Middle English Texts Series Editorial Staff

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The Editorial Staff of the Middle English Texts Series operates from the Rossell Hope Robbins Library at the University of Rochester. Current and prospective editors are encouraged to consult the Brief Style Guidelines of the Series (below). In addition, editors are advised to pick up a copy of one of the most recent volumes in the Series, as the scope of our volumes has changed considerably over the years.

Current Editorial Staff

General Editor: Russell A. Peck
Associate Editor: Alan Lupack
Assistant Editor: Pamela M. Yee
Staff Editors: Emily Lowman, Ashley Conklin, Steffi Delcourt, and Katherine Briant

Brief Style Guidelines
(Updated 2 February 2016)

Table of Contents

  • Editorial Practices
  • Text Guidelines
    1. For poetry
    2. For prose
    3. For translation
  • Glosses
    1. All glosses
    2. For poetry
    3. For prose
  • Notes
  • Footnotes and Internal References
  • Bibliographic Format
  • Glossary
  • Miscellaneous
    1. Abbreviations
    2. Punctuation
    3. Font
  • Regularize i/j and u/v spellings (e.g., have rather than haue).
  • Use the modern alphabet (i.e., thorn [þ], edth [ð], and yogh [3] should be transcribed with their modern equivalents).
  • We usually add an -e to the when it is a pronoun to distinguish it from the article (i.e., thee rather than the).
  • For words ending in single e, where the vowel is long with full syllablic value, mark it with an accent (e.g., charité, maugré).
  • Capitalize religious words like Cross, Rood, Lord, Savior, etc., and personal pronouns referring to Christ or God. For some things, you will need to make your own decisions, but please be sure to capitalize consistently throughout the volume.
  • Use modern capitalization, punctuation, and word division.
  • Manuscript abbreviations should be silently expanded, and we ask that editors please be consistent in deciding whether to expand strokes or consider them otiose. Other emendations should be left unmarked in the text (i.e., please do not use italics or brackets to mark editorial changes), with a textual note of explanation.
  • Include a note of explanation in your introduction that explains your editorial practices, including your choice of MS (or MSS) from which to edit the text.
  • Include NIMEV number and/or STC, if appropriate, for the work in the bibliography.
  • For Oxford's Bodleian Library, include the Summary Catalogue number with the MS shelfmark.

    Poetry Text

    For the poetry text, number every 5 lines beginning with 5. Every line should begin with a tab (do not use automatic numbering), and where the lines are numbered, the numbers should precede the tab:

    Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,      
    Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,      
    And all ye hevinly operationis     
    Thrones, powers; martyrs many
  • Folio numbers, if desired, may also be indicated in the same column as the line numbers.

    Prose Text
    As with poetry, number every 5 lines beginning with 5. (Do not use automatic numbering.) Underline or highlight glossed words (see below).
    N.b.: the lineation will change as we format the text, but it is important to have a reference point in your original text.

    Translated Text
    Treat the original language as poetry or prose, above. Key your translation to the same line numbers if poetry; contact us if it is a prose piece.

    Capitalize the word if capitalized in the text. ex. Went home
    Place any variations in meaning in parenthesis. ex. epée (sword); blue (color of his eyes)
    Capitalize variations if the original word is capitalized. ex. Bold (Courageous)
    Place supplied words in brackets. ex. vat [of wine]
    Capitalize supplied words instead of original if the former begin the sentence. ex. [If I] went home. [Went originally capitalized.]
    Maintain original punctuation where relevant. ex. to you, sweet maid

    For poetry, the glosses should be flush right of the line, in italics. If you cannot flush right, set off the glosses with three asterisks:
    Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,***dominations
    Separate glosses with a semicolon, unless they occur side-by-side. ex. Thrones, powers; martyrs many
    If the gloss is too long to fit on the line, use a footnote that glosses the whole line. Follow the line breaks (using slashes with spaces to either side), punctuation, and capitalization in the original. (Only if more than one line is glossed do you need to list the line numbers.) ex. Lines 36-37: Let us ask Lord, go where we go, / Whom to you, sweet maid, Gabriel did send

    For prose, the glosses should be kept in a separate file. Underling or highlight the words that are being glossed in the hard copy of the text, then cross-reference with your glosses file so we know which glosses go with which words on which page of text.

    In the separate gloss file, bold the glossed word/phrase, then put gloss in regular font. Follow the text's capitalization and punctuation (if relevant). Place a period between each gloss. See use of parenthesis and brackets above.
    ex. rathe, readily. possede, possess.


    Explanatory and Textual notes should be separated and should come in files separate from the edited text (i.e., do not use automatic noting for these notes). For both sets of notes, please include an abbreviations list at the beginning that includes MSS and editions you cite in the notes. (See p. 7 below for commonly-used abbreviations.) Each individual note should be indicated by line number(s), followed by a tab. Then cite the word or phrase you plan to discuss in italics, followed by a full stop, after which the note begins. Sample Explanatory Note:

    4393     A sory beverage there was browen. Proverbial: breuen a bitter (sory) beverage, denotes “inflict great harm” (MED, breuen (v.), sense 3a). Compare Whiting B529. [Whiting and MED should appear in the abbreviations list.]

    In Textual Notes, variants exactly matching the edited text should follow the catchphrase and be indicated with “So” (see below). Note that variants within Textual Notes (unlike the rest of the volume) may contain Middle English characters like thorn [þ], edth [ð], and yogh [õ].

    27      jestes. So W. MS: yiftys. B: geste. L: gestes. [Here, MS is the base manuscript. W, B, and L are abbreviations for manuscripts or editions that should appear in the abbreviations list.]
    495–96 The aventurous . . . . knyght betydde. Absent in MS, these lines are supplied from W.
    396–426 To the . . . . hym drowe. For D’s version of these lines, see Löwenherz, pp. 98–101n.

    Footnotes and Internal References
  • In a separate bibliography file, provide full bibliographical information for all works quoted or referenced in your volume.
  • If a work is referenced more than once, it should appear in the Bibliography.
  • If citing a work from the Bibliography, use author's last name and short title, followed by line or page number. Commonly referenced primary texts should be added to the bibliography and cited by line number whenever possible: I.e., "a similar comparison between January and May can be found in The Kingis Quair, line 765, itself an allusion to Chaucer's Merchant's Tale." Specific editions would be listed in the bibliography.
  • If your citation is not in the bibliography, give a full citation using the same order of elements as they would appear in the bibliography, but with the following modification of form: Jane Author, “Gower’s Masterpiece,” in Hunting Up Cool Old Texts (Anyplace: Interesting Publisher, 1999), pp. 1–10.

    All quotations should be followed by author's last name [if needed in context], short title, and page #. ex. Williams, Interesting Book, p. 56.
    When quoting a note from another work, list p., the page, n, and the note number without spaces or periods. ex. p. 193n9
    Separate book and line numbers with a period for a poem or similar work. Don’t use l. or the page number in this case. ex. Troy Book 2.479-768. For references to the Patrologia Latina, cite thus: PL 93.487 (where the first number is the volume and the second is the column).
    Separate volume and page numbers with a colon. ex. Minor Poems of John Lydgate 2:695–98.
    Cite entries from the Middle English Dictionary by word, part of speech, and definition (using “sense” to indicate a specific definition) ex. MED, wer(e) (n.5), sense 1a
    Use the Vulgate for the numbering of all biblical citations, the titles of books, and the names of individuals. If there is potential confusion (most prominent in Psalms), make reliance on the Vulgate clear. All translations should be from the Douay-Rheims. Apocalypse (not Revelation) 21:1; Isaias (not Isaiah) 42:18); the Canticle of Zacharias (not Zachary or Zachariah); see Psalm 71:2 in the Vulgate (not Psalm 72:1 as it is listed in RSV): “Give to the king thy judgment, O God: and to the king’s son thy justice.”
    For a Canterbury Tales reference or any other poetic work divided into books, use the Riverside Chaucer model of citation. CT I(A)1655-57; if citation appears in parentheses, replace with square brackets: In The Knight's Tale (CT I[A]1655-57), Chaucer compares Arcite and Palamon respectively to the tiger and the lion; see also Troy Book 3.5246 and 3.796.
    Except with folio numbers, when listing numbers, repeat the last two digits unless a previous number changes, then list the whole number. List all numbers with folios. 124–79; 224–379; or 10,687–10,785.
    fols. 196r–197v.
    For web citations, list the author [if applicable] and title of a specific webpage. ex. (Foot, Æthelstan). [From Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website]
    If web source was originally a print source, cite it as you would a print source. ex. (Doubleday and Page, “The New Minster or the Abbey of Hyde,” pp. 116–22).

    Bibliographic Format
  • METS generally follows the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Include 2-letter state abbreviation in publication data unless it is in publisher's name (e.g., Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press), with the following exceptions: New York, Chicago, Boston, New Haven, Princeton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia. For cities outside the U.S., do not list countries.

    For listing a book:

    Author [last, first name — if known]. Title. Ed. or trans. [first, last]. Vol. [either vol. # or number of vols. in the series]. Name and number of series [if relevant]. City published: Publisher, year. [Include comments on the work in brackets.] The Court of Sapience. Ed. E. Ruth Harvey. Toronto Medieval Texts and Translations 2. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984. [No longer considered the work of Lydgate; attributed to him beginning in the sixteenth century.]

    Lydgate, John. Lydgate's Fall of Princes. Ed. Henry Bergen. 4 vols. Washington: The Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1923-27.

    Pearsall, Derek. Gower and Lydgate. Harlow, UK: Longman, Greens, and Co., 1969.
    List dissertations with university and year and include relevant citations in Dissertation Abstracts. Eleazer, Ed. "The Gast of Gy: An Edition of the Quatrain Version with Critical Commentary." Ph.D. Dissertation: Florida State University, 1984. DAI 45.9A (1985), p. 2868A. [N.b., Italicize title if published; use quotation marks if not.]
    Example of an EETS volume (note that editions are listed by their original author, if known, otherwise by title): Lydgate, John. Lydgate's Troy Book. A. D. 1412-20. Ed. Henry Bergen. 4 vols. EETS e.s. 97, 103, 106, 126. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1906-35.
    Example of a multi-volume work: Renoir, Alain, and C. David Benson. "John Lydgate." In A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050-1500. Ed. J. Burke Severs and Albert E. Hartung. 10 vols. to date. New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1967- . 6.1809-1920, 2071-2175.

    For listing an article in a book:

    Author [last, first]. "Name of article." In Name of Book. Ed. [if relevant; first then last]. City: Publisher, year. Pp. [page numbers]. Watson, Nicholas. "Outdoing Chaucer." In Shifts and Transpositions in Medieval Literature. Ed. Karen Pratt. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1994. Pp. 291-303.

    For listing an article in a book already in the bibliography:

    Author (last, first). "Name of article." In Name of Editor(s), Short Title (if necessary). Pp. [page numbers]. Larson, Wendy R. "The Role of Patronage and Audience in the Cults of Sts Margaret and Marina of Antioch." In Riches and Salih. Pp. 23-35.

    For listing an article in a journal:

    Author [last, first]. "Name of article." Journal [issue number] (year), [page numbers]. Pearsall, Derek. "The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century." Essays and Studies 29 (1976), 56-83.

    For listing an online dictionary or encyclopedia:

    Author [last, first; if applicable]. “Entry Title.” In Title of Dictionary or Encyclopedia. Publisher, Date of Publication. Web. Access date. Online at URL. Foot, Sarah. “Æthelstan (893/4–939).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Web. Accessed 15 May 2014. Online at http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/833?docPos=2.

    For listing a website:

    Author (if applicable). “Title of webpage (if applicable).” Title of website. Owner or sponsor, date of publication. Web. Access date. Online at URL. Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. The British Library. Web. Accessed 8 November 2015. Online at  http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/welcome.htm.

    For listing a web source that was originally a print source:

    List it as you would a print source, but add at the end “Title of Website. Web. Access date. Online at URL.” Doubleday, H. Arthur, and William Page, eds. “The New Minster, or the Abbey of Hyde.” A History of the County of Hampshire. Vol. 2 (1973), 116–22. British History Online. Web. Accessed 15 November 2014. Online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol2/pp116-122.

    For multiple entries by a single author or group of authors:
  • List all entries chronologically, oldest to most recent, including monographs, edited volumes, and co-authored texts. Do not list them alphabetically.
After initial entry, replace author's name with 3 em-dashes (including instances where there is a co-author) unless first entry is an edited or co-authored volume and the work that follows it is not, in which case the name must be repeated.

Skeat, Walter W., ed. Chaucerian and Other Pieces. The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer 7. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897.

Skeat, Walter W., The Chaucer Canon with a Discussion of the Works Associated with the Name of Geoffrey Chaucer. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900.

— — —, ed. Early English Proverbs, Chiefly of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, with Illustrative Quotations. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.


Editions of Middle English works normally include a glossary. If a word is glossed once or the first few times in the text and not afterwards, include it in the glossary.
Bold the ME word, followed by two spaces, andthe definition in italics. Do not use full justification (use left). ex. privé  secret, mysterious
Separate variations of a meaning with a comma, while different meanings are separated by a semi-colon. ex. her   her, their; hair; hear
Indicate different forms of the word with parentheses. ex. yif(fe)   if
Parts of speech may be indicated, if desired (with two spaces after the word and before the abbr.). ex. red(e)   (v.) red
Phrases including the ME word may be indicated, if desired. The phrase should be indicated by a tilde (for the ME word) and the rest of the phrase, bolded. The definition should follow in italics. ex. aventure  (n.) chance, fortune, fate; in ~ that for fear that

Miscellaneous Style Guidelines

  • Expand abbreviations for esp., cp., cf., and 2nd (all numbers). If your text needs specific abbreviations, include a list of abbreviations to be printed in the volume. Line(s) should also be written out, not abbreviated.

  • Avoid contractions such as don't in introduction and notes (unless a direct quotation), and use in glosses only to reflect a ME contraction.

  • Use ed. before names and eds. after names if listing two or more names:
        ex.    Smith, Ian, and Frank Lot, eds. Ed. Ian Smith and Frank Lot.
  • Write out biblical titles in full; separate chapters and verse numbers of the Bible with a colon:
        ex.    Matthew (not Matt.) 25:16.

  • Use the following abbreviations (note: e.g., i.e., and n.b., are all followed by a comma):
BCE = Before Common Era  
BT = Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (ed. Bosworth and Toller)  
c. = circa  
CA = Confessio Amantis  
CE = Common Era  
ch(s). = chapter[s]  
CT = Canterbury Tales  
DOST = Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue  
ed. = either editor or edition  
EETS = Early English Text Society  
     o.s. = original series  
     e.s. = extra series  
     s.s. = supplementary series  
e.g., = for example  
etc. = and the rest  
ff. = lines following; insert a space before  
fol(s). = folio[s]   i.e., = that is  
IMEV = Index of Middle English Verse  
intro. = introduction  
lit. = literally  
ME = Middle English  
MED = Middle English Dictionary  
MS(S) = manuscript[s]; spell out in Introduction  
MWME = Manual of the Writings in Middle English  
NIMEV = New Index of Middle English Verse  
n.b., = note  
OE = Old English  
OED = Oxford English Dictionary  
p. or pp. = page or pages  
PL = Patrologia Latina  
rev. = revised  
rpt. = reprint[ed]   
SC = Summary Catalogue  
STC = Short-Title Catalogue  
St. = Saint  
trans. = translated  
vol(s). = volume[s]  

Add only an apostrophe for possessive names ending in s. ex. Compare Jesus' appearance to Paul.
Don't add an apostrophe after years. ex. He escaped in the 1860s.
Put all quotations from other texts, along with definitions, in quotation marks. ex. Compare Troy Book: "it folweth nat" (2.4719). The sense is "it does not follow as a consequence."
When quoting lines from the text in the Introduction or notes, use quotation marks and brackets for insertions of any kind. ex. He becomes king of all the lands he attended, and governs them "of on [one] assent" (8.1990).
Put spaces between periods in ellipses and between initials in names. ex. "Full wrothe and angry was the devell . . . whan oure Lorde hadde ben in Helle and had take oute Adam and Eve."
Put spaces before and after slashes with lines of poetry, but none in showing alternative forms or meanings. ex. He came / And saw the day rise before him."
It gives him/her a sense of freedom.


Do not italicize the tales in The Canterbury Tales and always include and capitalize the preceding The — except when preceeded by a possessive. ex. It appears in The Monk's Tale in The Canterbury Tales.
In Chaucer's Nun's Priest Tale . . .
When referring to another section of your volume, capitalize but do not italicize. ex. See the Introduction (pp. 6-9) for more about the historical background of the poem.
Italicize letters of the alphabet. ex. The i/j spellings are regularized and the final -e was omitted.
Italicize quotations from the text to identify a passage you are commenting on and MS variations. Also italicize words for which you provide meanings, with the definitions in quotation marks. However, do not italicize quotations from the text that are from a line or lines other than the one(s) you are discussing in your note; use quotation marks instead. ex. OED lists heden, meaning "to go astray."
2      bokes duelle. Gower positions books as the repository of
moral values and history, against which he encourages
the reader to judge present behavior. Books provide
examples from "olde wyse" (line 7), that wisdom of the
past that enables people to see what is new, whether in
method, topic, or circumstance.
Place translations in brackets ex. in scolis et coram clericis in lingua latina [in the schools for a clerical audience in Latin]
Capitalize Western (if it refers to Western civilization)  
Do not capitalize medieval or renaissance (when used as an adjective)  
Do not capitalize king, queen, prince, emperor, etc., unless it’s part of a name or title: ex. King Richard, Pope Gregory VII, but John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury