As a copyeditor by profession, I love style manuals, especially when they’re not too hidebound and show their own sense of style. Submitted for your consideration, the D.C. Manual of Style and Usage of Washington City Paper; some of my favorite entries:
Respect the periods! However, many organizations and campaigns don’t use the periods. Respect proper nouns!
Not Vincent C. Gray, as the Post styles him, because we asked him when he was elected whether he wanted to be known as Vince or Vincent.
jont, junt, jount
Can be substituted for any (nonhuman) noun in the English language. Spelling is interchangeable, but be consistent.
Never all-uppercase. Ugh.
Saint Elizabeths Hospital
Former psychiatric hospital near Congress Heights, the site of which is slated for redevelopment. Its lack of an apostrophe is a result of inconsistent usage in the 17th century, when the tract of land upon which it was built was named; Congress didn’t include an apostrophe when it officially renamed the facility from its original moniker, the Government Hospital for the Insane, in 1916. Copy editors have been confounded ever since.
After a city, use the old AP style abbreviations (e.g. Madison, Wis., and Ocean City, Md.). Ignore the AP’s oafish new policy of spelling out state names. For cities in the immediate D.C. area, states are generally not needed; our readers know that McLean is in Virginia and Potomac is in Maryland, even if they justifiably find both locations a little frightening.
Not theatre, except as part of a proper noun. We don’t know how the obsession with French spelling arose, but we’re not playing along. Studio Theatre, you’re doing it wrong. Howard Theatre, WTF? Signature Theatre, just stop. You’re making our spellcheck misfire and our copy editors gnash their already worn-down teeth. Take a hint from our star pupil, Arena Stage’s Mead Center for American Theater, or we may start calling you thee-AT-ruhs.
This is how the AP does it, though it’s probably the least elegant possible way to write it; we haven’t adopted a better style yet, but we will.
“We haven’t adopted a better style yet, but we will”: style is not set in stone! You go, City Paper! And I am glad to learn new words, like jont/junt/jount (above) and bama. What’s a bama? A mook. What’s a mook?