House Style

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General Info

The Rossetti Archive follows MLA style conventions. This document summarizes some of the most commonly used stylistic guidelines. If questions about style cannot be answered by this guide, please refer to the latest edition of the MLA Style Manual. For information on the proper formatting of text and rendering style, please see Tagging Resources. We use Unicode entity references for special characters, including "smart" quotes and em dashes. Please refer to Tagging Resources for details on quotation marks, or the list of commonly used Unicode Entity References.


Works cited within the Archive follow the format (author's last name), (short title), (page#), except where indicated in the master copy of the works cited (see below). All stand-alone citations (e.g. in Bibliographic headers) should end with a period. Standard author abbreviations and short titles can be found in the citation reference document "workscited": SOURCE/racs/workscited.rac.xml.

For articles in periodicals, the bibliographic format is

(last name, first name). "(title)". <i>(periodical)</i> (number) ((month/season year)): (pages).

Some common exceptions:

  1. For editions in more than one volume, specify volume number (WMR, Family Letters vol. 1, 124).
  2. Art catalogs are cited as follows: (short title), (gallery) (year), (page#) (The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Tate 1948, 97).
  3. If a catalog (such as Surtees) is organized by numbered entries, the entry number (or plate number) goes in parentheses after the page number. Both page and catalog/plate numbers should be placed within the <page> tag. (Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 76 (no. 121B); Fredeman, A Rossetti Cabinet, 37 (plate 64)). For Surtees vol. 2: Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 2, plate 485.
  4. Works by DGR are cited by title and publication year ("A Little While" (1870)).
  5. Articles in a PERIODICAL should have their own listing in this document and in the online bibliography. Many do not. Please create a listing if one doesn't exist, designate a short title, and use the short title for citations.

For parenthetical citations:

  1. Follow the MLA guidelines for abbreviating citations. E.g., if the author has just been mentioned, omit that part of the citation: "As WMR wrote, 'DGR was a great lover of children and dogs' (Family Letters vol. 1, 123).
  2. Parenthetical citations within parentheses should be placed in square brackets: "(though 'he preferred dogs' (Family Letters vol. 1, 124)).
  3. Avoid redundant citations (such as #2 above). Cite page number only if the source has already been cited and is clear from the context.


Punctuation: 1840s not 1840's

Dates in <date> tags: It is essential that the contents of the first <date></date> field in every RAP, RAD, and RAW be of uniform style. In a nutshell, <date> fields must begin with a four-digit year or, in cases in which it is impossible to guess at a date, a question-mark. Supplementary information may appear after the four-digit year. Correct forms include:

<date>1873 (circa)</date>
<date>1873 August 20</date>
<date>1873 (Spring-Summer)</date>
<date>1875? (mid-1870s)</date>

If you can make an educated guess at a date, do so:


If you know a date range, list it. Please do NOT use spaces between the hyphen and dates. List the year in all cases:

<date>1869 July-1869 August</date>
<date>1869 October 30-1869 November 25</date>

If the object has multiple dates, separate them with a semicolon (NOT a comma):

<date>1846 (first version); 1869 (last version)</date>
<date>1864-1865; 1870 (revised)</date>

If the date range is a full decade, average it, add a question-mark, and list the full range in parentheses:

<date>1875? (mid-1870s)</date>

Make an educated guess about the date whenever possible. Even if you must use large date ranges, this is preferable to having no data, or just a question mark. Supplementary information may be added after the question-mark:

<date>1840-1880? (unknown)</date>
<date>? (A wombat ate the date from this manuscript.)</date>


Use the following title formats regardless of whether a title is hyperlinked:

Italicized titles

  • book/pamphlet/periodical/play titles
  • received names of paintings and drawings
  • double works titles, when referenced as such
  • foreign language book titles: capitalize initial word only (e.g. Poeti del primo secolo)

Titles "in quotes"

  • poem titles, unless it's a longish poem published in its own volume and we're referring to it as such, in which case italicize
  • foreign language poem titles
  • article/essay/chapter titles
  • short story titles (with the same exception as for poem titles)
  • unpublished works

Punctuation and Spelling

  • single space after periods, not double
  • punctuation outside quotation marks: "like this", not "like this,"
  • don't change British spellings used commonly by jjm: focussed, practised
  • ellipses use spaces between periods, e.g. ". . ." rather than "..." or the unicode character "…"


For standardized spelling of proper names, please refer to Names List.

RAP Standards


  • For images from institutions, should read ©______ (fill in copyright statement here)
  • Images from Peter Nahum at Leicester Galleries should be cited in copyright tag as “Courtesy of Peter Nahum at Leicester Galleries:”
  • For images from all other web pages, the source should be noted in the provenance field, in a note.
  • For images from books (exhibition catalogs, etc.) the short title of the book should be placed in the copyright tag, with relevant publication info in parentheses (e.g. <copyright>DGR 1828-1882: An Exhibition (Tokyo, 1990)</copyright>). If the book as an author, it, too should be placed in the copyright field: <copyright>Prettejohn, Art of the Pre-Raphaelites (Tate, 2000)</copyright>. The book should also be noted in the bibl tag, complete with info such as page and plate numbers.


  • Dates should always be entered with 4 digits (e.g. 1882, or, if there is a span, 1880-1882)


  • Name in name field, and name and other relevant info. in note below.

Model Names

  • Elizabeth Siddal, Jane Burden Morris, Fanny Cornforth, Aggie Manetti (not Fatty Aggie), Louisa Ruth Herbert Crabbe (for portrait)/ Ruth Herbert (simplified for model tag in pictures)


  • Watercolour

Techniques Field

  • Should not repeat medium information, without adding additional information on tools, process, etc.


  • £ (not pounds)
  • do not list very recent purchase prices (do put in comment field)

Archival/Exhibition History

  • Separate; with; semi-colons. For example: Rossetti sale (no.32); Tate, 1968 (no.123); R.A., 1973 (no.345); Christies sale June 6, 1988 (lot 24), £8. 7s
  • Location: Private Collection (note capitalization)

Internal Evidence Notes vs. Included Text

  • Text in Rossetti’s hand, integral to the conception of the work, should go in “Included Text” field.
  • Notes on the picture in other or unknown hands should be quoted and explained in the notes field under internal evidence.


  • If the RAP is completely empty (that is, no main viewing image, no reproduction) add a description that follows Surtees. Quote or paraphrase: your choice, just cite accordingly.

Peripheral Text

  • Text outside prints should be in ms addition fields, not in notes under object description
  • Frame text should be under Included Text, in <PICTURENOTES> field; specify location in note below.


  • Signature field should give signature (e.g. D. Rossetti), or say “monogram”; specify location, etc. in the note.


  • Remove from repro fields and superfluous information about size and color (check first to make sure that it is still in that repro’s own rap).
  • If a RAP has no repro, but has been tagged as <repro image= “a.” workcode=””> this may fool the search engine into believing one exists. The basic <repro></repro> will suffice.


  • Change auction catalogue dates from British to American form (change 6 June 1998 to June 6, 1998).
  • Make sure that documents in the repro field are cited in the bibl field as well (esp. Benedetti).

Formatting Guide for RADs

Formatting is an issue of both tagging and house style. The Rossetti Archive strives to approximate the look of original documents in rendering them for the browser. The following addresses which formatting features of a source document to reproduce, and how to do it. Should I record . . .

Handwriting on the page, such as marginal notes or comments by DGR or others?

  • Yes. We'd like to note everything that happens on the page, printed or handwritten or spilled or otherwise. For example, marginalia frequently appears as directions to the printer from DGR, specified with a type attribute. The tag structure usually looks like this:
<msadds type="">
<trans>(transcription of written notes)</trans>
<desc>(editorial description of what it is, who wrote it)</desc>

Questions about what is written, who wrote it, and what should be said about it should be answered by Jerry. Additions or deletions to the text?

  • Absolutely. Use the "del" and "add" tags for this. Do not try to reproduce the specific page layout of the corrections. Please encode them nearest to the text they modify. Use <addspan> or <delspan> for entire units of added or deleted text.

Typos as they appear on the page?

  • Yes. Reproduce exactly what's there. Though some proofers have done so in the past, it is not usually necessary or advisable to include a <note> explaining the existing error. This is the user's job to notice and evaluate.

Other stuff that appears on the page, like page signature marks, page numbers, and illustrations?

  • Definitely. We've got tags for just about everything that can show up. See tags defined for a complete list, or check an existing, recently proofed rad for examples.

Editorial explanations about the document?

  • Yes, when appropriate. Jerry typically handles the work here.

Illegible or obscured text?

  • Yes. If there's a great quantity, make a note of it in a pageheader tag. In the transcription, include a question mark in brackets.

Page breaks?

  • Yes. Every page begins with a <page n="" image="a."> tag. 'n' is the page number; put it in brackets if it does not appear in type on the page of the source document itself. We do not have images for every page yet, but the 'image' attribute is required. Each page ends with an <epage> tag, NOT </page>.

Line breaks in poetry?

  • Yes. Within the line group tag (<lg>), each line of poetry should begin with <l n=""> and end with </l>. Do not use the prose line break <lb/> tag. Number the lines according to the way they appear in the source document, beginning with 1 even if only part of a poem is quoted.

Line breaks in prose?

  • Yes, if it's a prose work by DGR; no, if it's by anyone else. Use the <lb/> tag at the beginning of every line except the first line of a paragraph (the

    tag makes an automatic line break). When words are broken with hyphens across lines, simply put the <lb/>tag after the hyphen.

Blocked-off quotations?

  • Yes. The <quote> tag--which indicates content only; it does NOT make quotation marks appear--has the optional attribute 'display'. Here's the basic tagging:
<quote display="block">(text of quotation)</quote>

Running headers on every page (e.g. running titles)?

  • No. We're trying to figure out how to automatically produce this information.

Blank pages?

  • Yes. This includes blank pages in the front matter (near the title page), and the reverse side of illustrations. Here's the tag group:
<page n="" image="a."> <pageheader>
<note>Blank page.</note> </pageheader>

Ornaments and ornamental line breaks?

  • Yes. Ornaments--such as decorated capitals, woodcuts, end-of-page-decorations, and publishers' figures on the title page--should be noted and described in a tag group at the top of the page:

Ornamental line breaks (a line of dashes or asterisks used to create a visual break in the text) should be typographically reproduced where they appear on the page within tags. An example might be:


Dot leaders (e.g. In a table of contents)?

  • Yes, but there's not a special tag for this. Transcribe them as dots with spaces, as appropriate to what shows up on the page.

Centered text, right-justified text, indented text (other than quotations)?

  • No. (Update?) There are tags for this, but we don't use them. (I made Dynaweb show what was essentially my best guess about the average centering / formatting for some common elements, such as titles and colophons. It won't be perfect for every book, but it looks better than having everything flush left. -- BPN)

Colored text?

  • (Update?)Yes, but I forget how. I saw an example in a finished RAD somewhere--maybe in Marillier--it might be in <hi rend>. (I don't know about this, but I'll warn you that I did use green and red in Dynaweb to indicate manuscript additions and deletions, so any colored-text tagging might confuse that system. -- BPN)

Special text formatting, like superscript or small capitals, italics or bold?

  • Yes, with the "highlight rendering" tag. Please see the description and complete list in Tagging Resources.

Special characters (such as accented letters, ligatures, and diphthongs)?

Type features like font style (e.g. gothic), font size, etc.?

  • No. (Update?) except in the unlikely event that you don't have enough work to do. We can record this in the editorial header, but content takes priority. (Again, this seems a little funky to me. We do list some type features in the RAD header, and you should always indicate any interesting or aberrant features in a <note>. After all, we are a bibliographical project. -- BPN)

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