In general, The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (CMS) shall be the primary point of reference for all questions of grammar, sentence construction, and style. In choosing between alternate spellings, the spelling favored in The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for your region shall have precedence (e.g. if you are located in the UK, use the British and World English edition). Divergences from these manuals, as well as some handy reminders for common issues are detailed below.

  1. Voice
  2. Mechanics
  3. Formatting
  4. Documentation

I. Voice

As regards to tone, we tend to favour the “playful” and informal over anything too expository in style. We encourage language that is accessible and sophisticated, with minimal use of jargon. See previous essays for a sense of what has been done in the past.

II. Mechanics

Abbreviations and acronyms

Acronyms are generally written in all caps without periods.

Initials in personal names have periods and spaces between initials.
T. E. Lawrence

Punctuation of abbreviations where the first and last letter of the word are present is omitted.
Mr for Mister, Rd for Road

Road, street, avenue, and the like are spelled out in running text, but may be abbreviated in addresses.
Connecting Edo (now known as Tokyo) to Kyoto, the Tōkaidō road was the most important of the “Five Routes” in Edo-period Japan.

Place names (countries, states, and provinces) are spelled out unless they constitute a bibliography or an address, in which case they shall be abbreviated according to CMS preferences.
In Victoria, British Columbia, he was in “a state of beastly intoxication”

Measurements are not abbreviated.
The wound was more than three inches deep.


Historical events are generally capitalized, if the formal name is in use. Refer to the OED for guidance.
World War II
the Fire of London

Periods and eras are capitalized according to traditional use. Refer to the OED for guidance. Numerical designations for periods are lowercased, unless part of a proper name.
the Middle Ages
the medieval era
the Anthropocene
the nineteen hundreds

Titles: see Titles


Follow the author’s preference.

Ellipses and Omissions

Omissions in direct quotes are indicated through the use of ellipses: three spaced periods with spaces on either side.
“Oscar,” Whistler’s barbs continued, “has the courage of the opinions . . . of others!”

Do not use ellipses at the beginning or end of a quoted passage, unless it is in the original quote.

If an ellipses falls after a full stop, include it before the ellipses points. Other punctuation may be included if it aids comprehension.
“The blood from these warm birds which were dying in my hands, running over my fingers, excited me to a degree I had never previously experienced. . . . This filled me with amazement, but the next moment I felt frightened”.

Titles may be truncated, if particularly unwieldy, through the use of ellipses. Introduce the full title the first time it is mentioned.
Utriusque Cosmi . . . historia.

Foreign terms and names

Unusual foreign terms are italicised, while their English translations are placed in double quotation marks or parentheses.
The Latin name for the Shrubby Blackberry is Rubus fruticosus, where rubus means “bush” and frutico means “to sprout out”.


Treat mid as a prefix
mid-seventeenth century

Numbers and numerals

Numbers through 100 are generally spelled out in the body of a text, as well as such round multiples of those numbers as hundred or thousand. Exceptions to this include cases of numerals in dates (see Dates below), or outside a body of text, such as in captions, standfirsts, lists, scientific data, or in bibliographic information.
She also began to buy tranches of this beloved land, assembling in time as much as four thousand acres

For plurals of numerals, omit the apostrophe.
In Dewey Classification, the 817s cover satire and humour.


Centuries are spelled out and lowercased, except in headers, where numerals may be used. Certain scientific circles of the nineteenth century were home to a rather unexpected preoccupation: the dropping of cats.
17th-Century Calligraphy from Germany [header for an essay]

Hyphenation of centuries shall follow these conventions (see CMS hyphenation guide 7.85)
A seventeenth-century coffee house (adjective)
A late seventeenth-century coffee house (adjective)
A mid-seventeenth-century smoking pipe (adjective)
The seventeenth century (noun)
The mid-seventeenth century (noun)
In the late seventeenth century (noun)

Dates are constructed in the format month day, year. The comma may be omitted from dates consisting of month and year only.
On December 30, 1796, the tortoise took power.
November 1880

Decades do not receive apostrophes.

Years are written as numerals. Decades also follow this convention, including the second decade.
1910s, not “teens”


Follow author’s preference for measurement system.


The possessive “s” is omitted from names ending in “s”.
Matthews’ inner world


Abbreviations: see Abbreviations.

The serial comma is present in lists.
Pigs, cats, and fleas

The em dash shall receive a space on either side for legibility. The en dash is discouraged in these cases.
After death it no longer served its purpose — only an anatomist could still make it useful to the living.

En dashes are used for date ranges.


Changes made to direct quotations: brackets are used to indicate any change imposed on a direct quote. Changes shall not be imposed unless necessary to maintain the clarity of a sentence. The term sic is not used.
She once told Gossman, “[my husband] loves me for myself.” [original: “he loves me for myself.”]

Closing punctuation shall follow the UK variant. Closing punctuation falls outside of quotation marks unless it fell within the original material.
Thornton is at pains to eulogize the royal patron of his enterprise as a “bright example of conjugal fidelity and maternal tenderness”.

Double quotation marks are used for run-in quotes, with single quotation marks for quotes falling within quotes. “There were three things, answered Byron, calmly. ‘First,’ he said, ‘I can hit with a pistol the keyhole of that door’”.

Ellipses in direct quotes: see Ellipses and Omissions.

Extracts: see Formatting.

Scare quotes carry double quotation marks unless they are within a quote.
The perfect rabbit has a “butterfly smut” nose.


The author’s choice, but be consistent within essays. Refer to the appropriate region of the OED for guidance.



Follow headline style for capitalization of most English language titles. For published works, follow the style by which the title is most known.
Sex and Science in Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora

Book, standalone essay, standalone image, art piece, film, and novella titles are italicized. Chapter, illustration/plate, anthology essay, poem and short story titles (works that are part of a greater whole) receive double quotation marks.
“The Dragon Arum”, a plate from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora
Wilmington Giant (1939) by Eric Ravilious [a painting by Eric Ravilious]

Alternatively, older titles (eighteenth century or earlier) may retain original punctuation and capitalization.

Omissions in titles: see Ellipses and Omissions.


Foreign titles generally receive sentence style capitalization and italics or quotation marks as appropriate. For published works, the style by which the work is most known may also be used.
À la recherche du temps perdu

Translations of foreign titles, if published, receive standard headline capitalization and italics or quotation marks as appropriate.
As we will see, Proust lived long enough to see the title Remembrance of Things Past and, while he objected to it, did not take measures to change it.

Translations of foreign titles, if unpublished, receive sentence style capitalization and are set off in parenthesis. Use neither italics nor quotation marks.
J.J. Grandville envisioned a fantastic “steam concert” in his 1844 Un autre monde (Another world).

Latin titles from the ancient and Medieval eras are treated as foreign titles.
As a result of the inaccuracy of the depicted star positions and the fact that the constellations are not shown with any context, the Poeticon astronomicon is not particularly useful as a guide to the night sky.

Latin titles from the Renaissance or modern eras are treated as English language titles.
It was from his major work, an ambitious, multi-volume, syncretic theory-of-everything with the cumbersome title Utriusque Cosmi, Maioris Scilicet et Minoris, Metaphysica, Physica, Atque Technica Historia (which roughly translates as The Metaphysical, Physical, and Technical History of the Two Worlds, the Major as well as the Minor). [Latin title from Renaissance era work, with author’s unpublished translation]

III. Formatting


Block quotation styling is applied to quotations longer than four lines.

Poetry extracts longer than one line are set off as block quotes. Formatting of poem extracts shall reproduce the original as much as possible.


Follow author’s preference.

IV. Documentation

Use a superscript/endnote system of citation. Beyond the smattering of suggestions enumerated here, consult CMS 14 for detailed guidance on all questions of documentation. A basic explanation of endnote construction can be found in CMS 14.15.

You can also see the basics here. The “notes” style is relevant here, e.g. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006), 99–100.


We adhere to an endnote system. Basic book format is as follows:

  1. David Ramsay Hay, The Science of Beauty, as Developed in Nature and Applied in Art (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1856), 15.

“Ibid-free” way of doing numerous books by same author. Note that the abbreviated short form (the author-only citation) is only used where it refers to the work last cited. The fuller short form (which includes the title) must be used in other cases.

  1. David Ramsay Hay, The Science of Beauty, as Developed in Nature and Applied in Art (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1856), 15.
  2. Hay, The Science of Beauty, 19.
  3. Hay, Proportion: Or, The Geometric Principle of Beauty, Analysed (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1843), 10.
  4. Hay, The Science of Beauty, 21.
  5. Hay, 32.
  6. Hay, 35.

In works by more than one author, list all authors, in the order indicated by the source material.

Indirect / secondary sources. You must provide the full citation of the original alongside the full citation of the secondary source. Use “quoted in” to introduce the source you read.

Example —

  1. Jan Trost, “What Holds Marriage Together?” in Continuity and Change in Marriage and Family, ed. J. Veevers (Toronto, ON: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986), quoted in Rod Beaujot, Earning and Caring in Canadian Families (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2000), 110.

Numerical superscripts either at the end of a quotation or sentence indicate a citation. Superscripts follow punctuation excepting dashes, which they precede.
Cavendish retorted, “The nose knows not what the eyes see”.14

Shortened old, lengthy titles: see Ellipses and Omissions.

Words for pages may be omitted unless needed for clarity. When a volume number is immediately followed by a page number, as in an endnote, the word for volume may also be omitted.
10. Hay, 32.
The Complete Tales of Henry James, 10:122

Editions are written as 2nd ed. or 3rd ed., not 2d or 3d.

Electronic Resource Identifiers (DOIs and URLs) are included in citations when applicable. DOIs are the more stable and so are preferred identifiers.