House Style

2 Apr. 2014 – We’re in the process of developing sample descriptions for the paratext images. The house style will be updated and examples will be added as we create descriptions for the various types of items (see “Adding Items to Omeka”) for item types.

-Complete Sentences-
When writing descriptions, do not use fragments. Every line should be a complete and accurately punctuated sentence.

-Comma Usage-
Follow Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines for punctuation. The following information is adapted or copied directly from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, seventh edition (2009).

  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, or yet) joining independent clauses in a sentence (MLA 3.2.2.a). For example:
  • Use commas to separate words, phrases, and clauses in a series, including the serial comma before the final conjunction–i.e., use the Oxford comma (MLA 3.2.2.b). For example:
  • Use a comma between coordinate adjectives—that is, adjectives that separately modify the same noun (MLA 3.2.2.c). For example:
  • Use commas to set off a parenthetical comment, or an aside, if it is brief and closely related to the rest of the sentence (MLA 3.2.2.d). For example:
  • Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive modifier—that is, a modifier that is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. A nonrestrictive word, phrase, or clause (unlike a restrictive one) could be dropped without changing the main sense of the sentence. (MLA 3.2.2.e). For example:
  • Use a comma after a long introductory phrase or clause (MLA 3.2.2.f). For example:

-Quotation Marks-
Always keep the period inside the end quotation mark, unless a parenthetical reference is included. Again, follow MLA style guidelines.

-Use of Numbers-
When speaking of editions, instead of saying “2nd edition,” write it out as “second edition.” Do not use numeric abbreviations.
When speaking of page numbers, use the actual page number in numeric form (1, 45, 679, etc).
Do not use Roman numerals–i.e., use the standard numeric form for chapter numbers, even when written in Roman numerals in the text.

-Tense Rules-
When describing letters, use past tense.
When describing the novel, use past tense, unless describing a piece of action from the story.
For Example: “In this illustration, Ellen is walking up the mountain.”

Describe, but do not analyze in description. Analysis belongs in exhibits.
Use color gilt description for metallic colors, and just gilt for gold. For example: silver gilt, bronze gilt, gilt (for gold gilt).
Also, there should always be a hyphen in ‘gilt-stamped’.
Lower-case “volume,” “version,” “edition” in descriptions.

-References to People-
Always put names of people and places before a description of them: “in this letter Ella Blake, a woman from Wisconsin, …”
Refer to publishers with the name given on the title page of that edition referenced.
Refer to publishers as plural entities. – “H.G. Bohn used this illustration for the frontispiece in their 1853 edition of The Wide, Wide World.
Refer to characters by singular names and titles where applicable. Ex. Nancy, Ellen / Mr. Van Brunt, Aunt Fortune.

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