NovaRoma:Style Guide

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This is one of the Nova Roma wiki help files.


The Nova Roma Style Guide is a collection of punctuation and grammar guidelines to standardize the development of the Nova Roma Wiki. The style guide, once completed and approved for linking into the community portal, should be used as the standard for publishing on the Nova Roma wiki site.




  • For plural nouns ending in s, form the possessive with an apostrophe: the girls' book
  • For a singular common noun ending in s, form the possessive with 's: the hostess's invitation
  • For singular proper names ending in s, form the possessive with an apostrophe: Tullius' speech
  • For singular proper names ending in s sounds, form the possessive with 's: the prince's table
  • For plurals of a letter, use 's: the class had four A's, two B's and ten C's
  • Do not use 's for plurals of numbers or letter combinations: the 700s, four hundred RBIs


  • Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence: The senator guaranteed this: The Republic would endure for all time. BUT The consul listed three concerns: the economy, the barbarians and the shortage of food.
  • Colons should remain outside of quotation marks unless the colon is part of the quotation.


  • Do not use a comma before the conjunction of a simple list: The senator, the consuls and the praetor
  • Use a comma to set off hometown or age: Cicero, 31, was elected praetor. Plato, Athens, was the writer of several books.
  • Use a comma between adjectives, only if you could safely insert and in its place: It was a black and blue car BUT NOT It was a large and reference book
  • Use commas to enclose a parenthetic expression: The best way to explore Carthage, short of by chariot, is by litter.
  • Do not use a comma to separate a noun from an identifying term: Pompey the great was in the lead. Cato the Elder was wise.
  • Use commas in the following date formats: January to February, 2007; January 15, 2006; Tuesday, September 7, 2001 but omit the comma in 14 March 2002
  • Use a comma before a conjunction to join two independent clauses: Caesar will march from the north, but Pompey will march from the south


  • Use a dash to note a break in thought of a sentence or a major deviation in the course of the sentence: The legion fought against and crushed the larger barbarian force -- miraculously.
  • Use the dash to separate the final clause of a sentence for emphasis: Caesar aspired to be emperor -- and achieved it.
  • Quote attributions: "Veni, Vidi, Vici" -- Gaius Julius Caesar
  • Do not use more than one dash or pair of dashes in a sentence


  • Should be avoided when possible. It is better to reword or select different quotes that do not need omission of segments.
  • If used after a complete sentence, there should be a period preceding the ellipsis: "No, Hannibal has not been seen since he left the gates. ..."

Exclamation Points

  • Use sparingly, a period is often the better choice.
  • When used as part of a quote, including the exclamation mark in the quotation marks: The ship master roared, "row your oars!"


  • "If you take the hyphen seriously, you will surely go mad." -- Oxford Style Guide
  • May be used with compound adjectives --compound nouns used as adjectives-- such as: Small-business owner
  • Should be used with certain compounds that result in a double vowel or a triple consonant: anti-inflationary policies, bell-like sound
  • With numbers: The assembly was 60-70 strong; 20-20 vision; twenty-four years old


  • Do not use with random information, instead, work this information into the sentence: The great city of Carthage (in North Africa) was once a powerful empire should be The North African city of Carthage was once a powerful empire
  • Translation of foreign or complex terms: The uncivilized barbarian dared to wear the Pratexta (Senatorial Robe) through the streets of Rome.
  • To clarify a persons position or title: The senate demanded that (Tribune) Gracchus make a report of his actions.

Periods (Full Stops)

  • Periods are used to mark the end of a sentence.
  • No periods are used between well known initials, even if they are acronyms: SPQR not S.P.Q.R
  • After abbreviations: Mr. Mrs. Prof.

Question Marks

  • Marks the end of a sentence that asks a question: Did Caesar really say, "the die is cast"?
  • Use within the quotes if part of the quote, outside the quotes if not part of the quote: The soldier asked, "Did I do all I could do?" OR Did the soldier say, "I did all that I can"?
  • Do not use a question mark for indirect questions: The priests asked if auguries had been taken.

Quotation Marks

  • Use around direct quotations.
  • Do not change anything within the quotations marks. Incorrect grammar, spelling, etc should be preserved if they were in the original quote.
  • Capitalize the first word in a quote if it begins a complete phrase, if broken into two parts, do not capitalize the first word of the second quote: "Turn around," he said quickly, "and go home" he added.
  • Use quotation marks around the names of: books, articles, operas, musical compositions, paintings, sculptures, plays, movies, songs, television shows.


  • A semicolon is used to join together two passages which are logically linked but which could grammatically stand as independent sentences: "Early in April Decimus Brutus set out for Cisalpine Gaul; about the same time, it may be presumed, Trebonius went to Asia, Cimber to Bithynia" (Syme)
  • Use semicolons to join two phrases if excessive commas are already used: He had plans to run, swim, jump and play; but he did not have time for any of it.
  • The Semicolon is obligatory in front of certain conjunctions such as: however, moreover, therefore, etc. Only when used as a conjunction joining two independent clauses.

Single Quotes (Inverted Commas)

  • Used for quotes within a quote: He said, "I always thought that he said, 'long live Rome' but it turns out he said, 'long live gnomes.' "

General Spelling Guidelines

As Nova Roma is an international organization with English as an official language, the spelling system should be standardized. The official standard spelling system of Nova Roma is the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). While many words are the same between Webster/Oxford English, the following conversions should be observed:

  • -or becomes -our: Honor becomes Honour, Color becomes Colour
  • -er becomes -re: Theater becomes Theatre

This covers the majority of spelling differences between American/British standard English.


This is a tentative list of sources that will be used, it will be updated as sources are added or not used. Once a standard citation style has been determined, this section will be formatted to show standard citation style.
The AP Stylebook / ISBN 0465004881
The Economist Style Guide / ISBN 1861979169
The Elements of Style / ISBN 020530902X
Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution. ISBN 0192803204

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