English Style & Copyediting Guide

When copyediting English articles for the Independent Journal of Burmese Scholarship, use your best judgement to retain the original meaning of the text, and the author’s voice, while editing for smooth reading, clarity and brevity. Often articles are translated directly from Burmese into English with little prior editing and may feature extensive repetition. Remove repetition while safeguarding the article’s original meaning and remember the article may be published alongside a Burmese version which it was translated from, so major revisions of the text need to be carefully considered. Follow these guidelines carefully for scholarly articles, they are less important for fiction, memoir, poetry and other genres of writing that the journal publishes:

  1. Use United States spelling, not United Kingdom or others. Use the font Gentium Book Basic with line spacing of 1.0.
  2. Use the Oxford comma only when it is necessary for precision.
  3. Write the word “percent” instead of using the % sign.
  4. Do not provide a separate acronym list, but define all acronyms on their first introduction in the body text (or in a footnote, as happens sometimes). When introducing a plural acronym, use an S in the parentheses. For example, “Ethnic armed organizations (EAOs)”, and “non-governmental organizations (NGOs)” registers the use of the singular EAO and NGO as acronyms later in the text.
  5. Unless a different method of presentation is important to the argument of the article, write numbers under ten in Roman script and those over 10 in numerals. Use a comma every three digits, I.e., “There were eight problems with the road, stretching over 1,000 miles”. Write ordinal numbers in Roman script.
  6. Unless a different method of presentation is important to the argument of the article you are editing, conform dates to the format “day month year”, I.e., “26 September 1986”, and conform times to the format of 7 a.m., 7 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. (I.e., do not write “half past eight”). Leave terms like midnight and midday if they are not exact time references (I.e., “the soldiers went for a midnight snack”, “the midday meeting was canceled”, are acceptable).
  7. When writing currency amounts, precede the currency sign with an abbreviation of the nation, I.e., US $1,000, AU $10,000 and GB £5,000. Use the words “million” and “billion” for those amounts, I.e., “NZ $5 million”. When typing amounts of Myanmar Kyat, add the amount before the full name of the currency, I.e., “100,000 Myanmar Kyat”. If there are further mentions of amounts in the same paragraph, abbreviate it to just “Kyat”. Avoid using terms such as “lakh” unless it is reported speech.
  8. Unless it is important to the argument of the article, convert all measurements and distances to metric kilograms, kilometers, grams, meters and liters. Try to avoid non-metric terms such as “viss” except in reported speech or if important to the article.
  9. Do not place empty lines between paragraphs. Use indents of 0.75cm from the left margin for the first line of each new paragraph, with the exception of the first paragraph of each section. Indent only the second and following paragraphs in each section. When starting a new section (whenever a paragraph follows an empty line, for example, after a heading, a figure, a table, or an indented quote), again, do not indent the first paragraph. Indent each line of quotes of four lines or longer, with the left indentation starting at 1.25cm from the left margin, and the right indentation starting at 10.25cm from the left margin, and remove the quotation marks on an indented quote. Italicize the quote if it is an example of direct reported speech.
  10. Put punctuation marks outside quotation marks when they are components of a longer sentence, i.e., “dogs”, and so-called ‘good boys’. If the entire sentence is being quoted, put them in the marks: “This entire sentence is within a quote.” This is most important for direct quote citations, it is not so important for dialogue or “scare quotes”.
  11. Ensure page dimensions are set up with a width of 15.87cm and a height of 23.49cm.
  12. Ensure page margins are set up with a top margin of 2.64cm, bottom 2.03cm, left 2.44cm, and right 2.13cm.
  13. Conform all footnotes and references to the IJBS house style. This means using footnotes instead of in-text citations in the body text and deploying in-text citations in the footnote text. Do not indent footnotes. Place footnotes in the body text after punctuation, not before. A reference list follows at the end of all scholarly articles.
  14. Within the IJBS house style, apply the APA 7 style to all in-text citations, references, figures and tables. Use full names for Burmese names, I.e., do not use “Han, P. L.” in the reference and citations, use “Pyo Let Han” in full.
  15. Check that every single reference in the reference list corresponds to a citation in the footnotes. Check that every single citation in the footnotes corresponds to a reference in the reference list. Conform both by adding references or adding citations where appropriate. If there is a citation in the footnotes without a reference, highlight it and leave a comment for the original author to address it.
  16. Retain all scholarly references in their original languages.
  17. Conform all English spellings of Burmese place names to MIMU PCodes, unless the article makes clear it is intentionally using a different spelling. Do not change place names in alternative governance structures to their MIMU equivalents (for example, those in the Karen National Union’s administrative system like Mutraw District). IJBS uses MIMU for identification and reference purposes, and it is most useful for identifying village, village tract and town names, it is less important at higher levels (I.e., the distinction between Kayin and Karen states does not cause confusion, so either is fine).
  18. Ensure all headings are formatted as headings, including the article title and the “References” heading above the references list.
  19. Ensure headings capitalize the first word, all words longer than four letters and all other words that are not prepositions, I.e. “The Cat, the Dog and Animal Justice From Magway to Mandalay”.
  20. Delete any double spaces, I.e., “  ”.
  21. If in doubt, consult the submissions section of the website, or reach out to an IJBS editor. And please use Track Changes!