Editorial Style

Spelling and Capitalization

  • The American style of spelling should be used. When there are alternative ways of spelling a word, the first choice in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Springfield, Mass. 1986) is preferred. Authors should be consistent in their use of capitalization. Overcapitalization should be avoided; many words that are commonly capitalized may be lowercased (see in general Chicago Manual of Style [16th ed.] 8.59–60).
  • Most period designations are lowercased:

    • late antiquity
    • ancient Greece
    • imperial Rome
  • Cultural periods recognized by archaeologists based on characteristic technology or typology are capitalized:

    • Bronze Age
    • Archaic period
    • Late Antique period
  • The terms “classical” and “archaic” are capitalized only when used with “period” (e.g., Classical period) or with a specific division of a cultural period (e.g., Late Classical literature) or when the meaning can be misconstrued:

    • Late Archaic art
    • Early Classical polis
    • classical vase painting
    • archaic Greek pottery
  • The names of specific buildings, monuments, parts of sites, and artifact collections/groups are capitalized. The generic form is lowercased:

    • the East Gymnasium; the gymnasium
    • the Athenian Agora; the agora
    • Roman Forum; the forum
    • Treasury of Athens; Athenian treasury
    • Wall P
    • Tomb 4
    • Room 5
    • Group D
  • Excavation areas and units are lowercased:

    • stratum 3
    • level 2
    • trench A

Foreign Terms and Phrases

  • Isolated words in a foreign language that are likely to be unfamiliar to readers should be italicized throughout the text. Familiar words and phrases in a foreign language should be set in roman type unless there is a risk of confusion with an identically spelled English word:

    • in situ
    • terminus post quem
    • raison d’être
    • limes


  • Roman numerals should be avoided. Cardinal and ordinal numbers less than 10 should be spelled in full. Arabic numerals should be used for all numbers 10 and above. If a number occurs in a phrase in which most of the numbers are above nine, use Arabic numerals for all:

    • first century
    • nine sherds
    • 10th century
    • 11 coins, 15 lamps, and 3 statuettes
  • Use Arabic numerals when referring to parts of text (use abbreviated version when the references appear in parentheses):

    • chapter 2 (ch. 2)
    • table 4
    • appendix 3 (appx. 3)
    • figure 9 (fig. 9)


  • The metric system is preferred. All measurements should be expressed with Arabic numerals and abbreviated units unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence:

    • The base of the vase measures 10 cm in diameter.
    • Twenty-five rim sherds were found in the trench.
  • If multiple measurements and dimensions are cited, they should be brought to the same decimal point, using the following format:

    • 1.5 x 1.9 m
    • 0.3–0.5 cm in height
  • Measurements and dimensions in tables do not have to be brought to the same decimal point.

Chronological References

  • The AJA uses B.C.E. (“before the common era”) and C.E. (“common era”) for historical dates.
  • All historical dates should be written in their entirety, except in cases of conventional epigraphic usage:

    • 211–202 B.C.E.
    • 117–138 C.E.
    • 208/9 C.E.; 293/2 B.C.E.
  • References to decades should be identified by their century and expressed in numerals. No apostrophe is needed between the year and the “s”:

    • 240s
  • Dates should be cited as day/month/year, without punctuation:

    • 15 January 1996
  • The AJA uses BP (“Before Present”) for radiometric dates. BP should only be used in reporting dates for which “present” refers to the year 1950.
  • Radiometric dates (except radiocarbon dates) should be expressed using the abbreviation “ka” and “Ma” for thousands and millions of years before present, respectively (e.g., 2.4 ka BP). Dates less than 1,000 years should be written in full (e.g., 900 years BP).
  • Uncalibrated (“raw”) radiocarbon ages should follow the format:  <14C year> ± <range> BP. Authors should provide the laboratory and sample number, if available, as indicated in parentheses in the example below.

    • The wood charcoal sample was dated to 8490 ±60 BP (UtC-2020).
  • Calibrated dates must be identified as such and follow the format: cal <date range><confidence>.

    • The wood charcoal sample dated to cal B.C.E. 7602–7384 (1σ).


  • Units of measurement should be abbreviated in the text (m, cm, ht.). Common abbreviations (fig., pl., e.g., i.e.) should be used in notes and parenthetical references within the text but otherwise written in full:

    • Horizontal bands below the rim on the interior of bowls and lids (e.g., fig. 15) are common.
    • or
    • As can be seen in figure 15, for example, horizontal bands below the rim on the interior of bowls and lids are common.
    • or
    • 1 See, e.g., fig. 15 for horizontal bands below the rim on the interior of bowls and lids.


In the transliteration of Greek, most Latinate forms of Greek words or proper names that have come into general use are acceptable. Authors are at liberty to use any system of transliteration that is intelligible and reasonably consistent. Authors may follow the system recommended in Archaeological Reports. Systems for the transliteration of other languages are found in Manual of Foreign Languages, 4th ed. (G.F. von Ostermann [New York 1952]).

References to Classical Literature

  • Latin titles are preferred and should conform to the list of abbreviations given in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd rev. ed. (S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth, eds. [Oxford 2003]; hereafter OCD3). Any author/work not abbreviated in OCD3 should be spelled in full. Authors’ names and titles should be written in full when appearing in the text and abbreviated when appearing in notes or parenthetical references within the text. Capitalization of works should follow that in OCD3, and book, chapter, paragraph, and/or line numbers should be separated by periods:

    • As noted by Vitruvius (De arch. 2.3.3)
    • Vitruvius notes in De architectura (2.3.3)
    • 1 Vitr., De arch. 2.3.3


  • Inscriptions should be marked according to the Leiden system, as outlined in The Study of Greek Inscriptions, 2nd ed. (A.G. Woodhead [Cambridge 1981] 6–11) and Conventions in Editing: A Suggested Reformulation of the Leiden System (S. Dow [Durham 1969]). Inscriptions quoted within the text should be written with a division of lines corresponding to those on the stone, with every fifth line numbered:

  • Inscriptions of 50 words or fewer, and inscriptions appearing in notes, may be written continuously, with a single upright line (|) used to mark the beginning of each line and a double upright line (||) used to indicate the beginning of every fifth line. If a line break occurs within a word, there should be no space before or after the vertical line:

  • Inscriptions in corpora should be cited using Arabic numbers and should not include page references (see Bibliographical References and Notes).