Style Guide for Editors

The following guide is to be used by IDEA senior and associate editors when preparing new submissions. 

–          Use American, not British, punctuation. This includes placing quotation marks outside periods and commas. The location of quotation marks in relation to question marks and exclamation points depends on whether the matter you’re quoting deserves the question mark or exclamation point, or whether the question mark or exclamation point refers to a larger set of text both inside and outside the quotation marks.

–          Use the American, not British spellings of words such as flavor, color, while (not whilst), etc. The exception to this rule is when you’re quoting from a text that has already been published. In that instance, keep the original spelling.

–          Each line in a submission must have text. If there is no information for that line, please type N/A. Note the capitalization.

–          Avoid ellipses when possible. Ellipses are best used (in orthographic transcriptions of speech) only when a speaker trails off in volume (usually at the end of a recording) and when a portion of the recording is not translated (and you wish to suggest an omission of text). In most instances, other punctuation, such as parentheses, semicolons, dashes (not hyphens), or simply a comma (to suggest a pause), will suffice.

–          When transcribing samples, beware of run-on sentences. Even if a subject doesn’t speak in easily transcribable sentences, proper punctuation should be used when possible. Hint: Dashes are a good tool to join parts of incomplete sentences when commas or other punctuation just won’t do.

–          Use literary (Oxford), not Associated Press, style regarding the final comma in a series. For instance, it should be “Tom, Bob, and Harry played baseball,” taking note of the comma after “Bob.” However, if you’re addressing Tom and telling him that Bob and Harry played baseball, no comma should be used after “Bob.” (There is currently inconsistency with this on IDEA, but we’re working toward standardization.)

–          When inserting notes (or other words that were not spoken) into the orthographic transcriptions of speech, use brackets, not parentheses. This includes notes such as [laughs], [coughs], etc. Parentheses should be used only for words that the subject actually speaks. However, in other parts of the submission form, including your commentary, parentheses are perfectly acceptable.

–          In orthographic transcriptions of speech, offset “uh” and “um” with commas, not parentheses. Example: “Uh, I grew up in Kentucky,” not “(Uh) I grew up in Kentucky.” (Again, there is some inconsistency on the current IDEA site, but we’re working toward standardization.)

–          Do not capitalize male and female, even when they start a line on the submission form. Likewise, do not capitalize words you would not normally capitalize, unless they start a complete sentence.

–          The short fields of information (age, date of birth, place of birth, gender, ethnicity, occupation, and education) at the beginning of the submission form do NOT require complete sentences. However, the next two fields (areas of residence and other influences) DO require complete sentences when applicable.

–          If you do not know the subject’s date of birth but do know his/her age and the date on which you recorded the sample, please include an estimate of the year by subtracting the age from the date of recording. Likewise, if you know the year of birth and the date of recording, you can figure out the age.

–          Please note that commas are required after state names in the following instances: “The person was from Lawrence, Kansas, and loved the town.” NOT: “The person was from Lawrence, Kansas and loved the town.” In this instance, the state name functions almost as an appositive to further amplify the city, and it deserves a comma to offset it at both the beginning and end. The same holds true for a phrase such as “The museums in London, England, are magnificent.” However, please note: “London, England’s museums are magnificent.”

–          Books, movies, albums, visual works of art, magazines, scholarly journals and similar composition titles should appear in italics.

–          Regarding ethnicity (which goes beyond the broader description of “race” to incorporate social and ancestral elements), try to be as specific as possible. “American,” for example, can be a very broad ethnicity, but it’s more precisely a nationality. If you don’t have specific information, you might consider: “Asian (exact ethnicity unknown).” Conversely, if you have a lot of extra information you’d like to convey, it’s perfectly acceptable to include: “White (German and Irish ancestry).” We are slowly transitioning to “White” instead of “Caucasian.” There is currently some inconsistency with this, but please try to use “White” instead of “Caucasian” unless the subject insists otherwise or is actually from the Caucuses. We are also slowly transitioning to use of capitalization for race and ethnicity, so please capitalize “Black,” “Indigenous,” “White,” etc.



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