Chicago Manual of Style Task Force report

Final Report from the Task Force on the Chicago Manual of Style

The Task Force to Investigate Changes Affecting RDA in the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, has submitted its final report.  Most of the recommendations involve minor editorial changes to RDA and related documentation.  One of the recommendations, however, involves a substantive change to RDA which would have a major impact on authorized access points.  I would like to suggest that CC:DA discuss and vote on this recommendation; the rest can be handled as Fast Track proposals.

The recommendation in question relates to CMOS 8.159, which deals with capitalization of hyphenated compounds.  In the 16th edition, this provision reads:

8.159 Hyphenated compounds in headline-style titles

The following rules apply to hyphenated terms appearing in a title capitalized in headline style. For reasons of consistency and editorial efficiency, Chicago no longer advises making exceptions to these rules for the rare awkward-looking result (though such niceties may occasionally be observed in display settings, as on the cover of a book). For rules of hyphenation, see 7.77–85.

1.   Always capitalize the first element.

2.   Capitalize any subsequent elements unless they are articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor), or such modifiers as flat or sharp following musical key symbols.

3.   If the first element is merely a prefix or combining form that could not stand by itself as a word (anti, pre, etc.), do not capitalize the second element unless it is a proper noun or proper adjective.

4.   Capitalize the second element in a hyphenated spelled-out number (twenty-one or twenty-first, etc.) or hyphenated simple fraction (two-thirds in two-thirds majority). This departure from previous Chicago recommendations recognizes the functional equality of the numbers before and after the hyphen.
The Task Force proposes to revise RDA A.29 to conform to this provision (see p. 9 of the TF report); formerly in RDA, only the first word in such a compound was capitalized.

In addition to RDA A.29, this issue is also the basis for the following TF recommendations:

RDA [two instances]
RDA [2nd instance]
RDA A.11.4
RDA A.14 [2nd instance]
RDA A.16.2 [two instances]
RDA A.16.5
RDA A.17.6
RDA Glossary, Tonic Sol-fa

As Kathy Glennan reported at Midwinter, she asked Gary Strawn to look at the impact of this change on the NACO authority file.  He provided some statistics, but the bottom line was that instances needing to be changed would be difficult to identify by program and even more difficult to correct safely.

Given the impact of this recommendation and given that differences in capitalization are not taken into account by the NACO normalization rules, it seems questionable that this is a revision that CC:DA would wish to propose.  My understanding is that CMOS governs the text of RDA itself, but governs the results of applying RDA instructions only when there is no applicable RDA instruction.  In this case, the text of RDA A.29 applies, and need not conform to the provisions of CMOS.

Beyond this single issue, I propose (a) to communicate to the JSC Secretary the recommended revisions to the RDA Editor’s Guide; and (b) to make Fast Track proposals for the following TF recommendations:

RDA 1.1.2
RDA 1.1.3
RDA [1st instance]
RDA A.10 [three instances]
RDA A.14 [1st instance]

For the sake of completeness, the TF recommended that no change be made in the following instructions:

RDA B.11

Again, I suggest that CC:DA discuss and vote on the recommendation for RDA A.29 (and related instructions); if there is any disagreement with any of the other recommendations, these should be raised during the discussion.