The current "Explanation" section of this template includes the following text:
- The style was taken from Wikiquote:Spellings, which previously said:
- "add "[sic]" (with italics and brackets, without quotes)"
- As explained on w:Talk:Sic#Brackets, the correct style is to italicize sic, but not the brackets.
I was curious about this assertion, as I've always thought the brackets should be parenthesized as well, the idea being that any text not in the original should be typographically offset from the original. I freely admit I could be wrong, and am willing to follow official practice, assuming one can be firmly established by citations from prominent style guidelines.
As is usual with a style issue, the cited WP discussion had people insisting that diametrically opposed styles were in common use and were the "right" way to do things. Here's what I've found so far, checking the citations given in the discussion. The "text" referred to here is the argument made for [sic] — square, unitalicized brackets and italicized Latin word — in the WP discussion page.)
|http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/s.html (US)||Rutgers English professor Jack Lynch's "Guide to Grammar and Style||[sic]||expert, but no formal style guide citation; no explanation of why unitalicized brackets|
|http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/doc/punctuation/node30.html (UK)||U of Sussex Informatics' "Quotation Marks and Direct Quotations"||[sic]||Comp Sci dept, no clear authority; no stated formal guide; no expl of unitalicized brackets|
|http://www.jcu.edu.au/studying/services/studyskills/writing/references.html (Australia)||James Cook U, "Academic Writing: References"||[sic]||apparently U-wide guideline, but no stated authority; contradicts text by not italicizing "sic"|
|http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/grammar/course/punctuation/3_6.htm (Canada)||U of Calgary English Department's "Punctuation 3.6: Parentheses and Square Brackets"||[sic]||expert org, but no formal guide cited; contradicts text by not italicizing "sic"|
|http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/cmosfaq/cmosfaq.Quotations.html Chicago Manual of Style||U of Chicago Press: "Quotations"||[sic]||authoritative professional style guide; no explanation of details; cites CMOS 11.4, 11.8, and 11.69 w/o details|
|http://www.viterbo.edu/perspgs/faculty/RSamuels/squarebracketsandquotes.html (gratuitous additional reference)||Viterbo U English professor Rolf Samuels' "Using Square Brackets with Quotations"||[sic]||expert, but no formal style guide citation; contradicts text by not italicizing "sic"|
The guidelines cited by the universities, their English departments, and/or their English instructors could be considered authoritative, but even in this argument being made by someone specifically to support square brackets, there is disagreement over italics. It is unclear whether the absence of counter arguments is because there are none, or because the citer didn't find or choose to include any. (Where are Oxford, Harvard, or Yale? Why a Comp Sci department?) Furthermore, there is only one professional style guide cited, and only for a brief statement that offers no explanation but cautions the need for "considerable editorial judgment".
There are very few, if any, iron-clad style rules in English-language publication. At least with publishers' style guides, we limit the scope to a few dozen prominent publishers instead of tens of thousands of universities and hundreds of thousands of English professors. More research must be done on this to claim any clear direction in the matter of brackets and italicization of either or both of the term and the brackets. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 07:45, 10 September 2006 (UTC)