Time yet again for a rousing battle against our formidably orange opponent, The Chicago Manual of Style. In Chapter 18 (“Indexes”), the Chicago editors weigh in on the subject of “Cross-References,” and in the process violate the very rules they lay down. Unfortunately, they do so in the least entertaining way possible. To wit: Chicago 18.19 declares that whenever See also references appear in an index, “See is [always] capitalized, and both words are in italics.” Yet Chapter 18 is full of See also references—none of them italicized!*
Chicago, Chicago. If you’re going to flout your own conventions, why not do so with a little bit of style? For example, your injunction against “blind cross-references” (i.e., “anyone editing an index must make certain that no See entry merely leads to another See entry”) holds much more potential for editorial mischief. Instead of a sorry bunch of unitalicized See also‘s, you could have sprinkled the entire chapter—the entire volume—with blind See references, leading unwitting readers from entry to entry, page to page, through a Borgesian nightmare labyrinth of infinite complexity! You could have built the Manual of Babel!
Ah, well…maybe they’ll let us edit the Manual one of these years. (Though as things stand, the University of Chicago Press blog won’t even respond to our invitations to battle. Come on, guys, pick up the gauntlet! It’s all in good fun. Our FAQ page even says so.) For now we’ll content ourselves with kicking off early in order to beat the Thanksgiving rush. We’ll be away tomorrow, of course, but we’ll do a post on Black Friday. Enjoy the holiday and see you then.
*UPDATE: A commenter points out that Chapter 18 is a chapter, not an index, so Chicago’s not being inconsistent here. A) This one wasn’t an oversight on our part (cross our hearts) and B) we submit that, in a larger sense, they are. What’s good for the index should be good for the chapters, by God!