Posted by: episystechpubs | June 4, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Alphabetizing Street Names

First, I must apologize for an error I made the other day when typing. When I provided Grammar Girl’s information on the correct way to begin an email or letter, I left out the period on the second example. The examples should read:

Dear John, (correct)

Hi, John. (correct)

Hi John, (common usage but not technically correct)

And now, for some Q&A from the Chicago Manual of Style:

Question:

I have a disagreement with a coworker about how to alphabetize street names with foreign words in them. I live in San Diego, so there are a lot of Spanish street names. I, for example, would file Via Hacienda under V. She argues that because Via means “street,” it should be under H instead. She reasons that if it were House Street, we would file it under H. My argument is that since we are not speaking Spanish, we should follow standard English alphabetizing rules.

Answer:

You are right; there could be any number of foreign-language terms among the street names in San Diego, and unless all readers knew all the languages, the list would be useless. You can see that the city government of San Francisco puts Via Bufano under V.

In other words, if you are multilingual, fantastic! But don’t alphabetize according to translations to English, alphabetize street names according to the spelling on the sign.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


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