Friday, February 19, 2016

Out of Cite

Photo courtesy of Joshua Tan
Happy February, duckies! Though Valentine’s Day is now past, love is still in the air. Unless you happen to be watching a caucus, which yours truly steadfastly refuses to do on the grounds that there are certain limits to which one should not go.

At any rate …

When one is in love, one tends to lean toward poetic speech, whether it’s the classic lines of Shakespeare or something a bit more original, such as the hastily scrawled note that appeared on my counter.

Roses are red,
Sometimes they’re orange.
I love you a lot,
And I’m sorry this doesn’t rhyme.

While the above lines can (and probably should) be attributed to Anonymous, the conscientious writer will always take pains to cite sources wherever possible. The CMOS offers two rather straightforward methods of documentation: notes and bibliography or author-date. In brief: “The notes and bibliography style is preferred by many in the humanities, including those in literature, history, and the arts. The author-date system has long been used by those in the physical, natural, and social sciences.”

While there are far too many variations to include a full list, you should be able to get the gist from a sample or two. Behold!

Notes and bibliography style: Broadcloth, Herkimer K. The Seamstress’ Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Miniskirts. New York: Panda, 2006.

Author-date style: Wardrobe, Geoffrey C., and Ken Sideburns. 2007. The Wardrobe: An Intimate History. New York: Gnopf.

No matter which system you choose, giving credit where credit is due will go a long way toward inspiring friendly feelings. After all, no one looks good in a lawsuit.

Enjoy the rest of your day, dearies! Share the love, and remember: a well-turned phrase is always in style!

Though the weather outside has been frightful, The Style Maven believes that curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee is delightful. When she has more than two minutes to string together, she plans to update her adventures as The Procraftinator at


  1. As the old saying goes, "Anonymous was probably a woman." :)

  2. I guess it's better to make up your own poems and sayings, so you don't have to worry about figuring out who gets credit.

  3. Good post, Style Maven. I try to avoid those "citing" issues, which may be one reason I write fiction. Yes, I know how to do them; but I find them a bit of a pain in the posterior, albeit a necessary one in certain types of writing.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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