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Punctuation of noun that might also be part of a title

I have a question about punctuation in a manuscript. We are writing a manuscript about research that was carried out in the Mojave National Preserve.

Here’s what we write “Our investigation occurred between 2001 and 2003 in Mojave National Preserve. The preserve was established in 1994…” The question is whether the preserve, in the second sentence should be capitalized.

Thanks for your help!

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It all depends whether you want PRESERVE to be taken as a proper noun or a common noun. Is THE PRESERVE a shorthand title, or is it just a descriptive name? If the former, it should be capitalized; if the latter, it should not. Personally, I would use PRESERVE as a proper noun in this context and capitalize it.

dave June 21, 2005, 1:55pm

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The Chicago Manual of Style, section 7.60, suggests that generic words, even when subsets of proper nouns or in reference to proper nouns, should not be capitalized unless there is potential for confusion. In this case, I would not capitalize "preserve" as it is clear that it is referring to the Mojave National Preserve.

(The CMS example says, for example, that while you have the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you would never write about the Museum -- you would write about the museum. I believe that can be extrapolated nicely.)

Rachel June 23, 2005, 11:52am

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Once again, who cares what the Chicago Manual of Style says? All that book does is dictate the preferred house style for a minor Midwestern university.

It is NOT an authority for anyone else, and there is no reason to treat it as such.

That said, I agree with it on this point.

Pavel Kincroft June 24, 2005, 6:42am

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Pavel Kincroft, what is your preferred authority?

While I don't demand that anyone accept CMS as their authority of choice, it is so widely used and adhered to that I think calling it "preferred house style for a minor Midwestern university" is a strong misrepresentation. Hundreds if not thousands of organizations and companies accept it as their baseline authority on style.

I am new to this board and it seems that I have missed previous discussions on this topic, but I can't quite understand your argument.

Rachel June 24, 2005, 10:18am

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The CMS is a well-revered reference, and I think the argument Rachel gives us from it on this point is rather elegant. I think, Pavel, thou dost protest too much. Let me guess that you didn't attend U of C. Even as a graduate of that school, I would not defend the Manual:) if it were only used there. After all, why follow one school's dictates on what conventions they want in their manuscripts? I don't think it's a matter of prestige of the school that gives the manual authority. If it were from some school that we all agreed was the best in the country or world, I still don't think that school's manual would have much in terms of authority. Aspects of such a school's manual might hinge totally on local convention, which might not make any sense to the rest of us. However, I believe that the CMS is in its millionth edition. It has history. It probably was one of the first manuals out of the gate, and was written so well that others saw no need to reinvent the wheel. And now its use is so widespread that, while not something that we should bow down to in obeisance, what it has to say is definitely relevant here. The questioner was asking about manuscript advice, after all. I am glad that Rachel saw fit to refer the questioner to it. She is right too in her observation that it's not just schools that use it. I have been in various offices where the admin folks use the manual as an authority. And now it is I, who protests too much.

John June 25, 2005, 12:48pm

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At Arizona State University, the CMS is the authority in the History Department. For your reference, it's a minor southwestern university.

Bill Brown July 8, 2005, 3:31am

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I'd like to add that if the text were in a government document, it would probably be treated differently from the treatment we seem to have agreed (along with the CMS) upon. A government text would probably say, “Our investigation occurred between 2001 and 2003 in Mojave National Preserve (Preserve). The Preserve was established in 1994….”

It's almost a legal point, that there must be no doubt as to what area is being referred to, in subsequent references in the text to a preserve.

John August 8, 2005, 10:34pm

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It's a very interesting subject I was looking around about more information but you got really what i was looking for in your article so thanks and keep it up you have a great blog .
I'm very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

adm2212 July 12, 2009, 2:18am

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Yes     No