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Style Guide

Click here for a pdf of the YLS style guide, which is also provided below.

Style Guide
The Yearbook of Langland Studies
Revised October 2016

Journal style.
As per Brepols policy, The Yearbook of Langland Studies follows the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) Style Guide on most matters pertaining to style and documentation of sources. Modifications are outlined below.

Submission and formatting of manuscripts.
Manuscripts should be sent electronically, preferably as a Microsoft Word file, to If another word processing program is used, please include a version of the file saved in Rich Text Format (.rtf). Please remove all indications of authorship, including in the 'properties' of the file. Where electronic submission is impracticable for authors, we gladly accept hard copy; in this case please send two copies to one of the editors:

  • Alastair Bennett, Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK, TW20 0EX
  • Katharine Breen, English Department, Northwestern University, University Hall 215, 1897 Sheridan Rd. Evanston, IL 60208-2240
  • Eric Weiskott, 4th Fl. Stokes Hall South, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Documents should be double-spaced throughout and written in a 12-point font, with footnotes rather than endnotes. Accepted essays must in their final form be accompanied by a brief (60-150 word) abstract, to be published with the essay; a longer (250-400 word) abstract, for publication in the following volume's annual bibliography and in the online bibliography on the IPPS website; and ten keywords, also to be published with the essay.

Middle English and other special characters.
Unicode characters (meaning available in any typeface) for yogh, thorn, aesc, eth, and other obsolete characters are very much preferred to nonstandard typefaces containing special characters, since nonstandard typefaces will not render correctly when substituted by a standard font on a different reader’s computer. If you cannot use unicode, we suggest a substitution system to indicate to the editors where special characters should appear (for example: yogh = #; capital yogh = ##; thorn = @, capital thorn = @@; eth = %; aesc = ^ ), accompanied by a substitution key.

As a rule, quotations from Latin, Greek, Old French, and Anglo-Norman sources should be translated into English, the translation enclosed in parentheses immediately following the original.
Poetry quotations of more than six lines should be set off as block quotations, indented 1 inch from the left margin, double-spaced and unjustified. Use the same font size as in the main text. Prose quotations running to more than six lines in the manuscript should be set off in the same way.
Ellipses may be used to indicate the omission of part of a quoted text, and should be enclosed within square brackets.
• Quotations from Piers Plowman should be cited parenthetically in the form A.3.226, B.15.12–24, C.5.1–108, etc. Except where necessary for the argument at hand, editorial brackets and diacritics should be omitted. Lines in Latin should be designated, e.g., Piers Plowman C.5.60a, with an italicized Roman ‘a’ rather than non-italicized ‘a’ or Greek alpha. Non-italicized ‘a’ or ‘b’ after a line number denote half-verses: ‘Hit bycometh for clerkes’ = Piers Plowman C.5.61a.

• Submissions should be accompanied by a bibliography of works cited, divided into the categories “Manuscripts and Archival Resources,” “Primary Sources,” and “Secondary Sources.” For examples of the abbreviated citation form for footnotes, and the full citation form for the bibliography, please consult a recent volume of the journal.
• Citations of manuscript sources should take the form: City, Repository, MS Shelfmark name and number, fol./fols, recto/verso designation (superscript r or v), and column designation (superscript a or b). For example, a full citation to a series of manuscript folios might look like this: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 102, fols 61va–63rb.
• For Piers Plowman manuscripts commonly designated by sigils, the full citation should be given first, with the sigil introduced in parentheses and used thereafter at the author’s discretion. Remember that the sigil applies only to the text of Piers Plowman in that manuscript, and should not be used to refer to the document itself. Thus, a reference to ‘manuscript V’ really indicates ‘(the text of the A version in) manuscript V’; a reference to the entire manuscript should be to ‘the Vernon manuscript’ (after the full citation has been given).

• In running text, whole numbers between one and one hundred are spelled out. Twenty-one through twenty-nine and so on are hyphenated. Numbers greater than one hundred should be written as arabic numerals, except round figures of hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands, and so on, which should be spelled out.
• Ordinal numbers follow the same general rules, except that in bibliographic data they are shortened to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.
• Arabic numerals should be used to designate chapters, parts, volumes, or other divisions of a work, even if the text being cited uses roman numerals. For example, a reference to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, book IV, line 1406, should be cited as Troilus and Criseyde 4.1406. Roman numerals are retained, however, if they appear as part of a manuscript shelfmark.
•Numbers in series, such as page references or inclusive years, should be separated by an en-dash (not a hyphen) in the form: 237–39; 203–04; 1360–1406; 2005–06.

YLS follows British usage for spelling and punctuation. Use -ize rather than -ise in words like characterize and organize. Special cases related to Piers Plowman studies and deviations from dictionary usage are listed alphabetically below. Please glance over the full list and make any necessary revisions before submitting your manuscript.

AD (no periods)
anti- (compounds with ‘anti-’ are not hyphenated unless the second term is capitalized)
apostrophe + s for all singulars (Piers’s, Jesus’s)
A text (no hyphen as noun)
A-text (adjective)

base text (no hyphen)
BC (no periods; ‘BCE’ allowed for authors who insist)
biblical (adj.)
B text (no hyphen as noun)
B-text (adj.)

c. = circa
cen. = century
century compounds = fourteenth century (noun; not ‘14th’); fourteenth-century (adj.)
chap. / chaps.
CT as abbrev. for Canterbury Tales; cite tales by tale name, fragment, and line numbers, as in Man of Law’s Tale 2.1173. After the first citation, standard abbreviations may be used, such as FrT, SumT, etc.
C text (no hyphen as noun)
C-text (adj.)

Death (character in Piers Plowman)
Dowel, Dobet, Dobest

EETS (no periods) + o.s., e.s., etc. + volume number, as in EETS o.s. 34 (series designations stop after volume 160)
e.g., (no italics; comma after)
e.s. = extra series
etc. (no italics)
exemplar (not to be confused with modern editorial terms ‘base text’ and ‘copy-text’)

fol. / fols = folio / folios
Friar Flatterer

Gen. Prol. = General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales (no italics)

harks back (not ‘hearkens’)
the Harrowing of Hell
Holy Church

i.e., (no italics; comma after)

l. / ll. = line(s) (spell out where confusing)
Life (character in Piers Plowman)

manuscript (common noun)
MED = Middle English Dictionary
Meed (not ‘Mede’)
MS / MSS = manuscript(s) (in shelfmarks; no period)

New Testament (no italics)
n.s. = new series

OED = Oxford English Dictionary
Old Testament (no italics)
o.s. = original series

passus (lower case)
pass?s (plural)
percent (not ‘%’; use arabic numeral preceding ‘percent,’ not ‘five percent’)
Pierce the Plowman’s Crede
Prol. = Prologue of Piers Plowman (not ‘Pro.’)

quotation (noun)
quote (verb)

r = recto (superscript)
repr. = reprint

Scripture (character in Piers Plowman)
Scripture (noun)
scriptural (adj.)
Study (character in Piers Plowman)

Tree of Charity


v = verso (superscript)
Visio, Vita (no italics)

Winner and Waster

Z text (noun)
Z-text (adj.)


Editorial Info

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