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to a friend.
- 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.
- 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
- “Story” is the key part in the word “history”, and our content should reflect that.
- Make your text interesting, exciting and a pleasure to read. You can be funny too!
- Avoid jargon and try not to sound overly academic; we are not lecturing.
- Focus on being clear and easily understood.
- Avoid long sentences.
- Be factual; don’t speculate.
- Be as neutral as possible, including using gender-neutral language, and treat every culture or belief system equally.
- Grab the reader’s attention from the beginning: your first paragraph should give the reader the most important information while encouraging him/her to read further. Tell the reader why he or she should care about your topic. Be straightforward.
- When appropriate, include a wrap-up at the end that discusses: legacy; influences on later events, people, or ties to the modern world (what the site is like today or a popular movie in which the person is portrayed, for example).
Written Content Types & Specifications
- Definitions: Definitions are an introduction to a topic. In your first paragraph, be sure to specify what your topic is and include dates when applicable (birth and death of a person, beginning and end of a war, reign of a king, etc.). The title should be short and to the point and using the most common English spelling: “Constantine the Great” or “Hoplite” or “Ziggurat”. Definitions should be at least four paragraphs in length. Try not to exceed 1,500 words unless absolutely necessary.
- Articles: Articles usually provide a more detailed discussion of a topic and are often more academic. For example, while the definition “Ziggurat” provides the basics about ziggurats, an article could be “The Role of the Ziggurat in Mesopotamian Cities” or “An Analysis of Mesopotamian Ziggurats and Egyptian Pyramids”.
- When you submit a definition or an article, we recommend that you also submit images to be used with them. If you want to use images in the text, submit the images first. Refer to the “Images” section below for guidelines.
- All content must be in English; non-English quotations must be translated.
- Use either British or American English (whichever you’re most comfortable with), but be consistent.
- Avoid contractions, e.g., “don’t” should be written “do not”.
- Non-English terms must be italicised.
- When referring to places or people, always use their most commonly known English name:
- “Babylon”, not “Babili”
- “Mark Antony”, not “Marcus Antonius”
- “Hammurabi”, not “'Ammurapi”
- If possible, state the original names of places, as Wikipedia often does, such as: Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite 'Ammurapi, "the kinsman is a healer", from 'Ammu, "paternal kinsman", and Rapi, "healer").
- When in doubt, use the Latin or Greek name.
Bibliography / Sources
- We expect all textual contributions to have a bibliography with a list of sources used.
- At least half of your sources should be from books or journals, as sadly online sources still don't give our readers the same level of trust as print material does (even though there are some great online sources).
- Please use the bibliography/references section to create your bibliography, and don't list it inside your article.
- Use the book search in the bibliography tool, as this will create links to where readers can find the books.
Numbers, Dates & Measurements
- Numbers up to twelve should generally be written as words; numbers from 13 upwards should be written with digits.
- Use BCE / CE for dates instead of BC / AD.
- Centuries are written as numbers, for example "8th century BCE", not as words.
- Every single date in a text must have a BCE or CE following it, separated by a space, for example: “323 BCE”.
- 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.
- All numbers must use (,) as thousand-separator and (.) as decimal separator, e.g. “1,324,000.07”.
- All measurements must be in metric units or have their approximate metric equivalent written next to them, in brackets. Example: 10 miles (16 km).
- Units of measurement are written behind each number, separated by a space. Correct is “16 km” not “16km”.
- When adding timeline events, do not use pronouns -- always use the names of the people or locations. In a timeline search the reader might see the entry out of context, and “He conquers Persia” has no meaning within a random timeline. Instead, write “Alexander the Great conquers Persia”.
- Use complete sentences and write in the present tense.
- Timeline events should never be longer than two short sentences.
- Images should always have a description that includes the name of what is depicted, why it is significant, from when it dates, and if it’s not in its original location, include where it is now (e.g. which Museum) if possible.
- Only add images that are your own or that have a copyright that allows you to use them (i.e. public domain or creative commons).
- Always add tags, but no more than three, when submitting articles, images, book reviews, or timeline events.
- Replace any spaces in a tag with an underscore, such as “Alexander_the_Great”.
- When adding tags, always ask yourself: “What subjects does this help illustrate?”
- When adding a map, add tags of the major locations shown and the time period.
- When adding timeline events, add tags for the personalities, states, and events involved.
- 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”.
- If you are not sure, make a guess. Our editors review all tags, so we may change what you have added.
- In headlines and subheadings all names and nouns should have their first letter capitalized.
- Use “Heading 3” for subheadings:
- Quotations are always enclosed by normal double quotes (“); replace any special quotes that might have been inserted by Word, such as (“) or (”).
- 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:
- In Genesis 1:3 God says: “Let there be light.”
- “Let there be light.” (God, Genesis 1:3)
- Punctuation marks of a quoted sentence are within the quotation marks, not after.
- 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.
- Capitalize titles, “Emperor”, “Queen” and the like, when they are used to as part of the name: Emperor Augustus, Queen Zenobia. Don’t capitalize these words when used on their own: Augustus was the Roman emperor; The queen issued an edict.
- Capitalize words like “empire” when they are used as part of the name: the Roman Empire. But do not capitalize them when used on their own: The empire grew as more territory was conquered.
- A common source of confusion: “Queen Zenobia ruled the Palmyrene Empire” but “The Mesopotamian king Gilgamesh was also said to have been buried beneath a river.”
Semicolons Semicolons have two uses only:
- They are used to separate two independent clauses that are connected by ideas. So you could write:
- I walked to the Roman Forum today, and it was much bigger than I expected it to be.
- I walked to the Roman Forum today; it was much bigger than I expected it to be.
- I walked to the Roman Forum today. It was much bigger than I expected it to be.
- But not: I walked to the Roman Forum today; and it was much bigger than I expected it to be. Don’t use contractions with semicolon.
- Semicolons can be used to separate items in a complicated list. For example, The House of the Faun at Pompeii was chock full of fascinating mosaics: the Alexander Mosaic, now in the Naples Archaeological Museum; a depiction of masks, also now in Naples; and some still in situ, including the word “Have”, meaning “Hale” on the floor as you enter.
- Use Chicago style for references and citations.
- You only need to add in-text citations for direct quotations.
- Always add your bibliography using the references section of an article, definition, or image; do not include the bibliography in your text.
- Emphasise words by italicising them.
- Book titles should always be italicised, both in the bibliography and in the text.
- Avoid underlines in your texts as they suggest a web link.
- You should aim to include at least one image in your articles. For definitions, select a featured image, and you may also add additional images using the search
- For appropriate use of comma, please refer to the UNC Writing Center.
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