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Style Guide

This document treats matters of style—the general principles we follow in grammar, usage, and other matters relating to texts—for Byzantine publications produced by Dumbarton Oaks

Updated December 13, 2023


This document treats matters of style—the general principles we follow in grammar, usage, and other matters relating to texts. For issues of style not covered in this guide, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago, 2017) (= Chicago). Further questions not covered in these guides can be addressed to the Byzantine editor by email.

Grammar and Usage

  • Follow standard American usage for spelling. Consult Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Springfield, MA, 1986) or its abridgment, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, MA, 2003). If there are alternate spellings of a word in the dictionary use the first option listed.
  • For grammar and word usage, consult Chicago, chap. 5.


  • Commas separate all the members of a series of three or more elements. E.g., Athens, Delphi, and Corinth.
  • Two consecutive sentences should be separated by a single space. There should never be two or more consecutive spaces anywhere in the manuscript.

Spelling and Distinctive Treatment of Words

  • Names, including those ending in s, are generally rendered possessive by adding 's; if a name ending in s produces an eez sound, only the apostrophe is added, not the final s. E.g., John's, Agathias’s, and Demetrakos’s, but Socrates’ and Oikonomides’.
  • Foreign words and abbreviations that are in the dictionary need not be italicized, e.g., extempore, RSVP, terminus post quem.
  • Set a foreign word or non-English term in italics only in its first occurrence; subsequent instances should be set in roman type.
  • Latin expressions like ca., ibid., passim, idem, and s.v. should not be italicized or underlined.

Names, Terms, and Numbers

  • For capitalization of biblical persons, events, services, and so on, see Chicago, chap. 8. If uncertain whether the word should be uppercase or lowercase, use lowercase.
  • One space between initials in personal names, e.g., W. J. Smith and J. W. H. Walden, not W.J. and J.W.H.
  • Dates should follow the order day, month, and year, e.g., 3 March 1999.
  • Use the en dash, not hyphen, between consecutive numbers in the manuscript, e.g., 142–44.
  • In the text spell out whole numbers one through one hundred, round numbers, or numbers beginning a sentence; this applies to centuries, lists of objects, and so on. Use Arabic numerals and spell “percent” for percentages (e.g., 20 percent); use % only in tables. All other numbers in the text should be in Arabic numerals, as should all numbers within references in the footnotes, such as volume numbers, page numbers, and years.
  • To abbreviate or condense inclusive Arabic numerals, follow the principles outlined in Chicago, 9.61 and 9.63–64. Arabic numerals representing date ranges are given in full, e.g., the emperor Julian (332–363); Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118).

Foreign Languages

Follow the conventions used in each language for capitalization, punctuation, and so forth. In Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and other languages, titles and subtitles of books and articles are capitalized sentence style, whereas English titles are capitalized headline style.


For typing in Greek, Coptic, Arabic, and other languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, work with fonts conforming to the Unicode standard. If you are uncertain whether your font is Unicode compatible, or if you need assistance in making your manuscript Unicode compatible, please contact Colin Whiting.


  • Arabic transliterations should reflect the difference between the hamza (ʾ) and the 'ayn (ʿ), between long and short vowels (by placing a macron over the letter), and between emphatic and nonemphatic letters (by placing a dot below the former). If you are uncertain how to do this, contact Colin Whiting.
  • If Greek proper names and terms are to be transliterated, do so either strictly, as in the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford, 1991) (= ODB), or with a Latinizing form, as in the Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford, 1998) (= OCD). Do not mix the two systems of transliteration. Titles of modern Greek works are rendered in Greek characters, but the names of modern Greek authors and series are transliterated.
  • Transliterations of most languages should follow the Library of Congress system. Other systems may be appropriate, such as the IJMES Arabic transliteration system.


  • If an ancient or medieval text is quoted, please provide both the original text and a translation.
  • Quotations from ancient and medieval works should follow the latest critical edition, unless the reading of an earlier edition is appropriate for the argument. Incorporate into any quotation ellipses, brackets, parentheses, and other editorial marks appropriate to the kind of editorial change made (following the Leiden convention whenever possible).
  • Any quotation of an ancient or medieval text should indicate the edition used. Likewise, any translation should acknowledge the translator. If an ancient text is referred to, but not quoted, no edition-specific documentation need be provided, since the argument does not depend on any particular edition of the text. If a text is referred to repeatedly, you may wish to note at first mention that the specified edition/translation will be used passim.
  • Place one space between and around 3-dot ellipses. No space precedes the first period in a 4-dot ellipsis.

Illustrations and Captions

  • Illustrations should be submitted in accordance with our Artwork Submission Guide. Failure to follow the principles outlined there may result in delayed publication and further work for the author.
  • Figure callouts should appear in the text in sequential order and accompanying illustrations should follow the same sequence.
  • All artwork must include a photo or drawing credit even if produced by the author. If the art has been published elsewhere, the credit should include the figure and page number on which the work appears. Do not use “ibid.” in a caption.
  • Information in the caption should follow this order: title of work (or name of object), including manuscript or inventory information; artist, life dates (if applicable); country, date of work; medium, dimensions; provenance or credit line; narrative information.
  • The punctuation, spacing, and paragraph style for captions should be consistent.

Examples of Captions

Mt. Athos, Pantokrator Monastery, cod. 61, fol. 105, Ps. 77:25–29. Photo courtesy of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens.

Ivory box, twelfth century, Baltimore, Walters Art Museum 71.311. Photo courtesy of the museum.

San Marco, Venice, choir chapels. Drawing by Pippa Murray.

Church of St. John, Mistra, line drawing of fresco. Photo after Millet, Frescoes, pl. 107.2.


  • Dumbarton Oaks’ List of Abbreviations should be consulted, in conjunction with the abbreviations listed in Chicago, chap. 15.
  • If it is necessary to specify, use BCE and CE, without periods, not BC and AD.
  • Use ca., not c.
  • Spell out century numbers and do not abbreviate the word “century,” e.g., sixth century, eleventh-century artwork, etc.
  • When citing parts of books other than pages, use n./nn. for notes, no./nos. for catalogue numbers, fig./figs. for figures, and pl./pls. for plates.
  • Biblical books are abbreviated in notes (e.g., Ps. 115:4–7) but enclosed in parentheses and spelled out in the text: (Psalms 115:4–7). See Chicago, 10.45–48, for the traditional abbreviations of books of the Bible.

Notes and Documentation

  • In writing footnotes the author should consider completeness, clarity, and brevity, in that order.
  • Paragraph breaks within footnotes should be used sparingly, if at all.
  • For cross-references, use, e.g., “see n. 32.”
  • The first reference to a book or article must be complete. For subsequent references use the author's last name and a shortened form of the title.
  • “Ibid.” should be used sparingly.
  • Use “cf.” only when it means “compare.” Otherwise, use “see.”
  • Verify all references and quotations before submitting your manuscript. Include all required facts of publication. Incomplete contributions will be returned to the author.
  • All titles of modern literature should be cited in the original languages, not translated, with rare exceptions for more obscure languages, which should be translated within parentheses and capitalized sentence style. If the title is in Greek, do not romanize it; all other non-Latin alphabets should be transliterated. See Transliteration, above.
  • Ordinal number endings should not be put in superscript except in French. Thus, Byzantine Trade, 4th–12th Centuries, 2o Διεθνές Συνέδριο, but La Vénétie chrétienne au VIe siècle.
  • Titles and subtitles should always be separated by a colon, not a period.
  • We normally do not include the name of the publisher in documentation, only the name of the first city listed on the title page and the date of publication, separated by a comma.
  • For abbreviations of commonly cited journals, series, and reference works, use our List of Abbreviations.
  • Do not use f. or ff. Use the best terminal page number.
  • For ranges of dates, page numbers, and other numerals, follow examples presented in Chicago, 9.61.
  • If citing volume and page of a multivolume work, render both numbers in Arabic numerals (even if the publication uses Roman numerals to distinguish volumes), separated by a colon, with no space after it, e.g., Gibbon, Decline and Fall, 3:508. If citing a periodical, put the date in parentheses between the volume number and the colon, and a space following the colon, e.g., REB 29 (1971): 104.
  • Ancient works that generally have well-established editions should be cited by author, title, and then the standardized reference numbers. Normally there is no comma between the title and reference number. In the case of medieval works, which often have no standardized numeration system, the edition used must always be cited within the footnote itself or in the bibliography.
  • The titles of ancient and Byzantine Greek works should follow the forms given in the ODB or the OCD.
  • Please refer to manuscripts by “City, Institution, Accession number,” e.g., “Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 510.” You may abbreviate the city and institution in subsequent citations of manuscripts from the same institution: “BnF, gr. 74.” Exceptions may be made for particularly well-known manuscripts, e.g., the Madrid Skylitzes.

Examples of Works Cited in Footnotes

A. Mango, Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1976), 37–39, 142–44.

Mango, Byzantine Architecture, 52, fig. 69.

C. Diehl, Manuel d'art byzantin, 2nd rev. ed. (Paris, 1925), 442.

H. Buchthal, Historia Troiana: Studies in the History of Mediaeval Secular Illustration, Studies of the Warburg Institute 32 (London, 1971), 53–57, esp. 55.

P. M. Bruun, The Roman Imperial Coinage, vol. 7, Constantine and Licinius, A.D. 313–17, ed. C. H. V. Sutherland and R. A. G. Carson (London, 1966), 26, 493–94.

W. R. Paton, ed., The Greek Anthology, 5 vols. (New York, 1925–27), 1:48–49.

C. Jolivet-Lévy, “Présence et figures du souverain à Sainte-Sophie de Constantinople et à l’église de la Sainte-Croix d’Aghtamar,” in Byzantine Court Culture, ed. H. Maguire (Washington, DC, 1997), 221–23, pl. 2.

A. E. Laiou, “The Role of Women in Byzantine Society,” JÖB 31.1 (1981): 233–60.

J.-C. Cheynet, “Une famille méconnue: Les Kratéroi,” REB 59 (2001): 225–38, at 229, n. 21.

Cheynet, “Une famille méconnue,” 237, no. 5.

B. Pentcheva, “Epigrams on Icons” (paper presented to the 2003 Byzantine Studies Conference, Lewiston, ME, 18 October 2003).

T. Hoffman, “Ascalon ʿArus Al-Sham: Domestic Architecture and the Development of a Byzantine-Islamic City” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2003).

P. Grierson, “Nomisma,” ODB 3:1490.

LSJ, s.v. νόμισμα.

T. Mulder, “Midwifery: Then and Now,” Eidolon (16 December 2016),

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.3.

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.3 (A. Cameron and S. G. Hall, trans., Eusebius: Life of Constantine [Oxford, 1999], 68–69). [For citing the translation.]

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.3 (F. Winkelmann, ed., Über das Leben des Kaisers Konstantins, GCS Eusebius 1/1, rev. ed. [Berlin, 1992], 15). [For citing the edition of the text.]

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.3 (Winkelmann, Über das Leben, 15).

Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.3 (PG 20:345A–B). [The best edition of the text is found in the GCS series, but the Migne references may still be useful.]