The Writer’s Toolbox – The Blog Says

Ever quoted a blog?

Ever wondered how to?

Maybe it was a fleeting thought. Maybe it was an obsession that haunted you in your sleep that night (you know you’re an editor when?). Either way, rejoice: in this week’s Toolbox, we’ll look at how to approach blogs and blog posts in your writing, and when and whether to apply capital letters, italics, and quote marks.

A Caveat
The following discussion doesn’t apply to academic writing?in that case, follow your professor’s preferred style guide. But in less formal writing, like non-scholarly books, magazine articles, and, well, blog posts (how very meta), this is the approach I’ve found works best.

Generally, I advise writers to use italics for the blog name and quotation marks for individual blog posts.

Like books, magazines, and anthologies, blogs are a collection of smaller, not insignificant works?in this case, blog posts. Following that analogy, it makes sense to treat blogs the same as, say, magazines?italicize the names?and blog posts the same as magazine articles (roman type and quotation marks).

Both APA and Chicago style use this reasoning (in fact, it was one of the changes to The Chicago Manual of Style’s most recent edition). So does Grammar Girl, who published this before Chicago’s 16th edition was released. Chicago even suggests that the same logic can be applied to similar groupings, like podcasts: italicize the title of the series (for example, The Nerdist) but apply quote marks and roman type to the individual episodes themselves.

Example A: I started a blog called The Student’s Path. My first post was entitled “Zen and the Art of Student Maintenance.”

As for capitalization, follow the way the blog itself capitalizes?much like you’d do with uniquely written magazines (like mental_floss) or books (gods in Alabama).

If you’re wondering why this distinction matters in the scheme of things, consider this. First, there’s the question of clarity. If you treat both blogs and blog posts the same, it may be difficult for your reader to differentiate the two or to figure out how each piece works together in the context of your writing. And reader confusion leads to reader distraction, which pulls them away from what you’re trying to communicate.

And then there’s weight. If you style an entire blog and a single magazine article the same way, you’re making a statement about how much importance or perhaps believability you accord them. Is that fair? Does volume outweigh content?since one good magazine article is probably much more persuasive than a vast compendium of barely readable blogging? Either is arguable, but remember that consistency is key, and what you do in one case you should be ready to apply across the board.

Creating multiple exceptions in this fuzzyish area of style is likely to result in increasing confusion?both for you and your reader. When in doubt, follow what seems to be the trend, and reserve italics for full blog names and quote marks and roman type for individual posts.

Christina M. Frey is a book editor, literary coach, and lover of great writing. For more tips and techniques for your toolbox, follow her on Twitter (@turntopage2) or visit her blog.