article archive

back to contributing

Article Style Guide

'British English' and 'American (US) English' spellings are accepted, but only one convention should be used in an article.

• Avoid abbreviations (acronyms) except for long, familiar or repeated terms (BBC).
• Explain what an abbreviation means the first time it occurs: Scottish Arts Council (SAC).
• If an abbreviation is commonly used as a word, it does not require explanation (IQ, LSD, REM, ESP).
• The following abbreviations are acceptable:
e.g. [use for example]
etc. [use and so forth]
i.e. [use that is]
• Use periods when making an abbreviation within a reference (Vol. 3, p. 6, 2nd ed.)
• Do not use periods within degree titles and organisation titles (PhD).

• Use of boldface for headings and subheadings only. Ensure there are three clear returns before a heading after a preceding body of text, and only one before a subheading.

• Capitalise major words and all other words of four letters or more, in headings, titles, and subtitles outside reference lists, for example, "A Study of No-Win Strategies."
• Capitalise the first word after a comma or colon if, and only if, it begins a complete sentence. For example, "This is a complete sentence, so it is capitalised." As a counter example, "no capitalisation here."
• Capitalise specific body, department titles (Department of Psychology, Scottish Parliament).
• Do not capitalise when referring to generalities (any department, any government).

• Use commas before "and" in lists, for example, height, width, and depth.
• Use commas between groups of three digits, for example, 1,453.
• Use commas to set off a reference in a parenthetical comment (Patrick, 1993).
• Use commas for seriation within a paragraph or sentence. For example, "three choices are (a) true, (b) false, and (c) don't know." Use semicolons for seriation if there are commas within the items. For example, (a) here, in the middle of the item, there are commas; (b) here there are not; (c) so we use semicolons throughout.
• Use commas in exact dates, for example, April 18, 1992 (but not in April 1992).

• Number the notes consecutively throughout with superscript Arabic numbers or within square brackets.
• All footnotes should be placed at the very end of the manuscript under the heading 'Notes'.
• Do not send electronic documents where you have utilised an automated footnote facility (see above).
• Include full URLs (including http:// at the start) for electronic sources. Note: There is no period after the URL
• Use the author-date format to cite references in text. For example: as Smith (1990) points out, a recent study (Smith, 1990) shows. . . .
These abbreviations are for use in a reference list:
chap. for chapter
ed. for edition
rev. ed. for revised edition
2nd ed. for second edition
Ed. for Edited by
(Eds.) for multiple editors
Trans. for Translated by
p. for page number, with a space after the period
pp. for page numbers (plural)
para. paragraph (also use ¶)
Vol. for a specific Volume
vols. for a work with xx volumes
No. for Number
Pt. for Part
Suppl. for Supplement,

• Do not hyphenate -ly and superlative words (widely used test, best informed students).
• Do not hyphenate common prefixes (prewar, nonsignificant) unless needed for clarity (pre-existing).
• Do not hyphenate foreign, letter, numeral terms (a priori hypothesis, Type A behaviour) when the meaning is clear without it.
• Do not hyphenate if a noun comes first (a therapy was client centred, results of t tests).
• Hyphenate adjectival phrases (role-playing technique, high-anxiety group, two-way analysis).
• Hyphenate compound adjectives preceding nouns (client-centred therapy, t-test scores) unless the compound adjective involves a superlative (best written paper).
• Hyphenate if the base is an abbreviation or compounded (pre-UCS, non-college bound).
• Hyphenate if the base word is capitalised or a number (pre-Freudian, post-1960).
• Hyphenate if the words could be misunderstood without a hyphen (re-pair, un-ionized, co-worker).

• Italicise common foreign abbreviations (vice versa, et al., a priori, though we recommend the avoidance of unnecessary Latin terms).
• Italicise for emphasis, colloquialisms, and jargon (but use single quotation marks for odd or ironic usage).
• Italicise the titles of books, newspapers, films (but not articles, which should be in single quotation marks), introduction of new terms and labels (the first time only), words and phrases used as linguistic examples, letters used as statistical symbols.

Miscellaneous: Colons, dashes, parentheses, numbering paragraphs
• Do not use a colon or other punctuation after an introduction which is not a complete sentence such as this one, or any other sentence in the body of text which flows into an extended quote. The quote "picks up where the sentence leaves off" and provides the punctuation.
• Use a dash (rendered on typewriters and some word processors as a double hyphen) when there is a sudden interruption like this one--zoiks!--in the flow of a sentence.
• Use parentheses to introduce an abbreviation, for example, Arts Council England (ACE).

• Spell out common fractions (half, quarter).
• Spell out numbers beginning sentences (Thirty days hath September . . .).
• Spell out numbers which are inexact, or below 10 and not grouped with numbers over 10 (eight items, nine pages, three-way interaction).
• Use numerals for numbers 10 and above, or lower numbers grouped with numbers 10 and above (for example, from 6 to 12 hours of sleep).
• To make plurals out of numbers, add s only, with no apostrophe (the 1950s).
• Use, first, second, 75th
• Use combinations of numerals and written numbers for large sums (over 3 million people).
• Use numerals for exact statistical references, scores, sample sizes, and sums (multiplied by 3, or 5% of the sample). Here is another example: "We used 30 subjects, all two year olds, and they spent an average of 1 hr 20 min per day crying.
• Use metric abbreviations with figures (4 km) but not when written out (many meters distant).
• Use the percent symbol (%) only with figures (5%) not with written numbers (five percent).

Quotation Marks
• Use double quotation marks for speech and quoted text, and encapsulate all punctuation ("If sharks were men," Mr. Keuner was asked by his landlady's little girl, "would they be nicer to the little fishes?").
• Use single quotation marks for speech or where a quotation is cited within a quote.
• Use single quotation marks for an odd or ironic usage the first time but not thereafter, for example, "This is the 'good-outcome' variable, but as it turns out, the good-outcome variable predicts trouble later on . . ."
• Use single quotation marks for article and chapter titles cited in the text. (In Smith's (1992) article, 'A Happy Tomorrow,' fish were described as "here to stay" (p. 311).)
Extended quotations
• Add emphasis in a quotation with italics, immediately followed by the words [italics added] in square brackets.
• Brackets are necessary when changing the first letter of a quotation to upper case. "(A)ny . . ."
• For quotations over 40 words in length, begin quotation on a new line after a return.
• Expand or clarify words or meanings in a quotation by placing the added material in square brackets. For example, "They [the Irish Republican Army] initiated a cease-fire."
• Reproduce a quote exactly. If there are errors, introduce the word sic italicised and square bracketed--for exammple [sic]--immediately after the error to indicate it was part of the original source.
• Use three dots with a space before, between, and after each (ellipsis points) when omitting material, four if the omitted material includes the end of a sentence (with no space before the first). Do not use dots at the beginning or end of a quotation unless it is important to indicate the quotation begins or ends in midsentence.

She He
she/he, he/she, (s)he are all acceptable

Text details
• Do not indent paragraphs, start a new line after two returns.

Split Infinitives
• Split infinitives only if doing so makes the text easier to read.

Since versus Because
• Use since to indicate time and because to indicate reason.

That versus Which
• Use that in restrictive clauses (those without a comma) and which in nonrestrictive clauses (those with a comma).

While versus Although
• Use while to mean "at the same time" and although to mean "in spite of the fact."

• You may include acknowledgements of help from associates, financial support, and permission to publish. Please limit acknowledgements.

Biographical Sketch
• Where it has not been made clear in the article, where you feel it contributes to a more informed reading of your article, or where it discloses interests that may not otherwise be apparent, this sketch is a two- or three-sentence autobiographical statement. Otherwise, we tend to omit them.

• Pseudonyms may be adopted where recrimination may be suspected in any way, but the editors must be aware of the writer's true identity and reasons for incognito.

Manuscript Submissions
Please send in rich text format (RTF) for the text.
• CD ROM (please include a hard print out)
• email to as an attachment (please also post a hard print out)
• 3/half inch floppy disc (please include a hard print out)
Or via post, a manuscript
• clean typed (finished copy) in single or double spacing
• legibly handwritten
Copies must be retained by the sender. Variant cannot accept responsibility for loss of manuscripts.

Photographs and illustrations should be submitted in a form suitable for reproduction, preferably as colour, 300dpi TIFF or PostScript file. These can be emailed, provided on CD ROM, or provide a URL from where they can be downloaded.
Where it is necessary and not clear from the text, number the images according to the sequence of their appearance in the text.
Always provide a text (.txt) file containing all caption information, photographer accreditation, etc. to accompany the images
Images reprinted from other publications must be credited. It is the author's responsibility to obtain written permission from the copyright holder to reprint such images. Variant and its editors cannot be held responsible for copyright infringement where reasonable efforts have been made to inform writers of our policy stated here. A signed letter must be sent with the photographs granting us permission for their use.


 back to contributing