Editorial Standards

It is important to establish standards early on in the production process. These will ensure consistency throughout the project, reduce errors, and provide guidelines for future projects. Publishers may choose to establish the standards they follow for their publications based on their preferences and the type of material being presented. For any publisher who does not currently have in-house standards or would like to refer to Scribe’s standards, the following standards can be used.


  • Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition
  • Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary


Numbers referring to pages, chapters, parts, volumes, and other divisions of a book, as well as numbers referring to illustrations or tables, are set as numerals:

“See part 3, especially chapters 9 and 10, for further discussion; see also volume 2, table 15 and figures 7–9” (CMS 9.26).

Use “which” for nonrestrictive clauses, “that” for restrictive clauses (CMS 6.27).

Block quotations: Generally 100+ words or more than one paragraph; run-in quotations: < 100 words (CMS 13.10)

When newspapers and other periodicals are mentioned in text, an initial the, even if part of the title on the masthead, is usually lowercased (unless it begins a sentence) and not italicized.

Newspapers/periodicals are not in italics when part of a prize, building, and so on: Los Angeles Times Book Award.

While Chicago generally recommends avoiding the use of the singular they (CMS 5.255), when referring to a person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun, however, they and its forms are often preferred (CMS 5.48).

Capitalization, General

Heads and titles (for sections, sidebars, etc.) follow headline-style capitalization, so verbs (even short ones like “Is”) are capitalized, while prepositions (even long ones like “through”) are not (CMS 8.159).

Common designations of ethnic groups by color (e.g., black people, white people, people of color) are lowercased (CMS 8.38).

Lowercase names of laws, theories, and models, unless any part is a proper noun (e.g., five forces model, Ricardian model of comparative advantage, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; CMS 8.148).

Lowercase titles and offices, unless they precede a personal name and are thus considered part of the name (e.g., the company’s chief executive officer, a professor of marketing, Professor Smith; CMS 8.19).

Lowercase titles when used in apposition (e.g., the first black prime minister Patrice Lumumba Mallory; CMS 8.21).

Lowercase departments, bureaus, and so on, unless they are the full name of a specific entity (e.g., the marketing department, human resources, the Federal Bureau of Investigation; CMS 8.63).

Lowercase seasons in running text (e.g., the summer of 2008; CMS 8.88).


Items in any list, vertical or run into text, must be parallel in structure (same syntax/grammar; CMS 6.127).

An item in a vertical list that forms a complete sentence should be followed by end punctuation (CMS 6.130).

In a vertical numbered list, a period follows the numeral and each item begins with a capital letter, unless the numbered list is punctuated as a sentence.

In a run-in numbered list, the number goes in parentheses (1) with no period (CMS 6.129).

In a bulleted list, each item begins with a lowercase letter if each item is a fragment but with a capital letter if each item is a complete sentence in itself.

Tables and Figures

Figures use sentence case (period at end only if one or more sentence; CMS 3.21).

Table titles, stubs, and column heads use sentence case (CMS 3.56).

Dates and Numbers

Spell out whole numbers from zero through one hundred and round multiples of those numbers (CMS 9.2) or use the alternative rule: spell out only single-digit numbers and use numerals for all others; round multiples of these use numbers (CMS 9.3). But see the following: “Where many numbers occur within a paragraph or a series of paragraphs, maintain consistency in the immediate context. If according to rule you must use numerals for one of the numbers in a given category, use them for all in that category. In the same sentence or paragraph, however, items in one category may be given as numerals and items in another spelled out” (CMS 9.7).

Any number beginning a sentence is written out (CMS 9.5).

Always use a numeral with the word “percent” (12 percent; CMS 9.18).

Spell out ordinal numbers (nineteenth century; not 19th century or XIX century; CMS 9.32).

Write decades as words or numbers without apostrophes (the eighties or the 1980s; not 1980’s or the ’80s; CMS 7.15).

Spell out simple fractions (two-thirds; hyphenated in n, adj, and adv forms, except when second element is already hyphenated; CMS 9.14)

Ratios composed of whole numbers may generally be expressed using to and spelled out in ordinary text according to either CMS 9.2 or 9.3. In contexts where numerals are preferred, a colon may be used as a shorthand for to, with no space on either side.

  • a three-to-one ratio
  • a 13-to-2 ratio (see 9.3; see also 9.7)
  • a 13:2 ratio

Abbreviate inclusive numbers (e.g., 101–8, 645–48, 1313–27; CMS 9.61).

Use a comma in four-digit numbers, excluding page numbers and years (CMS 6.38).



Do not add an apostrophe when pluralizing capital letters used as words or numerals used as nouns (e.g., three Rs, the 1990s; CMS 7.15).

The possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s. The possessive of plural nouns that end in s is formed by adding an apostrophe only (CMS 7.16).

Possessive of proper nouns: Kansas’s legislature; Jesus’s adherents; Malraux’s masterpiece; the Lincolns’ marriage; the Williamses’ new house; the Martinezes’ daughter (CMS 7.17)

Words and names ending in an unpronounced s form the possessive with the addition of an apostrophe and an s (CMS 7.18).


Use a serial comma.

The adverbs too and either used in the sense of “also” generally need not be preceded by a comma:

  • Anders likes Beethoven; his sister does too.
  • The airport lacked charging stations; there were no comfortable chairs either (CMS 6.52).

No comma after etc. (and similar, such as “so forth,” “and the like”) at the end of a list unless required by the surrounding syntax:

  • The map was far from complete (lacking many of the streets, alleys, etc. seen in earlier iterations).
  • For a discussion of periods, commas, and the like, see chapter 6.

Use a comma, not a colon, for introducing short quotations with “said,” “writes,” and so forth (CMS 13.14).

Two independent clauses joined by a conjunction take a comma before the conjunction. Two predicates do not, except to prevent misreading (CMS 6.22).

Do not put commas around “Jr.,” Sr.,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” and the like.

Sentence and transitional adverbs are followed by a comma (e.g., First, Next, Finally, However, Otherwise, Also, Typically, Generally).

Some adverbs are not usually followed by a comma when beginning a sentence or clause (e.g., Thus, Hence, Here, Now, Then, Often, Sometimes).

Follow expressions of the type “that is” (e.g., namely, for example) with a comma.

Enclose states and countries in running text with commas when they appear following city names.

Colons and Semicolons

If a colon is used within a sentence, the first word after it is lowercased; if a colon introduces multiple sentences, the first word after it is capitalized (CMS 6.63).

To merit a colon, the words that introduce a series or list must constitute a grammatically complete sentence. But an exception may be made when a word or phrase introduces a series or list and the verb is elided or otherwise understood (CMS 6.67):

Pros: accuracy and water resistance. Cons: cheap-looking exterior,…(The pros included accuracy and water resistance. Among its cons were a cheap-looking exterior,…)

Two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction are separated by a semicolon.


Use en dashes for inclusive numbers or dates: February 9–15; also “from 1905 to 1908” or “the 1905–1908 period” (not “from 1905–1908”; CMS 6.78).

Use en dash instead of hyphen for compound adjectives (e.g., Civil War–era backdrop; CMS 6.80).


Use periods and spaces after initials standing for given names (e.g., E. B. White).

Omit periods in abbreviations of academic degrees (e.g., BA, PhD).


In quotes, no ellipses are necessary before the first word or after the last word, even if the end of the original sentence has been omitted.

Quotation marks go after a period or comma but before a colon or semicolon.


See CMS 7.89:

  • adjective + noun: hyphenated before but not after a noun (a middle-class neighborhood; the neighborhood is middle class). Same rule used for adj + participle.
  • noun + adjective: hyphenated before a noun; usually open after a noun (HIV-positive men; she is HIV positive).
  • noun + gerund: noun form usually open; adjective form hyphenated before a noun; some permanent compounds closed (decision making; a decision-making body).
  • noun + participle: hyphenated before a noun; otherwise open (a clothes-buying grandmother; a day of clothes buying).
  • adjectival phrases: hyphenated before a noun; usually open after a noun (an up-to-date solution; his equipment was up to date).
  • adverb not ending in ly + participle or adjective: hyphenated before but not after a noun (a well-known actor; the actor is well known); compounds with “more,” “most,” “less,” “least,” and “very” usually open unless ambiguity threatens.
  • “-ly” compounds not hyphenated
  • proper nouns and adjectives relating to geography or nationality: open in both noun and adjective forms unless the first term is a prefix or unless between is implied (African Americans; African American president; Sino-Tibetan languages; the US-Canada border; Anglo-American cooperation; Anglo-Americans).

Abbreviations and Acronyms

All acronyms spelled without periods (unless stated otherwise in Alphabetical List)

Provide in full at first instance per chapter; use abbreviation or acronym thereafter in chapter or provide in full at first instance in the manuscript.

Spell out “e.g.,” “i.e.,” “etc.” (for example, that is, and so forth) in running text; OK to abbreviate in parentheses

Parenthetical Citation

Use the following format when citing more than one work in a single parenthetical reference.

([Author], [Year], p. [pg. no.]; [Author], [Year], p. [pg. no.]).


The use of ibid. is discouraged in favor of shortened citations (CMS 14.34).

In journal citations, when the date of publication includes month and day, the year may be repeated to avoid ambiguity (CMS 15.49).

Kauffman, Stanley. 1989. Review of A Dry White Season (film), directed by Euzhan Palcy. New Republic, October 9, 1989, 24–25.

If a newspaper article is unsigned, the title of the newspaper stands in place of the author.

  • New York Times. 2002. “In Texas, Ad Heats Up Race for Governor.” July 30, 2002.

When there is no issue number, and where no month or season is recorded, the page number reference follows the volume number, separated by a colon and with no intervening space. If the month or season is included, it is enclosed in parentheses, and a space follows the colon (CMS 15.48).

  • Gunderson, Alex R., and Manuel Leal. 2015. “Patterns of Thermal Constraint on Ectotherm Activity.” American Naturalist 185:653–64.
  • Gunderson, Alex R., and Manuel Leal. 2015. “Patterns of Thermal Constraint on Ectotherm Activity.” American Naturalist 185 (May): 653–64.