Words matter

Some small choices nagged at me while working on my upcoming book. Should I write “desperados” or “desperadoes”? “Election Day” or “election day”? “900” or “nine hundred”?

Most traditional publishers turn to the Chicago Manual of Style to answer such questions. It’s boring stuff, but it gives readers a consistent and familiar experience.

I’m self-publishing, but I want my book to meet the same standards. Now that (hallelujah!) I’ve finished writing and fact-checking the first half, I’m now poring over it to make sure it follows the expected style.

Such choices aren’t always boring, though. As the broader culture changes over time, so does the guide.

Without yet setting a rule of its own, the most recent edition notes that many publications now capitalize Black and White when referring to racial groups.

I’d rather my book not seem dated a few years after being published, so I’ll adopt the new style. When you think about it, it makes sense to distinguish actual colors from a collection of myths we all agree to believe in.

Besides, from all the ghost tours, everyone knows Eureka Springs had a black history. But as I’ll tell in my book, it also had a Black history.

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