Monday, September 07, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Germophobic Edition

I have a confession to make; I am a germophobe.

Close friends and family members may not be surprised.

I carry a purple hand sanitizer dispenser on my key chain, avoid door handles, wash frequently, cringe when someone doesn't cover their cough, and always Google my symptoms on the web.

The following information is for those of you who understand my plight. If you become nervous at the mention of the H1N1 flu virus, view your hand sanitizer as a fashion statement, or have visited Web MD on more than one occasion, then these general guidelines are for you!

When searching for information on the latest disease or procedure, The Chicago Manual of Style
tells us to lowercase "names of diseases, syndromes, diagnostic procedures, anatomical parts, and the like." Proper names included in the term are an exception. When searching for an acronym, remember it is correct to capitalize all acronyms and initialisms. Some handy examples in Chicago are: non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Down syndrome, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), finger-nose test, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and islets of Langerhans.

Afraid you may have an infection? According to Chicago, "names of infectious organisms are treated like other specific names. Names of conditions based on such names are neither italicized nor capitalized." For example, if you believe you may have a streptococcal infection, then you should ask your doctor to test your blood for microorganisms of the genus Streptococcus.

Always helpful, Chicago notes that when discussing drugs, one should try to use the brand name. Generic names of drugs are acceptable. However, they should be lowercased and followed by the capitalized brand name in parenthesis.

Of course, these are just general guidelines. If you haven't had enough of this medical fun, Chicago recommends checking out the American Medical Association Manual of Style. With its help, who knows, you can even create your own medical blog that germophobes everywhere can flock to in need of advice and solace.

Until then, wash those hands folks! ;)

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