Tuesday's Test: Confusing Titles

 
 
 

25 February 2014

It just happened again. Amid reading entries in a writing competition, we were totally mystified as to what, exactly, was the title of several of the sources cited by an author. They weren’t even complicated documents that were parts of even more complicated archival collections. Nope. Each was a published work. Yet the way the author presented them, we wasted more time than we should have in trying to identify each source in various online catalogs.

So, this Tuesday’s Test is this: How would you handle each of these situations?

  • The title on a published book differs from that on the title page.
  • The title of a book contains the title of another book.
  • The title of a book violates standard rules of punctuation or capitalization
  • The citation needs to include both a book title and a series title—so how do you distinguish between the two of them?

Care to go out on a limb and offer your opinions?


Note:

(EE 12.21-12.28 offers a range of tips for handling book titles and quirky situations they present.)

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yhoitink
yhoitink's picture
Here's what I would do

Here's what I would do without referring to a style guide:

  • I would use the title on the title page, not the cover. The title page will have the full title without interference from graphic designers and other marketing peeps. When in doubt, I would check if there is a suggested LOC-entry and pick that title.
  • I would put the title in the title in single quotes.
  • This is always something I have to look out for since standard capitalization is different in Dutch (my native language) than English. I would correct it silently to standardized capitalization and punctuation except if the specific capitalization or punctuation conveys meaning.
  • I would first describe the whole volume, ending with the volume number, and then describe the series. I'm tempted to separate the two parts by a semi-colon to make a clearer distinction.  

Yvette Hoitink, CGSM, the Netherlands
Dutch Genealogy Services

EE
EE's picture
TUESDAY'S TEST: EE's Answers

TUESDAY'S TEST: EE's Answers

So how would EE handle each of these quirky situations?

The title on a published book differs from that on the title page?  Definitely follow the title page. (EE 12.1 has more.)

The title of a book contains the title of another book. EE, Chicago Manual, and other U.S. style guides call for presenting the main title in italics while reversing the interior title to roman type.  (EE 12.28 for more.) 

The title of a book violates standard rules of punctuation or capitalization. To quote from EE 2.60:

If a publication’s title page uses incorrect capitalization, we should correct the usage in our citations. (Capitalization in original documents or register titles should be left “as is.”) If the title of a book or article ignores punctuation conventions or omits diacritical marks, we should correct the problem. Otherwise, our readers will assume we committed the offense.

The citation needs to include both a book title and a series title—so how do you distinguish between the two of them? The book title, as with all book titles, is italicized. The series title follows the book title, separated by a comma, and with capitalization that follows standard rules for titles. However, the series title, as a rule, is not italicized. Exceptions do exist, as when massive series are known collectively by the series title and often cited, thereunder by volume and page—Pennsylvania Archives being a notable example.  (Contrast the examples at EE 12.84 with 12.89 and 13.46.)

The Editor