Global Maritime History – Author’s Style Guide

The Global Maritime 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 for Blogs or Articles should be submitted as a Microsoft Word or Open Office document  to: Sam McLean, our Social Media Editor. Work in progress and finished essays should be supplied in either Microsoft Word or LibreOffice/OpenOffice text document formats. For book reviews, contact our Book Reviews Editor Dr Erin Spinney.

We very much encourage authors who are interested to submit their proposals, or works-in-progress, and we will certainly work with you to publish your work.

2.0 Site Style and Formatting Guide

GlobalMaritimeHistory supports a wide variety of styles in our different types of posts. It is more important to us that the author’s voice and style is present in their writing, rather than strict adherence to an artificial editorial voice. That said, articles tend to be more formal than blog posts. In all cases, please feel free to ask questions when you submit your proposal, and our editor will be happy to work with you.

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

In all cases, we ask authors to respect and reflect the way that ships were referred to in the period that they are writing about. 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.  When discussing non-Royal Navy ships, the use of artificial English prefixes (such as HMSwS) is to be avoided.

Ship names are to be placed in italics, such as “The Sovereign of the Seas“. Class names are not italicized, for example “The Tribal Class”.

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. When uploaded, these inset quotes will be formatted as block quotes and will be visually distinct. This is part of the uploading and editorial process and does not require extra marking in the document.

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

Due to the way WordPress works, there are not footnotes as such, but everything is effectively endnoted. Notes containing a references should be in ‘Chicago’ style, as appropriate. Notes always come after the period, and not before. A sentence should never have more than one note- if this happens they should either be combined, or the sentence subdivided into several (each with their own note).

We use a plugin that numbers, and presents the footnotes/endnotes automatically. As such, references must be presented as follows:

Sentence content goes here, mellifluously. [ note ]Reference content goes here, concisely[ /note ] Next sentence continues… (the note and /note tags should not have spaces – they’re added here so the format of the tagging can be seen)

Footnotes appear at the very end of a post, below the Bibliography.

2.6 Bibliography

Articles should have an attached bibliography, which will follow the text. This should also be in Chicago style. This will be presented following the text of the article. This is not necessary for blog posts but is not unwelcome. Further, if a Bibliography contains references to archival documents or website, then links to the appropriate archive and catalogue, and website should be included.

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

2.7 Images

Images are absolutely welcome, within reason. Copyright owners or holding institutions (eg, for paintings) should be correctly credited; see the note re copyright below. Photos should be provided with both captions (including the reference/copyright) and alt-text (for accessibility).

The visual style of the website means that posts are only a certain portion of the screen wide (on most screens, about 50% of the page). As such, having too many images too closely in the text can disrupt things. It is possible for photos to be centred and distinct from the text, or to have them embedded in paragraphs and have the text wrap around them. Please consider these possiblities when including images and provide direction for how they should be included.

2.8 Copyright

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.


Samuel McLean, Social Media Editor
Erin Spinney, Book Reviews  Editor

GlobalMaritimeHistory Style Guide, v1 30 July 2019