Dot writes: living the life of the mind as I do, surfing the great waves of intellect, it’s amazing how much time I actually spend untangling the seaweed from my toes in the awkwardly barnacled rock pool of academic style. I am doing another bout of editing and have just spent a considerable time pondering the following vital questions:
1) When writing about the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, should I refer to The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or (boldly, barely) the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle?
2) If I want to use a standard abbreviation for Chronicon Aethelweardi: The Chronicle of Aethelweard, ed. by Alistair Campbell (London, 1962), should it be Aethelweard, Chronicon; Campbell, Aethelweard; Aethelweard; Aethelweard; or some other variant of the above?
On (1) I have only today made the break with italicisation, on the grounds that the ASC isn’t really a single text but a collection of texts, more of a tradition or a cultural habit than a single work, it’s useful to reserve italicisation for the titles of publications (whereas the ASC has issued in many different modern published texts), and anyway it’s irritating and messy to have italics all over the page. On (2) I went for Aethelweard, thinking that it’s good to be brief, but the italicisation preserves the sense that this is a reference to a particular published volume, which includes modern editorial matter that may need to be referenced as well as the text written (or composed, strictly speaking) by Aethelweard himself. But I am not wholly satisfied with this solution and can imagine readers wondering why Aethelweard is italicised when it is perfectly normal to refer to his chronicle by his personal name.
No style sheet ever really sorts out this kind of problem. The series the volume will appear in uses a modified version of MHRA style, but MHRA (while very clear on the whole) seems to result in maximally lengthy references with lots and lots of brackets (parentheses) and intrusive, irritating commas.
Actually some twisted part of my character rather enjoys this sort of thing.