TOJ Style Guide
TOJ uses Webster as its primary dictionary, Chicago Manual of Style as its primary style guide, and the Handbook of the Society for Biblical Literature (available to TOJ staff here) as a secondary style guide, particularly concerning the usage of theological words like “Scripture,” “Christlike,” or “the transfiguration.” Chicago supersedes Webster or SBL unless otherwise noted in the TOJ style guide.
Essays, Articles, Reviews, and Creative Writing
Our Submission Guidelines should cover most general formatting matters for these genres of writing.
All interviews for The Other Journal must begin with an introduction. Introductions should provide a context for why the topic of the interview is significant and for why the interviewee is a relevant, profound, awesome voice within this topic, all while remaining balanced and not fawning over the interviewee. Introductions should avoid the pronoun “I” and should not include phrases that dwell upon how lucky the interviewer was to secure the interview; this, for instance, would be omitted: “I had the opportunity to sit down with Rachmaninoff this Easter over steaming cups of hot coffee.” We also prefer our introductions to conclude with a sentence that briefly lists some key issues that readers will encouter in the interview, e.g., “In this interview, Rachmaninoff discusses quarter notes, the sacraments, and his recent visit with a wild grizzly.” Please look over introductions from past issues for a better sense of what we are looking for.
Some interviews may be broken into multiple parts. If this is a possibility, interviewers and section editors should suggest good breaking points for the various parts. The introductions for the multiple parts will be identical, except that each part will have its own final summary sentence. For example, in the first part of the Rachmaninoff interview, the summary sentence might mention quarter notes and sacraments, whereas in the second part of the interview, the summary sentence might mention grizzlies and syncopation. Moreover, the second part of the interview would retain the summary sentence from the first part, and would now say something like this: “In Part I of this interview, R…Here in Part II, R….” Editors will insert links so that readers can easily navigate from one part of the interview to another.
All questions and answers in the interview are preceded by a label identifying who is speaking. In the first question and answer these labels are spelled out with the initials then given in parentheses. All subsequent questions and answered are then preceded only by the interviewer and interviewee initials. Generally speaking, our interviews focus on the interviewer, and we therefore identify the interviewer as The Other Journal (which is always italicized, both in its spelled-out and abbreviated forms). In instances where the interview is more balanced between interviewer and interviewee and where both interviewer and interviewee are well-known and culturally significant, we identify both interviewer and interviewee by name and title the piece a “conversation” rather than an “interview.” Here is an example of the first two questions and answers:
The Other Journal (TOJ): What kinds of trees did you climb as a lad?
Sergei Rachmaninoff (SR): Tall ones with big branches that swayed in the great winds.
TOJ: And did you climb high?
SR: I climbed to the very top and tasted the wet sky with my gaping mouth.
If an interviewer or interviewee speaks for multiple paragraphs, the second and subsequent paragraphs will begin with a 5” indentation. WordPress will strip these indentations out of the text, but they will be present in the Word version, which will be used if the interview is published in the print edition.
Although bullet points can be an excellent method of quickly conveying basic information, they are poorly suited to formal, academic, or literary writing. Therefore, TOJ editors will ask writers to rewrite bullet points into prose.
TOJ believes that it is important to carefully cite one’s sources, even in interviews. However, to simplify the reading experience, TOJ asks writers to follow Chicago‘s guidelines concerning the frequency of footnote usage; that is, where possible, TOJ editors will ask writers to combine multiple footnotes from one paragraph into a single footnote.
Editors may ask writers to reconsider the use of parentheticals if they seem unnecessary or to disrupt the flow of a piece, either by suggesting the omission of the parentheticals or by suggesting that writers change the parentheticals to footnotes.
french fries, french press, french toast (per CMOS, contra Webster)