Style Guide


Ancient History Encyclopedia is a non-profit educational website with a global vision: to provide the best ancient history information on the internet for free.

We combine different media, subjects and periods in interactive ways that will help readers understand both the "big picture" and the detail. Editorial review is a key component in our process to ensure highest quality.


Target Audience

Write as if you were telling a story
to a friend.
Joshua Mark
  1. Many high school teachers use AHE for their courses. Always write with a high school student in mind, as we want them to be able to understand and grasp our content.
  2. This should not lead to simplification, though: we still want university students and academics to find our content useful, at least for a general overview of the subject.

Writing Style & Tone

  1. “Story” is the key part in the word “history”, and our content should reflect that.
  2. Make your text interesting, exciting and a pleasure to read. You can be funny too!
  3. Avoid jargon and try not to sound overly academic; we are not lecturing.
  4. Focus on being clear and easily understood.
  5. Avoid long sentences.
  6. Be factual; don’t speculate.
  7. Be as neutral as possible and treat every culture or belief system equally.


  1. All content must be in English; non-English quotations must be translated.
  2. Use British English. If using Word, change the default dictionary to UK English.
  3. Avoid contractions, e.g. “don’t” should be written “do not”.
  4. Non-English terms must be italicised.
  5. When referring to places or people, always use their most commonly known English name:
    1. Examples:
      1. “Babylon”, not “Babili”
      2. “Mark Antony”, not “Marcus Antonius”
      3. “Hammurabi”, not “'Ammurapi”
    2. If possible, state the original names of places, as Wikipedia often does, e.g. Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite 'Ammurapi, "the kinsman is a healer", from 'Ammu, "paternal kinsman", and Rapi, "healer").
    3. When in doubt, use the Latin or Greek name.
  6. Use adjectives sparingly.


  1. Definitions should be at least four paragraphs in length. Try not to exceed 1,500 words unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Articles can be much longer, but try to keep them only as long as necessary.
  3. Images should always have a description that includes the name of what is depicted, why it is significant, and from when it dates.
  4. Timeline events should never be longer than two short sentences.

Numbers, Dates & Measurements

  1. Numbers up to twelve should generally be written as words, numbers from 13 upwards should be written with digits.
  2. Use BCE / CE for dates instead of BC / AD.
  3. Centuries are written as numbers, for example "8th century BCE", not as words.
  4. Every single date in a text must have a BCE or CE following it, separated by a space, for example: “323 BCE”.
  5. Approximate dates are given with circa or c. in front of them. If a date range is approximate, add the c. in front of each date, separated by a space: c. 1000 BCE - c. 800 BCE.
  6. All numbers must use (,) as thousand-separator and (.) as decimal separator, e.g. “1,324,000.07”.
  7. All measurements must be in metric units or have their approximate metric equivalent written next to them, in brackets. Example: 10 miles (16 km).
  8. Units of measurement are written behind each number, separated by a space. Correct is “16 km” not “16km”.

Timeline Events

  1. When adding timeline events, do not use pronouns -- always use the names of the people or locations.
  2. This is because in a timeline search the reader might see it out of context, and “He conquered Persia” has no meaning within a random timeline. Instead, write “Alexander the Great conquered Persia”.


When in doubt, ask the editor.
  1. Always add tags when submitting articles, images, book reviews, or timeline events.
  2. When adding tags, always ask yourself: “What subjects does this help illustrate.”
  3. When adding a map, add tags of all the major locations shown and the time period.
  4. When adding timeline events, add tags for the personalities, states, and events involved.
  5. When adding images, add tags for which you believe this image is a useful illustration. Don’t overdo it, though: A map of Greece would certainly get the tag “Greece”, but a Greek vase should not be tagged with “Greece”, as that tag is too unspecific. Instead, it might be tagged with “Greek_Art”.



  1. In headlines and subheadings all names and nouns should have their first letter capitalized.
  2. Subheadings within an article should be in bold, with spacing above and below.


  1. Quotations are always enclosed by normal double quotes (“); replace any special quotes that might have been inserted by Word, such as (“) or (”).
  2. The person that is being quoted (and the source of the quotation) must be indicated, either in the sentence before, or in brackets after the quote. Examples:
    1. In Genesis 1:3 God says: “Let there be light.”
    2. “Let there be light.” (God, Genesis 1:3)
  3. Punctuation marks of a quoted sentence are within the quotation marks, not after.
  4. Quotations of more than three lines of length should be quoted using the quote function of the online text editor, without any quotation marks:

    The name of the person quoted should be included within the quotation block, in brackets.


  1. Emphasise words by italicising them.
  2. Book titles should always be italicised, both in the bibliography and in the text.
  3. Do not use underlines in your texts as they suggest a web link.
  4. You should aim to include at least one image in your articles (for definitions you should select a definition image).
  5. For appropriate use of comma, please refer to the UNC Writing Center.


  1. Use MLA style for references and citations.
  2. Always add your bibliography using the references section of an article, definition, or image; do not include the bibliography in your text.


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