You think Chicago’s politics could use some cleaning up these days? You should see their editing! HI-OHH! That’s right, it’s time for another battle against our formidably orange opponent, The Chicago Manual of Style. Eat your heart out, Janet Reid.
Our bone of contention today is “extracts,” otherwise known as block quotations—that is, quotations lengthy enough to require their own paragraph. Chicago claims (2.25-2.26) that these “should be double-spaced vertically and indented” regardless of whether they’re prose or poetry extracts. Indentation is all fine and well, but we’re honestly not sure where in Strunk’s name they’re getting the double-space rule. We’ve almost never seen it implemented anywhere, at least not in any publication we’re willing to consort with, because the fact is it looks pretty sloppy. The only way to get away with it is to make the font size of the extract considerably smaller than that of the main text—and even then it looks better with 1.5-line spacing. This looks to us suspiciously like what Chicago uses in their own volume.
And that’s just for prose; with poetry, our rule is never to tinker with the text in any way that might undermine the author’s intent—which means no mucking around with line spacing. In fact, in order to demonstrate the just and proper formatting of poetry extracts, as well as to express our outrage at Chicago’s subversion thereof, we have composed the following topical quatrain in the style of Pope:
Thy crimes against the Editor’s art, Chicago,
Rival the Mischief of thy Governor “Blago”;
In a just world, thou wouldst confess like Men
And trade the Editorial—for the Federal Pen.
And with that, Chicago, we say good DAY.