Bibliographic Citations

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 21, 2013 6:30:00 AM

stack of booksWe often proofread documents that contain bibliographic references. There are at least three "standard" forms for literary citations. The form you choose will depend on your readership.

In general, we follow the Chicago Manual of Style. For medical documents, the preferred form is prescribed (so to speak) by the American Medical Association's AMA Manual of Style. For academic documents, the preferred form is laid down by the American Psychological Association's Publication Manual of the APA (notto be confused with AP style). These three major forms are shown below. (This is not meant to be an in-depth presentation, because there is not enough space here. For complete details, consult the appropriate style guide.)

Bibliographic citations are often provided in notes (footnotes or endnotes). If you do not include a bibliography section, your notes need to be complete. Show the authors, the article name or book title, the source (a magazine, perhaps), volume, year published, and pages containing the reference.

  1. Mortimer D. Manfrieze, "Slalom Skiing in Transylvania: An Illustrated Guide," Albanian Water Ski Magazine 89 (1953): 56.
  2. Mary Dairy Motorman, The Complete Tournament Skier (Boston: Rundown House, 1959), 71-73.
  3. Pinkerton C. Claybourn and Humboldt Starkman, eds., The Skier's Bible (Denver: Horsetooth Press, 1977), chap. 4, doc. 8.

These references in bibliography form, usually at the end of the publication, are shown as follows (note the period here where a comma was in the notes):

Manfrieze, Mortimer D. "Slalom Skiing in Transylvania: An Illustrated Guide." Albanian Water Ski Magazine 89 (1953): 41-59.
Motorman, Mary Dairy. The Complete Tournament Skier. Boston: Rundown House, 1959.
Claybourn, Pinkerton C., and Humboldt, Starkman, eds. The Skier's Bible. Denver: Horsetooth Press, 1977.

Chicago also supports references in author-date style. See the Chicago Manual of Style for details.

This guide differs rather sharply from Chicago. Examples follow. Note the absence of certain punctuation where you would otherwise expect it to be. Also note the concise abbreviation, sans punctuation, of periodical names, sometimes to the point of confusion for unfamiliar (non-medical) readers.

  1. Schmore, PJ. Typical injuries suffered by water skiers in rough weather. Ann Water Sports Med. 1986;104(2):257-296.
  2. Jumper IM, Driver SE, Moore PW. Spinal injury and the air chair. JAWA. 2004;292(14):67-75.
  3. Sueem GO, Choate AK. Two in 5 "original" articles in the Journal of the Albanian Medical Association are fictitious. JAMA. 2010;2(1):27-33.

Note that in AMA and APA format, the title of the article or book is in sentence form, with regard to capital letters. And note sometimes the presence of punctuation where you might not expect it to be.

  1. Osgood, P. J., & Morrison, P. J. (1990). Clinical training in handling the stress of cliff-jumping (DHHS Publication No. PAJ 90-1883). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  2. Dickinson, A. L. (1996). The perils of cliff-jumping in the seated position. In T. McBride (Ed.), Maine Symposium on Shock Therapy: Vol. 38. Perspectives on motivation (pp. 123-145). Harrison: Long Lake University Press.

Following a standard format brings consistency, clarity, and familiarity to your document. And that's important to your bottom-line goal: readability!


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Topics: bibliography, AMA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style

Using Civil Titles

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Sep 4, 2012 5:30:00 AM

Titles of people in positions of authority are among the most inconsistent terms we see in all the documents we proof and edit for our clients. Sure, readers are not dumb, and they'll know whom you're referring to when you President Barack Obamawrite "We saw the President boarding Air Force One" or "The secretary of State used to teach at Stanford." But there are established standards, and following those standards tells your readers that you are thoughtful, knowledgeable, and precise. So, before you write your next letter to the president, check out what the Chicago Manual of Style prescribes for these civil titles.
  • the president; George Washington, first president of the United States; President Ford; the presidency; presidential; the Taft administration; Chandrika Kumaratunga, president of Sri Lanka; President Kumaratunga or Mrs. Kumaratunga
  • the vice president; Joseph Biden, vice president of the United States; Vice President Biden; vice-presidential duties; Jorge Quiroga, vice president of Bolivia; Vice President Quiroga
  • the secretary of state; Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state; Secretary of State Clinton or Secretary Clinton
  • the senator; the senator from West Virginia; Senator Robert C. Byrd; Senators Byrd and Trent; Sen. John Glenn, Democrat from Ohio (or D-OH)
  • the representative; the congressman; the congresswoman; Henry Hyde, representative from Illinois or congressman from Illinois; Congressman Hyde or Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) or Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.); Maxine Waters, representative from California; Congresswoman Waters; the congresswoman or the representative; Representatives Hyde and Waters
  • the Speaker; John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Speaker Boehner (Speaker is traditionally capitalized)
  • the chief justice; [the late] William H. Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States; Chief Justice Rehnquist
  • the associate justice; Antonin Kennedy, associate justice; Justice Kennedy; Justices Kennedy and Thomas
  • the chief judge; Henry Tonigan, chief judge; Judge Tonigan
  • the ambassador; Philip Lader, ambassador to the Court of St. James's or ambassador to the United Kingdom; Ambassador Lader
  • the governor; Ruth Ann Minner, governor of the state of Delaware; Governor Minner
  • the mayor; Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago; Mayor Emanuel
  • the state senator; Olga Parker, Ohio state senator; the Honorable Olga Parker
  • the state representative (same pattern as state senator)
  • the governor-general of Canada; the Right Honourable David Johnston
  • the minister; Motohisa Furukawa, Japanese economics minister; Mr. Furukawa
  • the prime minister; the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former prime minister of Canada; David Cameron, the British prime minister
  • the premier (of a Canadian province); the Right Honourable Roy Romanow
  • the member of Parliament (UK and Canada); Jane Doe, member of Parliament or, more commonly, Jane Doe, MP (not used as a title preceding the name); Jane Doe, the member for West Hamage
  • the chief whip; Tony Yengeni, chief whip of the African National Congress; Yengini
  • the foreign secretary (UK); the foreign minister (other nations); the British foreign secretary; the German foreign minister (not used as a title preceding the name)
  • the chancellor; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Chancellor Merkel
  • the chancellor of the exchequer (UK); George Osborne; Chancellor Osborne
  • the Lord Privy Seal (UK; always capitalized)

Note that some company style sheets make the president of the United States an exception: "The President went to New Orleans today." That's fine; just be consistent!
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Topics: capitalization, Chicago Manual of Style

Some Rules on Numbers

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jul 3, 2012 5:30:00 AM

3....2....1....0When it comes to numbers, you may know that our standard style book, the Chicago Manual of Style, calls for spelling out whole numbers from one through one hundred. The Associated Press Stylebook calls for spelling out whole numbers only up to nine. Here are some more rules about numbers in your text.

Use figures for numbers accompanied by abbreviations.

Abbreviations used with numbers usually are for units of measurement: lb., in., mm, mph, hrs., rpm, and so on. Writing that contains such abbreviations is very likely to make heavy use of numbers anyway, and thus to require some special style rules that you might establish; perhaps the rule can be a simple one for your text, such as to use figures for all units of measurement, or perhaps it has to be more complicated.

Occasionally an abbreviation is spoken--that is, used in dialogue. However, usually it is better to avoid figures in dialogue [see next rule]. Therefore, when an abbreviation is spoken, this rule is not followed: "It begins to knock at about four thousand rpm," he said; "Give her ten cc's now and ten more in an hour," the doctor said.

Spell out numbers in dialogue unless they are excessively awkward.

"You owe me one hundred and fifty-five dollars," he said is preferable to "You owe me $155," he said. Numbers, and also the dollar sign and percent sign, somehow do not look right in dialogue, although we do accept them in quotations in newspaper accounts; newspapers do not follow this rule.

"The materials were $122.36, the labor comes to $88.50 plus $43 for overtime, and payoffs were $1,250 to the city and $10 for the doorman, giving us a grand total of $1,413.86," he said would be very tedious if all the sums were spelled out. They could be spelled out if the writer wants to stretch them out for effect, but they are easier to absorb as figures, and most readers would be less put off by the figures than they would be by one hundred and twenty-two dollars and thirty-six cents. This rule permits figures when spelled-out numbers are unacceptably awkward.

The only general exception is years--they are always in figures in dialogue unless the writer wants them said in an unusual way: "It was in nineteen-ought six," he said, "and long before anyone foresaw the ruckus that came in nineteen and fourteen." Depending on the requirements of what they are writing, writers can decide to make any other exceptions they choose. "We're expecting the probe to be closest to Titan at exactly 2236 hours" and "Don't use this stimulant if the temperature is below 96.5 or above 101.5" could both spell out the numbers without excessive awkwardness, but if military time occurs constantly in the context of the first example and body temperature occurs constantly in that of the second, a writer may justifiably decide to use figures.

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Topics: how to write out money in text, Associated Press Stylebook, figures, numbers, Chicago Manual of Style

Grammar Questions Answered

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 22, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Here are some questions we've received from readers and clients, followed by our answers. Hope you find these helpful!

Question:  Would you hyphenate "we must perform our work with a high-level of technical expertise, professionalism, and integrity"?

Answer:  In this example, there should be no hyphen in "high level" - that's because it is not a compound adjective. "Level" is a noun that is modified by "high."

Now, if you take out the word "of" there, then "high-level" becomes a compound adjective and it IS hyphenated. "We need high-level expertise in order to compete."

More examples:

  • He displayed a high level of intelligence.
  • She is a high-level consultant at Monsanto.
  • They sought higher-level access at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • He showed a high level of interest in our design.

Question:  It is my understanding that abbreviations such as "etc., i.e., and e.g." are only used parenthetically, if at all. Why not simply write "and so forth, that is, and for example"?

Answer:  Yes, why not use "that is" and "for example"? Well, sometimes people want to be quicker with their writing, so abbreviations are brought in. Some clients of ours have in their style guides prohibitions on using these abbreviations, but most people rely on them, we see.

The biggest trouble we see with them is when writers confuse them, using "i.e." when they mean "e.g." And in British form, neither takes a comma, whereas in American form, both take commas.

Style guides say it's a matter of personal preference. We'd never change "for example" to "e.g." in a client document, and we'd only change "e.g." to "for example" if the style guide directed us to.

Question:  What's the rule for writing the name of a newsletter--italicized or underlined?

Answer:  Chicago style (Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) has this:

CMS8.2: Chicago prefers italics to set off titles of major or freestanding works such as books, journals, movies, and paintings...Quotation marks are usually reserved for the titles of subsections of larger works--including chapter and article titles and the titles of poems that have been collected into a series.

Chicago does not use underlining at all, apparently.

So, we suggest putting a newsletter title in italics.

Do you have any questions you'd like our grammar experts to answer? Click here to submit your question!

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Topics: hyphenation, italicize, adjectives, abbreviations, grammar, Chicago Manual of Style

Official Changes in the English Language?

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jan 18, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Today, I thought I'd share a question from a visitor to our site and the response given by Phil Jamieson, president of

This is an actual question posed by a reader through our Ask the Grammar Experts section of our website. We didn't make this up nor did we pay our reader for this question! But it certainly speaks to our passions here at

Question from a concerned reader

Are official changes taking place in the English language that I'm not aware of? I'm noticing that grammar errors are occurring in publications with such frequency that the average person has accepted these errors as correct. For instance, the phrase "every day" has now become the adjective "everyday" in all instances; the use of the possessive pronoun before a gerund has almost totally disappeared, and the correct use of an apostrophe is totally unknown. What is the current accepted use of the above issues?


Thank you for your question via our website. We love hearing from readers!
There are no 'official' changes taking place in the English language, mostly because there is no official to regulate the English language. Nor could there be, English being a mix of so many other languages over a long period of time, continuing up to this very minute, I suppose. Unlike France, the United States has no official government agency in charge of the language. Pity, too. There is SO much to regulate. Given two presidents in a row who do not know how to use personal pronouns properly (and the second of the two going even further and gushing over some 'gangsta' called Lil' Wayne as his fave singer), the dumbing down of the language is sure to escalate.
With the proliferation of communication tools, change is far more rapid today than ever before. And new forms are at work on the language, e.g., texting, e-mailing, and tweeting. And so you see in your lifetime - in fact, in a decade - how new words are coming into use. The verb 'google' comes to mind. So does 'tweet.' Who knows? Perhaps BFF and IMHO will become new 'words' someday.
We try our best to regulate according to conventional rules here at every day. I suppose one could say that regulating our clients' English is an everyday passion. All this is to say that we know what you mean about everyday/every day. We see that mistake, every day. Woe to the proofreader who misses it.
I would not say that everyday has replaced every day in "all instances," nor would I say that apostrophes are misused totally. In all instances and totally by some, perfectly and always by others, and often confused by many, yes. But not all the time by everybody...yet.
We take comfort in the fact that our customers are still asking us for help, and as long as they are, there is hope. When it gets to the point where copywriters at General Motors, Liberty Mutual and Cleveland Clinic (customers all) say they don't give a damn, that people know what they mean anyway, then we'll retire as we know it and ask NASA (not Nassau, as one customer actually wrote) to rocket us and all our proofreaders to another world where they still care about how they speak and write.
The current state of everyday/every day, gerunds and possessives, and apostrophes applied correctly is described in your nearest Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. We count on that great book. I hope you will too.
Very truly yours,
Phil Jamieson
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Topics: English language, punctuation, pronouns, Chicago Manual of Style

Headline Style -- Read All About It!

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Aug 24, 2010 4:30:00 AM

NewsboyIf you're in the newspaper business, you know how to properly capitalize headlines. But people writing white papers, press releases, brochures, and even résumés need to know what's right and what's wrong in order to retain the respect and admiration, to say nothing of the trust, of their readers. So take note!

Most style guides call for lower-casing prepositions, articles, and many conjunctions. But there are lots of extenuating circumstances that call for uppercasing those words sometimes. Read on, but first:

- A preposition is a word that could describe your relationship to a cloud: you're in the cloud, under the cloud, above the cloud, around the cloud, by the cloud, before the cloud, after the cloud. These italicized words are prepositions.
- The articles are the, a, and an -- they point out things: the boy, a man.
- Conjunctions join things: and, or, nor, while, etc.

The Chicago Manual of Style says to always capitalize the first and last words of a headline, no matter what. Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are stressed (as through in A River Runs Through It), are used adverbially or adjectivally (as up in Look Up, down in Turn Down, on in The On Button, etc.), are used as conjunctions (such as before in Look Before You Leap), or are part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (e.g., De Facto, In Vitro, etc.). CMS specifies lowercasing the conjunctions and, but, for, or, nor. Always lowercase to and as.


  • Mnemonics That Work Are Better Than Rules That Don't
  • Singing While You Work
  • A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing (is is a verb, and verbs in headlines are always capped)
  • The Water Skier as Bride
  • Tired but Happy
  • Traveling with Bosco, but A Good Dog to Travel With
  • Progress in In Vitro Fertilization
  • Voting For and Against the Tennis Court Proposal

The Gregg Reference Manual says to capitalize all words with four or more letters, including four-letter-plus prepositions. You might find this rule more attractive especially with regards to long prepositions such as through and multisyllabic prepositions such as around and underneath.

Standard newspaper rules call for capitalizing the first word in every line of a column headline that is forced to wrap onto two or more lines. For example,
Federal Tax
Dollars Wasted
In "Big Dig" Fiasco

Always refer to your chosen style guide and be consistent.
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Topics: capitalization, conjunctions, preposition, style guide, Chicago Manual of Style, Gregg Reference Manual

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