indent in combination with a left indent (as for a new paragraph in a block quotation or for a poetry extract). For the purposes of the manuscript, the typical default value for tabs or indents can normally be used (usually half an inch). Avoid using two or more consecutive tabs. With the exception of a tab at the beginning of a new paragraph or a tab after a number or symbol in a vertical list, tabs should never appear within a paragraph.

2.12: Paragraph format (not new, but clarified)

Each new paragraph should begin with a first-line indent, applied either with the Tab key or with your word processor’s indentation feature. Do not use the Space bar. Never use the Enter key or the Tab key in the middle of a paragraph; let the word processor determine the breaks at the ends of lines.

Be sure to eliminate any extra character space or tab after the final punctuation at the end of a paragraph; the hard return should follow the punctuation immediately. When a paragraph is interrupted by a prose or poetry extract, list, equation, or the like, the text after the interruption begins flush left (i.e., with no first-line indent) unless it constitutes a new paragraph.

2.21: Format for lists and outlines

Items in an unnumbered list should be formatted using your word processor’s indentation feature to assign both a left indent and a hanging indent. Let runover lines wrap to the next line normally; do not use the Tab key to indent runovers. In addition, in a numbered or lettered list (including a multilevel list or outline), each number or letter should normally be followed by a period or other punctuation and a tab. Bullets in a bulleted list are likewise followed by a tab. Alternatively, you may use your word processor’s list and outline features, which will apply the necessary indents, tabs, and numbers, letters, punctuation, or symbols automatically. The text that follows a list should get a first-line indent only if it constitutes a new paragraph; if it continues the text that introduced the list, it should start flush left.