Work with Us

Author’s Guide

This guide is based on our own publishing experience, our preferences and priorities, and on The Mac Is Not a Typewriter, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Webster’s Dictionary, with exceptions as noted.


All manuscripts must be submitted in two forms: hard copy and electronic files. All our books are designed and laid out on a Macintosh computer, so electronic text files are essential to us. We have too many commitments to waste the time required to scan typed manuscripts. (From actual experience, it takes longer to scan and correct the text than to lay out the book!) If you don’t use a computer, have a local service bureau scan the typed text into a computer for you. Text files should be saved in Microsoft Word format, preferably for the Macintosh. Graphics files must be in TIF format at 300 dpi or better. For ease of editing, please double space hard copy and make it flush left (i.e. ragged right), not justified.

Above all, please be considerate of the reader when writing. Here are some tips:

Be clear and consistent. Many readers have a primary language other than English, so avoid slang, idiomatic usage, or references to cultural terms that may not apply to other cultures.

Use charts, graphs, or tables instead of text to present large amounts of data.
Please use proper punctuation, which helps the reader. Punctuation was invented to make reading easier. The recent trend in some publications has been to eliminate as much punctuation as possible to reduce keystrokes and paper usage; this makes reading harder. We are in business to produce a product our customers will want to buy and read, not to make things easier on ourselves.

Our biggest time-waster during editing and production is inconsistency in style, spelling, and format. Inconsistency and style changes are the greatest cause of errors. Many style and format decisions are arbitrary matters of taste; please pick one and stick with it. Please use the styles suggested in this guide if practical. It would be a big help to us if you would make a list of the main terms [unit designations, etc.], key names, and other style decisions so we will know the preferred form. This list will also help you while writing—if you make it at the start of the project [very highly recommended] instead of the end.

When sending anything irreplaceable (e.g., original photos or artwork), please use a commercial service such as UPS or Fed Ex; do not use the regular mail. Commercial services are more reliable, have package tracking, and can insure the package as appropriate. If the post office loses your package, you have no practical recourse. Yes, commercial services are more expensive; that is the price you pay for insuring that it gets there. The mail works fine for copies and other items you can easily replace.

The computer is not a typewriter. Many of the work-arounds we were taught when learning to type were due to limitations of the typewriter; no italics or bold, no en-dash, no em-dash, etc. The computer does not have those limitations, so please read The Mac Is Not a Typewriter (by Robin Williams) if you have a Mac, or The PC Is Not a Typewriter (by Robin Williams) if you have a PC, and follow her suggestions. We have to fix all those things you forget. If we miss them, then that is another error that gets in the book. A detailed summary follows.

Electronic Files

Please submit the text files with all double spaces between sentences eliminated.

Please indent paragraphs rather than leave a blank line between them.

Please use text wrap within paragraphs rather than using a line return as you would with a typewritter. If you don’t use text wrap, we have to delete all the redundant paragraph symbols.

Please do not hyphenate words; we will do that when typesetting, if necessary.

Please run the spell-checking program for obvious errors. We use Americanized English spelling.

We depend on you for the spelling of many foreign words and names. Please pick a spelling or transliteration and stick with it consistently. We recommend that you enter the spelling of unusual terms in your custom spell-checker, then give us a hard copy and a copy on disk.

Typographic Considerations

Please use the correct dash:

The hyphen [-] is for hyphenating words or line breaks.

The En-dash [–], so called because it is approximately the width of the capital letter N in that font and size, is used between words indicating a duration. It is created on the Mac by using the option key and the hyphen. Examples of use:

11–15 July

The Em-dash [—] is approximately the width of the capital letter M. It is used similarly to a colon or parentheses, or indicates an abrupt change in thought. It is created on the Mac by pressing the Option, Shift, and Hyphen keys simultaneously. The Em-dash is simulated on typewriters with two hyphens: –. If you do not have a real em-dash, use two hyphens and it can easily be fixed during typesetting.

Single quotation marks (‘and’) are used to enclose quotations within quotations. [He said, “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.” Double quotation marks would then go within the single quotation marks, etc.

Footnote references are generally denoted by superscripts.1 However, to make the location of the reference more apparent to casual readers who may see the footnote first, we prefer to enclose the superscript in parentheses like this.(1)


Spell out numbers one through nine and larger numbers when starting a sentence. Use numerals for numbers larger than nine.

We use the North American style of commas and decimal points with numbers. That is, 12,345.67 means twelve-thousand three-hundred forty-five and 67 hundredths. European practice would be to write the same number 12.345,67 which is confusing to North American readers (our largest audience).

The number of digits after the decimal point indicate the accuracy of the measurement. Example: 8 meters is not the same as 8.00 meters; 8 meters means ‘approximately 8 m’ whereas 8.00 m means ‘8 m to the nearest 1/100 meter.’ These are not the same to engineers and scientists. If you mean 8.00 m, then use the extra zeros.

Use en-dashes for ranges of numbers: 1916–18.

Dates can be either day-month-year (4 July 1776) or month-day-year (July 4, 1776). Please pick one format and maintain consistency throughout the manuscript. European readers prefer the former.


Italic is used for emphasis; do not use underscores or all-caps for emphasis. [Bold can also be used for emphasis, but primarily in less formal communications, such as this guide.]

Italics are used when a word is referred to as a word or a letter is referred to as a letter: The word sea and the letter c are homonyms.

Foreign words can be italicized if they are not in Webster’s, with the exception of foreign names of people or places, which are capitalized. Providing a glossary to define the foreign words used can eliminate the necessity of a lot of italicized words, which is much easier and helps us avoid typographical mistakes.

Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, films, operas, plays, TV series, and works of art are italicized: The Illiad, Rodin’s The Thinker, Dawn Patrol.

Names of ships and planes are italicized: The Swoose, Dreadnought.

Titles of articles, poems, songs, and TV shows are roman in quotation marks: “High Flight”; “History of Jasta 79b” in Cross & Cockade, “Wings”.

Punctuation Details

Commas and periods in American practice are always placed inside the quotation marks:

Cross & Cockade printed Rick’s article “History of Jasta 79b.” British practice puts the quotation marks inside the punctuation. We can use either as long as you are consistent.

In American practice, colons and semicolons go outside the quotation marks.

Question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks if they belong to the quoted material; otherwise they go outside.

For a series of items the commas are placed: a, b, and c [Not: a, b and c. The latter is accepted but is not as clear, especially if the items are long phrases; be considerate of the reader.]

Use 1920s, not 1920’s. Use six Albatros D.IIIs, not six Albatros D.III’s.


In general, hyphenate compound adjectives:

Able-bodied sailor; red-faced accomplice, single-seat fighter, two-seat
Fuel-efficient engine, 150-hp engine, user-friendly controls

Blue-green paint, black-and-white photo

Phrases of long standing: matter-of-fact, up-to-date, over-the-hill

Please do not hyphenate words in the draft text; the line breaks in the book will not be in the same place. We will hyphenate words during layout if necessary.

Aviation-Specific and Military-Specific Details

As a noun, takeoff is one word, not hyphenated. Take off as a verb is two words.

As a noun, machine gun is two words, not hyphenated. As a compound adjective, machine-gun is hyphenated. Example: Machine-gun mount

If you are discussing fuel, use fuel, not gas. To readers who are not American, gas means matter in a gaseous state, not the fuel for an internal combustion engine.

Please use airship, not dirigible. Dirigible derives from a French word meaning capable of being steered or guided; any aerial device that can be steered in the air is a dirigible. Airship is unambiguous.

We prefer engine power denoted as 150-hp engine, but will accept 150hp engine. Please be consistent throughout the text.

For gun sizes, we prefer 20mm or 20-mm to 20 mm.

Please choose a style for aircraft designations and stick with it. If there is only one correct form, please use it. If there are several forms, use the form that is easiest or most common. For German aircraft use Roman numerals [e.g., D.VII, C.III] as those are correct. For French aircraft, both Roman and Arabic numerals were used; we prefer Arabic since they are easier to read [e.g., Spad 13 rather than Spad XIII]. Also, use SPAD, not Spad or S.P.A.D.

For French squadron designations, we prefer SPAÊ124 to Spa.124 or SPA.124.

You can use either a 12-hour clock or 24-hour clock as you prefer, as long as you use it consistently.

We prefer using the actual rank for all personnel, e.g., feldwebel, not sergeant. The first time you give a foreign rank, please give the nearest English equivalent in parentheses after it. And put the equivalents in your glossary. We generally prefer to italicize foreign ranks and titles, but this can become too cumbersome. Inclusion of a glossary can eliminate the need for italics.

Ranks and titles are capitalized when the rank precedes the name, lower case when it follows: e.g., Lieutenant Thomas Jones, Thomas Jones, lieutenant.

Ranks and titles by themselves are capitalized when used for address, lower case otherwise: e.g., “Sir, would the Colonel like to read the report?” Or, the colonel read the report.

Abbreviations of ranks and titles: use an accepted form and be consistent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *