I just got a question about this and in fact I was already in the process of writing up this post, so it seems apropos to finish it now…

In Durham the issue of writing style is interesting. In my old stomping grounds at Dallas Theological Seminary, the Chicago/Turabian style was required and rigorously enforced. (They got out rulers and measured margins and line spacing if that gives you an indication of the enforcement.) So when I arrived in Durham, I was surprised that there was relatively little emphasis on one particular style. That is not to say that it is unimportant here, but the point of view on it is much different.

Regarding style, they encourage a modified use of Chicago/Turabian based on the MATR handbook (see section 5.4 in the 2006-2007 version). However, what I was told is that they don’t care which style you use, as long as it is reasonable and you are consistent. If you use Endnote or something similar, then it won’t be a big issue since you can change output styles so easily. (Endnote a must for this type of work, imho.)

The other option is what type of English to use–British or American. John has given me the choice, though other supervisors require British-English. I was going back and forth about it, but after talking to a US friend who just finished at Cambridge, I think I’m going to shoot for British-English to make my experience here more ‘authentic’. When in Rome,…. But if you have any horror stories, I’m definitely not far enough in to not switch course yet, so pass them along. The big difference obviously is spelling (e.g., centre vs. center), which MS Word easily picks up for you if you miss something. However, there are other subtle differences like using a ‘single quote’ vs “double quote” for quotations.

What you also get here is a different turn of phrase that you might also not have in the US. John, with his classical education background, calls me out on all my split infinitives, for example. While that is technically grammatically wrong but not as emphasised these days in the states, he has also encouraged me to use other turns of phrase here. For example, he prefers ‘with regard to’ rather than ‘in regards to’. These are minor differences but they are definitely things I look out for now, among others.

I think the only outstanding issue is that of publication. Again, that’s why Endnote is so helpful to move between different journal styles. Also, I believe I’ve heard that if you get your thesis published in the states afterwards, they’ll have you switch all your stuff. But as for WUNT and the like I haven’t heard, but I imagine they do not make you switch. Again if you know, feel free to pass along your knowledge.

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