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Style Guide | Pre-Columbian Publications

This document treats matters of style—the general principles we follow in grammar, usage, and other matters relating to texts—for Pre-Columbian publications produced by Dumbarton Oaks

The Pre-Columbian Studies Program follows the social science citation system used by the Society for American Archaeology.

The Pre-Columbian Studies Program departs from this style in two important respects: 1) Full names (rather than first initials) are used in the text and bibliography, and 2) Pre-Columbian (capital letters, with hyphen) is preferred over precolumbian (lowercase letters, no hyphen).

For issues not covered by the Society for American Archaeology, please consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (hereafter Chicago). For information on submitting a manuscript, please consult the submission guides on our website. For additional questions not addressed by these guides, please contact the Pre-Columbian Studies Program (202–339-6440).

Spelling and Grammar

  • Use American English spellings, as found in Webster's Third New International Dictionary or its principal abridgment, Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. If there are multiple spellings of a word, use the first option listed in the dictionary.
  • The preferred Spanish dictionary is the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  • Foreign words in common use should not be italicized. Any word appearing in the main section of the dictionary should not be italicized (e.g., altiplano, cacique, huaca). Any word appearing in the "Foreign Words and Phrases" section should be italicized. Foreign words should be italicized only in their first appearance, and set in roman type in their subsequent appearances.


  • Use the serial comma (e.g., Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru.)
  • Use the en dash (–), not the hyphen (-), between consecutive numbers in the manuscript (e.g., 142–144, 1910–1911)
  • For hyphenation of nonarchaeological compound words, see chapter 7 of Chicago. Compounds are spelled without hyphens if they are considered permanent combinations (e.g., Preclassic, postconquest, pre-Hispanic). (Note: The Pre-Columbian Studies Program departs from the Society for American Archaeology in its hyphenation and capitalization of Pre-Columbian.)

Names, Terms, and Numbers

  • Please consult with the volume editor for the spelling of standard names and terms used throughout the volume (e.g., Inka/Inca, kuraka/curaca, Ceibal/Seibal, Chaak/Chahk)
  • Maya relief sculpture should be cited by their full site names and monument designations, as established by the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions.
  • For capitalization of nonarchaeological terms, see chapter 8 ofChicago. Specific archaeological and geographical terms should be capitalized (e.g., Mesoamerica, Maya Lowlands, Gulf Coast, Paracas Peninsula, North Coast [Peru]). Directional, topographical, and general geographical terms should not be capitalized unless they are derived from the proper names of political or ethnic entities (e.g., southeastern, central Mexico). Taxonomic descriptions should be capitalized if they are an accepted part of the name (e.g., Early Horizon, Late Intermediate Period), and lowercased if they are used alone or generically (e.g., the period, Classic period).
  • Spell out whole numbers one through one hundred, round numbers, or numbers beginning a sentence.
  • Spell out percent in the text and endnotes, but use the symbol (%) in tables.
  • Use complete page and year numbers in references (e.g., 1900–1910 [not 1900–10] and Smith 2009:100–110 [not Smith 2009:100–10]).
  • Abbreviations should be used sparingly, with the following exceptions: Acronyms for long titles of institutions may be abbreviated after being introduced by their full names, e.g., Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (
  • Abbreviations designating time are set in capitals without periods. Please consult with the volume editor to determine if the volume uses BC/AD or BCE/CE. (Note: AD precedes the year number, while the other abbreviations [BC, BCE, and CE] follow the year number.)

Foreign Language Conventions

  • For capitalization and punctuation conventions in Spanish, see chapter 10 of Chicago.
  • Spanish-language titles should follow sentence-style capitalization, in which only the first word of the title, first word of the subtitle, and proper nouns are capitalized (e.g., Hechos de don García Hurtado de Mendoza and "Establecimientos estatales en el Tawantinsuyu: Una estrategia de urbanismo obligado").
  • Titles preceding proper names are normally lowercased (e.g., don Arturo López, la señora Lucía Moyado de Barba, doña Perfecta).
  • Nouns and adjectives denoting membership in nations are lowercased, but the names of countries are capitalized (e.g., los mexicanos, la lengua española, España).
  • Include all common accents for personal and institutional names, titles, and geographical locations. Do not add accents to titles or direct quotations if they are not in the original. (Note: The use of accents for indigenous names varies by field. Please consult with the volume editor for the specific conventions of the volume.)

Illustrations and Captions

  • Illustrations should be submitted in accordance with our artwork submission guide.
  • All artwork must include a photo or drawing credit unless produced by the author. If the art has been published elsewhere, the credit should include the figure and/or page number on which the work appears.
  • Composite figures (e.g., Figures 5a, 5b, 5c) should be used sparingly, and only if the same type of material is being presented. Different types of material (i.e., photographs of buildings, maps, sculpture) should not be presented as a single image. Illustrations from different sources should ideally be redrawn using the same line width.
  • Illustrations should be referred to as "Figures" in the text. "Figure" should be capitalized and spelled out in the text and captions: "Figure 1 shows …", (Figure 1), and (Figure 3a–c)
  • Each caption should include the figure number, identification (e.g., material, size, place of origin, present location) as appropriate, and illustration credit. Captions should be concise; lengthy explanations of images should be incorporated into the text.

Sample captions

Figure 4 Ceramic stirrup-spout bottle, excavated by Santiago Uceda at Huaca de la Luna in the Moche Valley. 9⅛ in. (23.2 cm). Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Peru, inv. 3499. Photograph by Steve Bourget.

Figure 1 Map of Panama, showing the location of archaeological sites, modern towns, and prominent geographical features. Drawing by Jean-François Cooke (after García Castillo 2001:Figure 12 and Murro 1999:Figure 1).

In-Text Reference Citations

All in-text citations must correspond to a full citation in the "References Cited" section.

In-text citations always follow the name(s) of the author(s). If a specific datum is referenced in the text, then the specific page, figure or table number must be included in the citation: (Smith 2009:100), (Smith 2009:Figure 1), (Smith 2009:Table 1) (Note: Do not insert a space between the colon and additional information.)

  • Parentheses should be used for in-text citations: (Smith 2009) or Smith (2009). If the citation is found in text in parentheses, then the citation should be placed in brackets: (According to Smith [2009], the sculpture …).
  • Semicolons should be used to separate works by different authors: (Brown 2000; Jones 1995; Smith 2009). All references should be ordered alphabetically by author.
  • Commas should separate chronologically ordered works by the same author: (Brown 2002, 2004). If an individual has authored multiple publications in the same year, the publications should be distinguished by lowercase letters: (Smith 2009a, 2009b). If an individual has authored and edited a publication in the same year, then the edited volume should be distinguished in the in-text reference: (Smith 2009; Smith, ed. 2009). The authored publication should precede the edited publication.
  • Original publication dates should be listed in brackets: (Cobo 1956 [1653])
  • Please avoid citing unpublished papers or personal correspondence. If such sources must be included, then use the following format for in-text citations: (Smith n.d.) or (Juan Antonio Murro, personal communication 2005). Written permission to use any form of unpublished information must be obtained from the source.

For additional examples of in-text citations, please consult the style guide for the Society of American Archaeology.

References Cited

All references listed in this section must be cited in the text. Please do not include extraneous items (i.e., if a work is not cited in the text, it should not be included in the References Cited).

All references should be listed alphabetically by author surname.

  • Please include the full first name (not the first initial) of all authors.
  • Spanish authors should be listed with their patronymic and matronymic surnames—unless they prefer a single surname or are conventionally known by a single surname. Compound names should be alphabetized under the first element (e.g., García Lorca, Federico). If a y joins two surnames, then the compound name should be alphabetized by the first element (e.g., Ortega y Gasset, José). The particle de may follow the given name or join two surnames, but it should not be used to alphabetize the name (e.g., Murúa, Martín de).
  • If multiple works by a single author are included, they should be listed in chronological order beginning with the oldest work.

Do not include "Inc.," "Publishers,", or "and Company" in the publisher's name.

If the city of publication may be unknown to readers, the abbreviated state name should be in the citation. (Consult chapter 15 of Chicago for state abbreviations). If the publisher's name includes the state name, then the abbreviation is not necessary (e.g., University of Colorado Press, Boulder).

English names should be used for all foreign cities (e.g., Mexico City, not México or México D.F.)

Sample citations

Book (single author/editor)

Kauffmann Doig, Federico
1983 Manual de arqueología peruana. 8th ed. Ediciones Peisa, Lima.

Benson, Elizabeth P. (editor)
1968 Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmec. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C.

Book (multiple authors/editors)

Cabrero G., María Teresa, and Carlos López C.
1997 Catálogo de piezas de las tumbas de tiro del Cañón de Bolaños. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Mexico City.

Book (reissued or reprinted)

Murúa, Martín de
1987 [1611–1616] Historia general del Perú. Edited by Manuel Ballesteros. Crónicas de América 35. Historia 16, Madrid.


Tozzer, Alfred M. (editor)
1941 Landa's Relación de las cosas de Yucatan: A Translation. Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology 18. The Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Mass.

Multivolume works

Sahagún, Bernardino de
1970–1982 General History of the Things of New Spain. Translated by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. 12 vols. School of American Research, Santa Fe, N. Mex.

Sharer, Robert J., Bruce A. Anderson, David W. Sedat, Payson D. Sheets, and Dana Anderson
1978 Introduction, Surface Surveys, Excavations, Monuments and Special Deposits. Vol. 1 of The Prehistory of Chalchuapa, El Salvador, edited by Robert J. Sharer. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Dissertation or thesis

Stone, Rebecca
1987 Technique and Form in Huari-Style Tapestry Tunics: The Andean Artist, A.D. 500–800. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Journal article

Stuart, David S.
2001 Lectura y escritura en la corte maya. Arqueología mexicana8(48):48–53.

Article (in an edited monograph)

Kubler, George
1961 On the Colonial Extinction of the Motifs of Pre-Columbian Art. In Essays in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, edited by Samuel K. Lothrop, pp. 14–34. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Article (in an edited series)

Lister, Robert H.
1971 Archaeological Synthesis of Guerrero. In Archaeology of Northern Mesoamerica, edited by Gordon F. Ekholm and Ignacio Bernal, pp. 619–631. Vol. 11 of Handbook of Middle American Indians, edited by Robert Wauchope. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Article (in a proceedings, transactions or annual report)

Brinton, Daniel G.
1894 Nagualism. A Study in Native American Folk-Lore and History. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 33:11–73. Philadelphia.

Presented paper

Salazar, Lucy C.
2000 Inca Religion and the Political Power of Sacred Space: Machu Picchu's Pachacuti Country Palace. Paper presented at the 50thAnnual Congress of Americanists, Warsaw.

Electronic documents

Doering, Travis, and Lori Collins
2007 Mesoamerican Three-Dimensional Imaging Database. Electronic document,, accessed January 1, 2009.

In press-manuscript

Vehik, Susan C.
n.d. Conflict, Trade, and Political Development on the Southern Plains. American Antiquity, in press.