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Author Guidelines

"STYLE," AS WE USE IT HERE, refers not to manner of written expression but to conventions and practices associated with presenting the written word in type. The following suggestions reflect some of our preferences, unless established usages in certain fields take precedence.


Follow a consistent style in spelling, punctuating, capitalizing, hyphenating, footnoting, and referencing. Although our "house style" is basically the precepts set forth in The Chicago Manual of Style, we recognize that usages differ from one academic discipline to another. Before you sit down to write, ask for our general recommendations. As you write, we will provide specific recommendations. When we receive final manuscript, we will be able to make suggestions for a final style sheet to be used by the copyeditor and proofreaders who work on your book. (See Sample Style Sheet.)

Style and Spelling

Style manuals

A list covering almost every foreseeable question of style and usage that might arise during the preparation of manuscript would fill a book--and has in fact done so. Of the comprehensive guides, the most widely known and followed is The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed., compiled and published by the University of Chicago Press in 1993.

A number of manuals codify the practices of special fields.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed. (Modern Language Association, 1995).

Psychology and the social sciences
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 4th ed. (American Psychological Association, 1994).

The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors (American Chemical Society, 1986).

Government documents
The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: A Manual for Writers and Librarians (Congressional Information Service, 1993).

Style Manual (Government Printing Office, 1984).

A Manual for Authors of Mathematical Papers (American Mathematical Society, 1990).

AIP Style Manual, 4th ed. (American Institute of Physics, 1990).

Science and technical writing
Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style (Holt, 1992).

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Electronic style and electronic sources

Information about electronic style is continually being updated, but these reference books may be helpful.

Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information, by Xia Li and Nancy B. Crane (Information Today, 1996).

Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources, by Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger (St. Martin's Press, 1997).

Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age, edited by Constance Hale (Publishers Group West, 1996).

The following Web sites (check for currentness) are devoted to style manuals:

A Brief Citation Guide for Internet Sources in History and the Humanities, by Melvin E. Page (

Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. (

Grammar and Style Notes, by Jack Lynch (

MLA--Style Citations of Electronic Sources, by Janice R. Walker (

The Slot: A Spot for Copy Editors, by Bill Walsh (

American Psychological Association Electronic Style Guide (

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Language usage guides and handbooks

A long-standing and still widely regarded reference for preferred words and expressions is Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (Macmillan, 1994). For working through problems of political correctness, one guide is Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing, by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses (Indiana University Press, 1995). Also helpful is New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage, edited by Andrea J. Sutcliffe (HarperCollins, 1994). The classic and revised reference on usage is The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, edited by R. W. Burchfield (Oxford University Press, 1996).

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Follow standard modern American spelling, except in quoted matter that for textual or other reasons should retain the spelling and styling of the source.

For spelling, compounding, and word division, our authority is The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed. (1992). For words not included therein, follow Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged (Merriam). When two spellings are given for a word, use the first.

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As a refresher on the basics of capitalization, we refer you to any of the comprehensive style manuals already mentioned. Dictionaries can give some guidance too, particularly in determining whether certain words are to be considered proper nouns and proper adjectives. Still, capitalization depends so much on context and preference that large gray areas remain. Modern usage favors sparse rather than lavish use of capital letters, and some of our preferences appear here.

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Offices and titles

Capitalize titles or names of offices when they precede a proper name or immediately follow in formal apposition. Avoid unnecessary capitalization of such terms when they stand alone. The context must be the final determinant, but we prefer lowercase styling when the decision could go either way.

Mayor Menino; Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of Boston; the mayor of Boston; the mayor

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Historical periods and events

Capitalize the names of historical and cultural periods and events, but preferably not accompanying terms such as "era" and "period," though "age" is usually capitalized.

Cenozoic era Qing dynasty
Elizabethan period Restoration drama
Bronze Age Dred Scott decision
Age of Chaucer Kent State affair
Middle Ages Rulison event
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Centuries and decades

Do not capitalize the purely numerical designations of centuries and decades.

the twentieth century; nineteenth-century morals
the 1960s; the sixties (but the Gay Nineties)

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Derivations from proper nouns

Do not capitalize words derived from the names of people and places if the derived word has taken on a special meaning other than direct reference to the original.



cuban heel oedipal
daiquiri ohm
diesel engine plaster of paris
herculean efforts puritanical
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Capitalize trademark names.

Dexedrine TelePrompTer
Polaroid Band-Aid
Often it may be necessary to replace a trade name with the generic equivalent.

petroleum jelly instead of Vaseline
photocopy rather than Xerox
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For the titles (in English) of books, chapters, articles, poems, films, pictures, and other literary and graphic works, capitalize the first and last words, the first word after a colon, and all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions with five or more letters.

Operations Management: A Systems Concept

Notes Toward a New Rhetoric

"Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"

"The Role of the Scientist"

For modern poetry with unconventional styling, give the title as it appears in the source.

Ishmael Reed's "beware : do not read this poem"
In some academic fields, particularly the sciences, the preferred styling in citations is to capitalize only the first word of the title, though titles mentioned within the text are commonly styled according to the general practice explained above.

Titles in a foreign language follow the conventions of that language.

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After a colon

In running text, capitalize the word after a colon only if the colon introduces a complete sentence.

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Whether to hyphenate a compound, write it as a solid word, or write it as two words is not always easy to decide. For words in common use, you can turn to the dictionary. But often you will have to be your own authority, especially with adjectival compounds. Here are some principles of hyphenating to guide you. Always remember that the main idea is to make the text unambiguous and easy to read.

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Compound nouns

For compound words used as nouns, follow the dictionary. Unless the compound word is listed there as a solid word (proofreader) or a hyphenated word (self-starter), write it as two separate words.

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Compound modifiers

As a general rule, hyphenate a compound of two or more words used as a modifier before a noun.

computer-hacker ethics (but the ethics of a computer hacker)

fast-moving particle

two-way street

five-year-old child

There are two main exceptions to this convention: (1) Do not hyphenate when the first element is an adverb ending in -ly (a highly evolved system). (2) Do not hyphenate a compound that is commonly used as a single term to express a single concept (carbon monoxide poisoning, high school teacher, Third World writers).

Use a hyphen after an element of a compound modifier that is separated from its base.

third- and fourth-grade children

60-, 75-, and 100-watt bulbs

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Most words formed with prefixes are not hyphenated unless two identical vowels come together or a capitalized word follows the prefix.

antiwar but anti-inflationary
antiaircraft anti-Castro
Some exceptions are cooperate, coordinate, and preeminent. When in doubt, check The American Heritage Dictionary.

Use a hyphen after a prefix if the solid word could be misread.


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Hyphenate spelled-out fractions (two-thirds, one and one-half), except in constructions such as "one half . . . the other half."

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Here are a few troublesome points for which we have preferences.

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Use a comma after the next-to-last element in a series of three or more: the owl, the eel, and the warming pan. In other words, use the serial comma.

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Restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses

Distinguish between nonrestrictive modifying clauses, which can be omitted without changing the basic meaning of the sentence, and restrictive clauses, which are essential to the meaning. Nonrestrictive elements are set off by commas; restrictive elements are not. Often a sentence with a relative clause can be plausibly read in either of two ways, depending on the punctuation, so be sure to give your reader the necessary clues.


The respondents, who answered all questions correctly, were recalled for further testing. [All respondents answered all questions correctly, and all were recalled for further testing.]


The respondents who answered all questions correctly were recalled for further testing. [Not all respondents answered all questions correctly. Those who did were recalled for further testing.]

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Do not use periods after chapter titles or other free-standing headings.

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Ellipsis points

Any omission from quoted matter must be indicated by ellipsis points (three spaced periods).

  • To show that you are omitting one or more words within a sentence, use three points.

  • To show an omission at the end or after the completion of a sentence, use three points in addition to the sentence period or other terminal mark. If you wish to emphasize the fact of a substantial omission, you may use instead a full line of ellipsis points.
  • To show the omission of one or more lines of poetry, use a line of ellipsis points.
You do not need to show ellipsis before or after an obvious fragment, before a quotation beginning with a complete sentence, or after a quotation ending with a complete sentence.

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Possessives of names ending in s

The possessive case of a singular proper name ending in s, x, or z is normally indicated like any other regular possessive, by adding 's, whether the name has one, two, or more syllables: Ames's, Gonzalez's. When, however, a sequence of sibilant sounds would ensue, the possessive may be expressed by the apostrophe only: Massachusetts' sales tax, Euripedes' tragedies.

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Quotation marks

We follow standard American practice in using double quotation marks for all primary quotations. The use of question marks when "so-called" or some other special sense is implied is discouraged in favor of underscores or italics.

Use single quotation marks only for quotations within quotations. When you enclose in quotation marks a passage that itself contains a quotation, remember to change the double marks in the source to single marks in your context.

In a block quotation from a source that uses single quotation marks for primary sources (British style), it is desirable to change the single marks to conform to American usage for appearance and consistency. When you are reprinting selections in an anthology or book of readings, however, the styling of the source is normally left unchanged.

When closing quotation marks and other punctuation marks come together, the quotation marks are placed outside (after) commas and periods, inside (preceding) colons and semicolons, outside question marks and exclamation points if such a mark is part of the quotation, but inside if it punctuates your own sentence.

In your own writing, avoid using quotation marks to dissociate yourself from slang or colloquial expressions. If these are appropriate, they need no defense or apology. If inappropriate, quotation marks will not make them less so.

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When a complete statement is enclosed in parentheses, the period or other terminal punctuation mark falls inside the closing parenthesis.

When a parenthetical expression within a sentence is followed by a punctuation mark, the mark goes outside the closing parenthesis.

Avoid complicating your sentences with long parenthetical elements, whether set off by parentheses or dashes.

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The expression of numbers in numerals and words depends a great deal on the context. Obviously, numerals predominate in scientific, technical, and statistical texts, and spelled-out forms are more appropriate to the occasional use of numbers in straight text.

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The general rule

Spell out numbers through one hundred (up to ten in scientific matter); spell out even hundreds, thousands, and approximations; use numerals for exact numbers of three digits or more.

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Within a sentence or short section of the text, treat all numbers alike; that is, use numerals for all if you use numerals for some.

Use numerals for percentages, for specific measurements, for dates, for exact sums of money in dollars and cents, for page numbers, for votes and scores, and with abbreviations and symbols.

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Beginning a sentence

Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence even if there are numerals in the rest of the sentence. If the number is an awkward one to express in words, try rephrasing the sentence to move it to some other position.

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Use a comma in numerals of four or more digits, except in page, street, and year numbers.

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Inclusive numbers

Give inclusive or continued numbers in full.

pp. 12101216 123135
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Inclusive years

Inclusive year dates should be given in full. When "from" precedes the first date, "to" must precede the second.

19621970 (not 196270)

from 1962 to 1970 (not from 19621970)
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In styling dates, we prefer the following forms.

February 4, 1998 (with a comma both before and after the year in running text)

February 4 (not 4th)

Also acceptable:

4 February 1998 (no commas)

4 February

Be consistent in using one style or the other.


1980s (or spell out nineteen-eighties; eighties; but not '80s)

February 1998 (no commas)

twentieth century (not 20th century)

490 B.C. (the abbreviation follows the year)

A.D. 378 (the abbreviation precedes the year)
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A complete footnote gives the following information: name of author, title of work, facts of publication, and the precise location of the reference. Since styling practices in giving this information vary from one field to another, check with us for the style appropriate to your book. We recommend these basic formats.

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First reference: books

Author: Author's name, in normal order.
Title: Title of work (underlined, for italics). If the title of a chapter or other portion of the work is also given, it is enclosed in quotation marks and precedes the title of the complete work.
Name of editor or translator (if any), in normal order, preceded by "ed." or "trans."
Edition, if other than the first (e.g., "4th ed." or "3rd ed." or "rev. ed.").
The series (if any and if significant) and number.

Facts of publication: Place of publication, publisher, and year of publication (all within parentheses).
Volume number, if the work is in more than one volume, in capital Roman numerals.
Page number or numbers, preceded by "p." or "pp." unless a volume number is given (e.g., for a one-volume work, "p. 247," but for a multivolume work, "III, 247").

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First reference: periodicals

Author: Name of author of article, in normal order.
Title: Title of article (in quotation marks, not underlined).
Name of periodical (underlined).

Facts of publication: Volume number, in Arabic numerals.
Issue and year. The issue need not be cited by number if identified by month or season or if the entire volume is paged consecutively.
Page number, without "p." or "pp."
In citing newspapers and weekly periodicals, it is usual to omit the volume number and give the complete date instead: Saturday Review, May 6, 1972, p. 36.

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Specimen citations

The following specimen footnotes illustrate these forms.

1Harvey S. Wiener and Charles Bazerman, Reading Skills Handbook, 7th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997), pp. 163164.

2The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Ralph L. Rusk (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), III, 327. [The author's name is omitted here because it is included in the title.]

3Jean Seznec, "Paul Claudel and the Sarcophagus of the Muses," in Perspectives of Criticism, ed. Harry Levin, Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, No. 20 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950), p. 14.

4Robert S. Lopez, "Pirandello Old and New," Yale Review, 60, No. 2 (1970), 228.

5"The Women of Winter Save U.S.," The New York Times, 23 Feb. 1992, late ed., sec. 1:23. [The author of the article is unnamed.]

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Subsequent references

The complete footnote should be given for the first reference to a work in each chapter. Thereafter in the same chapter, a short form of the citation is used: the author's last name (if no other work by that author or by another author of the same name is referred to in the chapter) or the author's last name and the shortened title, followed by the page number.

Ibid., to refer to the work cited in the footnote immediately preceding, is acceptable; but if several manuscript pages intervene, a short form is more helpful to the reader.

Op. cit. and loc. cit. are rarely used in college texts, having been replaced by the short-form method of citation.

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Consistency with footnote style

The entries in a bibliography should be consistent in style with the footnotes, while observing the conventional differences. Notice the two main differences in styling compared with footnotes:

  1. In a bibliography, the author's name is given in reverse order, surname first. A comma follows the surname. If there is more than one author, only the first-listed author's name is inverted, with commas following both elements; the other authors' names appear in normal order.
  2. In a bibliography, the three main elements of the entry--author, title, facts of publication--are separated by periods.
A bibliographical listing is arranged alphabetically by name of author, unless there is a functional reason for some other order.

The following are bibliographical entries corresponding to, and consistent in style with, the footnote examples just shown.

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Specimen entries

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Edited by Ralph L. Rusk. 6 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1939.

Lopez, Robert S. "Pirandello Old and New." Yale Review, 60, No. 2 (1970), 228240.

Seznec, Jean. "Paul Claudel and the Sarcophagus of the Muses." In Perspectives of Criticism, edited by Harry Levin. Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, No. 20. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950.

Wiener, Harvey S., and Charles Bazerman. Reading Skills Handbook. 7th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

"The Women of Winter Save U.S." The New York Times, 23 Feb. 1992, late ed., sec. 1:23. [alphabetized by title because the author is unnamed]

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Essay style

When a bibliographical essay takes the place of a formal listing, all elements that would appear in a listed entry are included as shown in the following example.

For the role of women in Japan, Peter Duus's Modern Japan (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998) presents a view of twentieth-century Japan by a distinguished scholar providing a clear and well-written account of political, social, and economic events.

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Your Own Style Sheet

You will find it helpful and time saving in the long run to set up your own style sheet as you write, jotting down notes to remind yourself of the forms you have chosen to use. Note particularly the usages you prefer in spelling, capitalizing, and hyphenating when more than one form is possible, and note any special grammatical preferences. Such a list not only will aid you throughout various drafts but it also will enable us to pinpoint your preferences and pass on this information to the copyeditor of your text. Use the following link to view an example of an author's nontechnical style sheet.

Sample Style Sheet

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