Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Scanning Through CMS


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) doesn’t update nearly as much as the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style). Seven years have passed between the last edition and the most recent, which was released in September.

The new CMS features many updates, additions, and clarifications, chief among the grammar and editing rules is making the “i” in internet lowercase and dropping the hyphen from email as AP Style does. (For a full list of updates, click here.)

While I was paging through the volume, I noticed a few things in the “Word Usage” section that caught my eye. I thought I’d share them with you today.


Bombastic has nothing to do with temper. CMS states that “a bombastic speech or essay is pompously long-winded and self-important but essentially empty of substance.”

Between you and me

It’s not “between you and I,” a mistake that CMS calls “a classic example of hypercorrection. Both pronouns function as objects of the preposition between.”

Blatant, flagrant

CMS states a blatant act is “both bad and plain for all to see,” as in the phrase, "a blatant error."

A flagrant act is something done “brazenly as well as openly, often with a stronger suggestion of shocking illegality or immorality,” such as in the phrase, "a flagrant violation of the law."


Bemused means “bewildered, distracted, or confused,” CMS notes and is not a synonym of amused.

Bated breath

Often misspelled as baited breath, “someone who waits with bated breath is anxious or excited (literally ‘holding [abating] one’s breath,)” according to CMS.

Please join me next week when we answer a reader’s question about commas and quotation marks. 

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The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anna Drake said…
First time reader, here. I found your blog through the Kboard link. Consider me a fan, I was glad to see a segment on the use of I versus me. I see countless misuses of the pronouns. I sometimes think people believe using I makes them sound more intelligent, like only the lower class would use me.

Not that I should judge. I make plenty of mistakes on my own, compound words being chief among them. I mean its bathroom, until you move to the dining room, right? Ugh, who gets to make up these rules?
Hi, Anna.

Welcome. So glad to see you. Yes, grammar can be a tricky business and while I don't have all the answers, I do try to share the knowledge I've come across over the years.

Good luck with your writing!

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