Q: I quoted the Bible in my book, and my copyeditor lowercased the pronouns that referred to God and Jesus. I have always seen them capitalized, as in the following: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son." Who's right? The copywriter, the Bible, or me?
A: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) 16th edition (8.94) says that pronouns referring to God or Jesus are not capitalized. It also notes these pronouns are lowercased in most English translations of the Bible. Interestingly, in the King James Version, the passage is written this way, with the pronouns in lowercase, but the word "son" capitalized. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." Regardless of the capitalization in any version of the Bible, books written today should follow Chicago style, so I would not capitalize "son" in a book.
Q: My husband and I have been discussing sentences that list multiple items following a word such as "when." See my sentence below. After it, I discuss the part that confuses my husband and me.
The author reveals common obstacles patients confront when making appointments, arriving at facilities, sitting in waiting rooms, meeting with nurses, and talking with their doctors.
My understanding is in such sentences the "when" applies to all items that follow, such as "when making appointments, when arriving at facilities," and so on. It still follows for after the "and," such as "and when talking with their doctor," right?
My husband and I notice some authors add an extra "when," but we don't think they should. For example they might say, "and when talking with your doctors." The "when" from before is already there, though. (You might also advise me that the "their" should come out so people don't think I mean the nurses' doctors, but I left it in because I mean the patients' doctors, not just any doctor.)
A: If modifiers (prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, or articles) precede objects in a list, the modifiers apply to all items in the list. In the case of the sentence in question, the word "when" applies to all items that come after it. Although adding "when" to the final item is not wrong, it is redundant.
As for the use of "their," pronouns do refer to the last stated noun, so the pronoun "their" does refer to the noun "nurses," in the purest sense. I doubt anyone would interpret the sentence that way, however. Clarity is the important issue, and the sentence is clear as written.
Q: On the back cover of my upcoming book, there is a long quote by another author, so her quote is in double quotation marks. She refers to one of my poems, which is supposed to be in double quotes as a title of a poem. Should the title of the poem go into single quotes? I am only guessing here. I would like to know for sure that I am right.
A: Your guess is a good one. In American English, double quotation marks go first, and then single quotation marks go inside double quotation marks. Example: "I read 'The Raven' to the class," John said, "and one of my students asked, 'What's a raven?'"
Q: My head is reeling with all I need to know as a writer. Should I read The Chicago Manual of Style?
A: CMOS, with more than 1,000 pages, covers vastly more subjects than most writers ever need to know. It is geared toward publishers who must know every detail of style issues as well as issues with illustrations, rights, documentation, production, and more. Reading it would be akin to reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. The CMOS is not meant to be read, but to be used as a reference. You may want to buy a copy to use to look up specific issues, such as punctuation, capitalization, the use of numbers, or grammar and usage, but I have a few reports that cover a great of what writers need to know. Visit my website at www.zebraeditor.com and click on the Resources tab to download any or all of my free reports.