Contribution and Style Manual

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Display Date

2.1 Writing guidelines
2.2 Specific dates
2.3 Approximate dates
2.4 Bounded dates
2.5 Unbounded dates
2.6 Other ways to describe when an event took place
2.7 Abbreviations
2.8 Capitalization
2.9 Punctuation

3 Actual Date

4 Link

5 Title

5.1 Writing style
5.2 Capitalization
5.3 Punctuation

6 Body

6.1 Writing guidelines
6.2 Abbreviations
6.3 Acronyms
6.4 Capitalization
6.5 Italics
6.6 Punctuation
6.7 Measurements
6.8 Numbers
6.9 Possessives
6.10 Symbols
6.11 References

7 Citations

7.1 Selecting your sources
7.2 Positioning your citations
7.3 Citation style


9 Cross references

10 Participants

11 Primary sources

12 Categories

13 Upload Image

14 Image Caption

15 Image Source

16 Minor Edit

17 Can be viewed and edited by other project members

18 Save and work on later

19 Preview


This is the Center for Grassroots Oversight's contribution and style manual. If you are a new contributor, please take some time to familiarize yourself with the guidelines in this manual before submitting your first entry. Contributors do not have to worry about following this to the tee, as the editors can perform the final touches on entries before they are approved and posted. However, at the very least, please review the sections on the display date field, actual date field, the do's and don'ts of writing entries, and citations.

The guide derives from a variety of sources including the Associated Press, and the Chicago Manual of Style, and Wikipedia. The website,, was also used.

Display Date

The Display date provides the reader with an unambiguous description of when an event took place. Contributors can use a variety of words in the Display date field to explain when an event occurred. For example, the words before, after, and between can all be used in this field. After an entry is submitted, the website infers from the Display date where the event should be positioned in a timeline. In cases where the website does not accurately interpret the Display date, it is necessary for the contributor to specify an actual date in the Actual Date field so the entry can be positioned correctly in the timeline.


Writing guidelines

  • Try to be as precise as possible. If you know an event took place on March 15, 2004, write “March 15, 2004” instead of “March 2004,” or even worse, “2004.”
  • The date of an entry should refer to the date the event took place, NOT the day it was reported, unless the reporting of the event is itself significant and worthy of being profiled.


Specific dates

Specific dates are written as follows:

Format: [time of day] [month] [day], [year]
Example: 8:40 a.m. February 22, 1966

Only include the time of day if it is of critical importance.

If only some of these units are known, then include the largest known time unit plus all larger units. For example, if you know the time of day, the month, and the year, only write the month and year:

Format: [month] [year]
Example: February 1966


Approximate dates

For approximate dates, enclose the time unit that is being approximated in parentheses. For example, if all time units are known, but you are not 100 percent sure of the time of day (perhaps because one source says one time, while another source provides another), write:

Format: ([time of day]) [month] [day], [year]
Example: (8:30 p.m.) January 26, 1991


Bounded dates

If an event took place over a span of time, use a hyphen, with no spaces, (the hyphen will be displayed as an en dash by the website) to separate the time units that represent the boundaries of the date range.

Format: [month] [day x]-[day y], [year]
Example: January 26-28, 1991

Format: [month x]-[month y], [year]
Example: January-March, 1991

Format: [month x] [day x], [year x]-[month y] [day y], [year y]
Example: January 25, 1990-March 8, 1991

Format: [month x], [year x]-[month y], [year y]
Example: January 1990-March, 1991

When an event is known to have taken place at some point between two points in time, use the words between and and:

Format: Between [month] [day x] and [day y], [year]
Example: Between April 2 and 3, 2005

Format: [month x], [year x]-[month y], [year y]
Example: Between April 2, 2004 and April 5, 2005

When an event took place either at one point or another point, use the word or between the two uncertain time units.

Format: [month] [day x] or [day y], [year]
Example: April 2 or 3, 2005


Unbounded dates

When an event is known to have taken place over a period of time before or after a certain point in time, use the words, before, after, soon after, soon before, shortly after, shortly before, starting on, up to, or until before the date. You can also use the words and after after the date

Format: Up to [month] [day], [year]
Example: Up to August 6, 2001

Format: Starting on [month] [day], [year]
Example: Starting on August 6, 2001

Format: Before [month] [day], [year]
Example: Before August 6, 2001

Format: [month] [day], [year] and after
Example: August 6, 2001 and after


Other ways to describe when an event took place

Other words that can be used to describe when an event took place include:

  • early, mid-, late
  • spring, summer, autumn, winter
  • morning, afternoon, evening, night, noon, midnight



Do not use abbreviations. Months should be written out in full.



Normal rules of capitalization apply.



Time is written as hh:mm:ss. If seconds are not known (they are rarely ever needed anyway's), do not use 00s. If minutes are not known, use 00s.

Do not use military time. Use a.m. or p.m. with a space between the time and the meridian indicator, and a period between the p or a and the m.

Do not use apostrophes when trying to indicate that something took place during a certain decade or century. Instead write the decade or century followed only by an s; for example, write “1990s,” not “1990's.”


Actual Date

This field is optional.

If the website fails to position the event correctly in the timeline, use the actual date field to manipulate its precise location. Formatting is the same as that for the display date, except that you can only use time units: You cannot use words like before, after, between, early, late, etc.



A unique name which is used to link to the event. This name will be automatically generated when you are creating a new event, and you should only change this if you are intending to link to this event from other events and would like an easy to remember link. This field should preferably never be changed when making changes to an existing event.



Writing style

The title of each timeline entry should accurately and succinctly summarize the event being profiled. Write the title as if it were the headline of a news story. Do not attempt to sensationalize, use rhetoric, or spin the event's description in any way.



Use title-case.

  • Capitalize all nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word.
  • Capitalize the first and last word of the title.
  • Always capitalize the first word after a colon or semi-colon, even if that type of word would normally not be capitalized.
  • Do not capitalize articles, prepositions (regardless of length), subordinate conjunctions, or the to in an infinitive verb phrase.



Do not use periods, dashes, parentheses, brackets, or ampersands (&). Colons, semicolons, and quotes are permitted. Quoted words should be enclosed in single quotes. Do not use nested quotes (quotes within quotes).



Writing guidelines (important, please read)

Do's and don'ts

  • The first sentence any entry should always convey the main idea of the entry. Avoid using passive voice for the first sentence.

  • Be as detailed and precise as possible. Quadruple check every entry for accuracy.

  • Keep interpretation to an absolute minimum.

  • Do not sensationalize or spin the event. Do not use rhetoric.

  • Paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase. “Copy and paste” jobs will be rejected. Do not do it. Quotations are of course permitted, but should be used only when necessary (see below).

  • Do not lift an entire passage, put it in quotes, and then submit it as an entry. Instead, paraphrase it.

  • As a general rule, use quotations when the exact wording is significant, or the quote is particularly important. Otherwise, paraphrase the passage.

  • Be specific about who does what. If Mike Leavitt announces another one of the Bush administration's environmental rollbacks, don't just say: “The Bush administration announces that ....” Instead, say, “EPA administrator Mike Leavitt announces that ...”

  • Do not write entries so they are timeline-specific. Timeline entries may be included in more than one timeline so try to write each entry so it would also make sense if it were by itself or in a timeline on a slightly different topic.

  • Do not include innuendous comments, or any other comments—just the facts and nothing else. If you would like to include comments that have been made by reputable critics or experts, that is ok, but try to keep it balanced.

  • Try to avoid combining multiple events with a similar theme into one entry. Each entry should be a separate event.

  • A timeline entry represents an event, not an aspect of an event, not a point, not a theme. If you are writing something about an event, and there is already an entry about that event in the database, please edit the existing entry for that event instead of creating a new entry.

  • Do not take quotes or comments out of context. For example, as a general rule, do not include a quote that specifically relates to one event in an entry that describes another. If you feel the quote pertaining to the first event is relevant to the second, be clear in your writing that the quotation originated at a different point in time and in a different context so as not to mislead the reader.

  • Do not pose rhetorical questions.


  • When referring to a group of people, such as a cultural group, use the terminology which the subjects use for themselves. So for example, if referring to the Inuit, use Inuit, not Eskimo.

  • Use specific terminology: People from Ethiopia should be described as Ethiopian, not African.

  • Do not refer to groups of people by their supposed “race.” People from Israel are Israelis, not Jews, because not all Israelis are Jews and not all Jews are Israelis. But when referring to people who are of the Jewish religion, call them Jews, because that is what they are. To be Jewish is to be of a religion, not a “race.” Similarly, if you want to refer to people of African-descent who live in the US, they are not American blacks, but Americans of African-descent. If it is necessary to identify a group of people by their skin-color, the use of racial terms is not necessary. Use the color of the skin, followed by a hyphen, followed by the word, skinned; for example, dark-skinned and light-skinned.

Verb tense

The temporal point of reference for every entry is the date the event took place. Therefore, any phrases describing the actual event must be written in present.

An expert panel commissioned by the Pentagon privately postulates that an airplane could be used as a missile to bomb national landmarks.

Past tenses can be used for references to events that took place before the event in question. They may also be used when describing or quoting a future statement that describes the event being profiled.

An unnamed intelligence official will later tell the New York Times that he heard the president say ...


It will later be revealed that the secretary was in fact aware...

Present tense can also be used to describe something that happens in the near future.

A few days later, it is reported that ...

For events that happen significantly later, use future tense.

When using quotations, it is sometimes necessary to change words within the quotes so that the passage conforms to the verb tense of the rest of the sentence or entry. Enclose any words that are changed in brackets.

The quoted passage, “His feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall,” may need to be changed to: “His feet constantly [slip], leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall.”

Word selection

Take care when using politically charged words.


  • Terrorist, freedom fighter. These words have no definitive meaning. The word terrorism, defined by many as “the calculated use of violence (or threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature,” is more often than not used on the basis of whether the speaker agrees with the goal of the person or group in question—hence the expression, “One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” Instead of terrorist try using words that are more precise. For example, if an individual is a member of al-Qaeda, then refer to the person as an al-Qaeda operative, or an Islamic fighter or militant. When selecting a topic for an entry, and you want to refer to sub-state groups that use violence, select the topic “sub-state militancy.”

  • Claim vs. say. Do not repeatedly use the verb claim to cast doubt over statements you disagree with while at the same time using the word say as a subtle endorsement for statements which you support. Your use of the word claim and other similar words should be appropriate and balanced.

National varieties of English

Most of this site's traffic comes from the United States. So as a matter of practicality, we are using the American spelling of words. So it is organization, not organisation; labor, not labour; defense, not defence; program not programme; center not centre; etc. This also applies to material that is quoted from sources that use another variety of English. When quoting such a source, convert it to the American spelling. The only exception is that proper names should retain their original spellings; for example: Australian Defence Force.



  • Do not abbreviate the names of months or days of the week.

  • Spell out the titles of people; for example, write “secretary of state,” not “secr. of state.” The only exceptions are military rank and the abbreviation for doctor (Dr.). Do not use Mr., Mrs., Miss and Ms., unless for some reason its inclusion is significant to the meaning of the passage.

  • Abbreviate the words incorporated, junior, or senior after a name, but don't use a comma to set it off; for example: “John Jones Jr.”

  • Abbreviate avenue (Ave.), boulevard (Blvd.) and street (St.) when written as part of a complete address. Otherwise, spell the entire word out, as in: 561 N. Cherry St., East York Street, Fifth Street and 32nd Street.

  • For days of the month, use only numerals not st, nd, rd or th. Example: August 1, not August 1st.



  • Do not use periods in acronyms: US, not U.S.; ACLU, not A.C.L.U.; CIA, not C.I.A.



Calendar items

The names of months, days, and holidays always begin with a capital letter: June, Monday, Fourth of July.

Seasons are generally written with a lowercase letter except when they are used with another noun or are personified. For example: “Winter Solstice” and “Old Man Winter.”

Celestial bodies

The words sun, earth, and moon should be capitalized only when used in an astronomical context. The names of other planets and stars should always be capitalized.

Directions and regions

Regions that are proper nouns—such as Southern California, the Old West, and the South—start with a capital letter. People from such areas are also capitalized: a Southerner. Directions (north, southwest, etc.) are not proper nouns and do not start with a capital letter.


If a parenthetical expression is part of a sentence, do not capitalize the first word. If it is an independent sentence, capitalize the first word.

Quoted expressions

If the quoted passage is preceded by that or is a fragment that is embedded into a sentence, do not capitalize the first word. If the quotation is a complete sentence, and is not preceded by that, capitalize the first word.

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines and their adherents

Names of religions and their followers begin with a capital letter.

Deities begin with capital letters: God, Allah, Freya, the Lord, the Supreme Being, the Messiah. People who are considered to have a place in the supernatural realm, such as Muhammad the Prophet, are capitalized, as are certain transcendent concepts like the Good and Truth. Pronouns that refer to deities do not begin with a capital letter.

Philosophies, doctrines, and schools of thought are not capitalized, unless the name derives from a proper noun. For example, when the word republican is used to refer to a system of political thought is lowercase; however, when it refers to the political party it is uppercase. When referring to a specific political party, but without its name, use lowercase. Example: The party leaders, not the Party leaders. When referring to specific parties, but in the plural, do not capitalize the word parties. Example: “The Republican and Democratic parties ...”


Titles such as president, secretary of state, or emperor start with a capital letter when used as a title followed by a name: “President Bush,” not “president Bush.” When used generically, they should be in lowercase: “Tony Blair is the British prime minister,” or “The secretary of state said to day ...,” or "Today, Colin Powell, the secretary of state, told reporters."

The word room

Capitalize the word room when used with room's number: Room 105, Sheldon Hall.

Specific words

Do not capitalize:

  • The word administration when preceded by the name of the administration. For example, write “Bush administration,” not, “Bush Administration.”



To italicize a word or phrase, enclose it in a pair of double single quotes (''):

''This is in italics''


Do not use italics for emphasis


Italics should be used for titles of the following when mentioned in the text of the timeline entry.

  • Bacteria, when named as genus-species. For example: Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli
  • Books
  • Films
  • Long poems/epic poems
  • Musical albums
  • Periodicals (newspapers, journals, and magazines)
  • Plays
  • Television series
  • Works of visual art
  • Court cases
  • Ships
  • Computer games
  • Orchestral works
  • Named passenger trains.

Italics are generally used for titles of longer works. Titles of shorter works, such as the following, should be enclosed in double quotation marks:

  • Articles, essays or papers
  • Chapters of a longer work
  • Episodes of a television series
  • Short poems
  • Short stories
  • Songs

There are a few cases in which the title should be in neither italics nor quotation marks:

  • Scripture
  • Legal or constitutional documents

The New York Times reported in a front page article ...

But Italics are not to be used in the title of a timeline entry or in a citation (see below for more on citations).

[New York Times, 4/6/2004]

Words as words

Use italics when writing about words as words and letters as letters.

The term eco derives from the Greek word oikos, which means house or household.

Q, X, and Z are the least frequently used letters in the English language.



Ampersand (&)

Use the ampersand in the name of a company when it is used as part of the company's official name. Never use it to replace the word and in the text of a timeline entry.


Use a single straight quote ( ' )
  • Do not use apostrophes to express the plural form of numbers. Example: 5s, not 5's; and the 1960s, not the 1960's.
    However you can use apostrophes for the plural form of single letters, but not multiple letters. Example: K's and ABCs.

  • Use an apostrophe when referring to academic degrees, such as a bachelor's degree or master's degree.


  • Use brackets for words that have been added or changed in a quoted phrase for the purpose of clarification.

    “The [FBI's] Behavioral Analysis Unit raised concerns over interrogation tactics being employed by the US Military.”

  • When using quotations, it is sometimes necessary to change words within the quotes so that the passage conforms to the verb tense of the rest of the sentence or entry. Enclose any words that are changed in brackets.

    The quoted passage, “His feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall,” may need to be changed to: “His feet constantly [slip], leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall.”

  • Use underscores to to replace the vowels in certain expletives. Expletives should be censored to prevent this site from being blocked by parental censoring software.

    “We don't kick the sh_t out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the sh_t out of them.”


The colon always follows a whole sentence.

  • Colons can be used to introduce a list. It often follows expressions such as the following or as follows, but it is never placed right after a verb. For example, one should not write, “The Bush administration promoted: tax breaks for the rich, the privatization of Social Security, destruction in the Middle East ...”

  • Colons may be used to emphasize the word, words, or sentence that follows it. When used in this manner, it replaces words like that is, namely and for example. Capitalize the first word after a colon if it is a proper noun or the beginning of a whole sentence.

    “We know so much more about them now than we did a year ago: the personalities, how the networks are established, what they think are important targets, how they think we will react.”

  • Always use a colon when quoting a phrase longer than one sentence. Use a comma, however, to introduce a quotation containing just one sentence, or a portion of a sentence.

  • Use a colon to separate a title from its subtitle.


  • Use commas in a series of three or more terms. Use a comma after each term, including the second to last term that precedes a conjunction.

  • Use a comma when combining two independent clauses with a conjunction (but, and, for, nor, or, so and yet).

    A group of detainees still refuse lunch and dinner on Friday, and several more refuse breakfast on Saturday.

  • Use a comma to separate an introductory phrase or clause from the rest of the sentence.

    Shortly after September 11, the number of renditions dramatically increased.

  • Use commas to identify parenthetic expressions. Parenthetic expressions are phrases that are not essential to the meaning of a sentence. Thus, if a parenthetic expression is removed, the sentence would still make sense.

    Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who is a brother-in-law to bin Laden, is arrested in the US.

    To stress a parenthetic phrase, separate the phrase using em dashes ( — ), which you will need to write as two contiguous hyphens in the wiki (--). To downplay the significance of a parenthetical expression, enclose it in parentheses.

  • Use commas to separate a person's hometown or age when it is written after their name.

    Joe Smith, Santa Cruz, was arrested by police Sunday.


    Afghan taxi driver Sayed Abassin, 28, was on his way from Kabul to Khost, when ...

  • Use commas set apart words and phrases like however, meanwhile, in fact, in addition, moreover, notwithstanding, furthermore, nevertheless, as a result, thus, therefore, for example, finally and in other words. The comma is normally placed after these expressions when they are at the beginning of a sentence, and both before and after when they are in the middle.

  • Commas should be used to separate a series of adjectives that are equal in rank. (When adjectives can be rearranged without changing the meaning of a sentence, they are said to be “equal in rank.”) Do not use a comma if the adjectives are not of equal rank (because rearranging the adjectives would change the meaning of the sentence).

  • For figures of more than 999, use commas to set off each group of three numerals (except for years). For sums in the million and billion range, consider using decimals as in $5.1 million.

  • Use commas to separate the day of the month from the year; for example, “November 22, 2002.” Commas are not used, however, when only the month and year are written, as in “November 2002.”

  • Use commas to separates the names of states from countries or cities from states: “New York, New York” and “Madrid, Spain.”

  • Use a comma directly before a quoted passage as long as the passage does not contain more than one sentence, is not preceded by the word that, and is not a quoted phrase that is embedded in the sentence.

  • Ann Coulter says, “When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty.”

    But a comma is not used in this case:

    Ann Coulter claims that “liberals become indignant when you question ....”

    nor this one:

    Shortly after 9/11, Coulter advocated invading Muslim countries to “kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

    Also, use a comma before the second quotation mark when a quoted expression is followed by an attribution.

    “There is a facility run by the US Army, however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that persons under control of the US Army have been mistreated,” Maj. Stephen Clutter claims.


In general, we prefer formal writing. Therefore, avoid contractions such as don't, can't and won't, except when you are quoting directly.

Hyphens (-)

When two or more adjectives express a single concept, use hyphens to link the words together. Examples: “Ten-year plan,” “15-member panel,” “37-year-old man.”

Ellipsis (…)

In the wiki, type three periods with no spaces between the them.

Use an ellipsis in place of a word or phrase that has been deleted from a quoted passage. When inserting an ellipsis at the end of sentence, place a period after it (….).

Em Dashes (—)

In the wiki, em dashes can be written as two contiguous hyphens with no spaces between the hyphens or the adjacent words (--).
  • The em dash should be used to separate a phrase that explains, justifies, or emphasizes something mentioned earlier in the sentence.

    He has not slept since coming off the plane—27 hours ago.

  • Use a pair of em dashes to create an emphatic pause or to stress a parenthetic expression. To give such a phrase less emphasis, place it between commas.

    William Myers, the Interior Department's solicitor general—and a former lobbyist for ranchers—announces to members of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association (NCA) that the Bush administration intends to limit environmental reviews and make it easier for ranchers to graze livestock on public lands.

  • A pair of em dashes can also be used to set apart a phrase that has a series of words separated by commas.

    The treaty would require 39 industrialized nations to cut emissions of six greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride—to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.

Quotation marks

For uniformity, use smart quotes.

To do this you must use the following HTML entities for quotes:

“ = “
” = ”
&slquo; = ‘
’ = ’

Double quotes are used for most quotations. Single quotes are only used for nested quotes; that is, when a “quote exists ‘within’ a quote.”

  • When punctuating quoted passages, place all trailing periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation points inside the quotation marks. Colons and semicolons should be placed outside.

  • Do not lift an entire passage, put it in quotes, and then submit it as an entry. Instead, paraphrase it.

  • Use quotes sparingly. As a general rule, use quotations when the exact wording is significant, or the quote is particularly important. Otherwise, paraphrase the passage.

  • Use “scare quotes” only when necessary. “Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. Nicknamed ‘scare quotes,’ they imply ‘This is not my term’ or ‘This is not how the term is usually applied.’ Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused.” [Chicago Manual of Style, 2003, p. 291, sec. 7.58]

  • Do not include partial sentences combined with full sentences in a quote. For example, you would NOT write the above in the following manner:

    According to the Chicago Manual of Style, writers often use quotation marks “to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. Nicknamed ‘scare quotes,’ they imply ‘This is not my term’ or ‘This is not how the term is usually applied.’ Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused.”



  • Use a semicolon to set apart a series within a series.

    The prisoners were locked up 24 hours a day in isolation; deprived of light; fed nothing but beans, tortillas, and rice; and denied medical attention.

  • Semicolon can be used to join two or more related statements that could exist alone as independent sentences or clauses.

    Gen. James T. Hill says, “We weren't sure in the beginning what we had; we're not sure today what we have.”

  • Use a semicolon between two independent clauses when the second clause begins with transition words such as therefore, however, thus and for example.

    The accused may retain a civilian attorney; however, only one who is vetted by the military.


Use sparingly. If a parenthetical phrase is part of a sentence, do not capitalize the first word and do not finish the phrase with a period. If it is an independent sentence, capitalize the first word, and trail it with a period.



For units of measure use SI units (International System of Units, or metric) followed by its Imperial equivalent in parentheses.



For fractions, spell out amounts less than 1, using hyphens between the words; for example: “two-thirds,” “three-quarters.”

Generally, spell out numbers less than 10, except for:

  • Addresses: 6 Pine St.
  • Ages, even for inanimate objects: The 2-year-old building.
  • Cents: 8 cents.
  • Dollars: $5
  • Dates: August 6
  • Dimensions: 25 feet tall, 20-by-15 patio
  • Highways: U.S. Route 50
  • Millions, billions: 112 billion barrels of oil
  • Percentages: 11 percent
  • Proportions: 2 parts oil
  • Speed: 1800 miles per hour
  • Temperatures: 411 degrees
  • Times: 1 a.m.

For figures of more than 999, use commas to set off each group of three numerals (except for years). For sums in the million and billion range, use decimals as in “$5.1 million.”

Avoid using numbers at the beginning of a sentence.



For possessives of singular nouns ending in s, add an additional s, except when using a particular word or phrase for which it is considered standard not to have the extra s, such as with Achilles' heel.



  • For percentages, write percent, not %.
  • For currencies, use the symbol for dollars and the word for cents. Write “$105,” not “105 dollars.” Use cents, not ¢.



  • Never use an acronym to refer to something that has not already been mentioned in the same timeline entry, unless it is commonly known, as in the US, UN, or CIA. First write the name out completely, followed by the acronym in parentheses.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issues a press release ...

    If mentioned again in the timeline entry, the organization would be referred to simply as the ACLU.

  • On first reference, use a person's full name, including the middle initial, and title. On second reference, use only the last name with no title, unless the person is commonly referred to by the first name, as in Saddam [Hussein].



Citations are rendered on the website as follows: [New York Times 7/19/2004]

The wiki mark-up code for a reference is:

[[source name | mm/dd/yyyy ]]

If the reference includes a page number, write:

[[source name | mm/dd/yyyy | 14-15 ]]

For multiple citations write:

[[source name | mm/dd/yyyy ]]
[[source name | mm/dd/yyyy ]]
[[source name | mm/dd/yyyy ]]


Selecting your sources

Always use sources from professional news publications, such as the Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker, Inter Press Service, Corpwatch, etc. Do not cite forum posts as sources.

It is always preferable to cite primary sources. If a primary source is not available, find a secondary source that is either a news report, magazine article, or book published by a reputable publisher. In most circumstances, there will be no shortage of secondary source news articles. Next in the hierarchy of reliability are editorials and op-eds. If you have to use an op-ed piece, it is preferable to use one by a columnist who is also a reputable journalist, like William Arkin. Avoid using op-eds by people who are opinion-makers and who are known for their heavy rhetoric.

Avoid linking to articles posted on the websites of Yahoo, Reuters or other sites that quickly delete articles from their servers. If you need to use an article from one of these sites as a source, try to find a copy of the article on a website that does not delete its pages so quickly.


Positioning your citations

When a timeline entry is derived from multiple sources, it is preferable to cite each source immediately after the sentence or sentences derived from that source instead of piling all the citations at the bottom of the entry.


Citation style

Follow the guidelines below to determine the correct way to cite sources:

Article, opinion piece (op-ed), or editorial in a newspaper or magazine. (online or in print)

Format: [name of publication], [mm]/[dd]/[yyyy], [page number, if available]
Example: Los Angeles Times, 4/6/2004

Journal article, book, chapter in an edited volume. One author. (online or in print)

Format: [last name of author], [yyyy], [page number, if available]
Example: Smith, 1999, 15-49

Journal article, book, chapter in an edited volume. Two authors. (online or in print)

Format: [last name of first author] and [last name of second author], [yyyy], [page number, if available]
Example: Smith and Bateson, 1999, 15-49

Journal article, book, chapter in an edited volume. Three authors. (online or in print)

Format: [last name of first author], [last name of [second author], and [last name of second author], [yyyy], [page number, if available]
Example: Smith, Bateson, and Moore, 1999, 15-49

Journal article, book, chapter in an edited volume. More than three authors. (online or in print)

Format: [last name of first author], [last name of second author], and [last name of second author], [yyyy], [page number, if available]
Example: Smith et al., 1999, 15-49

Website. (website in general, not news articles)

Format: [website name], website [date accessed: mm/dd/yyyy]
Example: Federation of American Scientists website, 4/1/2005

Specific page on a website. (Material on a website that does not fit into any of the above categories)

Format: [website name], [date accessed: mm/dd/yyyy]
Example: Federation of American Scientists, 4/1/2005

Other guidelines:

  • If you are citing a website where the Top Level Domain (TLD) is considered essential to the name, include it after the name in parentheses. Include the dot. For example, Globalsecurity (.org), 6/30/2003
  • When citing a news story or op-ed, cite the original source, not the website where it is posted. For an Associated Press report posted on the Common Dreams website, write Associated Press, 4/3/2002, not Commondreams (.org), 4/3/2002. Writers need to pay special attention to the sources they are using because it is not always easy to identify the original publisher. For example, a story posted on the CNN website is not necessarily a CNN story. It may in fact be from the Associated Press, with the credit appearing somewhere in small print. Another newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, often posts stories by the Agence France-Presse (AFP). When this is the case, a small “AFP” appears at the end of the article.



Include comments when there is something that you feel should be read by other contributors. For example, you may mention that an event requires more reliable sources, or that you are not sure about some aspect of the information contained in the entry. Also, use the comment field to explain the changes and corrections you make. Editors will read these comments when reviewing your submission. When an editor rejects a submission, he or she will explain the reason for rejection using the comment field. Comments are only viewable on the edit page.

Comments can also be made in-line, though one should refrain from doing this unless it is really necessary.

To include an in-line comment, enclose the comment within standard HTML comment tags:

<!-- This is a comment. -->


Cross references

Cross-references are rendered on the website as follows: (see September 5, 1989)

The code for a cross-reference is:

(see [[link of timeline entry]])


(see [[link of timeline entry]] and [[link of timeline entry]])


(see [[link of timeline entry a]], [[link of timeline entry b]], and [[link of timeline entry c]])


(see also [[link of timeline entry]])

If you refer to another event in the text of a timeline entry, include a cross-reference to that entry. Cross-references may be inserted mid-sentence or at the end of a sentence. If at the end of a sentence, place the period after the parentheses.



Link any entities (people, organizations, corporations, etc) that participate in an event by using the “add entity” tab. When you add an entity using this method, it is automatically linked to the event as an “active participant” and appears in the wiki text area as (+ [name of entity]). To change the entity to a passive participant, change the + to a - so it appears as (- [name of entity]).

Note on countries: Countries, or rather states, are essentially political organizations—a population of people that is organized, controlled, or held together by a set of power relationships. Include countries as entities only when the country is being referred to as a state, not a location. As a general rule, if you can substitute the name of the country with its government (e.g. replace the US with the United States government), then you should include it as an entity. For example if you are describing an event in which the US signs a treaty with another government, the two countries would be linked to the event as entities (active). But if you are writing about an event in which a person travels to the US, you would not link the entity to the event.

Type/Example Active Participant Passive Participant Observer No relationship
An entity that actively participated in the event that is being profiled AND whose actions took place during the period of time described by the display date.
Ex: A person who gives a speech, writes a memo, or gives an order. A company that wins a contract, goes bankrupt, or commits a crime. A country that invades another country, signs a treaty, or votes on a UN resolution.

An entity that did nothing significant, but who was nonetheless present at the event being profiled.
Ex: Attendees of a meeting or conference.

An entity that was the recipient of something important.
Ex: A person who receives a letter, award, or secret memo.
Entities who are not named in the event but whose participation is implied.
Ex: The White House issued a statement today: The entity is the "Bush administration."
Targets of investigations.
Entities convicted by a court of law, whether present or in absentia.
Entities named in a lawsuit.
Entities whose participation is suspected, but not confirmed (even if disputed by entity).
Person who is fired from a job, government post, etc.
Entities that are criticized or accused of having done something.
Ex: A columnist in the newspaper criticizes a government official - The government official is a passive participant
Entities that no longer exist, but which are referred to in the text of an entry.
Ex: A deceased person, a company that is no longer in business.
Entities that are reported to be on a list.
Ex: A militant organization who is included on the US State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Entities that are referred to in a statement made by an active participant.
Ex: Bush says in a speech, "Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." Iraq is a passive participant.
Entity whose comments about something are included in the text of the entry
Entity who included in the description of another entity, but who is in no way connected to the event being profiled.
Ex: "Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, ..." Jimmy Carter is not listed as an entity associated with this entry.
Ex: "A German inquiry into Mounir El Motassadeq, an alleged member of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell with Mohamed Atta, ..." Mohamed Atta is not listed as an entity associated with this entry.
Entity who is included in the description of an event that did NOT take place during the time period specified by the display date.
Ex: To provide some context for the event being described in the entry, a brief description of another event is also included. Entities mentioned in the other event are not listed as an entity associated with this entry.
Name of country is mentioned, but is referred to as a place, NOT a state power (seee above).



Primary sources

This feature of the event edit is not yet working.



Each timeline has a set of categories and subcategories by which the timeline's entries can be sorted. To assign one or more categories to a timeline entry, select the “add category” tab and click on the desired category.


Upload Image

Click the "browse" button to upload an image from your computer. Please to not upload extremely large images. DO NOT upload anything that violates the image policy as described on the "Terms of Use" page.


Image Caption

Provide a brief description of the image. This will appear as a caption below the image.


Image Source

Write the name of the source.


Minor Edit

If you are making a very minor change to the entry, please check the “Minor Edit” box, so the entry can be expedited through the review process. (If you check this box and the edit is not actually a minor edit, the editors will uncheck the box and will not expedite it.)


Can be viewed and edited by other project members

When this is selected, other contributors who are members of this project may view, edit, and submit this entry if you save it as a draft, i.e., select the “Save and work on later” button.


Save and work on later

Click this button to save your entry so you can continue working on it later. The entry will be saved as a draft. You can work on it later by going to:
“My Home” => “My Entries” => “Drafts”
Or by going to the timeline and clicking ”show draft events only.”



Before making a submission, it is highly recommended that you first preview the submission. By clicking on preview button, you will see the event as it will appear in the timeline.