JAR Style Guide

The Journal of the American Revolution (JAR) Style Guide combines best practices in non-fiction writing on American Revolution topics with rules from Chicago Manual of Style, the gold standard for most American scholarly publishing, as well as some rules from The Associated Press Stylebook, the standard for American journalism. All long-form feature or scholarship submissions must include endnotes (primary sources please) using Chicago Manual of Style. With new style entries regularly added below, this will be the essential guide for all JAR contributors. However, we admit it will be impossible to achieve complete consistency with so many contributors from different fields and backgrounds, and such a small staff. In addition to the style guide, we kindly ask that you adhere to our document set-up guidelines.

act: Capitalize in titles (e.g., Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Acts) and user lowercase “act” when referenced without the title (e.g., “The Stamp Act received Royal assent on March 22, 1765, but the act was repealed the following year.”)

block quotes: Used for quotes of at least one hundred words or eight lines, or more than one paragraph, even if the paragraphs are very short. Always start a new line and indent.

capitalization: Use Chicago Manual of Style throughout. For example, do not capitalize individual personal titles unless followed by the title person’s name (e.g., Go ask the president. That belongs to President Adams. John Adams, as president, was commander in chief. John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress. Go ask the prime minister. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. The king. The king of France. The royal governor of New Jersey. British navy, not British Navy. It is the army, not Army. The act of 1753. The Stamp Act. Lowercase revolution and revolutionary when standing alone. American Revolution. Loyalist, not loyalist. Patriot, not patriot. Lowercase colonies, not Colonies. Lowercase light infantry, not Light Infantry. Seasons are all lowercase – fall, spring, winter, summer.

centuries: Spell them out (e.g., eighteenth century). Also see ordinals.

citations: Use endnotes, not footnotes, and use the endnote function in Microsoft Word. Use Chicago Manual of Style (see quick guide).

commas: Add the serial (Oxford) comma only when it improves clarity (e.g., “the Act includes duties on tea, paper and glass” and “his favorite newspapers were the Boston News-Letter, Pennsylvania Gazette, and Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser“). Also see dates.
Congress: Capitalize First Continental Congress, Second Continental Congress, Continental Congress or Congress when referring to the American legislature, or a foreign body with the same term. For state congresses, use lowercase congress.

Continental: Capitalize. As in Continental army and Continental currency.

Continental Congress: First Continental Congress and Second Continental Congress; not 1st and 2nd. Capitalize both words when only using “Continental Congress” and capitalize all three words when including “First” or “Second”.

dates: Always month then day then year. July 4, 1776, not 4 July 1776. If only referencing a month and a year, do not separate them with a comma (e.g., July 1776″ not “July, 1776”). When referencing a full date, also use a comma after the year when the sentence continues (e.g., “On July 2, 1776, Congress voted for independence.”). Do not use ordinals in dates (e.g., “July 4” not “July 4th”); the only exception is when using the number only (“The Declaration was signed on July 2, and was made public on the 4th.”)

directions: In general, lowercase north, south, east, northeast, northern, etc. when they indicate compass direction; capitalize when they designate regions (e.g., “He drove west. The army moved east. A storm system that developed in the Midwest is spreading eastward. The North was victorious. The South will rise again. She has a Southern accent. He is a Northerner. He developed a Southern strategy).

eighteenth century: Spelled out, no capitalization. See ordinals.
ellipses … with a space before and after. Microsoft Word automatically creates an ellipsis character if you type three periods in a row followed by a space; use this character instead of typing dots with spaces in between.

endnotes: See citations.

First Continental Congress: See Continental Congress.

footnotes: See citations.

foreign language words and phrases: Italicize them.

initials: Use periods and a space between initials in a name (J. H. Temple, not J.H. Temple or JH Temple); however, HMS and USS are ship prefixes and do not require periods or spaces, and are not italicized.

Loyalist: Capitalize. Same with Tory.

names of women: In the 1800s it became standard to refer to women with both their maiden and married names: “Mercy Otis Warren,” “Judith Sargent Murray.” But that style wasn’t standard in the eighteenth century. As a result, some women are best known today through that form and others not (e.g., Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison). In general, we prefer to leave out the maiden names unless the women actually used them in their lifetime.

nonconsumption: Do not hyphenate and do not capitalize unless part of a title.

nonimportation: Do not hyphenate and do not capitalize unless part of a title.

numbers (basic): Spell out numbers up to (and including) one hundred (e.g., zero, one, ten, ninety-six, 104, 212); spell out whole numbers up to (and including) one hundred when followed by “hundred,” “thousand,” “hundred thousand,” “million,” “billion,” and so on (e.g., eight hundred, 12,908, three hundred thousand, twenty-seven trillion). If your sentence or paragraph includes several number references, we are flexible on style if doing so improves clarity. For example, use matching styles per category: “It took three cannon to kill 400 British regulars in one battle and two hundred cannon to kill 50 British regulars in another.” If there are two numbers and one is above 100 use numerals for both (e.g., “He unit had 4 cannon and 400 muskets.”).

numbers (beginning a sentence): Spell out numbers that begin a sentence, or reword to avoid. Try “The year 1776” instead of “Seventeen seventy-six.”

numbers (ordinals): Same rules as numerals. Spell out ordinal numbers up to (and including) “hundredth” (e.g., second, sixty-first, 333rd, 1,024th). See ordinals in dates. An exception applies in regimental numbers. Keep ordinal numeral form for regiments (e.g., 4th Regiment of Foot, 2nd Massachusetts).

“Olive Branch” Petition: Use quotations around “Olive Branch” and capitalize all three words.

Oxford comma: See commas.

Patriot: Capitalize. Same with Whig.

percent: Spell out percents (e.g., 90 percent). Also see numbers.

quotations: Punctuation should be inside the quotation marks (“in the end.” “did it return?”)

ranks (military): Military ranks/titles are capitalized and abbreviated before the full name for the first mention, then capitalized and spelled out before the surname (e.g., Gen. George Washington, General Greene). Without a name, a rank is spelled out and lowercase (e.g., the general). Common abbreviations include:

  • general – Gen.
  • lieutenant general – Lt. Gen.
  • major general – Maj. Gen.
  • brigadier general – Brig. Gen.
  • colonel – Col.
  • lieutenant colonel – Lt. Col.
  • major – Maj.
  • Captain – Capt.
  • admiral – Adm.
  • vice admiral – Vice Adm.
  • rear admiral upper half – Rear Adm.
  • rear admiral lower half – Rear Adm.
  • captain – Capt.
  • commander – Cmdr.
  • lieutenant commander – Lt. Cmdr.
  • lieutenant – Lt.

regiment: Lowercase “regiment” unless part of a title (e.g., “2nd Virginia Regiment” and “Royal Ethiopian Regiment”) and use ordinal numerals.

regulars: Do not capitalize unless part of a title. British regulars. Same applies to marines, grenadiers, light infantrymen and riflemen. British marines weren’t Royal Marines until the early 1800s.

Royal: Capitalize in most cases (e.g., “Royal Highness,” “Royal Navy”).

seasons: Lowercase fall, spring, summer, winter. See capitalization.

Second Continental Congress: See Continental Congress.

ships: Italicize the ship name. Do not use italicized punctuation following an italicized word. HMS and USS are ship prefixes and do not require periods or spaces, and are not italicized.

titles (composition): Italicize book and magazine titles. Use quotation marks with article titles. Unpublished documents should have neither italics nor quotes: memorandum on gunpowder supply, July 1776; Adams to Jefferson, March 18, 1792.

titles (government officials and bodies): Use lowercase unless writing formal title (e.g., Boston Committee of Correspondence, kings of Europe, King George III, town committee).

titles (nobility): When referring to members of the European nobility by their title, British noblemen who hold their noble title in their own right and whose family name is part of their title should be referred to by first name, title, and surname. If these noblemen hold military rank, the rank should precede their first name (for example, Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, or Lieutenant Colonel Francis, Lord Rawdon). British noblemen whose title is associated with a geographic location should be referred to by their full name followed by their title (for example, William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth). After first mention, usage of simply the surname or title is acceptable (for example, Cornwallis, Dartmouth). “Lord” is an acceptable substitute for the actual title of all British noblemen (for example, Lord Dartmouth, Lord Cornwallis). The sons of a duke or marquis, the two highest ranking positions in the British nobility, who do not hold a title in their own right are referred to by their full names preceded by the courtesy title “lord” (for example, Lord William Campbell).
Members of the French and German nobility are referred to in a slightly different manner from British noblemen. In the case of French nobles, their full name is followed by the title, with military rank, if applicable, preceding the name (for example, Lieutenant General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau). The proper term of nobility (duc, comte, etc.) should always be used for French noblemen as the term “lord” did not refer to a person of noble status in France. German noblemen are referred to by first name(s), title, and surname (for example, Friedrich Adolph, Baron de Riedesel). In this case also, the specific title should be used rather than the generic “lord” applied to British nobles.

titles (religious): Refer to Rev. Mr. Cooper, not Rev. Cooper.

titles (revolutionary): Capitalize the Revolution and Revolutionary when referring to this event and era. When referring to political revolution in general and things related to it, lowercase: The American Revolutionaries emphasis on natural rights was truly revolutionary.

Tory: Capitalize. Same with Loyalist.

Whig: Capitalize. Same with Patriot.