Style Guide

N.b. These guidelines can be downloaded in PDF format. (In case of discrepancy between PDF and this webpage, follow the webpage; it is updated more frequently than the PDF.)

Short link for this page: http://j.mp/SBETstyle

1. These guidelines are for the use of contributors and editors. They are intended to make for consistency, accuracy and seemliness of literary presentation — and if taken to heart by contributors, to simplify the editorial tasks! Articles for submission should ideally be less than 5,000 words (including footnotes), with 7,000 words regarded as an absolute maximum.

2. Contributors: the golden rule — please ensure line spacing is mininally at 1.5, with generous margins on all four sides. This applies to notes as well as text. For further instructions on document formatting for submission, please see section 13, below.

3. Use of capital letters:

General: use capitals as little as possible, and never for emphasis, but always for Christians, Jewish, etc.: so biblical (but Bible), scriptural (but Scripture(s)), apostle, gospel (but John’s Gospel), cross, baptism, Lord’s supper, communion, eucharist.

Do not capitalise pronouns referring to Deity. Do, however, capitalise all nouns referring to Deity: e.g. God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Person (when used of the Persons of the Godhead), Trinity, etc.

Church/church: When referring to the universal church, do not capitalise. When referring to specific churches (e.g. the Church of Scotland), do capitalise.

4. Italics:

Italicise foreign languages and titles of books and journals (see examples below).

Books of the Bible and most common abbreviations are non-italic: e.g. ibid., cf., op. cit.

Do not italicise titles of articles, but enclose in quotation marks (see example below).

N.B. Text to be italicised is to be underlined if italic type is not available.

5. Quotations:

  • Do not change the original in any way, e.g. if the quotation begins part way through a sentence it should begin with a small letter just as in the original. Do not introduce a quotation with dots — the lower case letter will indicate if it has begun part way through a sentence.
  • Use ‘smart/curly’ quotation marks if possible, rather than ‘straight’.
  • Use single quotation marks, except where one quotation comes within another, when outer marks should be single and inner marks should be double.
  • Quotations of more than about 30 words should be indented with a line space before and after, without quotation marks.

Omissions are indicated by three dots (…), except at the end of a sentence, where four dots are used (the last being really the full stop). Square brackets should be used for any matter inserted into quoted material.

Full stop should precede closing quotation marks except for grammatically complete sentences that begin with a capital letter: e.g.: He maintains that the book under discussion ‘breaks new ground’. But: He maintains that ‘The book under discussion breaks new ground.’

6. Spelling:

  • In quotations from works by Americans, American spelling should be retained. Otherwise British spelling, even in contributions by American authors/reviewers.
  • Optional spellings: use ‘medieval’ rather than ‘mediaeval’, ‘realize’ rather than ‘realise’ etc.; ‘judgement’ rather than ‘judgment’.
  • Note: millennium, millennial, but millenarian.

7. Use of full stops:

Do not place a stop after abbreviations which end with the last letter of the word abbreviated: e.g. doctor = Dr (not Dr.); Mister = Mr (not Mr.). But editor = ed. (not ed); continued = cont. (not cont); Reverend = Revd (not Revd.), etc.

Note the following:
p. 16; pp. 3-4; pp. 3f.; pp. 6ff.
Rom. 1:2-4; 2:16, 17.
2 Cor. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:7.
1 Pet. 1:3 — 2:6.
T. H. L. Parker

8. Abbreviations:

Common abbreviations may be used: e.g. WCC, JTS, EvQ, Calvin, Inst.; Barth, CD (Church Dogmatics).

Where biblical references occur as part of the text, the book should be written in full, e.g. ‘as the writer says in Genesis 9:17’. Where the biblical reference is given as a footnote or in brackets in the text, the book’s name should be abbreviated as follows:

Old Testament
Gen.1 KgsEccles.Obad.
Exod.2 KgsS. of S.Jonah
Lev.1 Chr.Isa.Mic.
Num.2Chr.Jer.Nahum
Deut.EzraLam.Hab.
Josh.Neh.Ezek.Zeph.
Judg.EstherDan.Hag.
RuthJobHos.Zech.
1 Sam.Ps. (pl. Pss)JoelMal.
2 Sam.Prov.Amos
New Testament
Matt.2 Cor.1 Tim.2 Pet.
MarkGal.2 Tim.1 John
LukeEph.Titus2 John
JohnPhil.Philem.3 John
ActsCol.Heb.Jude
Rom.1 Thess.JasRev.
1 Cor.2 Thess.1 Pet.

9. Bibliographical references:

  • The format adopted here is based on the MHRA Style Guide (see Download link for PDF).
  • Basic styles:
    • [book] W. Still, Collected Writings, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1994), 2, pp. 25-32.
    • [article] G. Philip, ‘Prayer’, SBET 11 (1975), 10-25.
    • [chapter] D. F. Wright, ‘Accommodation and Barbarity in John Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries’, in Understanding Poets and Prophets: Essays in Honour of George Wishart Anderson, ed. by A. G. Auld (JSOTSS, 152; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 413-27.
  • Cite place of publication, publisher and date. Specify edition (e.g. 5th edn, ed. by D. Searle). Cite wherever possible by latest edition, with date, which is not normally that of a reprint.
  • For journals give volume number in Arabic (but not part of the volume, unless separately paginated) and year, but not place.
  • For later references, while ibid., op. cit., ad loc., etc. may be used, a short-title reference is preferable (e.g. Still, Collected Writings, p. 31; Wright, ‘Accommodation’, p. 414).
  • In references to works with chapter and section (e.g. Institutes IV.xvi.2), these divisions should be given — i.e. do not cite such works only by page/column in a particular edition. However, Roman numerals should otherwise generally be avoided (i.e. always use Arabic numerals when giving the volume of a book).
  • Page numbers should be elided to the shortest pronounceable form (331-3, but 117-18). Years also should be elided to the shortest pronounceable form (1924-5, not 1924-25 or 1924-1925 but 1916-17, not 1916-7), but should normally appear in full in titles (1924-1925, 1916-1917).
  • Where USA State names are needed to identify a place of publication, the two-letter, postal-code form will be used, e.g. Cambridge, MA (= Massachusetts).

10. Other languages:

General rules: transliterate Hebrew and Greek (and underline/italicise transliteration), and provide a translation, as also with other non-English words quoted whose meaning is unlikely to be well known. Consult the transliteration charts provided for Hebrew and Greek).

If original language fonts are required (e.g., in quotations), please use Unicode format. Our recommended fonts are either SBL Hebrew or Taamey Frank for Hebrew, and SBL Greek or Gentium Plus for Greek.

11. Headings:

Authors of articles should provide headings to break up the text every 500 to 750 words

12. Inclusive language:

It is editorial policy as far as is possible to avoid gender-specific language when a gender-specific meaning is not intended. It is recognised that not all contributors and reviewers will agree with this policy, although it is increasingly common in academic and similar publishing. The policy seeks merely to acknowledge that a significant and widespread shift in usage has taken place, and to remove an element which a growing number of readers finds grating and intrusive. This paragraph has no bearing, of course, on references to the Deity.

13. Format:

Material should be submitted on disk or preferably as an email attachment, sent to scobethe@gmail.com. Acceptable formats include:

  • Microsoft Word DOC or DOCX;
  • LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org ODT format;
  • RTF format.

Some means of checking that paragraphing, etc., is as the author intended should also be provided, either in hard copy or PDF.

N.B. Documents should not be sent in PDF format only.

Observing the following conventions would also assist the editorial task:

  • Indicate new paragraphs by indented first line; do not separate paragraphs with a blank line.
  • Use at least 1 1/2 line-spacing throughout, including footnotes.
  • Do include page numbers and article title in a page header/footer, but omit the author’s name.
  • Ensure there is no ‘hidden’ text left in the file submitted.

Last updated: Tue, 19 Jul 2016