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MD Visual Style Guide

In general, Moondance editors use The Chicago Manual of Style as the ultimate authority when deciding stylistic issues. Although the CMS is not available online, the makers of the style guide have constructed a Q&A website that is quite handy if you don’t have a copy on hand.

Our formatting requirements are fairly standard, and are similar to what you might find at other print and web based magazines.

Two returns between paragraphs
No indentation of paragraphs
One space after a period
All straight quotation marks—single and double—and apostrophes should be replaced with curly quote marks, also known as “smart quotes”
Use underscores on either side of a word to indicate that the word should be _italicized_
Italicize all proper titles of magazines, journals and books
Sentences should be written in active voice, unless passive voice construction is necessary or used for effect
A comma should appear before the conjunction that joins the last two elements in a series. (e.g.; magazines, journals, and books). The elimination of the last comma is something called for in the AP Style Guide.
One space should be used after colons and semi-colons
When trailing with ellipses (three dots . . .), leave a space after the last dot, unless it ends the sentence, in which case add a period and then leave ONE space. All dots in ellipses also should have one space between them ( . . . )
Em dashes (–) or (—) should NOT have a space on either side
En dashes (–) likewise have no space on either side (e.g.; 07-22-02, jack-in-the-box)
Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ” ‘s ” (e.g. the baby’s bottle) even when the singular noun ends with an “s”. (e.g.Kansas’s legislature, Dickens’s novels)
Possessives of plural nouns omit the extra “s” and place the apostrophe at the end of the word (the babies’ bottles)
Use double quotation marks (not singles) to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. These are known as “Scare Quotes.”
Plural letters or numbers require an apostrophe: (e.g. Bobby received four A’s on his report card. The judge gave straight 1′s.)
Plural dates do not require the use of an apostrophe: The 1800s are widely regarded as being a long time ago
Words with numbers: He left at 2:00 a.m. She was born in 1520 B.C. (a.m./p.m. small letters or AM /PM capital letters with no periods)
The abbreviations a.m. or p.m. should not be used with the words morning, afternoon, evening, night, or o’clock
Times of day in even, half, and quarter hours usually are spelled out in text
With o’clock, the number ALWAYS is spelled out
No “s” on the word “toward” (usually)
Double quotes on all spoken dialogue, unless used as internal monologue., then no quotes
Single quotes on all dialogue within dialogue
Hyphenate numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine
In non-technical contexts the following are spelled out: whole numbers from one through one hundred, round numbers, and any number beginning a sentence. For other numbers, numerals are used. Round numbers-hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands, and million-usually are spelled out, whether used exactly or as approximations.
In non-technical material, physical quantitites such as distances, lengths, areas, and so on are treated according to the general rule
Simple fractions are spelled out. When . . . a fraction is considered a single quantitiy, it is hyphenated.
Quantites consisting of whole numbers and simple fractions may be spelled out if short but are often expressed as numerals (e.g. 8 1/2 x 11)
Approximate figures – fractional or otherwise – may be written out as words: one half the students, a quarter cup of sugar, a third of the time, four times as often
Place a hyphen after a unit of measure when the unit modifies a noun: ten-foot pole, six-inch rule, three-year-old horse. (The unit of measure in such expressions is, for some reason, always singular.)
When many numbers are involved, use all numerals unless all the numbers are whole numbers less than nine.
When fractional or decimal expressions are 1 or less, the word they modify should be singular: 0.7 meter, 0.22 cubic foot, 0.78 kilometer. Precede decimal fractions with a value less than one with a leading zero before the decimal point.
Percentage expressions always are written out as words. Percentages are always given in numerals. In humanistic copy the word percent is used . . . to clear up the numeral issue: Last semester, 78 percent of the first-year students passed English Composition. (as opposed to 78%)
Avoid using ordinals when writing dates: February 14, not 14th
To avoid confusion by running numbers together, combine words and numerals when one number follows another. Generally, write out the shorter number.
When a number begins a sentence, always spell it out.