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Style Guide for TOS

If you’ve not read TOS’s Writer’s Guidelines, please read that document before continuing here.

Articles, queries, and other documents submitted to TOS should be prepared in accordance with the following style guidelines. For all matters not addressed below, please follow The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition (sans its “politically correct” silliness), and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. These can be accessed respectively at, and

Submitting Documents
Articles and queries should be submitted in Microsoft Word and emailed to [email protected].

Please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Name Word documents according to the following format: fl-subject.docx, where “fl” stands for the author’s first and last initials (e.g., cb-jihad.docx).
  • Use 14-point Times New Roman font for all text, including block quotes, tables, and footnotes.
  • Left-justify all text, except indent block quotes with standard indentation options. Do not center-justify any text. Do not use full-justify.
  • Single-space all material, and use a single return (with no extra space) between paragraphs, except use a double-return before and after block quotes.
  • Indent the first line of a new paragraph with a tab; indent the line following a block quote only if it begins a new paragraph.
  • Make sure there is no more than one space between words and sentences, and make sure there are no extra spaces at the ends of paragraphs.
  • Use footnotes, not endnotes. (Footnotes will be converted to endnotes for the print journal.) Use Word’s standard footnote/endnote feature, and number them 1, 2, 3 . . .
  • Place subheads in bold; place sub-sub-heads in italics. (Please don’t use sub-sub-sub-heads.)

Submit any necessary images, graphics, or charts separately via email.

Author Information and Abstract
At the top of each submission, list your name, email, phone number (or Skype handle if international), and mailing address where TOS should send payment.

For articles longer than 1,000 words, also include at top a 100-word-maximum abstract stating the general nature and theme of the essay. In the case of a book review, state the general nature of the book and your general evaluation of it (positive, negative, or mixed).

Editing and Tracking
When a draft is delivered to TOS, and thus for our editing, it should be in the author’s best form—that is, ready, in his sincere estimate, for publication. The editing process varies from writer to writer and piece to piece; our editors work with each writer as necessary. Following review by TOS editors, authors should make all revisions with Word’s “track changes” feature turned on.

Accuracy of Names, Titles, Figures, Quotations, and Citations
Double-check all names, titles, figures, quotations, and citations; their accuracy is your responsibility.

Block Quotes
Place quotes of 50 words or more in block text.

Use footnotes for citations and references only, not for saving substantive material cut from the text.

There are so many variables and options involved in the formatting of footnotes (Chicago Manual has more than 150 pages on the subject) that the best way to convey the general style of TOS in this respect is with a set of examples. The following should answer the majority of questions that might arise. If you have questions that are not addressed here, see the Chicago Manual, or contact TOS.

  1. Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (New York: Dutton, 1991), pp. 213–14.
  2. Peikoff, Objectivism, p. 10.
  3. The Philosophical Works of Descartes, translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (London: Cambridge University Press, 1973), vol. 1, p. 253.
  4. Peikoff, Objectivism, p. 276.
  5. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. et al., Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p. 127.
  6. Thomas Friedman, “Arabs at the Crossroads,” New York Times, July 3, 2002, p. A19.
  7. Julia Annas, “Virtue and Eudaimonism,” Social Philosophy and Policy, vol. 15, no. 1, Winter 1998, pp. 38–39.
  8. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1929), pp. 22–25.
  9. Louis P. Pojman, Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1999), p. 78.
  10. Aristotle, “Metaphysics,” in The Basic Works of Aristotle, edited by Richard McKeon (New York: Random House, 1941), pp. 736–37.
  11. Paul McHugh, “Annihilating Terri Schiavo,” Commentary, vol. 119, no. 6, June 2005, pp. 31–32.
  12. Lee Siegel, “Reality in America,” The New Republic, June 23, 2003, pp. 26–27.
  13. Philosophical Works of Descartes, p. 257.
  14. Cf. Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1967), p. 19.
  15. Matt Patterson and Trey Kovacs, “Cut Spending: Permanently Furlough ‘Official Time’ Workers,” Washington Times, February 28, 2013,
  16. Ari Armstrong, “Steve Simpson on Continuing Threats to Corporate Free Speech,” The Objective Standard, vol. 7, no. 2, Summer 2012,
  17. Howard Roerig, “Scientists Generate Electricity from Coal Without Burning It,” TOS Blog, February 27, 2013,
  18. Sue Schuurman, “Skeletons in the Closet: 17 Years Ago This Week,” Hostages Recount Events, (accessed September 9, 2014).

A few things to note by way of the above examples:

  • Do not use ibid., op. cit., loc. cit., or idem. Instead, use the author’s last name (if applicable), the short title, and the page number(s) (see notes 2, 4, and 13).
  • Cf. (which means confer or compare) is acceptable when appropriate (see note 14).
  • Print volume numbers in Arabic (1, 2, 3), not Roman (I, II, III) numerals, even if they are Roman numerals in the original publication (see note 3).
  • If a book or an article has more than three authors, use the first author’s name followed by et al. (see note 5).
  • If the title of a newspaper begins with “The,” always omit the article (see note 6). If the title of a book begins with “The,” include the article in the first reference and omit it in later references (see notes 3, 10, and 13).
  • Spell out “translated” and “edited”; do not abbreviate them (see notes 3, 8, and 10).
  • Abbreviate “edition,” “number,” “section,” and “volume,” (see notes 3, 7, 9, and 11).
  • Usually represent a publication as it represents itself. For example: “Salon” and “Breitbart.” For TV news stations and the Associated Press, do not use italics (e.g., “Fox News,” “CBS”).
  • Include the url of a citation wherever available. If no publication date is available for an Internet publication, include a parenthetical note after the url with the “accessed on” date.
  • Do not break urls, even if they break badly within the Word document (see note 15). This will be fixed in the layout process.

Regarding footnote markers:

  • Place footnote markers at the end of phrases or sentences, following the punctuation mark, not mid-sentence or mid-phrase.
  • Do not put multiple footnote markers in the same location. Instead, use a single footnote marker, and combine the citations in a single footnote, separated by semicolons.

Citations in Book Reviews and Review Essays
Do not use footnotes in book reviews and review essays for the books reviewed; instead, use parenthetical notation. For example:

He proceeds to examine the many different ways in which blacks fought against discrimination and oppression: from the intransigent, confrontational approach of Ida B. Wells, who campaigned against lynching in the 1890s; to the accommodation of Booker T. Washington, whose emphasis on black self-improvement over confrontation is characterized by Fairclough as “a tactical retreat in order to prepare the way for a strategic advance” (p. 63); to the separatism of Marcus Garvey, who proposed that blacks fight for an independent, united Africa (p. 126).

Use page numbers for the hardcover version if available; otherwise, use page numbers for the paperback. If only Kindle locations are available, use formatting following this model: “(loc. 375).”

Review Header Formatting
For reviews of books, include the pricing and page information for the hardcover if available, otherwise for the paperback, otherwise for the Kindle edition. For reviews of books and films, include information about the work as illustrated by the following examples:

Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow
New York: Penguin Press, 2004.
818 pp. $35 (hardcover).
Reviewed by Daniel Wahl

Act of Valor
Directed by Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh.
Written by Kurt Johnstad.
Starring Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, and Emilio Rivera.
Released by Relativity Media, 2012.
Rated R for strong violence, including some torture, and for language.
Running time: 101 minutes.
Reviewed by Andrew Bernstein

Inclusive Numbers
For inclusive numbers, follow these guidelines:

  • 1–100, use all the numbers.
  • 100 or multiples of 100, use all digits:  100–104, 600–604, 1100–1123.
  • 101 through 109 (in multiples of 100), use the changed part only:  107–8, 505–17, 1002–6.
  • 110 through 199 (in multiples of 100), use two digits, or more if needed:  321–25, 415–532, 1536–38, 1496–504.
  • Roman numerals are given in full.
  • Inclusive numbers always take an en-dash.

Number Formatting
Spell out numbers from one through one hundred, round numbers (four hundred, five thousand), and any number beginning a sentence. However, use figures for dates (19th century; September 11, 2001), measurements (4 grams; 9 feet), and percentages (15 percent). Also, where numbers cluster, be consistent for readability (“The school has 9 fourth graders, 12 fifth graders, and 100 sixth graders”). For other exceptions and special cases, consult Chicago Manual, chapter 9.

If you include acknowledgments, place them at the end of the article.

When omitting words in the middle of a sentence, use three periods with spaces between and on either side of them. For example, “John bought chocolate and strawberry ice cream” becomes “John bought . . . ice cream.”

When omitting words on either side of a comma, include the comma on the appropriate side of the ellipses. For example, “John bought ice cream with chocolate chips and strawberries, then he ate it” becomes “John bought ice cream . . . , then he ate it.”

When omitting words at the end of a sentence, use a period after the final word with three additional periods with spaces between them and on either side of them. For example: “John bought ice cream, then ate it” becomes “John bought ice cream. . . .”

Punctuation with Quote Marks
Use question marks as illustrated by the following examples:

  • “Do you want to go the grocery store?”
  • Mary asked, “Do you want to go to the grocery store?”
  • Did he call that dumpy fruit stand a “grocery store”?
  • He said, “Place periods inside of quote marks, like this.”

En Dash (–)
Use en dashes where appropriate. An en dash (which is half the length of an em dash and about twice the length of a hyphen) means “through” or “to.” En dashes (not hyphens) are used to connect continuing or inclusive numbers, such as dates, times, and reference numbers (1861–65, not 1861-65; 6:30–8:00, not 6:30-8:00; pp. 64–66, not pp. 64-66).

A typical PC keyboard produces an en dash via Ctrl+Num→minus key (i.e., the minus key on the number pad, not the hyphen key on the main keyboard). For your shortcut key, click Insert→Symbol→Special Characters. A Mac produces an en dash via Option→hyphen key.

Initials of People’s Names
If a person is not widely known, use periods and spaces between the initials of his name (H. W. B. Joseph). But if he is widely known—and known by his initials—use only the initials, no periods or spaces between them (FDR, JFK, JP Morgan).

Use italics (not underlining) to indicate emphasis.

Use italics to indicate the title of a book, newspaper or journal, play, movie, television show, painting, sculpture, or symphony. Enclose roman text in quotation marks to indicate the title of an article or a poem, an episode of a television show, or short musical work.

Citing and Referencing The Objective Standard
When citing or referencing our print journal, The Objective Standard, include the “The” and use italics. When using the abbreviation TOS to refer to the print journal, use italics.

When using “The Objective Standard” or “TOS” to refer to the business, rather than the print journal, do not use italics. When citing or referencing TOS Blog, do not use italics.

Serial Comma
Use the serial comma (e.g., “egoism, individual rights, and laissez-faire capitalism,” not “egoism, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism”)—except where quoting someone who did not use it.

Letter Case Following a Colon
If the material following a colon is an independent clause/sentence, then the first letter should be uppercase; if not, then it should be lowercase. For example:

So the crucial question in the realm of politics is: What can stop an individual from acting on his rational judgment? There is only one thing that can stop an individual from acting on his judgment: other people. And there is only one means by which they can do it: physical force.

Active Voice/Passive Voice
Use the active voice except (a) when the agent of the action is unknown or irrelevant to the point being made, or (b) when the passive voice serves a specific purpose, such as to emphasize the object over the agent.

  • “Antitrust laws violate individual rights” is stronger and more concise than “Individual rights are violated by antitrust laws.”
  • “Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb” emphasizes Edison; “The lightbulb was invented by Thomas Edison” emphasizes the lightbulb.

Use “while” in its temporal sense only; use “although” in the sense of “even though” or “despite the fact that”; and use “whereas” in the sense of “inasmuch as” or “in contrast to the fact that.” For example:

While America has been collapsing, conservatives have been praying. Although their prayers have not saved America, they continue praying. Whereas Nero made music, conservatives have nothing to show for their evasions.

Use “since” in its temporal sense only; use “because” in the sense of “for the reason that” or to identify a causal connection. For example:

Since the so-called Progressive era, the quality of American education has steadily declined. Because “progressive education” treats feelings as superior to facts, and “social gain” as more important than “the acquirement of mere learning,” it is pure evil.

Use “which”—preceded by a comma—for nonrestrictive clauses; use “that”—not preceded by a comma—for restrictive clauses. For example:

  • The morality of altruism, which has no basis in reason, is prevalent today.
  • The religion that promises martyrs seventy-two virgins in the next life is Islam.

Like/Such As
Use “like” to mean “similar to”; use “such as” to mean “for example.” For instance:

  • If we eliminated antitrust laws, we would unleash producers like John D. Rockefeller. (Not: If we eliminated antitrust laws, we would unleash producers such as John D. Rockefeller.)
  • We should eliminate rights-violating laws, such as antitrust laws. (Not: We should eliminate rights-violating laws, like antitrust laws.)

Name and Word Spellings

  • Spell the digital book “ebook,” not “e-book.”
  • Use “email,” not “e-mail.”
  • Use “antitrust,” not “anti-trust.”
  • Spell the name of Islamic prophet “Muhammad.”
  • Spell the name of the religious text “Koran.”
  • Capitalize “Internet” and “Web” (but not “website”).
  • Use “one hundred” (not “a hundred”).
  • Use “homeschool” rather than “home school.”
  • Use “ObamaCare,” not “Obamacare.”
  • Don’t capitalize “sharia” (unless it begins a sentence).
  • Use “3D” rather than “3-D.”
  • Use “aka,” not “a.k.a.”
  • Do not use periods with the following abbreviations: PhD, MA, BA, MD, DC, UK.
  • Capitalize “West” when discussing the Western world.


  • In titles, use double quotes (not single quotes).
  • Use “more than” (not “over”) to indicate “greater in quantity than”; so: “. . . more than one thousand pieces” (not “. . . over one thousand pieces”).
  • Use “that is” and “for example” and “etcetera” in the text (use “i.e.” and “e.g.” and “etc.” in parenthesis only).
  • Do not use superscript in numbers (not “19th century” but 19th century”).
  • Dates should not include the “th”—e.g., use “May 9” rather than “May 9th.”
  • To use apostrophes to show possession with a name or word ending in “s,” add an apostrophe and an s. For example, use “Jesus’s sandal.”
  • Use an em dash (—) where appropriate, without spaces on either side, not double-hyphens or the like.
  • To abbreviate “United States,” always use “U.S.” Use the abbreviated form only when it serves as an adjective, as in “U.S. military.” Otherwise spell it out.
  • When citing a TOS Winter article, use the abbreviated year—e.g., (TOS Winter 2012–13).
  • Do not italicize Latin terms or phrases.