Scholarly Writing and Publishing

This section is limited to works related to scholarly writing and publishing in literature and language. Persons preparing their first articles or books will benefit from the description of the process of scholarly publishing (and the suggestion for standards to govern it) in “Advice for Authors, Reviewers, Publishers, and Editors of Scholarly Books and Articles” (ADE Bulletin 132 [2002]: 107–11; rev. 2007–08:, prepared by the MLA Committee on Academic Freedom and Professional Rights and Responsibilities.

Anyone delivering a paper should heed the practical advice on preparing and reading the text offered by Peter Barry (“The Editorial Commentary,” English 53 [2004]: 151–56) and William Germano (“The Scholarly Lecture: How to Stand and Deliver,” Chronicle of Higher Education; Chronicle of Higher Educ., 28 Nov. 2003; 1 Feb. 2013; <>).

Handbooks and Guides to Publishing


McKerrow, R. B. ““Form and Matter in the Publication of Research”.” Review of English Studies 16.61 (1940): 116–21. PR1.R4 820′.9.

A plea, largely unheeded, for “precision and intelligibility” in organizing and presenting research. Full of sensible advice (e.g., provide a title that describes what the article or book is about; avoid ambiguity) and pithy asides (“‘pedant’ is merely the name which one gives to anyone whose standard of accuracy happens to be a little higher than one’s own”), this should be read or reread before submitting the next article or book. Frequently reprinted (e.g., PMLA 65.3 [1950]: 3–8).


Germano, William. Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2008. 218 pp. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. PN161.G46 070.5′2.

A guide to the publishing practices of American university presses and trade publishers of scholarly books that explains how manuscripts are selected and published, how authors can increase their chance for acceptance of a manuscript, and “how the process from submission to publication can be made to work, and work well, for both publisher and author.” Addressed primarily to the publish-or-perish American academic, chapters explain what publishers do, offer advice on writing (with a valuable excursus on bad titles), describe how to select a publisher (with a section on the pros and cons of publishing in a series) and contact an editor (the chapter on writing a letter of inquiry and description of a book offers the best available guide to submitting a proposal and is, alone, worth the price of this book), reveal what editors look for in a manuscript, advise how to survive the review process (with essential counsel on how to respond to a reader’s report), anatomize contract provisions, enumerate problems associated with editing a collection of essays or an anthology (required reading for any potential editor), outline the permissions process and how to deliver a manuscript, detail the process of turning the accepted manuscript into a book, offer “guidance about electronic publishing,” and delineate what makes a book a success. Indexed by topics. Written by an experienced and respected former humanities editor at Columbia University Press and Routledge who understands how books “count” in tenure and promotion reviews, Getting It Published is the essential advice manual for the academic looking to publish a first (or subsequent) book.

Beth Luey, Handbook for Academic Authors, 5th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010; 276 pp.) is addressed to the same audience and covers the same topics along with practical advice on publishing journal articles, writing textbooks, and revising a dissertation as articles or a book and fuller treatment of electronic publishing. This new edition displays a less jaundiced attitude toward tenure and promotion review than its predecessors.

For a more succinct discussion of many of the same points, see MLA Style Manual (U6400); R. C. Reynolds, “Luck and Pluck: A Practical Guide to Publishing in the Humanities,” Editors’ Notes 8.2 (1989): 13–23; and Richard G. Barlow, “Literary Research and the Preparation of Scholarly Manuscripts,” Literary Research 15.1–4 (1990): 5–17 (the last two address how to publish articles—although few editors will approve of Reynolds’s advice on multiple submission).

Anyone hoping to publish a dissertation should first consult Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005; 141 pp.; Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), for its straightforward explanation of how to turn an academic exercise into a readable book. Also valuable are parts of Beth Luey, ed., Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors, updated ed. (Berkeley: U of California P, 2008; 263 pp.), and Eleanor Harman et al., eds., The Thesis and the Book: A Guide to First-Time Academic Authors, 2nd ed. (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2003; 104 pp.). Both Germano and Luey are especially cognizant of the pressure on untenured American faculty members to publish the first book.

Anyone contemplating the editing of a journal should consult Gillian Page, Robert Campbell, and Jack Meadows, Journal Publishing (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997; 407 pp.). Although emphasizing science and technology and rather naive about the humanities (asserting, for example, that in this field “the pressure to publish is less acute” than in the sciences and medicine), the authors provide a practical—and sobering—overview of editing, producing, marketing, and managing a journal.

Along with discussions of marketing, technology, copyediting, and publishing, Journal of Scholarly Publishing includes several essays offering practical advice to the scholar:

  • Klemp, P. J. “Reviewing Academic Books: Some Ideas for Beginners.” 12.2 (1981): 135–39.

  • Wolper, Roy S. “On Academic Reviewing: Ten Common Errors.” 16.3 (1985): 269–75.

  • Meyers, Jeffrey. “On Editing Collections of Original Essays.” 17.2 (1986): 99–108.

  • Horowitz, Irving Louis. “The Place of the Festschrift.” 21.2 (1990): 77–83.

  • Henige, David. “Reviewing Reviewing.” 33.1 (2001): 23–36.

  • Pasco, Allan H. “Basic Advice for Novice Authors.” 33.2 (2002): 75–89.


Olson, Gary A., and Todd W. Taylor, eds. Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition. Albany: State U of New York P, 1997. 247 pp. PE1405.U6 P83 808′.042′07.

A collection of sixteen essays by prominent scholars (many of them editors of journals in the field) who address the “politics, conventions, and procedures” of publishing in rhetoric and composition. Replete with practical advice about how and why one goes about publishing, the essays treat such topics as breaking into print, integrating pedagogy and scholarship, transforming a dissertation into a monograph, editing a collection of essays, planning and producing a textbook, and negotiating electronic scholarship. Given that a newly minted PhD must have publications to make the shortlist for most tenure-track positions and that assistant professors must publish at ever-increasing levels (quantitatively and qualitatively) to secure tenure, this is a timely collection—one that will make scholars in other disciplines wish that they could consult a similar resource.

See also

Sec. U: Literature-Related Topics and Sources/Copyright.

Hartman and Messer-Davidow, Women in Print (U6595).

Directories of Publishing Opportunities


Association of American University Presses Directory. New York: Assn. of Amer. UP, 1952– . Annual. Z475.A88 070.5′94. <>.

A directory of members of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), which includes some learned societies and organizations not associated with a university, a few publishers located outside the United States, and “partners” (companies offering services to publishers). A typical entry provides address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail, URL, names and contact information for editorial personnel, number of titles published for the preceding two years, titles in print, series published, and a description of publishing interests. A grid at the front outlines publishing interests of members but does not compensate for the lack of a good subject index. With the discontinuation of MLA Directory of Scholarly Presses in Language and Literature, ed. James L. Harner (New York: MLA, 1991 and 1996), the AAUP directory is now the best resource for scholars to identify scholarly presses that might be interested in their manuscript or proposal. Before contacting an editor, scholars should visit the publisher’s Web site to search for a fuller description of its publishing program and for special instructions on submitting a letter of inquiry or prospectus; for a convenient list of links to Web sites and social media, see

Along with journals, the publishing interests and submission requirements of some series are more fully described in MLA Directory of Periodicals (K615). Publishers’ ISBN Directory (U5090), Literary Market Place (U5090a), and Publishers Directory (U5090a) also indicate publishing interests of some scholarly publishers (but none is adequately indexed).

Guides to Writing


Strunk, William, Jr. The Elements of Style (Strunk and White). With revisions and additions by E. B. White. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn, 2000. 105 pp. PE1408.S772 808′.042.

A guide to the fundamentals of usage and basic principles of composition. The rules and guidelines are concisely presented in five sections: elementary rules of usage, elementary principles of composition, matters of form, words and expressions commonly misused, and matters of style. Each rule or entry on usage is clearly explained and accompanied by illustrative examples. A model of the clarity, accuracy, and brevity it expounds, Strunk and White is the classic guide to style and a work that repays frequent rereading. For a contrary view, see the review by Robert S. Wachal, American Speech 75.2 (2000): 199–207. On the evolution of the work (particularly the changes made in the fourth edition), see Richard H. Minear, ““E. B. White Takes His Leave, or Does He? The Elements of Style, Six Editions (1918–2000)”,” Massachusetts Review 45.1 (2004): 51–71. In “The Land of the Free and The Elements of Style” (English Today 26.2 [2010]: 34–44), Geoffrey K. Pullum resoundingly condemned the book; a shorter version—“50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice” (Chronicle of Higher Education 17 Apr. 2009: B15–B16)—occasioned a flurry of letters defending it (22 May 2009: B17–B19) and a response by Michael Bulley, “Defending Strunk and White” (English Today 26.4 [2010]: 57–62).

Style Manuals

The following are the major style manuals used by North American and British publishers of literary scholarship and criticism. For manuals in other fields, see John Bruce Howell, Style Manuals of the English-Speaking World: A Guide (Phoenix: Oryx, 1983; 138 pp.).

Researchers who prepare manuscripts by using bibliographic software (such as EndNote) programs, style manuals built into word-processing programs, or styled files created by databases must still master the requirements of the style they use. This is especially true when preparing endnotes or a list of works cited: computer programs merely format data; the writer must know what information must be input or deleted.

General Manuals


The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago). 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010. 1,026 pp. Z253.U69 808′.027′0973.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online. U of Chicago P, 2010. 4 Feb. 2013. <>.

A manual for authors and editors that explains all aspects of manuscript preparation, editing, and publication. The 16 chapters and two appendixes are grouped around three topics:

  • the publishing process, which covers the parts of a book and journal (print and electronic), manuscript preparation, editing, proofreading (with a table of proofreaders’ marks), illustrations, tables, rights and permissions (with an excellent sample letter for requesting permission to reprint copyrighted material in a scholarly book), and an appendix on production and digital technology

  • style and usage, with chapters on grammar and usage; punctuation; spelling and distinctive treatment of words; names and terms; numbers; abbreviations; foreign languages; mathematics in type; and quotations

  • documentation, with illustrations of Chicago’s two styles and a chapter on indexes (see entry U6415)

Each chapter is preceded by a detailed outline of content and includes a wealth of examples and illustrations. This edition offers fuller treatment of electronic publication and of fair use and electronic rights, updates the documentation of electronic sources, adds an introduction to Unicode, is more prescriptive in matters of style, and “in a significant departure from earlier editions, . . . now recommends a uniform stylistic treatment for the main elements of a citation.” Concludes with a selective bibliography. Thoroughly and admirably indexed by subjects.

In addition to a searchable text of the print version, Chicago Manual of Style Online includes Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide, a Tools page (with sample correspondence and proofreaders’ marks), and Chicago Style Q&A (with sometimes witty and irreverent responses to users’ questions).

Thoroughness, clarity, and general good sense make this the long-time standard that both reflects and determines the practices of most American publishers. For those writing for publication, Chicago is an indispensable desktop companion. For a history of the work, see Catharine Seybold, ““A Brief History of The Chicago Manual of Style ”,”Scholarly Publishing 14.2 (1983): 163–77.

Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, 8th ed., rev. Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2013; 448 pp.; Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), is a commonly used distillation of Chicago Manual of Style and sometimes offers clearer explanations of basic points.

The British equivalent of Chicago is Judith Butcher, Caroline Drake, and Maureen Leach, Butcher’s Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors, and Proofreaders, 4th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006; 543 pp.), which addresses copyediting in an electronic environment.

One Book / Five Ways: The Publishing Practices of Five University Presses, 1994 ed. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994; 330 pp.), offers an instructive comparison of how five North American university presses handled the same manuscript from submission through manufacture.


MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 3rd ed. New York: MLA, 2008. 336 pp. PN147.G444 808′.027.

A guide to “the more formal modes of academic publishing in the field of language and literature.” Besides the expected sections treating the most recent version of the MLA documentation system, abbreviations, proofreading symbols, and mechanics (such as punctuation, personal names, capitalization, titles, quotations, and transliteration), MLA Style Manual provides detailed advice on the preparation of a manuscript (including requirements for preparing a machine-readable one) along with a helpful overview of scholarly publishing (with advice on placing a journal article and book manuscript and a description of the production and publishing processes), legal issues (including copyright and publishing contracts), and preparing a thesis or dissertation. Indexed by subject.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009; 292 pp.), which is addressed to the undergraduate, updates some aspects of MLA citation style (involving graphic narratives, digital files, newspapers, reference works, punctuation of titles, and the use of italics rather than underlining for recording titles). The MLA Handbook Web site ( allows for keyword searching of the text of the 7th ed., includes additional examples of citations, and corrects a few typos in the print edition. Updates to and FAQs about MLA style are posted on the MLA Handbook and MLA Web sites (

Although Chicago Manual of Style (U6395) is more wide-ranging and detailed in its treatment of matters of manuscript style, MLA Style Manual is required reading for those who submit manuscripts for publication, since so many literature journals and some academic presses (especially in the United States) follow it.

For scholars needing to cite unusual forms of electronic documents, the standard guide is Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor, The Columbia Guide to Online Style, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia UP, 2006; 288 pp.), which also offers guidance on the preparation of electronic manuscripts.

Many British journals follow MHRA Style Guide: A Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses, 2nd ed. (London: Mod. Humanities Research Assn., 2008; 95 pp.; also available as a free PDF file [] but without the section on proof correction), with sections on preparing a manuscript for the press, styling a manuscript, footnotes and endnotes, documentation form, indexing, and the preparation of theses and dissertations. Concludes with a table of proofreading symbols.

Copyediting Guides


Cook, Claire Kehrwald. [The MLA’s] Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. Boston: Houghton, 1985. 219 pp. PE1441.C66 808′.042.

A handbook designed by the MLA’s former head copyeditor to “show writers how to edit their own work.” Chapters address major style problems (needless words, word order, parallelism, agreement, and punctuation) with clear explanations illustrated by apt examples. Two appendixes: the parts of a sentence; a glossary of questionable usage. Indexed by subjects. Replete with practical advice on detecting and correcting errors, Line by Line should be a constant companion for anyone who writes.

Electronic Manuscripts

Submitting an electronic manuscript can save considerable time and money in the publishing process, but authors must be aware of the potential for errors in the final version. More than one printed text has been garbled by electronic interference, and at least one article has been deliberately altered by someone who came upon an untended screen while the author was entering copyediting changes on a disk (see Early American Literature 22.2 [1987]: 230).


Chicago Guide to Preparing Electronic Manuscripts for Authors and Publishers. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987. 143 pp. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Z286.E43 U54 070.5′028′5.

A general overview of the procedures and requirements for preparing and publishing a computer-readable manuscript. Of most interest to authors are the first two parts: (1) general instructions for authors, with discussions of hardware and software, typing (including important warnings about the disastrous effects of using “el” for the numeral 1 and instituting ill-considered global substitutions), preparing the text for a publisher, editing, proofing, and indexing; (2) generic coding (with a handy list of codes as one of the appendixes). Although most publishers have specific requirements for electronic manuscripts, the Chicago Guide remains a useful general introduction to the advantages and pitfalls of preparing, submitting, and publishing an electronic manuscript.

Indexing Guides


““Indexes”.” Chapter 16 of The Chicago Manual of Style (entry U6395). 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010. 811–860. (Also published separately as Indexes: A Chapter from The Chicago Manual of Style Sixteenth Edition. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010. 57 pp.) Z253.U69 686.2′24.

A succinct, straightforward, practical guide to the mechanics and principles of preparing an index. Major sections explain indexing definitions, the step-by-step process of preparing an index, general principles (such as determining what to index, choosing terms for entries, and deciding between variants in names and titles), and alphabetization practices. Each point is illustrated with clear examples. Essential reading for an author required to index a book. Review (2003 ed.): Bella Hass Weinberg, Indexer 19.2 (1994): 105–09.

Other authoritative guides are G. Norman Knight, Indexing, the Art of: A Guide to the Indexing of Books and Periodicals (London: Allen, 1979; 218 pp.), which includes chapters on indexing periodicals and preparing cumulative indexes (as well as a delightful survey of humor in indexes), and Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing Books, 2nd ed. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005; 315 pp.; Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), which provides a clear, thorough description of the process of indexing, extensively illustrated suggestions for resolving the myriad problems facing an indexer, an overview of computer-aided indexing, and a balanced examination of whether authors should index their own books.

Book Reviewing


Hoge, James O., ed. Literary Reviewing. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1987. 139 pp. PN441.L487 808′.066028.

A collection of essays that address the need for greater rigor in the reviewing of literary scholarship. The bulk of the contributions are devoted to the theory and practice of evaluating kinds of books: works of literary theory; literary histories; literary biographies; editions of letters, journals, and diaries; enumerative bibliographies; and descriptive bibliographies. Other essays discuss factors that affect the quality of reviews. Dedicated to improving the quality and prestige of book reviewing, these essays are required reading for both the seasoned and the novice reviewer.

Klemp, “Reviewing Academic Books” (U6380a), and Wolper, “On Academic Reviewing: Ten Common Errors” (U6380a), are also full of sound practical advice. Much less useful is A. J. Walford, ed., Reviews and Reviewing: A Guide (Phoenix: Oryx, 1986; 248 pp.), which unsuccessfully attempts to provide guidelines for reviewing in a variety of disciplines.