"If You Ask Me" Editorial Method

While transcribing Eleanor Roosevelt’s “If You Ask Me” column, the primary goal was to reproduce each column’s original language and punctuation as accurately as possible. All of the columns were transcribed in full from the published versions. No effort was made to replicate the design of the columns.

No changes were made to the spelling or hyphenation of words except for obvious line breaks that appeared in the original version. Apart from dashes, which were lengthened, the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers (ERP) editors adhered to the original punctuation. In cases where the punctuation was unclear or missing, the ERP editors have added the punctuation in brackets.



“If You Ask Me” underwent many formatting changes during its twenty-one-year run. Many of the changes occurred when the column moved from the Ladies’ Home Journal to McCall’s in June 1949. In most of the original columns, the questions appeared in boldface type and/or italics. For ease of readability, the ERP editors have retained the boldface type and dropped the italics. In our transcription, multiple paragraphs within an answer are separated by single returns.

Since the Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s used italics differently, the ERP editors decided to retain each publication’s style. For example, if the title of a book was not italicized in the original column, then it was not italicized in the transcription.

Once “If You Ask Me” moved to McCall’s in 1949, the magazine’s editors experimented with different formats and features. For example, during the first year the column appeared in McCall’s (June 1949-July 1950), the questions were numbered. The numbering in those columns has been retained in the online version.

From June to December 1950, the column also featured questions from well-known celebrities and public figures. These featured questions appeared in a box within the column. The ERP editors have placed these questions at the end of the columns in which they appeared. For some of these questions, the name of the individual questioner only appeared in the photo caption. To clarify the identity of the questioner, the ERP editors have included the questioner’s name in brackets.