Journal of Musicology

Brief Style Guide

January 2016


In most matters JM follows the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, available to many users at Please take particular note of the principles for dates (day month year, e.g., 7 October 2015); numbers; abbreviations; citations; and hyphens.


First citations

When citing an essay for the first time, include the full citation, even if the essay appears in a book that has already been cited.



1. In the first reference, include the entire page range followed by the specific page reference, using “at” or, where applicable, “esp.”, as in:

David Harlan, “A People Blinded from Birth: American History According to Sacvan BercovitchThe Journal of American History 78 (1991): 949–71, at 964.

2. Generally omit issue numbers/months, except in special circumstances, as in: Sovetskaia muzyka 3 (March 1983): 55–82, at 60.


Page number ranges (after CMS):

–In most cases omit no more than one digit, as in 323–25.

–Don't omit anything for cases such as 32–33.

–100 is a special case: 100–101, 100–104, etc. (also 1100–1108).

–Also special are ranges beginning 101, 102, etc.: 101–7, 102–9, etc.; and 1103–4, 1105–7.


Date ranges (after CMS):

Use the format 1910–19.

But repeat all digits in titles.



Use idem for masculine authors, eadem for feminine.


Music symbols

Place instructions for the typesetter in angled brackets, as in:


    <half note>=60

    3/4 <meter signature>


Musical terms

Use English plurals (cellos, concertos).

Use "measure(s)," not "bar(s)."

Use "sonata form," not "sonata allegro form."


Titles of musical works

String Quartet in E Minor, op. 59/2

the string quartet in E minor; the E-minor string quartet

Fourth Symphony

Harold in Italy


"Der Leiermann"


Pitch names may be represented by capital letters. In situations where the register must be specified, the following system is recommended:

    C1 - C - c - c1 - c2, etc. where c1 = middle C.


See also:

James R. Cowdery, How to Write about Music: The RILM Manual of Style, 2nd ed., New York: RILM, 2006.

D. Kern Holoman, Writing about Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.



Text should be flush left with a ragged (unjustified) right margin.

Headings should be italic, flush left.

Use a period following caption titles (Table 3. Sources of BWV 243)


Illustrative materials

Distinguish tables (information in rows and columns), figures (drawings, facsimiles, diagrams, and other graphical material) and examples (score excerpts, poems, etc.). Number each separately (table 1, table 2, figure 1, figure 2, example 1, example 2). Reference to examples should appear in parentheses (ex. 1), and should be abbreviated. Outside of parentheses write out example 1 (same with figure).



After short adverb phrases, omit a comma: "In 1945 Copland was working with de Mille."

Use commas after each element in a series, including the last: "Three cheers for the red, white, and blue."


Quoted material, foreign words, and translations

Italicize an individual foreign word or phrase: Kalendarstreit. If a word, phrase, or sentence is being quoted from a specific document, it is placed in quotation marks and not italicized: The “Kalendarstreit” referred to in the document.


If a foreign word is followed by its translation, the latter goes in parentheses; there is no need for quotation marks: The source identifies the Thon (tune).


Place the translation of a word or phrase in brackets only if it is embedded within a quotation.

Normally there is no reason to enclose both a quoted word or phrase and its translation in quotation marks: Losch admitted to writing "shameful and insulting" songs (schand und schmachlieder).


Omit leading and trailing ellipsis dots, capitalize or make lowercase the first word of the quote as necessary, and change or add closing punctuation as needed to fit the context of the quotation.


General Style Points

Avoid introductory paragraphs or phrases that merely outline contents in the manner of an abstract ("In this paper I will show") or that tease or foreshadow without explanation ("This is a point to which I shall return").


Prefer "whereas" or "although" to the often overused and potentially ambiguous "while" for points of opposition. In the sentence that follows, "while" could mean either "at the same time that" or "although": "While the second movement was still undergoing revision, work on the finale was finished."


Avoid starting sentences with “However.”


Minimize unnecessary commas ("Thus, we see, for the first time, both the choice of dark-brown ink, and the use of paper type B"). All four commas may be omitted.


Use plurals wherever feasible to encompass both sexes ("Listeners will notice the change if they pay attention," not "The listener . . . if he/she pays attention").


Avoid using impact as a verb.


Use ibid., and page number if source is the same in the previous footnote. Avoid using too many consecutive ibid. footnotes by combining them.


Avoid, if possible, using nouns as adjectives.


Give full names when mentioned first in the text.


Avoid the passive voice.


Avoid jargon.