Chicago Manual of Style realizes it’s the 21st Century, notices the internet is a thing, gets woke.

The 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is coming out this fall, and there are some monumental changes in store for history majors as well as anyone who loves footnotes. The change that is sure to cause the most ripples is the direction to no longer use “ibid” when citing a source you just cited. For those of you who don’t know, “ibid” is an abbreviation of the Latin “ibidem,” which means “in the same place.” It’s super useful when you are writing about a single source. Still, the powers that be at the Chicago Manual of Style think that “Latin” is too dead of a language for “whatever generation comes after Millennials,” so they showed “ibid” the door. As for me, I like “ibid,” and lament its loss. It makes me feel academic and historical.

Another change in the new edition is sure to cause seismic waves in the academic community (P-Waves, not S-waves). The bigwigs in Chicago have decided that it is no longer necessary to capitalize “internet,” and there is no longer any reason to insert a hyphen in “e-mail,” so “email” is now the approved syntax for electronic mail that you receive at your blank@blank.blank address. Welcome to the future, Chicago! Say hi to my mom. She’s been here for years.

The other change of note that is setting academia on fire is the proscription that the pronoun “they” instead of “he or she” is discouraged for formal writing. OK, nothing new there, but wait…there’s more! Should a human person mention that he or she would prefer the pronoun “they,” then it is ok to use since they wish it. Congratulations, Chicago. You’re accepting of the idea that gender is not binary, and may in fact be fluid, depending on the perception of the person being written about. I mean it when I say, “Welcome to the future.” You’ve been holding us back.

About that “ibid,” though…

-Patrick Botts


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Once Upon A Time

Have you ever thought about the oddness of the words “once upon a time?”

Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” for those who haven’t read it, is about this man named Prospero whose brother stranded him on an island so that he could take his place as the Duke of Milan. Years later, Prospero uses his magic powers (yep, he has magic) and a spirit named Ariel, to strand his brother, a King, the King’s son, and a few others on the island through a crazy storm (i.e. the tempest) in order to seek revenge. In Shakespeare’s play, there’s romance, “monsters,” and magic. Personally, I would recommend reading it, or at least seeing the play.

The version of the play I have has footnotes that explain some of the confusing or odd words that Shakespeare is known to use, and one of the explanations caught my eye. Stephano, one of the characters stranded on island by Prospero, says, “I was the man I’ the moon when time was…” In which the handy footnote translated the last words as, “when time was” as “once upon a time.” Roughly, I was the man in the moon once upon a time, and I think it sounds mysterious, otherworldly, and enchanting. I believe it’s so easy for us, as writers or readers, to overlook phrases that we now consider familiar. Many believe “once upon a time” derived from fairytales and folklore, but does anyone stop to consider how long ago that was? Or when it was first used? The phrase is now used as a T.V. show title.

This got me thinking about other idioms that we use. An idiom is a group of words that have a different meaning than what those words would normally mean. They aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, A chip on your shoulder is an idiom that means you are holding a grudge. Of course, these change with culture and generations. Though, “Once upon a time” hasn’t gone out of style yet.
What are other phrases or details that you’ve read in a book or heard around?

-Brandy Joiner


*Image used from google images

How to Use a Tutor

Usually when students come to the Writing Center, they sit down with a paper and a tutor asks them what they would like to discuss. However, sometimes it is helpful to interact with a tutor in other ways. Below are some of the additional ways in which you can make use of a Writing Center tutor, organized by when in the writing process you’re visiting.

Before You Have a Draft

  1. Pace Yourself. Always waiting until the last minute to write your paper? It may help to come up with a game plan ahead of time. A tutor can help guide you through the process or help create an outline.
  2. Get Mentored. Ask questions about terminology, mechanics, writing conventions, or anything else. A tutor will work with you to find the answers.
  3. Have a Sounding Board. Ever just need someone to bounce ideas off of? Then this is for you! No draft required.
  4. Ask a Specific Question. Not sure about your thesis statement? Or your transition sentences? A tutor can help you narrow your focus.
  5. The Silent Dialogue. Have a writing conference … in complete silence! Write down your conversation with your tutor, and you will be forced to state your ideas clearly and concisely. When you finish, you will have a complete transcript of your thought process.

With a Draft in Hand

  1. Specify Feedback. Ask specific questions about the parts of your paper that you would like to focus on. For example, don’t ask: “What do you think about my paper?” Ask instead: “What do you hear me saying?” or “Have I hooked you?”
  2. Hear Your Words on Another’s Lips. It may be helpful to have a tutor read your paper out loud to see if it sounds the way you intend. This helps you see if you’re being clear and getting your point across.

Once Your Draft is Returned

  1. Conduct a Post Mortem. Confused by the comments on that recently returned assignment? Bring in a paper after it’s been written, submitted, and graded to help you recognize patterns of strengths and weaknesses in all your writing.

Have a Writing Personal Trainer

  1. Make a Writing “Date.” Need some company while you write? A tutor will be your “date” — doing work alongside you and being available when you have questions or need help. Warning: tutoring is unlikely to result in a romantic relationship.
  2. Grammar Self-Assessment. Don’t know when to use a semicolon? You’re not the only one!  Save yourself from grammatical blunders by participating in a grammar self-assessment to help you learn your own strengths and weaknesses, all while sharpening your own skills.


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