The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Join: Join the Waterloo Association

Writing Guide

Writing Guide

Napoleon Series Format and Style Guide


The Napoleon Series has grown into the biggest Napoleonic site on the internet.  It has over 100,000 items available for the public to access for free.  The Napoleon Series is maintained by a team of international scholars who volunteer their time for free. Each of these new items is edited and formatted prior to being placed on the Series.   This involves hundreds of hours of work every year.

The job of the Napoleon Series editors is to ensure that all papers that we publish meet a minimum standard of research and are placed in the correct format.  Checking the spelling and grammar of the paper is the author’s responsibility.


The following guidelines are to be used for all contributions to the Napoleon Series website. This includes articles, book reviews, commentaries and other material. They were developed so that all contributions published by the Napoleon Series will have a uniform look and to minimize the amount of time required to format the papers for the internet.  Unless given prior approval by the editor, all papers must follow these guidelines.  Those papers that do not follow these guidelines will be sent back to the author for revision.

This guide is not intended to limit the content of anycontribution; rather it is designed to aid authors in properly formatting their articles and to reduce the amount of time spent editing the articles.

Quality of Research and Writing

The Napoleon Series strives to maintain a high level of research and writing.  Our standards of research, writing and formatting do not differ greatly from that which would be considered acceptable at any university or professional publication.  Please keep in mind that the Napoleon Series has an international audience, which results in many of our readers not being fluent in English. When you write your paper your goal should be to construct a convincing argument based on the quality of your research. The writing style should be clear and concise and not overwhelm the reader with terminology or your vocabulary.  Avoid obscure words so the average reader does not have to consult a dictionary when he reads your paper.

Format Guide

All contributions to the Napoleon Series must be in either Word, txt, rtf, or html format. Do not send us the paper as a pdf. We will convert the paper into a pdf for placing on the Napoleon Series.

Please use the following formatting when writing your paper:

Consistency.  Do not change your style in your paper.  Always:

— spell a name or place the same way.

— use the same method for identifying a unit.

— be consistent with the use of foreign words or terms.

— if using an uncommon abbreviation or acronym, indicate its meaning with the first usage, and then be consistent with its use thereafter.

Line Spacing and Paragraphs: Paragraphs should be single spaced.  Do not indent at the beginning of a new paragraph. When you start a new paragraph, double space between the two paragraphs.

Columns and Tables: Do not use columns.   Use tables.  This is also very effective when you want to show sub-units of an organization.

Justifying Paragraphs: Use left alignment only. Do not justify both margins of your paragraphs.

Font Size and Type: Use 12 font and Arial.  Do not change the font size or type anywhere in your paper.

Bold: Only use Bold text for the title of the article or subtitles.

Italics: Keep italicizing to a minimum.  We prefer that you italicize foreign words but it is not necessary.

Quotes: If you have a lengthy quote, put it in quotation marks and indent it.  Do not change spellings in quoted passages to meet the language requirements of this editorial policy.

Underlining: Do not underline. When showing the title of a book uses italics

Dates:   Always spell out the month.  Do not use numbers instead of months.   For example: 1 February 1807 instead of 1.2.07

Abbreviations.   Try to avoid using abbreviations.  Should you use them, only use the ones listed below. Otherwise, please check with the editor first:

Units: When giving a unit name, you may use the following abbreviations:

Company: Co (3rd Co)
Battalion = Bn (i.e. 3rd Bn)
Squadron: Sqdn (i.e. 3rd Sqdn)
Regiment = Rgt (3rd Rgt)

Ranks: There are many conventions for the abbreviation of rank and some Napoleonic forces had ranks that had no equivalent in other armies. As a general rule, should you abbreviate ranks, always spell it out the first time you use the rank.   The following abbreviations for rank can be used, however should you choose to use a different abbreviation, you must use the same abbreviation for that rank throughout the paper.  When a unique rank is given please write it in full followed by the abbreviation you intend to use in parenthesis. For example, “Colour Sergeant  (CSgt).” In general terms, officer ranks can be abbreviated as follows:

Lieutenant: LT
Captain: CPT
Major: MAJ
Lieutenant Colonel: LTC
Colonel: COL
Major General: MG
Lieutenant General: LG
General: Gen
Field Marshal: FM

English Spelling and Usage: American and British Commonwealth English have different spellings and usages. Authors may use either style, however please be Consistent in your spelling.

Names: Where possible give the full name of a person when first used, for example, Benjamin Harding, rather than Captain B Harding

Foreign Language Terms:

— Use foreign terms (e.g., non-English words in an English-language article) correctly, not simply to impress or decorate.

— Avoid using a foreign term where a good, accurate English-language equivalent exists, unless use serves to improve clarity (e.g., identifying units of different nationalities by using their designations in their native language), makes a helpful distinction, or is supported by customary usage where English would seem awkward (“Yeagers”, “Jägers”, “Chasseurs”, “Cazadores”, “Caçadores”, or “Cacciatori” instead “Hunters” or “Rangers”).

— When using a foreign term that is not in common use in English, either put in parentheses or in a footnote the English equivalent the first time you use it.

— You may put foreign terms in italics.

— Do not change your style.  If you use the foreign term to describe a unit, always use the same term for that and similar units of the same nation or language-family.  For example: “21eme Légère” or “21st Light”.

— Avoid mixing languages in a single terminological phrase, such as “21eme Light”, or “21st Légère”, or “3rd Chasseurs à cheval” (unless, of course, quoting an historical usage).

Color: Do not use color for either your font or to highlight a table.  Keep all text black.

Bullets and Numbers: if you want to use them, keep them simple — letters or numbers only.  Do not use< indentations or tabs with them.  The editor will indent them, if needed, when the paper is formatted in html.

Use of Footnotes or Endnotes:  Footnotes or endnotes must be included using the footnote function in your word processing program.  The specific format is shown further below in this guide. Use footnotes or endnotes for the following:

— A descriptive footnote to explain something in the text.  This should be rarely done.  If something needs more than one or two sentences to explain it, then a link to another page can be set up. Indicate to the editor that this is what you would like to have done.

— To cite the source where you found the information.

Illustrations:  A picture or a map is often worth 1,000 words.  Feel free to put illustrations in your article.

— We cannot use any illustration that is still protected by copyright, unless you have obtained permission for us to use it – and please state that it has been obtained, and from whom.  If you took the photograph or drew the illustration or map, please indicate that they are yours.

— There are almost 6,000 images on the Napoleon Series that you may use to illustrate your article.  We also have access to a vast image collection.  If you feel that you need an image for your article and can not find one that is not protected by copyright, ask us.

— Ideally, the illustration should be a minimum of 300 dpi.  If you send an image with a lesser resolution, there is a good chance we will not be able to use it.

— When selecting maps, try to select those that best support your text. Sometimes overly detailed maps do not enhance the text and confuse the reader.

— Provide a short caption – no more than twenty words for each illustration.  You should indicate the source of the image with the citation.

Numbers: Numbers from zero to nine should be written as words, while 10 and above using numbers. Figures with four or more numbers should have commas, such as 1,250 or 235,000 and not 1250 or 235000.

Author’s Biography. A brief biography of the author can appear with the  article should the author wish to include it.  Please restrict this to no more than two or three sentences, focusing on your area of interest.

Research Guide

The Napoleon Series has the well earned reputation for being the place to go to on the internet for information on our era.   As our reputation grows, we must ensure that the quality of our writing stays high.  Below are some common areas that we have had problems with in the past.


Copyright is designed to protect the individual’s work and covers written material, images, photograph, and music. The Napoleon Series will not knowingly violate copyright.  The following are the simplified copyright guidelines used by the Napoleon Series:

— All works are protected by copyright for 70 years after the death of the author / creator of the object.

— If the author is not known, than the copyright is from 95 years from date of publication.


Plagiarism is the use of another source’s ideas (including specialized information) or words without stating where you found it, thereby implying they are your own.   To avoid plagiarism, cite the information’s source.  The Napoleon Series has zero tolerance for plagiarism.  Those papers that contain plagiarism will not be published.

Fair Use:

Fair Use is a concept set up by UK copyright law which allows the use of material that would normally be copyrighted, for scholarly or research purposes. Because the Napoleon Series is hosted in the UK , we must follow not only international law, but also UK law.

For the purpose of articles for the Napoleon Series, our working guideline is to limit any given quotation to 500 words or 1% of a copyrighted work’s text, whichever is shorter, and to 800 words or 1% of a copyrighted work’s text total in the article although up to 250 words is allowed from short work. A copyrighted image cannot be used without the legal permission of its owner.

Citing Sources:

We strive for solid, dependable standards of research and, as with any scholarly paper, you must state where you found your information.  This establishes the credibility of your paper.

Please remember that citing sources substantially contribute to the intellectual integrity of an article, reinforces the dependability of its data, and empowers the arguments it presents. Citations also assist interested readers and other scholars to explore related lines of inquiry.

When to cite: You must cite where you found the information in the following cases:

—  When you are quoting from another source.

—  When you provide particularly uncommon or unusual information, or information from an unusual or generally inaccessible source (this permits others to reference it through your work). For example you accessed the information from the Public Records Office.

—  When you draw on information from other sources to formulate or support your ideas.

—  When the idea or information you are using is not your own.

—  If you cite information from the Napoleon Series, you must treat that information like you had obtained it from a book.

You do not need to cite when:

—  The information is common knowledge.  Common knowledge is any information that an informed person on our era should know.  For example:  Napoleon was born on 15 August 1769.   Waterloo was fought on 18 June 1815.

—  When the information is your own.  For example, you measured the width of the bridge at Alcantara (though it may be useful to indicate that you were the source).

How to cite:

—   Book: Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication.  Page numbers where the information can be found.

—  Magazine or journal: Author’s Last Name, First Name, “Name of Article,” Title of Journal, Volume (Month of Publication), Year of Publication, page(s) referenced

—   Website:  Author’s Last Name, First Name (if available). “Title of Article.”  Date of Article (if available). Name of Website. Date You Accessed the Information. URL of website.

—  Public Records Office: Name of item,  Date of Item, Great Britain, Public Record Office, London.

—  Archives de la guerre: Name of item,  Date of Item, France, Archives de la guerre, Service historique de l’armée de la terre, Château de Vincennes, MSS, [hereafter SHAT], Name of Correspondance, Register, or Material, Carton Number

Bibliography or Sources

Include at the end of your paper, a bibliography. It should contain all sources cited in your paper and be in the same format as the citation.  The bibliography should be alphabetized by the first word in the citation,

Tips for Those Who Are not Fluent in English

We welcome and encourage contributions in English from those for whose primary language is not English. As it can be very difficult to edit your work into standard English,  we recommend you try the following:

  1. Write your work in your own language first.   Keep your words simple and your sentences short.   The more complex the words and the longer the sentences, the more difficult it will be to translate it.
  2. Do not use expressions or slang that are unique to your language.
  3. Keep your titles simple: “A History of the French 4th Hussars”
  4. If possible, avoid electronic translators.  Ask a friend to help with the translation.
  5. Ask someone who is a native speaker of English to read your paper and make suggestions.

We also welcome papers written in other languages, however we have no capability to translate them into English or to edit them in the language it is written in.   Even if your paper is not in English, it still must comply with the formatting instructions and contain citations for your sources.

What Happens Once a Contribution is Submitted?

Authors will receive confirmation that their contribution has been received by the Editor. Once the paper had been reviewed and edited another message will sent to the author advising of probable publication on the website.  Authors >will be contacted should their contribution require significant revision before acceptance for publication. Should you have a question or comment on this editorial policy, please contact the Editor at: Contact the Editor


This guide should serve to help contributors in preparing material for publication on the Napoleon Series Website. It will help us to ensure the prompt editing and formatting of your contribution and to ensure consistency in format. When in doubt about a formatting question, authors are encouraged to contact the Editor for clarification.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2007; last updated March 2020