Although not as comprehensive as the Chicago Manual of Style, the Style section provides editorial guidance on style as a primary reference for writing the body text of a manuscript. CMS citation numbers are included in parentheses, where appropriate.
Look for APSA Style Specifics for where APSA style varies from CMS style.
For spelling and hyphenation, follow Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. All spelling and hyphenation should match the dictionary and follow American English standards.
Authors are the primary proofreaders of a manuscript. The more an author focuses on the literary and editorial style of the manuscript, the less it will be subject to copyediting.
APSA Name and Address
- The association’s acronym, APSA, should be used instead of the full association name in all cases in APSA journals. No the is needed in front of the acronym when it is used as a noun.
APSA is accepting proposals for a new taskforce. Please submit all proposals directly to APSA by submitting to the APSA email.
- When referring to an APSA program, APSA should be included at the first mention.
the APSA Annual Meeting, the APSA Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, the APSA Congressional Fellowship Program
- Always capitalize the American Political Science Association and APSA. Never capitalize general terms that deal with the organization, when that term stands alone.
annual meeting, association, taskforce, etc.
- Abbreviations include shortened words, acronyms, initialisms, and contractions. Familiar abbreviations should be spelled out on first occurrence, unless recognized as a noun in its abbreviated form. Less familiar abbreviations should not be used unless the word or phrase that the abbreviation refers to appears five or more times (10.2).
United Nations (then UN), International Monetary Fund (then IMF), but ATM, DIY, IQ, etc.
- Abbreviations are usually introduced immediately after first occurrence in parentheses, although they can also be introduced in an appositive (10.3). APSA recommends delegating most abbreviations to tight matter (tables, figures, captions, footnotes/endnotes), and spelling them out in running text.
- Acronyms and initialisms should usually be capitalized throughout (10.6). They should also follow the same style as their spelled-out counterparts, that is, italics or quotation marks (10.7).
ATM, DIY, NAFTA, IMF, UN, LLC, CDC, EPA, WHO, EU
APSR, PS, PoP, JPSE
- In most cases, do not include a period in an abbreviation (10.4), except those that consist of, or end with, lowercase letters or are the initials of someone’s given name (10.4). Note: When this kind of abbreviation ends a sentence, the period acts as the punctuation (6.123).
etc., a.m., p.m., Jan., Feb., Mon., Tues., Pres., Gov.
Ms., Mr., Jr., Sr., St., W. E. B. Du Bois
That morning he had spoken with Martin Luther King Jr.
- Omit the periods in the abbreviations for academic degrees. The spelled-out terms should always be lowercase (10.21).
BA, BS, MA, MBA, PhD, LLM, JD
- The Latin abbreviations e.g., (meaning for example), i.e. (meaning that is), and et al. (meaning and others) should be typed in roman, not italic, type (10.7). They should only be used in parentheses or tight matter, never in running text (use the spelled-out versions) and a comma should follow before additional content.
What the author of the news article did not predict (e.g., early voting) was noted by other outlets.
- Civil and military titles may be abbreviated, unless preceding only the surname (10.13).
Sen. Kamala Harris, but Senator Harris
- Social titles (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Dr.) are always abbreviated, whether preceding the full name or just the surname, but should rarely be used in formal writing (10.16).
- Abbreviations for Junior (Jr.) and Senior (Sr.) are only used with the full name, not just the surname (10.19).
Robert Downey Jr. portrayed Sherlock Holmes in the 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes. Downey won a Golden Globe Award for his acting.
- The indefinite article can be determined by how the abbreviation is said aloud (7.33, 10.9).
an APSA meeting, a UN Security Council chamber
- In running text, names of cities, states, territories, and countries should be spelled out when standing alone as an adjective or noun, even after first occurrence. The following are exceptions, and only need to be spelled out on first occurrence: UAE, US, UK, GDR, FRG, USSR, etc. (10.27-10.32). Two-letter postal code abbreviations for the 50 states and Canada may be used in reference lists, tight matter, and addresses (10.27-10.28). When a state or territory follows the name of a city, it is enclosed in commas, abbreviated or not (10.29).
The delegation traveled across the United States. They began their US cross-country journey in Seattle, Washington, and finally ended it in Washington, DC.
Mail the letter to George Mason University at 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 22201.
- A compound consists of two (or more) words in any combination of nouns and adjectives (and some adverbs) that together form either a noun or an adjective. When determining whether a compound should be closed, used with a hyphen, or left open (as two or more words), refer to the Merriam Webster dictionary first (7.81). Many compounds are now naturally closed.
nonacademic, postelection, postsurvey, posttest, pretest cochair, coauthor, coeditor, email
- When the compound cannot be located in the dictionary, opt for an open compound without hyphens (7.83). Only add a hyphen when doing so will prevent a misreading or aid in comprehension of the word; hyphens should only be used if they explicitly solve for ambiguity and clarify the sentence (7.84).
public engagement, policy making, decision making
- Hyphenate an otherwise open compound when it is used as an adjective and placed before a noun.
The well-trained mind of the student quickly saw the connection. The student’s mind was well trained and quickly saw the connection.
- Never use a hyphen to connect a compound with an adverb ending in –ly.
federally funded programs; the happily married couple
- Age terms are hyphenated in both noun and adjective form (7.89).
a three-year-old, an eight-year-old child
- Compounds formed with prefixes are normally closed, but a hyphen should be added before a capitalized word, before a compound term, before another prefix, when a prefix stands alone, or when the last letter of the prefix is the first letter of the following word (7.89).
pre-World War I, post-decision making process, post-preconference, pre- and post-test
Date & Time
- Follow American English standards for date and time, as expectations can change depending where in the world political scientists are researching.
- In formal writing, use the month-day-year date format, with cardinal, not ordinal, numbers (9.31). Do not use all-numeral styles for dates, as they are informal and not consistent worldwide (9.35).
January 20, 2012, February 21–25; not January 20th, 2012; not February 21st–25th; not 3/8/14
- Centuries are spelled out in text; ordinal numbers should not be used.
twentieth century; not 20th century
- Decades can be spelled out in lowercase or expressed as numerals. Decades within the twentieth century can be expressed with just the decade’s numerals, whereas decades within the twenty-first century need to include the every numeral. When decades are expressed as numerals, there should be no apostrophe before the -s (9.32-9.33).
eighties, ’90s, the 2010s
- Even, half, and quarter hours should be spelled out in text (o’clock can be used) in broad contexts. In specific contexts, numerals should be used and include the hour and the minutes separated by a colon. Abbreviate “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem” in lowercase separated by periods (9.37). Time zones, given as necessary, should be abbreviated without periods and placed in parentheses after the numerals (10.41). Noon and midnight should always be spelled out (9.38).
six o’clock, 7:00 a.m.; 8:00 p.m. (EST), eleven o’clock or noon?
- Authors who need guidance with English grammar should seek a more extensive guide than this section. Chapter 5 of the CMS is a good place to start. Grammar guides can be particularly useful for authors whose first language is not English.
- Active voice is preferred in academic writing. Passive voice is best utilized to show perspective (5.118).
The academic wrote his manuscript over the course of three months; not The manuscript was written over the course of three months by the academic.
- Watch out for use of the word like. The word should only be used as an adjective, not to replace as or as if (5.185).
This journal’s style looks nothing like the other journal; not The student studied for his political science final like it was the ACT.
- Do not overuse prepositions, phrases used to connect a noun to the rest of the sentence. When possible, cut prepositional phrases, replace prepositions with adverbs, or change from passive voice to active voice (5.187, 5.188, 5.190, 5.192).
We continued our march to equalize pay; not We continued our march toward the equalization of pay.
The professor underlined emphatically; not The professor underlined with emphasis.
- Despite popular belief of the contrary, it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition (after, in, to, on, and with) (5.180). It is equally acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so) (5.203). When starting a sentence with but it must introduce an idea that contrasts what precedes it.
- Interjections and contractions should be avoided in formal writing (5.207).
- Double negatives can lead to ambiguity, and should be avoided unless clear (5.236).
- Parallel structures are common in good writing (5.242), where each element of a series or list is a functional match and serves the same grammatical function.
The point of the second study was to validate the first study, to explain discrepancies between the two, and to unearth new questions for further potential research.
- Avoid the words since or while when not used in a time-related sense. Use because, although, or whereas instead.
Since 1980, the global climate has been warming around the world. Because the manuscript we received was incomplete, we returned it to the author. Although we appreciate your comments, unfortunately we cannot publish your response at this time.
- That is used with restrictive clauses (i.e., the information is vital to the meaning of the sentence), while which is used with nonrestrictive clauses (i.e., the information further elaborates on a point but is not essential). A comma precedes a clause beginning with which, unless a preposition introduces the phrase.
The scholars prepared the slides that they would present at the conference. I could not come to your party because I was in my seminar, which is taught every Monday. The students studied the research on which the scholars based their results.
- Whose is an acceptable possessive form of both who and which, using of which is not necessary (5.64).
- Who and whoever can both be used as a subject or as a predicate nominative. Whom and whomever can only be used as the subject of a verb or preposition. In confusing instances, change to anyone who or anyone (5.66).
Who is ready for the field trip? Give the gift to Samantha, who is my daughter. Whom should I contact to learn how to register to vote?
- Whether introduces an alternative, while if is conditional. If can create ambiguity, so always stick with whether if possible.
- Use whether instead of whether or not in all instances (5.250).
- As well as cannot be substituted for and at the end of a list, it only can be used as an extra addition after the closing of the list (6.19).
- Toward, upward, downward, forward should not end with -s. Backwards and afterwards are acceptable as adverbs, otherwise without the -s (5.250).
- Remove of phrases if possible. Avoid using of after all, off, inside, or outside (5.250).
- Lay is a transitive verb, meaning it needs a direct object. Lie is an intransitive verb, meaning it does not take a direct object.
- Reduce in order to and in order for to just to and for.
- Avoid adding -ly to first, second, third, and last in enumerations.
- Use because instead of due to the fact that.
- Compare with connects similarities and differences and compare to only notes similarities.
- Reduce as of yet into yet, still, or so far.
- Avoid and/or in all circumstances.
- In general, use a numbered or ordered list when describing a naturally intuitive order. Use a bulleted or unordered list when order does not matter. The style of the lists throughout a manuscript (e.g., bullets, numbers, etc.) should be consistent (6.127).
- Short and simple lists are better set run-in with the text (6.128). Run-in lists are usually made with numbers or letters (italicized if desired), confined within parentheses, and set off by an initial colon (if desired) (6.129).
The opening statements needed to be: (1) short enough to fit within the timeframe, (2) long enough to be memorable, and (3) powerful enough to engage the audience.
- Longer lists that contain multiple levels should be offset vertically. A vertical list is best introduced, but not always, with a grammatically complete sentence, followed by a colon. A vertical list can be unordered or ordered. In unordered lists that do not constitute complete sentences, each list item should not be capitalized and no punctuation should follow any list item. If the list is ordered, each list item should be capitalized, but only have ending punctuation if the list item is a complete sentence (6.130).
- If the items in a vertical list complete a sentence that began in the introductory text, semicolons or commas may be used between the list items and a period should follow the final item. In this case, the list should be unordered and each item begins with a lowercase letter. These lists should only be used if context demands it, otherwise they are better set as run-in lists (6.131).
- Anytime etc. or et al. (in roman font) are used within a list, the terms should act as the last list item and the closing period should precede any further punctuation. (6.20).
Neutral and Unbiased Language
- Certain language as well as language not used in the proper context may distract readers and make a manuscript less credible (5.251). This includes both directly disrespectful or discriminatory language and unconsciously biased language. Be sure to review the language carefully. Avoid using gender- or racial and ethnic-specific language that is not necessary as part of the manuscript’s context. As a rule of thumb, never include unnecessary references to personal characteristics within a manuscript (5.260).
These subsections are not comprehensive. For questions that may fall outside the scope of the resources offered here, authors should defer to their institution’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, if possible.
- Biased language may derive from the misuse or nonuse of gender-neutral language (5.255). In cases where gender-specific language is not essential to the underlying meaning of the manuscript, it should be omitted. Additionally, if the text is not referring to a specific individual (e.g., a specific legislator), gender-neutral language should be used. The following steps, in sequential order, should be used to achieve gender neutrality in writing:
1. Omit the pronoun
The governor will sign the bill when it is sent by the legislature; not The governor will sign the bill when it is sent to him by the legislature.
2. Repeat the noun (should not be overused)
The professor cannot forget to review the theses this weekend, because the professor is headed on vacation on Monday.
3. Use a plural antecedent
Authors must review manuscripts themselves before submitting them; not An author must review the manuscript himself before submitting it.
4. Use an article instead of a pronoun
A professor ready to retire may decide to leave the unfinished research to a trusted academic colleague; not A professor ready to retire may decide to leave his unfinished research to his trusted academic colleague.
5. Use the singular pronoun one
The researcher saw more than one would think was possible; not The researcher saw more than he thought possible.
6. Use the relative pronoun who, often replacing if clauses
The faculty knew that the student who did not study would fail the exam; not The faculty knew that if the student did not study, she would fail the exam.
7. Use the imperative mood
As an ethnographer, take very detailed notes in a journal; not The ethnographer must take very detailed notes in his journal.
8. Use he or she (in moderation)
While striving for a master’s degree, a student must really focus on his or her work to master the subject.
9. Revise the sentence
- Artifices such as s/he and (wo)man, while popular in informal writing, should be avoided. Furthermore, the singular they should be avoided in a generic reference (but see LGBTQ+ Identity), as it is still considered informal (5.256).
- Words ending in gendered suffixes should be altered if it is a generic reference. However, do not automatically assume that substituting the suffix -person for -man will be accurate, it depends on if the word exists in a dictionary (5.257).
Congressperson, chair, police officer
- When gender is contextually relevant in a manuscript, the words man and woman, as well as their plurals, should be used as nouns, while the words male and female, as well as their plurals, should be used as adjectives, particularly when referencing both in text (5.259).
Women were less likely to answer the survey when called. In the end, there were 52 female and 70 male respondents.
Racial and Ethnic Identity
- Biased language may derive from the misuse of racial and ethnic terminology and language. In cases where racial and ethnic terminology and language are not essential to the underlying meaning of the manuscript, it should be omitted. Be sure to double check that the terminology and language used is consistent and respectful.
- Names of ethnic and national groups are capitalized (8.38). Omit the hyphen between names of ethnic and national groups. The terms white and black, when referring to race, are lowercase, unless the author specifies otherwise.
African American, Latino, American Indian, Asian Pacific Islander, Native American, New Zealanders, black, white, Black studies (with author determination), Indigenous studies
- Terminology that may be deemed offensive but that the author chooses to mindfully use because it contributes to the meaning or overarching point of the manuscript should either have quotes in all instances (e.g., “illegal immigrant”) or should be contextually explained before its usage.
- Avoid biased language regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) identity. Be sure to double check that the terminology used is consistent and respectful. The following guidelines originate from GLAAD.
- The singular they pronoun should be used when referring specifically to a person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun. In this case, the singular they takes a plural verb. A person’s stated preference for a specific pronoun must be respected (5.48).
- Use LGBTQ+ or its variants when describing the community or a person that identifies with the community in general. In more specific references, use gay man, lesbian, transgender man, transgender woman, same-sex couple, etc. Transgender should never be used as a noun, only as an adjective.
- Terminology that may be deemed offensive but that the author chooses to mindfully use because it contributes to the meaning or overarching point of the manuscript should either have quotes in all instances (e.g., “transexual, gay lifestyle, homosexual agenda, special rights”) or should be contextually explained before its usage (e.g., using homosexual, sexual preference, etc.). This list in not comprehensive; refer to GLAAD for more details.
Identity of Persons with Disabilities
- Avoid biased language regarding the disability community. Be sure to double check that the terminology used is consistent and respectful. The following guidelines originate from the National Center on Disability and Journalism.
- Use people-first terminology. which emphasizes the person first, not the disability
person with Down syndrome
- Terminology that may be deemed offensive but that the author chooses to mindfully use because it contributes to the meaning or overarching point of the manuscript should either have quotes in all instances (e.g., “afflicted with, victim of”) or should be contextually explained before its usage (e.g., using handicapped, confined, etc.). As a general rule of thumb, be straightforward about the disability, while also being respectful. This list in not comprehensive; refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism for more details.
- APSA Style Specific—spell out both cardinal and ordinal numbers zero through nine in text. Use Arabic numerals for most other numbers. Use commas with numerals that are one thousand or more.
During the five-day meeting, more than 6,000 members from 42 states and six countries participated in the events.
- However, spell out rounded numbers: hundred, thousand, hundred thousand, million, billion, etc. (9.8).
There are more than seven billion people on Earth, with around 323 million living in the United States.
- Try to rewrite sentences so that they do not start with numbers. If this is unavoidable, spell the number out. Do not include and when spelling out larger numbers (9.5).
Four respondents declined to comment. Two hundred eighteen did comment.
- When ordinal numbers are used, the letters following the numeral should not appear as superscript. The spelling out zero through nine rule still applies to ordinal numbers (9.6).
115th United States Congress, Fifth Amendment
- Only use roman numerals as part of proper nouns and names that require them or with inclusive ranges, not in place of Arabic numerals (9.41-9.44).
- Use an en dash (–) between numbers to indicate an inclusive range (9.60) to signify up to and including, not from or between. The word from cannot be used before inclusive numbers with an en dash, only if the en dash is omitted and replaced by to. Determine which style works contextually (e.g., years often work better with the from, to structure and its variants) (9.64). Omit the initial digits of the second number within the range if the digits are unchanged (9.61). However, roman numerals should be written in full.
3–10; 105–6; 321–25; 415–532; 11, 564–68; xiii–xvi
the years 1944–47, war of 1914–18, during 1878–85, but from 1914 to 1918, between 1879 and 1902
- With measurements (e.g., 4 dollars, 3 millimeters, 24-hour news cycle) and specific scales (e.g., Likert scale), use Arabic numerals (9.13). Units of measurement are usually spelled out within the text, as opposed to using abbreviations or symbols (except for percentages, see below) (10.4).
- APSA Style Specific—anytime a percentage is given, ignore the zero through nine rule and use Arabic numerals with the percent sign.
The survey estimated that 8% of the members selected the full-day seminar; in previous years, more than 25% chose this option.
- Never use over or under to describe changes in measurement. Use greater than when the noun is or can be a represented as a number. Otherwise, use more than. Use less than when something that is otherwise uncountable decreases. Use fewer than when something that is countable decreases.
- APSA Style Specific—when quantities are less than one and given as a numeral, the zero is included before the decimal point.
0.25 grams, 0.75 millimeters; 0.50 percentage points
- When using words or phrases in another language, especially those not listed in Merriam Webster, italicize on first occurrence, at the very least. Use capitalization conventions of the original language, even for book titles, which often means using sentence style (11.6). If the word or phrase is not translated, provide the English translation after it in parentheses. If the word or phrase is translated, provide the original word or phrase after it in parentheses (11.5).
- Special characters (including accents) must be included. Seek them out in the author’s word processors’ special characters options or through an online search (11.21).
- Proper nouns are an exception to the general rule and should not be italicized when given, except in the context of book titles and the like (11.4). This is true even when the translated version of the proper noun is given and the original is given directly after in parentheses.
- When incorporating quotes from other languages, professional translation into English is preferred. If a translation exists, be sure to place the source in the reference list. If a quote is self-translated, the author should proclaim this either in parentheses after the translation (e.g., my translation) or in a similar endnote (11.14). Self-translations allow the author to change the punctuation and spelling of the quote, although this should not be overdone (11.16).
- Reference list terms and abbreviations in another language should not be translated unless the author has a firm grasp on the language (14.102).
- Quotes originally in English but used in a translated work should never be re-translated into English. Always find the original source (11.17).
- When the quote is an entire sentence or more, it should be set in roman and used with quotation marks, similar to English-language quotes (11.3). The English translation of the quote should follow the original in parentheses, but does not need quotation marks (11.12). If a source is required for the quote, the source should precede the translation in the parentheses and be separated by a semicolon (11.13).
- Transliteration (romanization) of quotes and phrases from non-Latin languages follow, in general, the same guidelines (11.71).
Personal Names and Titles
- When writing about a person, use the full name on first use, and the surname for subsequent use (8.4).
Upton Sinclair is a noted author. While living in New York City, Sinclair completed several short stories and novels.
- Particles (de, De, d’, de la, etc.) of a name should be included and styled the same as the full name when the surname is used alone (8.5). Hyphenated surnames should retain both elements (8.6).
- Civil, military, religious, job, and academic titles are capitalized when they precede a personal name and act as a part of the name. If the title is used as an adjective, stands in for a person’s name, or is used in apposition it should be lowercase (8.19-8.21).
President Obama spoke at the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll ahead of the festivities; The student had forgotten to give his exam back to Professor Greene; Senator McCain, Pope Francis
US president Donald Trump spoke alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit; former-president George W. Bush, the senator from New York, senator John McCain, the president, the pope, the pope John Paul II
- Titles denoting civic or academic honors are capitalized when following a person’s name (8.31). Honorific titles are capitalized in any context (8.33). Epithets, descriptive words used as part of a person’s name, are always capitalized (8.34). Kinship names are only capitalized when immediately preceding or standing in place of a personal name (8.36).
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fulbright Scholar, Sir Elton John, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, His Excellency, the Great Emancipator, “Let’s get out the vote today, Sister!”
- Names of businesses, organizations, and other entities as well as their trademarked products should follow the individualized branding as close as possible (8.153).
- Quotes should be used sparingly, to emphasize or back up conclusions or research (13.12). Meticulous accuracy is necessary in quoting one work in another. Before submission, authors should check to make sure that their quotes are transcribed correctly. If necessary for the context of a manuscript, permissible changes to quotes include the following (13.7):
- Change single quotation marks to double quotation marks.
- Hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes can be changed if one is used incorrectly in the original.
- The initial letter can be capitalized or changed to lowercase.
- The end punctuation may be changed to a comma or period.
- Parenthetical citations should be maintained, but references to any notes should be removed.
- Obvious typographic errors can be silently corrected.
- The word [sic] can be inserted following a word that is misspelled to call attention to the fact that the mistake was originally wrong and not in the author’s transcription (13.61).
- The unidirectional quotation mark should not be used. Instead, directional quotation marks should be used with extreme care, and should match the font of the surrounding text (6.115). This is something that author’s need to watch out for, as many word processor’s can default to unidirectional quotation marks.
- In American English standards, periods and commas always go inside quotation marks after quotes while colons and semicolons always go outside. Question marks and exclamation points depend on whether the punctuation is an integral part of the quote or the sentence that encompasses the quote.
- Commas should introduce a quote when the clause before it simply identifies a speaker (13.14). However, a comma should not be used if the quotation is integrated into the message of the sentence. (13.15). A colon can introduce a quote if the first half of the sentence is an independent clause (13.16).
- Quotes within quotes are enclosed in single quotation marks, within the complete quote (13.30).
- Citations should be placed after the quote and the closing quotation mark, but before the final punctuation (13.68).
- A quote more than one hundred words, two or more paragraphs, quoted correspondence, or in need of general emphasis should be set off as a block quote.
- Block quotations always start on a new line and are not enclosed in quotation marks (13.9). Each new line should be indented; if there is more than one paragraph, the first paragraph’s first line is not further indented, but the following paragraph’s first lines are (13.22).
- Block quotes should be preceded by a sentence with a period, unless the sentence ends with as follows or something similar, which would indicate a colon (13.17).
- Quotes within block quotes are enclosed in double quotation marks (13.31).
- Unlike regular parenthetical citations, the final punctuation of a block quote should precede the parenthetical citation (13.70).
- With back-and-forth dialogue that is not considered an interview, a change in speakership is represented by a paragraph break (13.39). If a monologue spans more than one paragraph, a closing quotation should only be placed after the punctuation of the last paragraph (13.39).
“I was so excited about how. . .political science.
Even then, I was worried. . .the end results.”
- For interviews specifically, quotes are not enclosed in quotations marks; instead they are indented and the speaker is written in all uppercase before each paragraph (13.48).
- For spelling, follow the latest edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Generally, follow the spelling conventions of the first-listed word. One version of the dictionary should be used consistently for spelling throughout a single work (7.1). Make sure to use spell check within the word processor and check words that can easily be mistakenly misspelled as other words or otherwise missed by spell check.
- Affect is usually used as a verb that refers to influencing something. Effect is more commonly used as a noun to describe an outcome.
The rain affected his mood. The construction on 18th Street had the effect of increasing traffic along the corridor.
- It’s is the contraction of it is, and as such, is rarely used in academic writing. Its is the possessive form of it.
Tense & Point of View
- Avoid jumping back and forth between past and present verbs. APSA recommends that authors use past tense to describe their own procedures and results (e.g., “the respondents indicated…”), and present tense to present findings (e.g., “the data indicate that…”). The choice of tense is the author’s prerogative, but whichever verb tense is chosen should be used consistently throughout a manuscript.
In surveys of literature, Ripley showed… In surveys of literature, Ripley has shown… In surveys of literature, Ripley’s study shows…
First or Third Person
- Individual authors should refer to themselves in first person. The word we should only be used for joint authorship. Self-effacement by using third person (e.g., “this author”, using a surname) sounds unnatural and should only be used for purposes of anonymity.
Titles of Publications
- Italics are used for the titles of books, periodicals, pamphlets, journals, newspapers, blogs, movies, video games, and paintings (14.86).
- Quotation marks are reserved for subsections of larger works, including chapter, blog post, and article titles, website sections, lectures, and unpublished theses, dissertations, and manuscripts.
- Book series and website titles are set in roman without quotation marks.
- If it is not possible to determine whether a website is considered a blog, treat it as a website (8.192).
- Titles of long or short works that appear within an italicized title are also italicized but enclosed in quotation marks, regardless of how they would appear elsewhere (14.94). Titles of long or short works that appear within a title enclosed in quotation marks should appear enclosed in single directional quotation marks, regardless of how they would appear elsewhere.
- The initial a, an, or the in a title can be dropped if it does not fit surrounding syntax (8.169). When opting to keep the in front of periodical titles, the word should be lowercase and not italicized (8.170).
- Descriptive terms about the publication should only be italicized if part of the official title (8.171).
the New York Times newspaper; the New York Times Magazine
- Publication titles that are included in the names of awards, buildings, etc. are not italicized (8.172).
- If a term within an italicized title would be italicized in running text, it should be set in roman. This is referred to as reverse italics (8.173).
- When needing to capitalize a hyphenated compound in a title, only capitalize the first element and subsequent elements that are not prepositions, unless the compound is a spelled-out number or fraction, whereas every element should be capitalized (8.161).
- In text, titles of multivolume series are treated the same as titles of single volume works. However, the word volume may be abbreviated and added in parentheses, followed by the series title (8.175).
Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics (vol. 18, California Series on Social Choice and Political Economy)
- In text, the edition of a book is most often given as an ordinal number after the title, preceded by a comma, and usually followed with the abbreviation ed. (8.176). The edition should be set in roman type.
Careers and the Study of Political Science, Sixth ed.
- In text, not-yet-published titles may be set in italics or quotation marks, but (forthcoming) must follow the title in roman type (8.188).
- In text, punctuation within titles should follow regular punctuation rules, unless it is a question mark or exclamation point that ends the title. In this case, a roman-set comma should appear after the punctuation, still within the parentheses (8.166).
Three stories she never mentioned were “Are You a Political Scientist?,” “The Library of Congress,” and “Blood Diamond.”
Shortlist of Commonly Used Terms
- ABD (i.e., all but dissertation)
- adviser, not advisor
- BA, BS, but bachelor of art, bachelor of science, but bachelor’s degree
- Capital (i.e., seat of government), Capitol (i.e., where the legislature meets)
- coauthor, coeditor, coauthored, coedited
- Congress, congressional staff, member of Congress
- decision maker, decision making, but decision-making body
- email, internet, online
- for-profit institution, but nonprofit college
- lawgiver, lawmaker, lawmaking
- meta-analysis, but metalanguage
- PhD, not Ph.D.
- pretest, posttest; postwar, but pre-Thanksgiving, pre-World War I
- policy making, policy makers, but policy-making issues
- postgraduation, postdoc, postdoctoral fellow, postsurvey, pretest, pretenure
- representative (not congressman or congresswoman)
- September 11, not 9/11, 9-11, or September 11th
- social networking site (not social-networking site)
- Twitter, tweet, retweet
- transgender, not transgendered
- website, web, webpage, but World Wide Web