A Style Manual for the Preparation of Research Papers, Seminar Papers, and Honors Theses in the Department of History, Political Science & Philosophy

Style Manual

Purpose | General | Plagiarism | Matters of Style | End Matter


This style manual has been developed to assist students in the preparation of research papers required by the faculty of the Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy. It may be supplemented by Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996). The purpose of such guides as these is to impress upon students the importance of their developing a systematic and uniform approach to the preparation and submission of professional work. Unfortunately, style sheets differ on some of the rules supplied below; when in doubt, make a choice and be consistent throughout. 


It is in your interest to put your paper in the best condition possible before submitting it to an instructor. A sloppy paper indicates indifferent work, and such work will not receive favorable consideration.

The department requires that papers be completed on word-processing equipment, manuscripts to be printed double-spaced on good white paper 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size. Make the margins one inch at the top and bottom and on both sides. Supply a title page containing the title of the paper, the author's (your) name, the course name and number, and the date of submission. Number the body of the text using Arabic numerals placed in the upper right corner of each page, beginning with page 2 (the number for page 1 should be centered at the bottom of the first page). Place source citations (notes) and the bibliography in separate sections at the end of the paper. (Note: if your word-processing program will place the notes at the bottom of each page, that is acceptable.)

Write what you have to say in good, clear, idiomatic English. Use the past tense rather than the historical present and the active rather than the passive voice. Write in the third person, and avoid the use of contractions. Use direct statements and shun circumlocution. Choose words and phrases carefully so as to convey the exact shade of your meaning. Avoid wordiness, banality, and vagueness as you would carriers of the plague. Make your writing so clear that any intelligent reader, though ignorant of your subject, can readily understand what you say. Keep in mind that how well you write may one day make the difference between employment and unemployment.

To be acceptable, a research paper must adhere to the standard rules of English usage. Never be satisfied with a first draft marred by misspelled words, grammar faults, poorly structured sentences, and paragraphs lacking in unity and cohesion. Arm yourself with a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a style manual, and use them often. They will help you remain accurate and consistent throughout in matters of spelling, hyphenation, punctuation, enumeration, and the like. Remember that a significant portion of your grade will depend upon how well your paper is written.


Plagiarism is a violation of the honor code. It involves the copying of material verbatim from any source without quotation and attribution or the lifting of ideas from any source without attribution. Material reproduced verbatim must appear inside quotation marks and must be properly attributed in the notes; paraphrased or modified material must be properly attributed in the notes. The modification of material by altering one or two words in a passage does not avoid plagiarism; take the time to rework in your own words material derived from elsewhere. Remember that writing a bad paper using your own words and ideas is far better than writing a good one using the words and ideas of someone else. One suggestion for avoiding inadvertent echoing of your texts and sources: close all books when writing, and consult them only for specific facts or direct quotes.

The department faculty will challenge suspected plagiarism by requiring students to bring in pertinent sources in order to verify the scholarship.

Matters of Style

You will find below suggestions for dealing with common problems in the writing of papers in history.

Capitalization | Numbers | Quotations | Series | Italics | Dates | Abbreviations | References to Persons


Capitalize sections North, East, South, and West, but not directions north, east, south, and west. Capitalize lake, river, and mountains, when used with a single object, but lower case in the plural: thus, Lake Trasimeno, the Rubicon River, and the Pyrenees Mountains, but lakes Trasimeno and di Bracciano, the Rubicon and Tiber rivers, and the Pyrenees and Apennine mountains. In like fashion, write Prince Edward County and the Democratic Party, but Prince Edward and Buckingham counties and the Democratic and Republican parties.

Capitalize proper names. Capitalize Negro or African-American, Indian or Native American, Hispanic, Oriental, and Caucasian, but not black, red, yellow, or white when referring to race.

Write King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, but the king and queen of Spain, and the king and queen; Pope Boniface VIII (never the 8th), the pope, the papacy; Frederick, Lord North, prime minister of England, Lord North, the prime minister, the North ministry; the Roman Empire, the empire under Trajan, the empire; the Pyramids (but the Egyptian pyramids), the Sphinx, the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the Augustan Age, the Christian Era, the Renaissance; ancient Greece, the Golden Age of Athens, the Hellenistic Age; the Han Dynasty, the Han and Ch'in dynasties; the Forbidden City; Parliament, an early parliament; the House of Lords and House of Commons; Cortez (Spain); Reichstag (Germany); Estates General (France). Some identifying names of historical events are capitalized, e.g. the Fall of Rome and the Reign of Terror, but latter-day appellations, such as the age of steam, the space age, and the nuclear age, are sometimes left in lower case. In the latter case, make your choice and be consistent throughout.

Write President William Clinton, president of the United States, the president, the presidency, the White House; Madeline Albright, secretary of state, Secretary Albright, the secretary of state; United States Congress, Congress, congressional; House of Representatives, the House, the lower house; United States Senate, the Senate, the upper house; David Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Hastert, the congressman from Illinois, the representative, the Speaker of the House; John Warner, senator from Virginia, Senator Warner, the senator from Virginia, the senator; the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, the Court; William Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States, Chief Justice Rehnquist, the chief justice, Justice Clarence Thomas; General John Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general; James Gilmore, governor of the state of Virginia, Governor Gilmore, the governor; the General Assembly of Virginia, the Virginia legislature; The Virginia Supreme Court, the state supreme court. Always capitalize the words, Republican and Democrat, when the reference is to a political party or a member thereof, but lower case when the reference is to political principles; thus, President Clinton not only belongs to the Democratic Party, he is also democratic in his thinking.

Write Oregon State, but the state of Oregon; New York City, but the city of New York; Massachusetts Bay Colony, but the colony at Massachusetts Bay. Write the British colonies, the thirteen colonies; the Northwest Territory, the territory of Indiana; the Hudson River valley, the Kansas prairie.


Put numbers that cannot be written in two words in Arabic numerals. Thus, six, thirty-five, five thousand, but 243 and 4,156. Hyphenate compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine. Round numbers may be spelled out, e.g., two thousand, twenty-five hundred, twelve-hundred-word essay; write large round numbers in figures and units, e.g., 10.5 billion, 4.3 trillion. If one number in a series must be written in Arabic numerals, write all of them that way: there were 30 armored vehicles, 75 tanks, 101 personnel carriers, and 1,450 soldiers in the column. Always write out a number when it occurs at the beginning of a sentence (or rewrite the sentence). One hundred fifteen men and 112 women will graduate this year (This year 115 men and 112 women will graduate). Exceptions to these rules occur in such cases as 44 b.c., page 12, table 17, 45 cubic yards, 35mm film, 5 percent. Use commas to separate thousands, except in reference to street numbers and pages. Thus, 5,141,300 people, but 1019 Main Street and page 1213.

Sums of money that cannot be written in two words should be rendered in figures: twenty-five cents and five dollars, but $21.50 and $185.00; six pounds or threepence, but £14 19s. 6d. or £14.19.6. Very large sums may be written in figures and units: $3.5 trillion or £456 billion.


Quotations should be used with care. Too often they become a substitute for the hard work of doing one's own writing and, indeed, one's own thinking. Insert quotations when they add something that might otherwise be lost. Only a quotation, for example, can adequately illustrate the rapier wit of John Randolph of Roanoke, who once told an acquaintance he did not like: "Sir, you remind me of a rotten mackerel in the moonlight-you shine and you stink."

Be accurate in the use of quotations. It is never correct to alter a quotation without notifying the reader. Indicate the omission of a word or phrase with an ellipsis (three alternately spaced periods): thus, "the three congressmen . . . could not agree"; if the omission follows the end of a sentence, place the ellipsis after the period. . . . The omission of an entire paragraph from a particularly long quotation is indicated by a row of periods across the page.

Words, phrases, and explanations inserted in a quotation must be placed in [brackets]. Errors of fact, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the like that appear in quoted material should be indicated by [sic] so that such errors will not be attributed to you.

Long quotations (fifty words or more) should be indented and typed single-spaced without quotation marks. Place periods and commas "inside quotation marks," but "colons and semicolons outside"; that is the way it is done.


Separate items in a series from each other with a comma: the colors chosen for the flag were red, white, and blue. When items in the text are enumerated, the numbers are placed in parentheses and the items are separated by commas. Thus, three factors influenced the president's final decision: (1), (2), and (3).


Italics are commonly used for emphasis, for foreign words and phrases, for ship names, and for titles of books, works of art, musical compositions, and the like. Thus, if someone offers to sell you the U.S.S. Arizona or a copy of The City of God autographed by Saint Augustine himself, always keep in mind the old rule of caveat emptor. Italics may be omitted in the case of foreign words and phrases that are found in common English usage (as indicated in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). If you choose for emphasis to italicize a portion of a quotation, the fact should be cited in the endnote with the notation "italics mine" or "emphasis mine" in parentheses. If your word-processing program will not produce italics, indicate them by underlining.


Either the standard or the military form for rendering dates is acceptable so long as the writer remains consistent. Thus, July 2, 1776, or 2 July 1776. Write July 2, not July 2nd; the twentieth century, in the eighties, during the forties and fifties, but in the 1920s; write that the Romans conquered Britain in the first century A.D., but that William the Conqueror landed in England in 1066 A.D.


Take care in using abbreviations. Write out United States, the names of the several states, and the names of days and months. Abbreviations are common when referring to well-known organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but always write the name out in the first instance and place the abbreviation after it in parentheses; thereafter the abbreviation alone, in this case, the NAACP, may be used.

References to Persons

The first reference to an individual should provide the full name; later references, particularly if the individual is well known, maybe by surname only. If an individual is or was generally known by a particular name, use it. Thus John C. Calhoun, or John Randolph of Roanoke. In reference to titled individuals, use the title and full name on the first citation; thereafter the title alone is sufficient. Thus, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, and John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore; thereafter, the Duke of Wellington, or Wellington, and the Earl of Dunmore, Governor Dunmore, or Dunmore. Do not use Mr. in formal writing: it does not aid in identification since all men are Mr. Use Miss or Ms., only when the name does not clearly show the sex.

End Matter

Formal papers in history must provide endnotes and a list of works cited. Notes are ordinarily placed in a separate section at the end of the paper, but they may be placed at the bottom of individual pages if desired. The inclusion in the text of the paper of notes in parentheses, however, is NOT acceptable in the Department of History and Political Science. Notes should be numbered sequentially throughout as demonstrated in Endnotes.

The list of works cited is placed in a separate section following the endnotes (or following the text if footnotes are used).

Examples of acceptable standard forms for rendering end-matter entries are given below. Also included below is a list of standard abbreviations.

Endnotes | Sample Bibliographical Entries | Standard Abbreviations


[Book, single author]

1 Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 221-226.

[Second citation of the same source, no other citations intervening]

2 Ibid., 267.

[Book, two or three authors]

3 Elbridge Rowles, Trevor Weed, and Brighton Jones, The Elizabethan Explorers (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948), 133.

[Book, more than three authors]

4 Bellemy Moore et al., A History of China (New York: Random House, 1969), 15.

[Edited multi-volume work, name of author(s) appearing in title]

5 E. G. R. Taylor, ed., The Original Writings of the two Richard Hakluyts, 2 vols. (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1935), I, 13-17.

[Edited work, name of author(s) not appearing in title]

6 Richard Hakluyt, Diverse Voyages Touching the Discovery of America and the Islands Adjacent, ed. J. W. Jones (London: The Hakluyt Society, n.d.), 13-15.

[Book, edition other than the first]

7 George B. Tindall and David Shi, America: A Narrative History, 3rd ed. rev. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), 231.

[Short-title reference to a source cited earlier, other citations intervening]

8 Hakluyt, Diverse Voyages, 102.

[Chapter or section of a composite work]

9 Austin Lane Poole, "The Emperor Conrad II," The Cambridge Medieval History, 8 vols., ed. Henry M. Gwatkin et al. (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1911-1936), III, chap. 11, 253.

[Periodical article]

10 Charles G. Sellers, Jr., "Who Were the Southern Whigs?" The American Historical Review, LIX (January 1954), 335.

[Periodical article, foreign]

11 Carlos Pi Sunyer, "La ultima fase de la vida del General Miranda," Boletin de la Academia Nacional de la Historia(Caracas), XXXVI, No. 142 (abril-junio 1953), 195.

[Newspaper citation]

12 New York Times, April 16, 1912; Boston Globe, April 17, 1912, quoting the New York Times, April 17, 1912.

[Newspaper citation, foreign]

13 Gazette nationale ou Moniteur universel (Paris), 18 floréal an II (May 7, 1794); cited hereafter as Moniteur.

[Government publication]

14 U. S., Congress, Senate, Congressional Globe, 39 Cong., 2 Sess. (1867), 39, pt. 9:9504.

[Government publication]

15 Great Britain, Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3 ser., 249 (1879): 614-628.

[Legal citations]

16 Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252 (1941).

17 Mississippi v. Johnson, 4 Wall 475 (1867).

[Classical citations]

18 Augustine De civitate Dei 20.2.


19 Augustine City of God 20.2.

20 Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics 1177b31.

21 Homer Odyssey 9.266-71.

22 Plato Republic 360E-361B.

[Biblical citations]

23 Gen. 25:19-26:2; 2 Kings 11:12; Ruth 3:1-18.

[Encyclopedia entry]

24 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., s.v. "Prayers for the Dead."

[Unpublished work]

25 Edwin A. Miles, "Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi, 1817-1837" (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1954), 77.

[Electronic media--physical entity]

26 Robert F. Green, Fields of Dreams: The Big Book of Baseball Statistics, 1860-1998 [CD-ROM] (Cooperstown, NY: Baseball Publishing Co., 1998).

[Electronic Media--Internet]

27 "The Third Virginia Charter, March 12, 1612," AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History (University of Kansas); available from http://odur.let.rug.n/~usa/D/1601-1650/
virginia/chart03.htm; Internet; accessed 14 January 1999.


28 "The Riches of Vicksburg," Southern Living, 1998 [magazine on-line]; available from http:// southern-living.com/travel/vicksburg.html; Internet; accessed 14 January 1999.

Sample Bibliographical Entries.

Depping, George B., ed. Correspondence administrative sous le règne de Louis XIV. 4 vols. Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1850-1855.

Ebenezer, J. B., and Scrooge, William. A Life of Charles Dickens. 2 vols. London: The Tower Press, 1932.

Hakluyt, Richard. Diverse Voyages Touching the Discovery of America and the Islands Adjacent. Edited by J. W. Jones. London: The Hakluyt Society, n. d.

Miles, Edwin A. "Jacksonian Democracy in Mississippi, 1817-1837." Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1954.

New York Times, 1912.

Poole, Austin Lane. "The Emperor Conrad II," The Cambridge Medieval History. 8 vols. Edited by Henry M. Gwatkin et al. (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1911-1936), III, 253-271.

Rowles, Elbridge; Weed, Trevor; and Jones, Brighton. The Elizabethan Explorers. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1948.

Sellers, Charles G., "Who Were the Southern Whigs?" The American Historical Review, LIX (January 1954), 335-376.

Taylor, E. G. R., ed. The Original Writings of the two Richard Hakluyts. 2 vols. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1935.

U. S., Congress. Congressional Globe. 39 Cong., 2 Sess., 1867.

Standard Abbreviations.

English Abbreviations
  • abr., [abridged]
  • b. [born, brother]
  • B.C.E. [before the Christian Era]
  • B.C. [before Christ]
  • C.E. [Christian Era.]
  • comp. [compiler, compiled by]
  • ed. [editor, edited by]
  • n.d. [no date (of publication)]
  • n.p. [no place (of publication)]
  • pseud. [pseudonym of]
  • trans. [translated, translated by; translator]
Latin Abbreviations
  • A.D. [anno Domini, in the year of our Lord]
  • ca. [circa, about, approximately]
  • cf. [confer, compare]
  • et al. [et alii, and others]
  • ibid. [ibidem, in the same place]
  • id. [idem, the same]
  • i.e. [ id est, that is]
  • inf. [infra, below]
  • MS (pl. MSS) [manuscriptum, -a, manuscript, manuscripts]
  • pass. [passim, throughout]
  • q.v. [quod vide, which see]
  • sup. [supra, above]
  • s.v. [sub verbo, sub voce, under the word]
  • ut sup. [ut supra, as above]
  • vs. or v. [versus, against]
  • viz. [videlicet, namely]