British Naval History – Author’s Style Guide
The British Naval History website editors invite the presentation of new knowledge based on original research and analysis, or a well-reasoned argument on an issue of prior or current debate. The nature of screen-mediated, online publication requires a succinct writing style and a well-ordered structure appropriately divided into sections or short chapters indicated by cross-head subtitles.
While it also demands a visual presentation different from that for finely-produced printed books, a less nuanced typography and punctuation, we will endeavour to present text as elegantly as the medium allows. However, the functional aspects of mediated text for online viewing demands consistency and it is for that reason that we have produced this detailed style guide for authors submitting essay-length texts.
1.0 Proposals for essays
Proposals should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or within the body of an email to: email@example.com. Work in progress and finished essays should be supplied in either Microsoft Word or LibreOffice/OpenOffice text document formats.
The BNH website has a very large capacity on a robust platform, but it is not able to host an infinite amount of text-based material, so we will apply selection. We encourage proposals from a wide range of authors, not just established, professional historians, and will apply the same selection criteria to all submissions no matter what the academic background or reputation of the authors may be. Inevitably this means that some proposals will not be accepted. Among the selection criteria will be relevance to the BNH audience, and also a desire to publish new material In respect of topics and approach, and new analyses of existing topics, within the long-established framework of good research technique, rigorous thinking and – perhaps above all – interesting writing.
Authors whose proposals or submitted texts are not accepted or are returned with a request to alter significant areas of the text should not take this personally – we know the heartache of the publisher’s rejection slip and the editor’s blue pencil! – and should not be disheartened. Discuss suggested alterations with us, or if your proposal is rejected submit the same material to another outlet which may be more appropriate, and submit a new idea to BNH.
But we expect that most submissions will be appropriate to the audience and aims of the BNH site and will meet the criteria of good, interesting history writing. Following our author’s style guide will make it easier for us to host your work on the website, and will create a better online experience for our readers. We look forward to reading your essays!
2.0 Accepted texts
The discussion in submitted essays should meet a standard approaching that of learned or historical research society journals such as the Society for Nautical Research’s quarterly journal Mariner’s Mirror or the publications of the Navy Records Society, but should be succinct and couched in a style which would maintain the interest of lay readers.
If the essay is based upon material published elsewhere this should be stated in the proposal and at the end of the submitted body text, before the bibliography, citing the relevant publication data; it is the author’s responsibility to ensure approval to republish online by the original publishers and their editors taking account of any and all copyright matters concerning such essays outside the author’s ownership.
The essay should be headed by a title and the authors’ by-line in their preferred style, preferably with main post-nominals and either their academic institution or title and organisation.
The body text should be preceded by a short introduction or abstract of between 50 and 200 words depending upon the length of the essay. It is useful to provide separately a short list of key words which will be used as meta-tags.
Essays should be submitted as finished, ‘print-ready’ text of between 500 and approximately 4000 words. If paginated please ensure that the pages numbers are created within the automatic formatting as they need to be removed in encoding for upload to the site. Text should be in 10pt Arial or 12pt Times New Roman font (they will appear as Droid Serif online and in various font sizes defining body text, cross-heads and titles); it should be one-and-a-half spaced, ranged left, and the paragraphs not indented but separated by a line-space.
When moving within the body of the text to a new idea or area of discussion it is helpful – especially in screen-mediated text such as online articles – to identify this by a cross-head, which should be ranged left, in bold type and not numbered.
Text should be submitted in English (we are examining the potential of offering key sections of the website in other major languages which might allow us to publish original texts in those languages). British English spelling and vocabulary are preferred but US English spelling and vocabulary are acceptable in the submitted text and will be maintained as such in the online version. It is acceptable to quote text in other languages but a translation into English should be given in all cases other than well-known foreign phrases common in English usage; translations of short phrases may be given in a footnote but longer phrases should have the English translation immediately afterwards, in the same indented extract format as the original (see note 2.3 below).
2.1 References to living or deceased persons
Any reference made in the text to living persons, including authors of works under discussion, should be made in a courteous manner, giving extended information about the subject person in a footnote, including full bibliographic data about any work under discussion. Reference made to historical persons should be accurate, objective and balanced, and if critical of their character or actions should be supported by evidence presented in the body text; notwithstanding this, the personal opinions of authors concerning historical persons are not discouraged, providing they are tempered by evidence and are not excessively disputateous. Comments of a discourteous nature will be expunged by the editors or if of a serious degree may cause the essay to be rejected.
2.2 Naming of vessels
The names of all ships should be given in italics, not in capitals as was common usage in the service in the twentieth century, or underlined as was necessary in marking up for manual typesetting. On first mentioning a rated Naval vessel she should be given her rate before her name, or the number of rated guns given in parentheses immediately afterwards; subsequent naming of the same vessel does not require this information. Warships of fifth and sixth rate (ie, not ships-of-the-line) should not be referred to as HM Frigate but of course the description of her type is necessary in the text. Unrated warships should be given their type before the name, eg HM Bombship Erebus . When mentioning a naval vessel outside the context of discussing her captain of the time, it is useful but not essential to include his name within the same parentheses as the rated guns, eg: HM Ship Imperieuse (36, Captain Thomas Lord Cochrane).
While ‘HMS’ as a prefix to the name of British naval vessels – ie, the abbreviation of ‘His / Her Majesty’s Ship’ – is not unknown before the 1790s when it became increasingly common in vernacular use, its use was very unusual in Admiralty or Navy Board documents or officers’ personal correspondence until well into the nineteenth century, and appears anachronistic in material concerning ships of the age of sail. Authors working on material between c1660 and before the 1840s should adopt the more common style of ‘HM Ship X’ and in subsequent naming ‘the X’, which is also the preferred style for identifying all naval vessels before 1660.
The names of warships of other countries should be prefixed appropriately; if authors are uncertain about this the BNH editors are happy to advise on appropriate styles for countries at various periods.
2.3 Quotations and extracts
Short quotations from other material should be included within the line of text and separated from its introducing phrase by a colon (:) and identified by single quote marks. Extracts longer than two full lines of text should be separated from the text by an indented paragraph and its source identified either by an endnote or, preferably, by its short bibliographic description and page number immediately underneath, ranged right. Such extracts do not need quotation marks.
Slang words, foreign words or reported speech should be identified by double quote marks.
2.4 Abbreviations, dates and calendar, use of numbers
Words should not be abbreviated if possible (unless shown so in quoted text). Common abbreviations such as HMS or Dr should not be punctuated. Dates should be shown as: day, month, year with the month spelled out. Dates before the Christian era should have BCE after the figures; dates occuring after that period should followed by AD.
If given dates are within the period in which the Julian calendar was superceded by the Gregorian calendar in Great Britain and the British Empire including the eastern colonies of North America (for a year following September 1752), this should be indicated by showing the Julian and Gregorian dates together – eg, 11/22 September 1752 – with a note to that effect as an endnote (for the first use of the format only).
Before 1751 in England (1600 in Scotland), the new year began on Lady Day, 25 March. From the end of 1750 the new year began, as now, on 1 January. Authors showing dates within this period should indicate the Old Style and New Style dates by the convention of, for example, 23 February 1688/9. Other countries adopted the Gregorian calendar and changed the date of the new year at other times, usually before the British usage, and authors need to ensure the dates they give are accurate and clear.
In common British maritime usage until October 1805, the new day began at noon, twelve hours ahead of the land day. Authors should be aware of this dichotomy when quoting dates from ship’s logs in this period – particularly Masters’ logs (for Royal Navy ships, the ADM 52 series) – and should show the civilian calendar date in parentheses in the text, with an endnote clarifying the issue.
All numbers lower than 20 (twenty) should be written out, other than dates, number of ship’s guns, fractions or in numerical tables.
2.5 References in the text
References to people, places and events not clearly described in the body text and bibliographic citations should be given as endnotes (numbered in Arabic numerals) rather than footnotes or in-text parenthesised referencing. Endnotes should not be used to extend the argument in the body of the text; references should be relevant and accurate rather than impressively excessive, and information given in the endnotes should be restricted to bibliographical details of material cited or brief elucidation of information such as the birth and death dates of a person mentioned; the use of endnotes to extend material should be avoided – if you need to give further information, include it in the body text (or write a further article!). Due to technical issues, endnote numbers are not to be superscripted, but rather enclosed in parentheses, for example (4).
Manuscript or printed primary material:
Holding institution | collection shelfmark or reference | author | title of work [in italics] | folio number [or page number if unfoliated and printed] | (date and place of creation and/or publication) [in parentheses]
Monographs and books:
Author’s surname, initials | publication title (in italics)| volume and issue number or edition number | publication city and date (in parenthesis) | page number(s)
Articles from Journals or conference transactions:
Author’s surname, initials | article title (in single quotes) |publication title (in italics) | volume and issue number or edition number | publishing organisation or conference organisers | publication or conference city and date (in parenthesis) | page number(s)
Theses and dissertations:
Author’s surname, initials | thesis title (in single quotes) |academic qualification for which thesis was submitted | academic institution and location to whom the thesis was submitted | submission or publication date (in parenthesis) | page number(s)
Online, or electronic or broadcast material:
Author’s surname, initials | title of article or programme (in single quotes) |website URL or broadcast media organisation | date of broadcast airing | most recent date accessed
Unpublished written or oral material:
Author’s or interlocutor’s surname, initials | title (if relevant, in single quotes) or short descriptor of discussion | location of discussion (eg, conference city) | date of discussion (in parenthesis) | page number(s) if relevant
Up to three images – photographs (colour or monochrome), line drawings or tables – may be provided with accepted essays. Authors wishing to include more than three images should indicate that in their proposal. All images for inclusion in the text should be captioned and numbered (corresponding to the figure number given in the appropriate place in the text if relevant), and supplied as .JPEG files. Copyright owners or holding institutions (eg, for paintings) should be correctly credited; see the note re copyright below.
Copyright in all submitted and accepted material remains with the author. All authors must give written assurance that all text material is the intellectual property of the submitting author(s); if the proposed essay contains material owned or created by a third party that should be clearly identified in all submitted stages of the text, and it is the responsibility of the author(s) to obtain any permissions needed for publication of copyright material – of an extended extract or of an image for example – who must provide written confirmation of that when submitting final text.
Justin Reay, Director and Executive Editor, BritishNavalHistory.com
Samuel McLean, Social media Editor, BritishNavalHistory.com
BNH style guide v3 September 2013