Style, quotations and citations
As with the formatting, consistency is the most important quality of a manuscript – indeed, if you submit work lacking in this respect, we will return it to you for correction before we can move on with publication. It is not important to us whether you prefer to talk about U.S. or US attitudes, events during 1937–39 or 1937–1939, etc., but we do care very deeply about consistency in these things. This should not be a problem for monograph authors, but it will require editors of multi-author volumes to make clear their preferences to all contributors and to enforce their style decisions.
Be particularly careful with consistency in all matters involving numbers (dates, decades, centuries, number ranges, percentages, ages) as these can be frustratingly time-consuming to correct later.
Your purpose is to inform, not to obscure meaning. A key way of achieving this is through clarity of language. Thus, aim to use plain English and avoid clichés, jargon and unnecessarily difficult technical terms. Limit your use of the passive voice and of long sentences. Vary your text, avoid bias and be careful and sensitive in what you write.
We prefer British English to American English spelling, but American spelling is acceptable from American authors. If in doubt, we suggest you refer to the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors or a similar work. The spell-checker function in your word processing program is useful but will not catch all errors.
Foreign words and names
Foreign words should be italicized. However, for maximum readability, we strongly urge you to use international terms and names where such exist (e.g. ‘haji’ rather than ‘hajji’, and ‘Copenhagen’ rather than ‘København’). For plurals using English -s or -es do not italicize the ending, but do italicize the whole word if using a foreign plural form.
Use a single space after all sentence punctuation (full stop, comma, semicolon, etc.) including the ellipsis symbol (…).
Hyphens and dashes are a source of much trouble, so do your utmost to get them right from the start. This is a hyphen -, this is an n-dash –, and this is an m-dash —. Use hyphens between syllables and between elements in compound words (e.g. six-year-old). Use an n-dash without spaces on either side to denote from–to and between relations (e.g. pp. 234–301, Sino–Japanese diplomacy), and n-dashes with spaces as sentence punctuation (such as – presumably – here). Use m-dashes only in bibliographies to avoid repeating the name of an author of several listed books.
Use single quotation marks (but double quotes within single ones). Use smart quotes (‘dog’) rather than straight quotes ('dog').
Dates, numbers, etc.
These are time-consuming to fix. Get them right!
Age. Use numerals (e.g. ‘he was 60 years of age’) but note use of hyphens for compound adjectives like ‘a 14-year-old dog’.
Numbers. Spell out whole numbers up to 10. Use numerals over 10 with separator commas above 999. Use numerals for numbers in figures and tables.
Percentages. Use ‘per cent’ not % except in tables and figures.
Dates. We prefer dates formatted as 30 April 1993 (30.4.93 in tables), 1990s (not 1990’s), twentieth or 20th century, and 1993–94 or 1993–1994 (note en-dash).
Ensure that every element of the text quoted is exact (including punctuation), inserting ‘[sic]’ if you must to indicate errors, etc. in the original.
Short quotations should be incorporated in the text, surrounded by single quotation marks (use double quotes if necessary within single ones). Longer quotations of four lines or more should appear in a separate, indented paragraph.
Always state the source for each quotation at the end of the text quoted. Either place this in parentheses if you are using the author-date system or indicate it with a note marker if you are using the traditional note-reference system (see more on citations below).
Limit your use of quotations to the minimum necessary. If quoting extensively, you may need to seek permission from the original author or publisher. If in doubt, consult our guidelines on copyright and permissions.
Great care is required with your citations. Because these are numerous and specific in their format, they are horribly difficult to correct. Depending on your field of study and your preferences, your citations can be either inline (using the author-date system) or placed in separate notes (the note-reference system). In either case, you should use ‘ibid.’ if a citation refers to the same source as the previous entry, specifying the page number only if this is not identical.
Author-date citations.These are placed within parentheses in the text, together with the page number, e.g. ‘(Smith, 1999: 46)’. This form of citation cuts down on the need for notes but does create visual clutter on the page; indeed, too many citations of this type can make a text almost unreadable. Use given name initials if you cite more than one author with same surname, e.g. ‘(M. Smith, 1999: 46)’, and add ‘a’, ‘b’, etc. if you have more than one reference in the same year for that author, e.g. ‘(M. Smith 1999a: 46)’.
Note-reference citations. These are placed with other types of notes in the footnotes or endnotes. At a glance, the reading experience is much smoother with note references, but a conscientious reader will be constantly distracted by the need to leave the body text, locate the relevant note and read its citation. Most readers choose not to do this and, as a consequence may miss any comments made in a ‘content’ note.
Manually numbered notes are not acceptable, so use the ‘insert note’ function in your word processor and place the note markers after the relevant punctuation (if any). It is not important whether you place these citations as footnotes or endnotes as your editor will make this formatting decision before the book is typeset.
Give full bibliographic details the first time you refer to a book or article, but use only short references thereafter (author’s last name and the title of the work), avoiding ‘op. cit.’ and ‘loc. cit.’.
Bibliography / references
Restrict your references to those sources cited in the book. Order these alphabetically by author, then chronologically if there is more than one work by the same author. Capitalize the first word and important words in book titles, but for titles of chapters, articles, etc. capitalize only the first word and proper nouns. Italicize book and journal titles but put titles of journal articles, unpublished theses, conference papers, etc. in single quotes without italics. Add an English translation (not italicized) in square brackets after the titles of books/articles that are not originally in English, German or French, capitalizing only the first word and any proper names.
Tables. Do not attempt to cram more data in a table than can fit on a printed book page. Number your tables uniquely by chapter (e.g. ‘Table 3.1’).
Illustrations. Place all photos, figures and maps in separate files and identify these uniquely as per tables above. Mark their preferred location in the text (e.g. ‘FIGURE 5.6 NEAR HERE’).
For detailed questions of style and usage, you should consult a comprehensive style guide. We recommend The Chicago Manual of Style for US usage, and for British usage Judith Butcher’s Copy-Editing: The Cambridge Handbook or Robert Ritter’s Oxford Guide to Style.
- Feb. 29 2016
After a year of 48-hour days and frantic juggling, first copies of the printed volume of End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, finally reached the NIAS Press office this morning.