House Style

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In this section:


    Because they’re often ambiguous, avoid abbreviations when possible.

    For example: spell versus instead of abbreviating it (v., vs.), otherwise a reader might confuse its v. abbreviation with the roman numeral for five (v), or vs. with the (uncommon) abbreviation for verse.

    Abbreviations expressed in regular prose or everyday speech (such as ATM, btw, DNA, fyi, GPS, html, IQ, JPEG, NASA, NATO, etc.) are OK; besides these or any other abbreviations outside the sciences and other scholarship, limit your use of abbreviations to bibliographies and notes as well as parenthetical and tabular matter.

    A list of abbreviations is not necessary, but if you have many abbreviations in your book, consider providing one; it may be helpful to your copyeditor and future readers. If you do include a list of abbreviations, represent it in the table of contents, unless you decide to place it in the front matter (before the table of contents).

    Use English, not Latin. For example: write <see above>, not supra; write <for example> or <for instance>, not e.g.; provide the full citation instead of writing ibid.; use a colon (:) or an em dash (—) instead of writing i.e. or viz.; and so on. In the event that you do use Latin abbreviations, use a period as you would for any abbreviation lowercased or ending in a lowercase letter. For example: e.g., vol., i.e., a.m., p.m., etc., et al. (note that et is not an abbreviation, al. is).

    Indefinite articles, a or an, with abbreviations: Which indefinite article, a or an, precedes an abbreviation is determined by the abbreviation’s pronunciation or by how it reads aloud. If it sounds as if it begins with a vowel, use an, but if, read aloud, it sounds as if it starts with a consonant, use a. For example: <an ABC anchor>, <a BBC anchor>; <an HMO>, <a health maintenance organization>; <a UFO>, <an unidentified flying object>; however: <a AA battery>, not <an AA battery>, because the AA in <AA battery> is pronounced <double A>. Note, too: <an MS symptom> as in <a symptom of multiple sclerosis>, but <the author submitted a MS> and <they received a MS in physics> because the latter MS reads <a master of science in physics> and the former, <the author submitted a manuscript>.

    Abbreviated compounds: Use a hyphen, not an en dash. For example: <US-Mexican relations>, not <US–Mexican relations>.

    Fully capitalized abbreviations do not incorporate the period dot. For example: UK, USA (we prefer USA to US, though either is OK insofar as its usage is consistent throughout your MS), the NAACP, the EU, and so on.

    For abbreviations ending with the same letter of the first word, do not use the period dot. For example: St, not St., because both the word street and its abbreviation, St, end with the letter t. The same rule applies to Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, and so on. However, abbreviations that do not include the last letter of the original word do incorporate the period dot. For example: ed., ch., ed. (but eds for educators), etc.

    There is no period dot after abbreviated units of measurement. For example: kg, lb, mm, sq, m, yd, and so on. Note, too, that the plural form of abbreviated units is the same as the singular: 65lb, not 65lbs; 12 min, not 12 mins.

    Avoid sets of abbreviations. For example: write <for instance/for example, NATO>, not <e.g., NATO>.

    To form a plural abbreviation do not use the apostrophe, instead add the s in most cases. For example: NCOs, not NCO’s; the three Rs; IRAs; vols.; eds.; MS (manuscript), but MSS (pl. form); p. (page), but pp. (pl. form); BSs, MAs, PhDs.

    However, sometimes the apostrophe is OK to use to aid comprehension. For example: x’s and y’s.

    When an abbreviation that must use the period dot comes at the end of a sentence, do not add another period dot to end the sentence.

    Tip: avoid using &., &c., e.g., i.e., viz., et al., ff., op. cit., loc., idem., etc. to end a sentence.

    Accents, Umlauts, and Other Diacritical Marks, including Mathematical or Unusual Symbols

    Avoid using these when possible. Their use is appropriate only in specialist academic works, for which we can charge £30/$50+ per copy, or if you’re an established author with outstanding academic credentials, boasting a previous title (or titles) that’s already sold tens of thousands of copies.

    Another way to look at it: If it’s a truly popular-level work, then arguably only a small percentage of readers will understand what these special elements mean or how they affect the pronunciation of the words they accompany. Moreover, if any of the elements are in non-roman lettering — even a few dozen — then typesetting them can cost as much as typesetting an entire book that lacks them. So we cannot accommodate these elements within normal bookshop prices.

    If you can't avoid it, please first check whether they are special characters from the Symbols option in Word. If they are not, if they are a specialized font, then add those fonts to the Author Stylesheet on your Production page and then notify the Editorial Manager.

    Avoid using the symbol for prime ('), used to represent feet (ft), and for double prime (″), used to represent inches (in.); they can easily get confused for single and double quotation marks.

    Adverb Placement

    All adverbs follow, or come after, verbs that do not take an object, namely intransitive verbs.

    If your adverb qualifies an adjective, another adverb, a preposition, or a conjunction, then it must precede that word.

    For example: adv. qualifying an adj., <This is very late.>; adv. qualifying an adv., <He wrote extremely slowly.>; adv. qualifying a prep., <Her foot was barely on the line.>, etc.When an adverb is used with a compound verb, it’s OK to place the adverb between the auxiliary (“or the first auxiliary if there are two or more,” according to H.W. Fowler) and its verb. You won’t be splitting an infinitive. (See, e.g., Fowler’s Modern English Usage, 448).


    There is a difference between its and it’s. It's should be used only as a contraction for it is: <Its books are the only assets a publisher has when it’s going bankrupt.>

    Watch out for the incorrect apostrophe in yours (your’s), ours (our’s), theirs (their’s), hers (her’s).

    Never use an apostrophe to make the plural noun form. If the plural noun form is in the genitive case, that is, the possessive case, then it must use an apostrophe.

    For example:<It was the Jones’s property>, not <It was the Joneses property> or <It was the Jone’s property>.

    However, when a noun ends in s in both its singular and plural forms (e.,g., politics), one apostrophe after the s is enough to indicate the possessive case, an additional s is not needed. (See CMS, §7.16–7.22)


    An appositive is a noun element that immediately follows another noun element so as to define or further identify it, e.g., <Francis Ponge, the poet, draws his reader’s attention to the vexed relation between subject and object.>. In that sentence <the poet> is an appositive of the proper noun, or name, Francis Ponge. In careful usage, the appositive should describe the same person or thing as the noun or pronoun immediately following it.

    Set off the appositive by commas, unless it is restrictive (see Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Constructions).

    The sentence should still make grammatical sense if the appositive of the proper noun is removed, e.g., <Francis Ponge draws his reader’s attention to the vexed relation between subject and object.>

    as well as

    Grammatically, this phrase is a conjunction, not a preposition. What that means semantically is that the phrase <as well as> strictly means <and not only>, not besides.

    For example: Incorrect: <She was there as well as me.> Why? Because here the phrase functions as a preposition, and grammatically it mustn’t. Correct: <She was there as well as I.> or <She was there besides me.> Why? Because here the phrase functions correctly grammatically, as a conjunction.

    Bibliographies or References Lists

    Although the Chicago Manual of Style is our preferred style, we’re ecumenical in our approach here. There are myriad ways to stylize references or a bibliography, and an author is welcome to cherry pick which method works or "feels" best, insofar as the chosen system is professional, stays consistent, and coheres with the composition's overall style.

    Books of the Bible

    In running text, these should be spelled out when possible. Do not italicize them.

    • <1 Corinthians> or <the first epistle to the Corinthians>, not <the 1st epistle>.
    • <Romans chapter 13 verse 9> or <Romans chapter thirteen> or <the thirteenth chapter of Romans>, not <the 13th chapter>.
    • <Psalm 23> or <the twenty-third Psalm>, not <the 23rd Psalm>.

    Use abbreviations only in references, parentheses, or notes; here are the standard abbreviations:

    Old Testament

    Amos, 1 Chron., 2 Chron., Dan., Deut., Eccles., Esther., Exod., Ezek., Ezra, Gen., Hab., Hag., Hosea, Isa., Jer., Job, Joel, Jon., Josh., Judg., 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Lam., Lev., Mal., Mic., Nah., Neh., Num., Obad., Prov., Ps., Ruth, 1 Sam., 2 Sam., Song of Sol., Zech., Zeph.

    New Testament

    Acts, Apoc., Col., 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Heb., James, John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Luke, Mark, Matt., 1. Pet., 2 Pet., Phil., Philem., Rev., Rom., 1 Thess., 2 Thess., 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus


    Bar., Ecclus., 1 Esd., 2 Esd., Jth., 1 Macc., 2 Macc., Pr. Of Man., Sir., Sus., Tob., Ws, Wisd. of Sol.

    Bible Versions and Sections: Apoc. (Apocrypha), ARV (American Revised Version), ASV (American Std. Version), AT (American Translation), AV (Authorized [King James] Version), CEV (Contemporary English Version), DV (Douay Version), ERV (English Revised Version), EV(English versions), GNB(Good News Bible), HB (Hebrew Bible), JB (Jerusalem Bible), LXX (Septuagint), MT (Masoretic Text), NAB (New American Bible), NEB (New English Bible), NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), NRSV (New Revised Std. Version), NT (New Testament), OT (Old Testament), RSV (Revised Std. Version), RV (Revised Version), Syr. (Syriac), Vulg. (Vulgate), WEB (World English Bible)

    Do not use roman numerals in biblical references (they are standard in references to classical writings only, e.g., works of the Church fathers, Josephus, and so on). We prefer this style: <2 Corinthians 2.13.>


    Please keep capitalization to a minimum. Note that our editorial team follows the Chicago Manual of Style’s lead when it comes to capitalization across its myriad precincts of use, from titles and epithets to names and places and other kinds of proper nouns.

    Avoid, at all costs, capitalization to stress a point. For emphasis — italicize.

    If you insist on capitalization for other reasons, use small caps — like this.

    Some helpful capitalization examples:

    • To distinguish the proper from the common noun: <I wish I were Professor of Botany at Oxford University.> or <King David was a violent, sex-mad warlord.>, but <My friend is a biology professor at the university.> and <David was born a king but not divine.>.
    • The word Earth, as a proper noun, or name, is capitalized and rarely if ever takes an article, otherwise it’s a lowercased common noun that can take an article: <Mars is next from Earth> and <I live on Earth> but <There is earth beneath my feet> and <You don’t need to dig up the earth to plant a garden>.
    • When referring to the institution of religion in general or of a particular religion, unless you prefer otherwise, church is lowercased. (If you prefer otherwise, please specify that on your Author Stylesheet). If it’s part of the name of a denomination, such as <the Roman Catholic Church>, <the Church of St Thomas the Apostle> or <the United Methodist Church>, then Church is capitalized. (The same applies to the word state.)
    • All denominations, sects, orders, and religious movements are capitalized.
    • Use lowercase letters for a.m. and p.m.
    • Small capitals are used for ad, bc, ah (Islamic dates) and for most capitalized roman numbers, e.g., <vol. xii>, though full caps are used in titles such as <Henry VII> and LXX (Septuagint).
    • Capitalize all cultivars.


    Do commas create controversy? They can. But they don’t need to. Besides its technical uses in scholastic, scientific, and bibliographical contexts, the comma specifies the smallest break in a sentence, often denoting a brief pause, the goals of which are easy reading as well as utmost clarity and intelligibility of your thoughts and ideas. Because that’s what sentences essentially are — your thoughts and ideas. When used correctly, commas render your sentences clearer, more lucid. Regardless of the variety of their circumstances, not to mention our various competing attitudes and thoughts about them, the comma has nine uses, most of which are not necessary but certainly helpful to know:

    1. The comma separates items in a list, or elements of a set, of two or more. Note that our editorial default is the serial comma (aka series comma, Harvard comma, or Oxford comma). Not only is it widely practiced, recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style and endorsed by Fowler, Garner, and other notable authorities but it also helps prevent ambiguity. The serial comma separates each item in a series, or element of a set, as well as the conjunction that joins the last two elements in a series or set of three or more. For example: <She bought an apple, a banana, and a tomato.>; <After he woke up, he got out of bed, brushed his teeth, and washed his face.> N.B.: the phrases <and then> and <and thus> do not take a comma before the and, e.g., <After he woke up, he got out of bed, brushed his teeth and then washed his face.>; <Many hope that their governments will subsidize renewable energy projects, incentivize new energy-efficient transportation technologies and thus reduce their reliance on imported oil and other fossil fuels.> > Note, too, that if the last item in a list consists of paired elements joined by and, insert a comma before the and antecedent to the paired items. For example: <Our meal included pimento croquettes, a beet salad, miso soup, rosemary-braised lamb shanks, mashed potatoes, and bread and butter.>; <Stardawg was at the helm, plotting their coordinates, Rainbow was configuring the computer’s updates, and Dell Ta was recalibrating the altimeter and checking the ship’s LO2 levels.> If your sentence continues beyond the series or set, insert a comma only if the surrounding syntax determines one. For example: <Wheat, potatoes, and rice can be used to make alcohol.> but <Wheat, potatoes, and rice, all of which can be easily grown in a small backyard, can be used to make alcohol.>
    2. The comma separates coordinated main clauses, except (1) when the main clauses are closely linked, e.g., <She threw the ball and it crashed through the window.> and (2) when the second clause is a compound predicate, or when the subject of the first independent clause, being the same as the second, isn’t repeated in the second independent clause, e.g., <Coffee is jam-packed with antioxidants and is one of the healthiest drinks in the world.> versus <Coffee is jam-packed with antioxidants, and it is one of the healthiest drinks in the world.>
    3. The comma separates the introductory matter from the main clause. Introductory matter may be a single word, e.g., Hence or Moreover; a phrase, e.g., <In the meantime,>; or a subordinate clause, e.g. <If we can catch the next flight, … >.
    4. The comma sets off parentheticals, appositives, and nonrestrictive clauses by marking their beginnings and ends. (SeeRestrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses.)
    5. The comma separates adjectives only when each adjective qualifies the noun in the same way. (NB.: If you need to use and between your adjectives, then you need to use a comma.) Note, however, that when adjectives qualify a noun differently from one another, or when an adjective qualifies a noun phrase that contains another adjective, no comma is needed. For example: <a prominent [no comma] foreign correspondent>; <a bright [no comma] red sun>; <a permanent [no comma] $500-per-child tax credit>; and so on.
    6. A comma separates a direct quotation from its attribution, e.g., <“Doug, pass me the torch,” said PJ>, unless the quotation is part of the sentence’s syntax, as in <The movie Major League turned Bob Ueker’s familiar “Juuust a bit outside” into a legendary catchphrase.>
    7. The comma separates participial and verbless phrases and vocatives (i.e., the case of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives used when addressing or invoking a person or thing; e.g., in the following sentence, <I don't know, Martha>, Martha is what’s called a vocative, indicating the person addressed, whereas the sentence <I don't know Martha>, Martha is the direct object of the verb <to know>.
    8. Informally, in letters, the comma indicates the end of the salutation, e.g., <Dear Mr Cromwell,>, and the complimentary close, <Kind regards,> and so on.
    9. The comma separates the following parts of an address, <7 Ocean Breeze Way, Harwichport, Massachusetts>, or a date, <July 18, 2021>.

    Some other rules of thumb:

    • Avoid excessive use of the comma; it can, and likely will, make your running text challenging to read, if not unreadable.
    • Do not insert a comma before the verb.
      • For example: This is OK: <Whether or not the traffic light was yellow when you were speeding is not what’s at issue here.>, but this isn’t: <Whether or not the traffic light was yellow when you were speeding, is not what’s at issue here.>.
    • As a general rule, you don’t need a comma before the phrase <as well as>, but we suggest inserting one if it introduces a parenthetical, or if the thing that the phrase <as well as> connects is less than equal in value or importance than the other elements it’s listed with. For more, see as well as and Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses


    Check for consistency in punctuation, spelling, grammar, usage, logic. Keep an especially sedulous eye open for various spellings, e.g., Qabalah, Kabala, Kabbala, or Kabbalah, and for incorrect denotations, e.g., costs are either high or low but never expensive or inexpensive; the thing that has a cost is either expensive or inexpensive.

    Check for illogical constructions, too, e.g., <The current minimum wage in California is $10.50 and will reach $15 by 2022.> Note that the same subject <the current minimum wage> must go with both verbs, but that doesn’t work here; it doesn’t make sense that <the current minimum wage … will reach $15 by 2022.>. One fix: <The minimum wage in California is currently $10.50, and will reach $15 by 2022.>

    Correlative Conjunctions

    Correlative conjunctions (e.g., both/and, not only/but also, etc.) join grammatically parallel sentence elements to establish a parallel construction.

    N.B.: Do not use <as well as> as a substitute for and in both/and constructions.


    Avoid cross-references (a reference to another part of your manuscript, usually by using a page number) whenever possible.

    As we don’t know the final page order until your book is designed, they will need to be corrected at proof stage. Your last opportunity to make changes to your text during the production process is before approving the Final Copyedit stage, and we charge for changes after that, at £10 per page. So think of it this way: each cross reference will cost you £10. And pagination is subject to change — so often that this seemingly small issue can become an albatross on your production schedule.

    If you have to use them, refer to chapters, as in <(see Chapter 7)>, or to sections of text rather than to specific pages.


    A cutline is the caption to a photograph or other illustration.

    Usually, a period does not come at the end of a cutline.

    Verbs in cutlines always use the present participle (-ing).

    Please no acronyms in cutlines; spell them out.


    These are typically unattached participles — either present (ending in -ing) or past (ending in -ed) — that don’t syntactically relate to the subjects or nouns they’re supposed to modify. If the antecedent is placed ambiguously, illogically, or incoherently, it “dangles.” For example: <Observing from the plane above, the trees looked miniature in size.> A correct revision is: <Observing from the plane above, we saw that the trees looked miniature in size.> Note that although some danglers are acceptable because of their entrenched usage, they’re generally sloppy. So please avoid them at all costs.


    Here's a breakdown of how each kind of dash ought to be presented on the page:

    En dash (–): These separate number ranges, e.g., <pages 34–36>; <the years 1999–2016>; ages 35–45>, and so on. Notice that there is no space on either side of the en dash.

    Em dash (—): These mark an interruption in the structure of a sentence — like this — often to add emphasis or replace a colon. Notice that there is a single space around each em dash — just like that.

    Hyphen (-): The “pest of the punctuation family,” Sophie Hadida called it, the hyphen ought to be used not as an ornament but, to quote Fowler, “an aid to being understood.”

    So you should use the hyphen only (i) to indicate when two or more words are supposed to be read together as a single word with its own meaning; (ii) to attach prefixes (in order to avoid a miscue, e.g., re-create versus recreate, re-dress versus redress); and (iii), akin to (i), to make specific kinds of phrasal adjectives, the rule for which is: "If two or more consecutive words make sense only when understood together as an adjective modifying a noun that follows, those words, excluding the noun, should be hyphenated" (Oxford's Garner's Modern English Usage, pp. 751–52). For example: < Over-the-top characters>.

    Hyphenate written numbers, e.g., twenty-one, thirty-five, etc.

    Hyphenate age, e.g., two-year-old, three-year-old, etc., but do not hyphenate <two years old>, <three years old>, etc.

    Hyphenate words beginning with self-, ex-, all-, e.g., self-knowledge, ex-partner, all-knowing…

    Hyphenate compound verbs.

    When composite adjectives are used attributively, they’re typically hyphened, e.g., adj. + adj (red-hot, light-blue).


    Dates should be styled consistently, usually in the form <19 September 2020> or <September 19, 2020>.

    Please place bc(e)/ad in small caps, like this. Note too, that ad always precedes the date, as in , and bc always comes after it, as in 1350 bc or 1350 bce .

    Decades are written or expressed in numerals: <the seventies> or <the 1970s> or <the ’70s>.

    Century numbers are written, <the thirteenth century>, and they are hyphenated in adjective form, thirteenth-century, as in <Albertus Magnus was a thirteenth-century philosopher, scientist, and theologian whose hylomorphism is redolent of Aristotle’s.>.

    Make sure to use the en dash, not the’ em dash and not the hyphen, between date ranges: 1994–1998 or ’ 94–’ 98 or 1994–’ 98.

    Decimal Points

    These should appear as full stops on the line. Mark the difference between the capital letter O and zero, 0, and between lowercase l and number 1, where there may be doubt.

    Do not use decimal commas.


    There are several common ways of spelling this. Our preference is ebook (and e-reader).


    Also called period dots, ellipses always come in threes … like that. Each dot is typographically identical to a period, but together they form ellipsis points.

    Please note that when ellipses are used in the body of a text, there must be a space on each side … just like this … and when they end a final sentence, please use the full stop and then add the ellipses, like this…. Note, however, that if you place ellipses at the end of a sentence fragment, then you do not need to use the full stop, like this…


    Place epigraphs at the top of your chapter headings.

    Foreign Language

    If your book depends on using foreign words with accents and ligatures, please specify this on your Author Stylesheet. If you have only a handful, please avoid using them because the extra editorial costs (using designers and copyeditors familiar with the material) is not worth it.


    Verbs that function as nouns must be used with possessive, not personal, pronouns.

    For example: <…to lift the sanctions in exchange for him his reducing his control and ownership…>; (N.B.: the possessive whose cannot function as the subject of a clause.)

    Be extra careful with gerunds; they have a tendency to “dangle” (see Danglers).

    Headers (subheads, sub-subheads, etc.)

    Headings (not subheadings or sub-subheads…) must be in 14 pt. and flushed left.

    Set each subhead on a new line, flush left.

    • Each level of subhead must be distinguished so that the different levels can be identified by the typesetter.
    • Levels can be distinguished by font size, boldface, or italics — just stay consistent.
    • Follow headline-style capitalization (see Titling and Titles). If you want to style your headers differently, request it in the Author Stylesheet.


    See Dashes.


    Check your idioms, make sure they’re correct.

    For example: <It’s hard to overstate>, not understate; it’s not <it’s one of the only> but rather <it’s one of the few”>; <lying low> not <laying low>; etc.


    Words intended for italics should be in italics. Do not underline them. Do not boldface them.

    Use italics for:

    • foreign phrases, or quotes;
    • first mentions of foreign words;
    • titles of books (except books of the Bible), songs, long poems, plays, newspapers, magazines, periodicals, journals (but not articles in journals)
    • emphasis within the text (use sparingly)

    Lists (Do Not Classify Lists as Tables)

    Use bold bullets for main entries in a list and en dashes for subentries.

    Alternatively, use Arabic numbers, 1, 2, 3…, for main entries, lowercase letters, i, ii, iii…, for subentries, and lowercase roman numerals in parentheses, (i), (ii), (iii)…, for sub-subentries.


    No macros allowed! To that end, please also avoid copying and pasting anything from online onto your MS, lest pesky macros creep in.

    Measurements and Money

    This is a tricky area where compromise is inevitable. Dollars and cents are more widely acceptable (worldwide) than pounds and pennies, but feet and inches more so than meters.

    If whole dollars or pounds appear in the same context as fractional amounts, they should be treated in a similar way, e.g., $2.00, $2.30, $0.25.

    An alternative (this also applies to numbers) is to type both versions like this: $15/£10, six feet/two meters, etc.

    Neither … nor …

    This parallel construction yields a singular subject.


    Chicago is our preferred style. However, you are welcome to format their notes using any system of their choice besides Chicago's, insofar as it's specified on their Author Stylesheet and the chosen system is professional, stays consistent, and coheres with the composition's overall style.


    One through ten are expressed in words, but 11 and upward appear in numerals unless you prefer to express it in other terms — for instance: <a hundred people>.

    Always use numerals for statistics, ages, and measurements including time, e.g., <6 weeks>.

    To be consistent in a sequence, numerals may be used throughout, e.g., <most religions have 1 prophet, 3 gods, 12 disciples and more than 1000 saints>.

    Wherever a unit of measurement is used, the number preceding it appears in figures, e.g., <100 cm>, unless it is used in a very general sense, such as <hundreds of miles>.

    Four-digit numbers should appear closed up without a comma, but five-digit numbers and larger should take a comma: 2000 but 20,000. In tables, all numbers with four or more digits take a comma.

    Number refers to many (fewer), amount refers to how much (less).


    Formally speaking, in nonfiction, paragraphs should be organized by, or parsed into, stages of thesis and evidence.

    In fiction, the logic of division is slightly different. The macro approach is to divide paragraphs according to framing, linking and separating (e.g., transitions), as well as scene building and scene changes. The micro approach, which must be borne out with the macro approach, is to begin a new paragraph with each change of speaker. You should also consider organizing your paragraphs around changes in focus and emphasis, thought and direction, and tone.

    Formatting: for both fiction and nonfiction, please make sure that you press return (or enter, depending on the computer your using) after the final period, i.e., the full stop, of each paragraph and then start you subsequent paragraph, flush left.

    There should be no line space separating your paragraphs, and every paragraph must be flush left.

    It might look “off” to you, but our design program will automatically scan your Word file and format it correctly. Trust the process.


    Percentages are amounts, not numbers. (Remember: number refers to how many, amount refers to how much.)

    Please write your percentages in numerals, e.g., <50%>, using the percentage symbol in technical contexts (such as statistics or scientific copy), and writing <50 percent> in nontechnical contexts, but in both contexts, always spell the number when starting a sentence with a percentage, e.g., <Fifty percent…>

    Spell percent (AmE). For BrE, it's spelled <per cent>; if you prefer BrE, please specify that on your Author Stylesheet.

    Proper Names

    Pay particular attention to getting the spelling of these right. The copyeditor and proofreader probably won’t be able to check them for you.

    Quotation Marks

    When using the AmE (US-Style) quotation system, please use double quotation marks for a first quotation; single marks for a quote within a quote; and double again for any quote inside a quote inside a quote.

    In BrE (UK-Style), the method is the reverse for each step: single quotation marks for a first quotation; double marks for a quote within a quote; and single again for any quote inside a quote inside a quote.

    Punctuation with Quotation Marks: When using the AmE quotation system, place the comma or period inside the "quotation marks," like that, but place the semicolon, as in the following example, outside the "quotation marks"; in BrE, commas, periods, and semicolons go outside the 'quotation', like that.

    There is an exception, however: when punctuating a quotation that forms a complete sentence and is separated from the preceding passage by a punctuation mark, the full stop goes inside the closing quotation mark (like in AmE). These quotations can also be interrupted. For example: BrE <According to Divine, 'Cary Grant is always suave and debonair and dashing.'>

    But if the quotation forms part of a sentence that introduces or comments on the quote and there is no preceding punctuation, then place the full stop outside the closing quotation mark. For example: BrE <Divine declared that 'Cary Grant is always suave and debonair and dashing'.>


    Avoid redundancies. Here are a couple of examples:

    • <The reason why is because…> The words reason, why, and because are synonyms. Use either why, because, or <the reason is/the reasons are>;
    • the phrase <self-confessed> is redundant;
    • <Use the staircase to the left to resurface back on land.>: the word back is redundant of resurface;
    • Correct: <Boiling or steaming vegetables does not create acrylamide.> Incorrect: <Boiling or steaming vegetables do not create acrylamide.>

    Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Constructions

    Restrictive: when the word, phrase, abbreviation, or clause provides essential information about the noun(s) to which it refers, no comma is needed. Note that restrictive relative clauses are often introduced by the words that or who, whom, whose, and are never set off from the rest of the sentence by a comma.

    For example: <This is the baseball that broke the window.>

    Nonrestrictive: when the word, phrase, abbreviation, or clause can be omitted without obscuring or losing the identity of the noun to which it refers, it must be set off by commas; e.g., nondefining or parenthetical clauses, such as appositives, can be omitted without obscuring or losing the identity of the noun to which it refers; these clauses are typically introduced (in AmE) by the word which or who, whom, whose, and are always set off by commas from the rest of the sentence.

    For example: <This is the baseball, which was struck by one of those bats, and it broke that window over there.> Notice that if you remove the (appositive) clause set off by commas, the sentence’s essential information — the baseball broke the window — is retained.

    More explanatory examples:

    Incorrect: My production manager, John gets cranky when I file past the deadline.

    Correct: My production manager John gets cranky when I file past the deadline.

    Correct: My production manager, John, gets cranky when I file past the deadline.

    OK, so what's the difference between the two correct versions?

    • When there are no commas around a name or title (or an appositive, descriptive phrase, or relative clause), the latter is essential to the meaning of the sentence, and the sentence will not make sense without it. For instance, the sentence <This is the baseball that broke the window.> would make little to no sense if it read <This is the baseball.> with no context.
    • When there are commas around a name or title (or an appositive, descriptive phrase, or relative clause), then the latter is not essential to the meaning of the sentence, and the sentence will make sense without it. For instance, the essential meaning of the sentence <This is the baseball, which was struck by one of those bats,and it broke that window over there.> stays in place without the nonrestrictive clause, <This is the baseball and it broke that window over there.>

    Additionally, and returning to the John-the-production-manager examples above, the comma (or lack thereof) marks a distinction in terms of one versus many.

    • No commas imply that the name or title is one of many. The first correct version of the sentences above indicates that I have multiple production managers and that I’m talking about a specific one, John.
    • Commas indicate that a sentence is focusing on one particular person or thing. The second correct version of the sentence above indicates that I’m talking about one specific production manager only, John. It also implies that John is the company’s only production manager.
    • Another set of examples: If I have more than one sister, I would write <My sister Alice keeps eating these funny mushrooms.> If, however, Alice is my only sister, then I must set off her name with commas, like this: <My sister, Alice, keeps eating these funny mushrooms.> because her name is a nonrestrictive element — if you remove her name, and the commas that set it off, from the second sentence, the essential meaning stays because Alice is my only sister.
    • In the following example, note that if John is the only production manager, then the name John is not essential to the following sentence; the sentence also makes sense without his name: <My production manager gets cranky when I file past the deadline.> And because John is the paper's only production manager, if we wish to include his name, it will read like this: <My production manager, John, gets cranky when I file past the deadline.>.

    Still confused about restrictive and nonrestrictive elements? Try crossing the name, title, appositive, descriptive phrase, or relative clause out and then reading the sentence in context without it. If the sentence makes sense, you probably don’t need the commas. If it doesn't make sense, you probably do need the commas.

    For more examples of restrictive and nonrestrictive constructions, see CMS, §6.27–6.30.


    Used to separate main clauses that have different subjects and are not introduced by a conjunction, the semicolon prevents a comma splice.

    Special Typefaces

    Characters, accents, symbols, Greek, etc., that aren’t commonly used as standard setting can be done but disproportionately increase cost and time on the schedule. It’s not worth having a handful in the book; it means using a copyeditor and designer who understands them and has the equipment. For some books, it’s unavoidable. If you must use Greek letters, spell them out, because symbols can disappear during conversion processes.


    If you have a preference, whether it’s AmE (US-Style) or BrE (UK-Style), please specify this in your Author Stylesheet. Otherwise, we defer mostly to AmE spelling according to the Oxford English or Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.


    Check for stereotyping, e.g., women only as mothers, or the hard sciences being scienced by men. Humankind or humans is generally preferable to mankind, chair to chairman, and spokesperson to spokesman.

    It’s OK to use they for the third-person singular, as in <When someone becomes a pagan, they go out to buy a white robe.>


    Avoid using tables if at all possible. See Images.


    Be careful of tenses, e.g., the past tense of may is might, of bid is bade, of <lie down> is <lay down>, whereas <lay it down> is <laid it down>.

    The simple past of sing is sang, and the past perfect (pluperfect) is <had sung>.

    For past-tense, contrary-to-fact conditionals (subjunctive), use the past-tense might, not may..


    that: Unless you’re a journalist or a newsroom editor, consider using that as (1) a restrictive clause or restrictive relative pronoun, e.g., <the book that she read last month>; (2) a demonstrative adjective, e.g., <that idea is good>; (3) a conjunction, e.g., <he said that all the documents are sealed>.

    Per the Associated Press Stylebook, use that before subordinate clauses beginning with conjunctions such as after, although, because, before, <in addition to>, until, and while, e.g., <Johnson said that after learning he would be sanctioned, he quit.>

    According to Theodore M. Bernstein, the New York Times’s notable assistant managing editor from 1925–1950 as well as a professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, the majority of cases of whether to include or exclude that is a matter of idiom. However, he highlighted how the placement of that in a sentence can determine a temporal modifier, or at least unveil an issue with “intervening time elements.” For example: <He said that today he was filing the brief.> versus <He said today that he was filing the brief.> These examples demonstrate how placement of that can change the temporal-semantic meaning of a sentence, in this case from <He’s filing it today.> to <He said it today.>.

    Our preferred style is 9:00 a.m. or 9 a.m.; 10:00 p.m. or 10 p.m.; noon, not 12:00 p.m., and midnight, not 12:00 a.m.

    Notice, too, that we prefer a.m./p.m., not AM/PM, am/pm, and so on.

    Titling and Titles

    For titles and subtitles, we follow the principles of headline-style capitalization:

    1. Capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles (see 7. below), and all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs (except for as, which is invariably lowercase, regardless of its grammatical function).

    2. Lowercase articles a, an, and the.

    3. Lowercase all prepositions, except when they’re used adjectivally or adverbially, e.g., down in <Turn Down>, on in <the On Button>, to in <Come To>, and so on.

    4. Lowercase the common coordinating conjunctions and, but, for, or, and nor.

    5. Lowercase to as a preposition and as part of an infinitive, e.g., <to Jump>, <to Hide>.

    6. Lowercase the part of a proper name that is lowercased in running text, e.g., de or von.

    7. Lowercase the second part of a species name, even it’s the last word in a title or subtitle.

    When referring to titles in running text, follow headline-style capitalization. Italicize the names of movies, journals, books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, periodicals, and paintings. All other titles, e.g., for essays and articles, get enclosed by quotes and are without italics.

    Note, too, that the convention is to lowercase and keep in roman the initial the (unless it begins a sentence) when mentioning newspapers and other periodicals in the running text, even if it is capitalized on the publication's masthead.

    Usage and Other Miscellanea

    A good usage dictionary, e.g., Fowler’s or Garner’s, is an important resource to have besides a style guide. Here is a handful of common usage errors and their corrections:

    • <2 millionth>, not two-millionth
    • The verb <to comprise> belongs only to wholes, not to parts: a whole comprises the parts; parts don’t comprise the whole.
    • <different from>, not <different than>
    • food-insecure, not <food insecure>
    • In precise language, fulsome means <offensively excessive>, not simply full or abundant.
    • The words giveth and taketh mean gives and takes; so don’t write <to giveth> and/or <to taketh>.
    • <I wished I had/I’d known>, not <I wished I would have/would’ve known>
    • Avoid using like as a conjunction introducing a full clause; technically it’s a preposition if not a verb.
    • The word sojourn does not mean journey or <to travel>; it means <a temporary stay in one place>
    • <put through the wringer>, not <put through the ringer>
    • the word enormity refers to great wickedness, not only to great size
    • Make sure that all verbs and pronouns agree with the subjects and tenses of sentences, of course
    • Italicize sic but not the brackets: [sic]
    • Avoid using the following words as qualifiers; they’ll make your sentences sag: <a bit>, <a little>, almost, faintly, kinda, <kind of>, pretty (as in <pretty worried>), rather, slightly, somewhat, sorta, <sort of>
    • Collective nouns take a singular pronoun if the members are treated as a unit, but plural when the members act individually.
    • As the subject of a sentence, mass nouns take the singular verb form, but in a collective sense, the verb may take either a singular (to emphasize the group) or a plural form (to emphasize the members).


    afterlife, Almighty, Ancient Wisdom, Ark (of the covenant), ascension, Ascendant (in astrology), big bang, Book of Revelation (but Bible books), chakra, Church fathers, Church and State, civilization, coexist, commingle (not comingle), covenant, creation, Creator, cross, crucifixion, Crucifixion (when referring to Jesus’s Crucifixion), Day of Atonement, Devil, Druid Way, earth (lowercased when referring to the ground or to soil), Earth (when referring to the proper name of the planet), Empire (when the proper name of a specific empire), empire (when part of a title), encyclopedia, Eucharist, exile, Exodus (when naming the book of the Bible), faerie, fall, feng shui, the Father, God, goddess, gospels, a gospel (unless the New Testament Gospels), heaven (when referring to the sky or celestial space above), Heaven (when referring to “the dwelling place of the Deity and the blessed dead” or when invoking the sense of God, e.g., “Heaven help me!”), hell, High King, high priest, hillfort, John’s Gospel, karma, Last Supper, late Neolithic, early Bronze Age, etc., Legions (Roman), Letter (Epistle) to the Hebrews, a letter, marketplace, moon, Moon (in astrology), Mother Goddess, Mount of Olives, Law of Moses, (the) law, messiah (when referring to “a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause”), Messiah (when referring to Jesus), messianic, midheaven, nature, Noah’s ark, organization, otherworld, paradise, passion, Passover, a pope, the Pope, papacy, preeminent, Psalm 93, psalms, psi, purgatory, resurrection, the Resurrections (when referring to Christ’s rising from the dead), Sermon on the Mount, Sheol, sky gods, Sky Land Sea (in Celtic metaphysics), a/the son, the Son (when referring to Jesus Christ, the second person of the Christian Trinity), the scriptures, space-time, spirit, Spirit Guides, Sun (in astrology), sun gods, Sun God, the Temptation, Ten Commandments, tabernacle, Tabernacle (when referring to the actual tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus), Temple, Trinity, uncharted (not unchartered), universe, the West, the East, Western and Eastern (when part of the name for regions in the world or its countries), but west-central Europe (when orientational), well-being, holistic, Wise Ones, worldview, worldwide, yin-yang.

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