Editing for Liberty #1: Double Definitions and Adding Emphasis

Spot the Error

  1. Many students at the time, opposed to the Vietnam War and worried about the growth of leviathan in all areas of life, were drawn to libertarianism.
  2. Rothbard writes that “The gains to the inflators are visible and dramatic; the losses to others hidden and unseen, but just as effective for all that.” [emphasis added]
  3. The anti-intellectual property advocates attacked their opponents for being inconsistent on several points.

Leviathan (and the Cold War)

In sentence 1, Leviathan should be capitalized. When you look for Leviathan (capital L) in Merriam-Webster you get an entry that has leviathan (small l) as the header. However, this word is a good example of why we should check all the definitions, because definition 2 says,

2 or leviathan state usually capitalized L [so called from the use of the word Leviathan to designate the state in the book Leviathan (1651) by Thomas Hobbes died 1679 English philosopher] : the political state; especially : an all-powerful state usually held to be characterized by a vast bureaucracy and machinery of coercion and exercising totalitarian control over its citizens <the oppression of Leviathan at its worst — Times Literary Supplement> <the prostration of the judiciary before the Nazi Leviathan — Karl Loewenstein> <millions … surrendered their right of private judgment to the Leviathan state — Geoffrey Bruun>

Thus, sentence 1 should be

Many students at the time, opposed to the Vietnam War and worried about the growth of Leviathan in all areas of life, were drawn to libertarianism.

The capitalization of Leviathan brings up the Cold War, not simply because cold wars generate Leviathans, but also because we capitalize the Cold War when we’re referring to the 20th-century Soviet-American conflict. (The 15th edition of Chicago advised us not to, but the 16th edition has caught up with our practice. )

Adding Emphasis

Some of us have been discussing where and how to add “emphasis added” (or “emphasis mine”) to quoted material. Here is CMoS’s rule:

This information appears either in parentheses following the quotation or in a source note to the quotation.

Therefore, sentence 2 should be

Rothbard writes that “The gains to the inflators are visible and dramatic; the losses to others hidden and unseen, but just as effective for all that” (emphasis added).

Had this quote been a block quote, the “emphasis added” would be after the punctuation:

This is the charm of inflation — for the beneficiaries — and the reason why it has been so popular, particularly since modern banking processes have camouflaged its significance for those losers who are far removed from banking operations. The gains to the inflators are visible and dramatic; the losses to others hidden and unseen, but just as effective for all that. (Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State, emphasis added)

But what happens when the original author added emphasis in one place and the quoter adds emphasis somewhere else? For example, let’s say that in the quotation above Rothbard had italicized camouflaged and then our author in quoting him emphasizes hidden and unseen. In that case, we need to interrupt the quotation to clarify that two different people have added emphasis. But we only interrupt once.

Interruptions in quoted material by what I’ll call an “outside voice” must be in square brackets. We can indicate that the emphasis was in the original with

  • [emphasis in the original]
  • [Rothbard’s emphasis]

or we can indicate that the emphasis was added by the article writer:

  • [emphasis mine]
  • [emphasis added]

The paragraph above could be formatted as follows:

This is the charm of inflation — for the beneficiaries — and the reason why it has been so popular, particularly since modern banking processes have camouflaged its significance for those losers who are far removed from banking operations.The gains to the inflators are visible and dramatic; the losses to others hidden and unseen [emphasis mine], but just as effective for all that. (Murray Rothbard, Man, Economy, and State)

One thing we want to keep in mind, however, is that it’s best to avoid interrupting the flow of a quotation. Only add [emphasis …] when it is absolutely necessary to clarify who emphasized what.

Please note that it is never “italics added” or “bold added” because the author can’t know what the presentation will be — in other words, the publisher gets to decide whether to use italics or bold or whatever other formatting, so the author has to say “emphasis” generically.

It Takes Two

As odd as it may look, sentence 3 needs two hyphens:

The antiintellectualproperty advocates attacked their opponents for being inconsistent on several points.

We need the first hyphen because we can’t compound anti with something that starts with an i. Then, we aren’t talking about property advocates who are anti-intellectuals, but rather about people who advocate against intellectual property. Thus, intellectual and property need to be connected by a hyphen to avoid confusion.

Just for Fun: Who Needs an Editor?

Want to measure your value? Check out James Mathewson’s article “How to Measure the Value of Editors.”


Is there something you’d like to contribute or see covered in Editing for Liberty? Post a comment! Contributions to “Spot the Error” are especially welcome.

2 Comments

Filed under Editing for Liberty

2 responses to “Editing for Liberty #1: Double Definitions and Adding Emphasis

  1. Pingback: Editing for Liberty #2: Oxford Commas and Other Punctuation | Invisible Order

  2. Pingback: Editing for Liberty #3: Political Divisions, Dangling Modifiers, Homonyms, and Predicates | Invisible Order

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