Style guide

Elizabeth Crowley Webber edited this page Sep 7, 2018 · 14 revisions

House Style Guide

Authors: Please conform all references in your manuscript to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition ( Below are specific, additional instructions for JCMS (formerly Cinema Journal).

Manuscript Preparation


The entire manuscript should be double-spaced including notes and captions. Use size 12, Times New Roman font and avoid special formatting. All text should be flush left (like this page) and not “justified” to the right margin. Block quotations should be indented. For an em dash—one that indicates a break in a sentence like this—use the em dash character, not hyphens (leave no space on either side of the dash). All notes should be formatted as endnotes.

Title and Author Info

For initial submissions, remove all biographical information from your document. Within the final manuscript, at the top of the first page include the article title, your byline (by Firstname Lastname), your biography (25–40 words), and abstract (50–100 words), in that order with line breaks between this information. Any author acknowledgments should be gathered at the end of the article, not included in your endnotes.


Articles should be 8,000–12,000 words long, including notes and captions. In Focus essays are generally 2,500–3,000 words long, depending on the number of contributors to the dossier. Please check with your In Focus editor for your specific word limit.


If you choose to use subheads, please format them as run-in ones. That is, one paragraph will end, then you’ll return for an additional blank line, and then a new paragraph starts beginning with the bolded heading. Subheads should not include subtitles (e.g., “Subheadings Are Themselves Clarificatory: Further Clarification Becomes Unwieldy.”) We usually do not include subheads in InFocus or Book Review articles.

Cinema and Media Titles

When films are initially cited, provide the director’s first and last name, as well as the release year, in parentheses: e.g, Superman Returns (Brian Singer, 2006). For television or radio series, provide the original channel/network and run dates: e.g, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 2008–2009). Ongoing comic book series should be cited in-text like TV series: e.g., Sandman (Vertigo, 1989–1996). For video games, cite the company that created the game and the original release year: e.g, Animal Crossing (Nintendo, 2001). Album titles should be followed by the artist and release year: e.g, Reality (David Bowie, 2003).


For film and media titles, the original language of the title should always come first (transliterated if necessary), followed by the title translated into English. If the film has been released in English, the translated title should be italicized and in title case: e.g., Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows, Francois Truffaut, 1959). If the film has not been released in English, the translated title should not be italicized and it should be formatted in sentence case: e.g., Ithu Kathirvelan Kadhal (This is Kathirvelan’s love, S. R. Prabharkaran, 2014). Thereafter, refer to the film by its original title.

For other instances, italics are used for isolated words and phrases from another language, especially if they are not listed in a standard English-language dictionary such as Merriam-Webster’s or are likely to be unfamiliar to readers. Please italicize original language words that would not be familiar to the reader, and place the translation in parentheses or quotation marks: e.g., The word she wanted was pécher (to sin), not pêcher (to fish). Longer foreign passages do not require italics. The English translation should follow in parentheses: e.g., A line from Goethe, “Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß” (Who never ate his bread with tears), comes to mind. For commonly used phrases, such as mise en scène, there is no need for italics. See Chicago Manual of Style, Chapter 11 for further guidance.

Grammar and Syntax

While your article will be professionally edited, please consider ways to make your prose as reader-friendly as possible. This includes avoiding passive construction unless necessary, ensuring that all pronouns have antecedents, and eliminating dangling modifiers, run-on sentences, and comma splices. Paragraphs should have smooth transitions that indicate where your argument is heading; as much as you’re able to do so, cut down on metadiscourse to this effect. As a general rule, avoid slang and informal language. For spelling, refer to Merriam-Webster.

Bias-Free Language

Biased language distracts many readers and makes the work less credible to them. Therefore we ask that submissions use gender-neutral language in reference to unspecified or generic persons. This often involves rewording your prose, such as substituting the plural they and their for the singular he or she.  


We are able to run three to six images per feature article but do not typically run images with In Focus articles. In order to make the process go smoothly, please ensure that you’ve formatted your files correctly.

  • Images should be a minimum of 1500 pixels wide or tall (or at least 3–4 inches when saved at 300 dpi).
  • Save images as TIFF files.
  • For initial review, please embed the images in the Word Document for readers’ easy reference. For the final manuscript, remove all images from the Word Document.
  • For initial review, name the image file with the figure number only: Figure 01. If submitting images with the final manuscript, name each image file with your last name and the figure number: Lastname Figure 01.

In the first sentence that analyzes or mentions the figure contents, be sure to include the figure number in parentheses at the end of the sentence: e.g., (see Figure 1). When removing embedded images from your submission draft for your final manuscript, include curly-bracketed all-caps callouts in between paragraphs in your manuscript to indicate where figures should be placed. Place a brief caption (less than 50 words) in the line below the callout. For example:

{PLACE FIGURE 1 ABOUT HERE} Figure 1. Miss World (Carole Laure) performs for the camera at a commercial shoot in Sweet Movie (Maran Films, 1974).

In addition to a descriptive caption, each image should be provided a credit line, indicating the company that owns the image and the year in which the image was released. Thus, a title referenced in the text would appear as Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992) but an illustration would be credited as Reservoir Dogs (Miramax, 1992). Cite the company “closest” to the image (i.e., Miramax, not Disney). If you’re using an image that required permission, the credit line should follow instructions you received from the rights holder.

Screen grabs are a popular choice for article figures, but resolution can be a concern. Your easiest, most basic choice for capturing a screen grab may not provide enough resolution. Using a Blu-ray disc will help (versus DVD), as will using a larger screen when capturing the image. If you have additional questions about how to capture high-resolution images, please email

At the time of publication, you must submit all necessary permission paperwork to the editorial team. For information on permissions, please see the SCMS Report, "Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills" by Kristin Thompson.  


Films and media should be cited parenthetically in the text (see “Cinema and Media Titles” above). Cite all other secondary sources—epigraphs, journal issues, books, DVD commentaries and extras, etc.—in endnotes.

  • Check all of your notes against Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
  • Use Word’s citation function for endnotes (rather than manually entering them).
  • Add endnotes at the end of the sentence in which the work is cited, never in the middle.
  • In keeping with the new Chicago Manual of Style guidelines, use shortened citations instead of ibid. To avoid repetition, the title of a work just cited may be omitted.
  • Minimize your notes so that they mostly provide documentation, not information and elaboration: heavy notes can be visually distracting for readers.
  • Ensure that page number and date ranges are linked by en dashes (–), not hyphens.
  • Do not include footnotes or a works cited list.
  • When possible, we recommend using a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) when citing digital articles. See Chicago Manual of Style, 14.8, for additional information.

Here is an example with an initial citation (with DOI-based URL) and a subsequent short citation:

  1. Charlotte E. Howell, “Symbolic Capital and the Production Discourse of The American Music Show: A Microhistory of Atlanta Cable Access,” Cinema Journal 57, no. 1, (Fall 2017): 1–24,
  2. Howell, 17.

Endnotes with multiple citations and commentary should include the commentary before the source the commentary is related to:

  1. For example, journalist Rosie DiManno described the attacks as “pointless, fanatical, and cowardly” and as the consequence of “the whims of madmen.” Quoted in Elaine Tyler May, “Echoes of the Cold War: The Aftermath of September 11 at Home,” in September 11 in History: A Watershed Moment? ed. Mary L. Dudziak (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 36–37.

Multiple citations in a note should not be lumped together at the end (as this makes it difficult to determine what the commentary is referring to):

  1. For example, Will Brooker argues that in his promotion of Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan brought Joel Schumacher’s two films into view in order to disavow them. See Brooker, Hunting the Dark Knight (London: I. B. Tauris, 2012), 92. For further discussion of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films, see Brooker, Batman Unmasked (London: Continuum, 2000), 171. 

Checklist for Initial Submissions

  • Any identifying information has been redacted from your submission, including a byline, biography, acknowledgments, and file names.

  • You have followed Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

  • All notes are formatted as endnotes.

  • Illustrations are embedded in the Word Document.

  • You have renewed your SCMS membership for the calendar year. (If you are renewing at the time of submission, please wait at least 48 hours for your payment to process.)

Checklist for Final Manuscripts

  • Everything is double-spaced, size 12, Times New Roman, and left aligned. Block quotations are indented. Subheadings run-in with the text. (See “Manuscript Preparation,” especially “Formatting.”)

  • The title and byline appear exactly as you’d like to see them in print. Your bio is about 40 words and your abstract is about 100. (See “Title and author info.”)

  • Images are pulled out of the word document and saved as separate high-resolution TIFF files as “Lastname Figure #.” Permissions, if needed, are in hand. (See “Illustrations” and “Images.”)

  • All images have a callout and caption in the manuscript. Curly brackets are used for the callout. There is a line break above and below the caption and callout. (See “Illustrations” and “Images.”)

  • All necessary permissions are attached with the manuscript and image files.

  • All notes are formatted as endnotes, note numbers come at the end of the sentence, and citations follow Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. (See “Documentation.”)

  • The first mention of a primary source includes bibliographic information as appropriate for the medium. (See “Cinema and Media Titles.”)

  • You have carefully proofread the article and incorporated all revisions, as requested by peer reviewers.

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