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Using a word processor like MS-Word or Pages is a great way to simplify article creation, with a built-in spell-checker, ability to do global Find and Replace and more. However, you must set your word processing package so that smart quotes are not used to replace regular quotes, and hyphens are not replaced with emdashes. Refer to the Help guide in your word processor.
You only need to master four formatting techniques and you can find them on our Basic Formatting Techniques page.
SONG TITLES/ARTIST QUOTES: Always place song titles and artist quotes in "double quotes," unless they're embedded within another quote, in which case use 'single quotes.'
Example: "I played a composition that was originally just called 'Seven-Four,'" DeJohnette says.
BANDS/LABELS/SUITES/VENUES: Use mixed case, with no quotes, bolding, or italics.
ALL OTHER TITLES: For record titles, book titles, film titles, television show titles, as well as awards (like the Grammy Awards), use italics, as per the Basic Formatting Techniques page.
YEAR ABBREVIATION: Where appropriate, abbreviate years using a preceding apostrophe: '54; '90s.
PLACEMENT OF COMMAS/PERIODS: Commas and periods are placed inside quotations (single or double). All others go outside, unless they are part of a song title or artist quote. Example: This isn't "jazz with strings," or "classical music with improvising musicians"; this is fully integrated music that has elements of both but feels like neither;
UPPER/LOWER CASE and EXCLAMATIONS: Do not use ALL UPPER CASE or EXCLAMATION POINTS (!) unless you have a very good reason (rare). Instead, use italics for emphasis, as per the Basic Formatting Techniques page.
EM-DASHES: To obtain the long em-dash that we prefer, type two single dashes without spaces on either side. The submission script will automatically convert those two dashes into the longer dash. For example: "The AAJ article editor will follow up with the photographer--ask for permission--then credit accordingly." Note: if your word processor automatically converts those two dashes into a long em-dash, you should just replace that character with two single dashes when you fill out the submission form, and configure your word processor not to automatically make that substitution.
CITING ALBUMS: When you mention an album by way of comparison, please provide the label and release date as in the following example, or in the surrounding text: Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959)
FIRST REFERENCE TO AN ARTIST: First references to an artist should use his/her full name, and you should mention what instrument he/she plays (either upon first introduction or not long afterwards).
POSSESSIVES: In the case of possessives for names ending in "s," AAJ's convention is to add only an apostrophe, so it would be Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, not Miles Davis's Kind of Blue.
OXFORD COMMAS: A comma before the final "and" in lists: straightforward ones (he had ham, eggs and chips) do not need one, but sometimes it can help the reader (he had kippers, bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea), and sometimes it is essential. Compare:
(1) I dedicate this book to my parents, Michael Ricci, and Alicia Keys(1) is correct, as Michael Ricci is in no way tied to Alicia Keys.
(2) I dedicate this book to my parents, Michael Ricci and Alicia Keys
ADDITIONAL COMMA CONVENTION: Apply the following convention:
"The Publisher, Michael Ricci, oversees all matters of content" - correct if there is only one publisher.
"The Senior Editor Chris May is responsible for Extended Analyses, Multi-Reviews, DVD and Book Reviews" - correct if there is more than one senior editor.