Oral History Program Style GuideOral History Program Style Guide SnyderJ April 3, 2019
This Style Guide contains our preferred styling for frequently encountered issues in our oral history transcripts and is not a comprehensive manual. We edit lightly and base changes from received transcriptions mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
Oral histories provide unique situations that call for flexibility, including occasional deviations from the Chicago Manual or other scholarly traditions. We aim for clarity and consistency within the overall program and within individual transcripts. We are open to changes in language and culture, and update this document regularly. When in doubt, please ask us any questions.
Updated: December 2018
Oral History Program Style Guide: Section 1: Format of Interview TranscriptOral History Program Style Guide: Section 1: Format of Interview Transcript SnyderJ April 3, 2019
- Font: 12 point, Times New Roman.
- One-inch margins on both sides.
- Left justified. No indentations for speakers.
- No curly quotes. Please turn off "smart quotes" in your word processing program.
- Page numbers, bottom center. No number on cover page or on preface page.
- Speakers' full names in all caps, followed by colon and two spaces
- Use the serial comma: x, y, and z. (See also Comma section.)
- Use brackets, not parentheses, for added material. (See Brackets and Ellipses section.)
- For changes in tape or disc:
- This is disc number three. (within the text)
- [END OF TRACK full track name.] – Transcribers, please note that the tracks are named correctly. Please include the full track name, Example: [END OF TRACK AAA_almara86_532.]
- [END OF INTERVIEW.] – At the end of an interview there will be an [END OF TRACK.] and an [END OF INTERVIEW.] in separate instances.
- For test tracks or blank tracks:
- [Track <insert full name of track> is blank.]
- [Track <insert full name of track> is a test track.]
Oral History Program Style Guide: Section 2: Treatment of TextOral History Program Style Guide: Section 2: Treatment of Text SnyderJ April 3, 2019
Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., and the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary, though we do not adhere strictly to them in all instances.
- [Laughs.] Period inside the bracket if outside sentence.
- [laughs] No period inside the brackets if within sentence.
- [They laugh.] NOT [Laughter.]
- No "chuckles," etc.
- Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Period after bracket if stands alone
- uh-huh [affirmative] No period inside the brackets if within sentence.
- Mm-mm [negative].
- Okay, not OK
- Use "—" (em dash), not "…" (see below for ellipses) and not "--" (double dashes)
- No spaces around em dash (…yellow—the color—not blue…)
- To make an em dash (—): ctrl-Alt-minus key (PC) or shift-option-dash (Mac)
- If one speaker finishes another's sentence:
SPEAKER A: So then I—
SPEAKER B: —ran outside?
- Try to keep expressions of interruptions to these:
- [Audio break.]
- [Cross talk.]
- [Side conversation.]
- [Tape stops, restarts.]
- Bracket in text
- [points to painting], [claps]
- Use ellipses to indicate portions of the audio that have been deleted from the transcript.
- Bracket ellipses
- Type three dots, with spaces between dots: #[.#.#.]# (or end-sentence punctuation if within sentence).
- If the sentence ends before the ellipses, period goes in normal place, then begin #[.#.#.]# (CMS 17/13.53ff)
- No need for ellipses if the deletions are "uh" words ("you know," "I mean," "like," etc.), brief false starts, or self-corrections.
- Identify bracketed ellipses as described below.
- Use brackets for information added or deleted after the interview is recorded.
- Format: [additional information or ellipses + space + en dash + initials of narrator or interviewer]
- No need for initials if information is added or deleted by AAA
- Bracket without initials if small (one- or two-word) change differs from the recorded version, unless it is important to indicate speaker made the change.
- Correction of simple tense, gender, article, etc., that would not be audibly discernable need not be bracketed.
- No need for brackets if an "[inaudible]" is replaced with the originally spoken word(s)
- Add only if essential to understanding context and not easily available to search.
- [Inaudible.] or [inaudible], as with laughter section
- [ph], not (ph); don't use [sp] (since it's spoken, not written).
- States should be abbreviated if inside brackets [Cranbrook, MI].
- New York (the city) can be [New York, NY] or [New York City]; the latter is especially useful if the discussion is clearly in the city.
- Don't add full names of persons, places, or titles of exhibitions, works, or publications unless necessary, i.e., obscure, needed to distinguish from a similar one, wouldn't make sense, or would be unsearchable without it.
- Book citation: only as needed for reader to search, usually just author or title or year of publication; at most: [Author. Title. City of publication: publisher, year of publication], but usually [Title, year]
- Exhibition info: as above; at most: [Title. Museum, city, dates (or "traveled," years)]
- Spell out only when necessary (if unclear in context).
- ACC [American Craft Council]
- NCECA [National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts
- Leave ampersand in if considered the proper name:
- Victoria and Albert Museum, the V&A (exceptions can occur).
- Italics: Exhibition, work of art (including installation, performance), book, movie, television or radio show (series), play, opera, major musical composition, long poem published as a single work, blog title, computer game, ship (USS Enterprise), newspaper ("the" is lowercased, roman)
- Quotes: Poem, song, lecture, single episode of television/radio show, individual blog entry or section, web page entry or section, (academic course—only if context calls for it)
- Uppercase: No quotes or italics: art movements (generally uppercase; see list), computer program, building of architectural significance, series (related group of artworks or regularly recurring exhibition or event), poster, T-shirt title, study or cultural program, regular column (in magazine, journal, newspaper, or website), historical event, lecture series, conference, formal academic department/position/course title (lean to lowercase)
- Lowercase: (but can be uppercase if critical to clarity of narrative or used in a formal title). teaching or administrative position; museum or academic department, committee, or course; prize (cap if proper name (Pulitzer Prize); lowercase if generic (gold medal)); see various lists below.
- Fulbright Program (various awards within)
- Guggenheim Fellowship
- MacArthur Fellowship
- NEA grant (certain specific grants are capped)
- Rhodes Scholar/Scholarship
- Capitalize if proper noun: NuGold, Damascus steel, ColorCore.
- Lowercase if general technique or style: hishii, kumboo, niello, netsuke.
- Use "karat" instead of "K," unless actually spoken as "K."
- S shape (cap, no ital, no quotes); X number of turns
- Spelling out names/terms in narrative: use caps with dashes: Smith, S-M-I-T-H
- The so-called X (no special treatment)
- Flexible, depending on context, but often italics to set apart: Boom!
- Not necessary for casual speech such as "blah, blah, blah"
- Spell out numbers under 10, including ordinals and street names and numbers (One Fifth Avenue).
- Exceptions for some technical terms, such as "cone 2"
- When a transcript contains numerous listings of dimensions, then numerals may be more practical.
- If the speaker says, "3 or 400," then use "3 or 400" for clarity.
- Use 9/11 (terrorist attacks) and 9-1-1 (emergency call).
- Spell out numbers that begin a sentence, unless it is a year.
- "1934 was the year I went to Spain." (or '34)
- Hyphenate (non-year) numbers such as "Thirty-four" when beginning a sentence.
- Don't include "th" (11th) in full dates (dates that include year).
- Use en dash for date spans, but comma if narrator is casting around for a date: "It was around 1967, '68; I'm not sure."
- Spell out the words "inches" or "feet," etc.
- Use hyphens for exact fractions ("one-half"), but not inexact fractions ("a third")
- Numerals for numbers using decimals, "1.5 inches" (as spoken)
- While we would normally use "eight by 10 inches," if a transcript uses dimensions frequently, it could work better to use all numerals, even "8x10."
- Only add dimensional units ("[inches]") if necessary for clarity, and even then, not in every instance.
- Hyphenate fractional numbers when they are adjectives: "a four-and-a-half-year project," or used as noun (see age section), but not when an adverb: "She was four and a half years old."
- Spell out whole numbers under 10 (one o'clock) unless exact time:
- two o'clock or 2 a.m. (as spoken), 2:15.
- Spell out the word "degrees" for temperatures.
- Spell out numbers under 10, except decimals.
- Spell out the word "percent."
- 1950s, or '50s
- 19th century (hyphenate when an adjective: 19th-century painting).
- early '50s, mid-'50s, late '50s, '72–74 (use en dash for year spans, unless "through" is spoken; no apostrophe needed after dash for ending year in span).
- 1972 or ['7]3 (if they just say "three"); 2004 or ['0]5
- "in his 30s," "in his mid-30s"
- "She was two years old," but "She acted like a two-year-old."
- "He was 30-something."
- If spell out number (whole, under 10), spell out symbol: four dollars (but $7.50).
- If use numerals, use symbol: $5,000, $8 million ("[$]8 million" or "eight million" if "dollars" is not spoken).
- See CMS 6.98 and especially 6.103
- If bracketed material is a simple addition of information, such as name, date, location, translation, etc., do not add a comma, semicolon, or colon with the brackets; okay to use within if needed.
- Exs: September 7  (no commas around year) or [September 7, 1935] (no comma after the year).
- Then it would be: "He moved to [Cranston] Rhode Island for the sea air."— Even though, if there were no brackets, it would be "He moved to Cranston, Rhode Island, for the sea air."
- If the material is added as part of the speaker's own words, and requires punctuation to correctly form the sentence, then punctuation may be added as needed.
- CMS ex: "[Dear Jacob,] It's been…"
- But if we were only inserting the name "Jacob," it would be: "Dear [Jacob], it's been…" (comma outside the bracket)
- or "… in the old days [flying by the seat of our pants –RPW]." Even though, if the final phrase were unbracketed, it would be preceded by a comma. In this instance, the insertion is treated as a parenthetical phrase.
- A question mark, exclamation point, or close quotes precedes a closing bracket only if it belongs solely to the added material; they follow it if they belong to the hosting sentence.
- Ex: I told him, "You come back [here]!"
- Similarly, a period precedes the closing bracket only if the entire sentence stands alone inside brackets; otherwise it follows.
- Exs: [It was a Thursday.] I saw Bob Brown at the end [of the day]. He was on his way to Boston.
- If bracketed ellipses are entirely self-contained outside of the surrounding sentences, they do not require a period.
- Ex: I said yes. [. . .] The door opened. (CMS 13.58) Note spacing: #[.#.#.]#
- Use the serial comma: a, b, and c.
- See specific usage sections.
- No need for quotes if internal dialogue or generalized or casually recalled.
- Set off with comma and cap first word even if not using quotes.
- Adaptable to individual cases.
- Only one space after a colon
- Capitalize after colon only when:
- for a direct question
- introducing more than one sentence or question
- for speech or dialogue
- Generally, do not hyphenate for adverbs—never for adverbs ending in "ly."
- Hyphenate expressions such as "day to day" only when they are used as adjectives.
- Generally, for techniques such as "pit fire" or "salt glaze," hyphenate when used as adjectives or verbs (see preferred spellings list).
- Should be changed to something that makes sense if spoken (usually a hyphen) since you can't speak a slash, unless the speaker actually says "slash." Flexible for individual cases.
- "They had many Giottos"—no apostrophe
- Prince Charles's, singular possessive ('s)
- The James' children, plural possessive (')
- Two complete sentences separated by a conjunction require a comma.
- Short compound sentences with closely related meanings, especially if simultaneous or sequential actions, can go without a comma, unless a comma would aid in understanding the sense.
- When there is one subject with two verbs ("She raised animals and drove a tractor"), which wouldn't require a comma, if there are multiple objects that need to be separated for clarity, go ahead and add a comma: "She raised cats, dogs, and hamsters, and drove a tractor."
- Interjections should be contained within commas.
- Oh, my God,
- It is spoken, rather than written, prose.
- "He is, like, a very relaxed person." (Though we may omit some "like"s if overused.)
- When "like" is used to estimate an amount, it does not need commas: "There were like 50 people there."
- The year of a given full date should be enclosed in commas.
- A state listed after the town should be enclosed in commas.
- "et cetera" is no longer considered an appositive and need not be contained in commas. It should be treated as any other list item.
- Spell out (don't use abbreviation).
- "Jr." or "Sr." after a name no longer requires enclosing commas.
- "So" at the beginning of a sentence is usually being used conversationally as a simple conjunction and does not require a comma. If used as an interjection or parenthetical (usually to change the subject), then use a comma.
- Restrictive (dependent) introductory clauses (containing subject and verb) should be set off by commas.
- Dependent clauses at the end of sentences present special consideration—determine if the clause is restrictive individually. (See CMS 17/6.25.)
- It was, what, 1997?
- It was—what—1997?
- The, quote, unquote, celebration (no quote marks)
- Comma after question mark or exclamation point only when following a title or quote containing a question mark/exclamation point, or if absolutely grammatically necessary, but not with dialogue ("Are you here?" she asked) (CMS 17/6.124–26)
- dark-type (slang, not a word)
- academic-wise (slang, not a word)
- The thing is, I never went there. (Comma stands in for "that")
- If in Merriam-Webster 11th, treat as any other word.
- If not, italicize.
- Flexible for individual cases.
In general, capitalize specific art movements; lowercase if the word is being used descriptively rather than referring to the specific historical period or movement.
- Abstract Expressionism
- Art Deco
- Beaux Arts
- Color Field
- Conceptual art
- Early American
- Old Masters
- Op art
- Pop art
Oral History Program Style Guide: Section 3: Preferred Spellings for Frequently Encountered Words and TermsOral History Program Style Guide: Section 3: Preferred Spellings for Frequently Encountered Words and Terms SnyderJ April 3, 2019
8 mm (film type)
16 mm (film type)
a while (2 words: obj. of preposition); awhile (1 wd: adverb)
ACT UP - no need to spell out, but should be in all caps
African American (no hyphen unless adjective)
the Archive Project (Visual AIDS)
Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard
Art AIDS America (exhibition)
back and forth (adv); back-and-forth (n, adj)
backtrack (1 word)
band saw (2 words.)
Black C.A.R.E. (Black Community AIDS Research and Education)
blow job (two words)
Boy Scouts; scouting, scout leader; Boy Scout leader
buttonhole (1 word)
cabinetmaker (1 word)
camel hair (or camel's hair)
Catch One (club, LA)
champleve (1 word)
chest of drawers
civil rights movement (lowercase)
coal miner (2 words.)
copy editor / copyedit
crosshatch (v, n)
cuff links (2 words.)
cut out (v, 2 words)
cutout (n, adj)
decision making (n, 2 words)
disc (for recording)
"documenta" when referring to the series of exhibitions; "documenta 7" or whatever number when referring to a specific exhibition.
Dyke Action Machine! (DAM!)
East Coast (but going east, eastern)
Ecstasy (capitalized; recreational drug)
electro + process (1 wd., electroplate, etc.)
fierce pussy (all lowercase)
freestanding (1 word)
Fulbright Program (various awards within)
full time (n)(rarely encountered), usually full-time (adj/adv)
GI Bill (no periods)
GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent)
GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis)
God, goddam (n,v), goddamed (adj, adv)
gold leaf (n, 2 words.)
gold medal (lowercase)
Gran Fury (artist collective)
gray (not grey)
GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency)
hairpin (1 word)
handcrafted (1 word)
hardwood (1 word)
high chair (2 words)
HIV government assistance programs (spell out in brackets)
iCI (Independent Curators International, NY)
ironwork, glasswork, etc.
Jacquard loom (named after inventor)
jewelry maker (2 words.)
jigsaw (1 word)
Kaposi sarcoma, Kaposi sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV)
LA (not L.A.) (with exceptions)
LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
lace making (2 words.)
Le Palace (club, Paris)
Lesbian Herstory Archives
LGBT Center (cap C, NYC)
lost wax, lost-wax process
lumberyard (1 word)
mass-produced, mass production
mat (n,v) (around a picture)
matte (nonglossy finish)
medium (mediums is plural for materials; media is "mode of expression")
Midwest, but midwestern
model making (2 words.)
MSM (Men having Sex with Men or Men Seeking Men) (also WSW)
NEA grant, fellowship (unless titled)
nunome-zogan (per MFA, Boston)
off and on (adv; hyphenate if adj; ditto one of a kind, one on one, etc.)
okay (not OK or ok)
papermaking (1 word)
photo + technique =1 word., photogravure, (but photo etch)
plique-à-jour (accent grave over "a")
Prescription drug names (especially if obscure) add "[prescription drug]"
quilt maker, quilt making (2 words)
resume (no accents necessary)
rolltop (1 word)
round-over (except as verb, then two words, no hyphen)
S/M, S and M if "and" is spoken (S-and-M if adjective)
salt glazing (n), salt-glazed (adj), salt-glaze (v)
setup (n, 1 word)
short-term (unless n)
silk screen (n, 2 words.)
silk-screen (v & adj)
SOFA (Sculptural Objects & Functional Art)
SoHo (with exceptions like an organization that doesn’t capitalize the "H")
Sotheby's (Parke-Bernet Galleries, '37-64; Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co, '64-70)
South, but southern
still life (2 words.; hyphenate for adj.)
Super 8 (film type)
tabletop (1 word)
TAG (Treatment Action Group)
tape recorder (n, 2 words)
tape recording (n, 2 words)
The Kitchen (performance space)
theater, not theatre
time frame (2 words)
tintype (1 word)
toolmaker, toolmaking (1 word)
Treatment and Data committee (precursor to TAG)
USA, DC, LA, Washington, D.C., U.S., U.K., the States
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)
Voulkos's (for possessive)
WAC (Women's Action Coalition)
watercolor (1 word)
website, web, but World Wide Web
well known (adv)
West Coast (but west, western)
WHAM (Women's Health Action and Mobilization)
wheat paste (n, two words); wheat-paste (adj or verb)
wheel-thrown, wheel throwing
wood turning (2 words., per Renwick)
woodblock (1 word)
woodworking, woodwork, woodshop
xerox (lowercase), but Xerox machine