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SFE Contributor Guidelines

What software and format should I use for writing SFE3 entries? See here. But don't worry if you are using a standard word processor to write a new entry: we can cope with most formats.

How should I edit an existing entry? As a basis for extensive revision, especially of a long entry, you should preferably ask David Langford for a clean copy of the latest version of the entry (which may have changed since the online version: the master text is perpetually changing but we do not upload new versions every day or for every minor fix). In this case you will be considered as "holding the baton" for your assigned entry or entries and may edit freely without using [[double square bracket]] markers as discussed below.

Please don't start your edit from the Second Edition (1993 or 1995 CD-ROM) text, which will almost invariably have changed. Even if the existing Third Edition entry was originally written by you, please don't send a revision of your own draft document, which will have been copyedited and house-styled for the SFE site.

Safe Copying. It is best not to copy entry text directly from as a basis for revision. This is because the site displays entries with various special codings outside our control, which complicate later editing and reformatting. Here is a recommended workaround: Rather than copy and paste from the entry itself, click the About This Entry button at the head of the entry and then, on the page that appears, click on Printer-friendly version of the entry in the panel at the right. This displays the entry in a relatively simple format which may be safely copied and edited. Please omit the identifying boilerplate ("Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight", etc) which follows the entry.

If you copy an entry in this way from the website via your browser for minor editing or addition of further detail, it's advisable to mark all your changes and additions in [[double square brackets]] thus. A deletion should be shown as [[]], indicating that text has been removed. We ask contributors not to remove existing links unless they are genuinely erroneous or inappropriate: links are important connective tissue in the SF Encyclopedia enterprise. See Links (Internal Cross-References) below for how to specify new links. Dashes, if you're unable to insert proper en dash codes (–), should be clearly marked as -- or (better because more distinctive) == for David Langford's attention; single-hyphen dashes - like this - should be avoided.

A note of reassurance. The most complex portions of the notes that follow deal with the protocols for bibliographical Checklists in author entries, mostly written in-house and mostly by John Clute. For film and television entries, the most important sections after General Notes on Style immediately below are Links (Internal Cross-References), Date Formats and External Links.

General Notes on Style

The best style guide is perhaps the SF Encyclopedia itself. When in doubt, consult entries of a comparable nature to whatever you may be working on. Major and highly influential authors generally receive longer entries, but a prolific author is not necessarily a major author.

Contractions and colloquialisms are generally to be avoided: use "is not" rather than "isn't", and so on.

The editorial "we" is reserved for editorial matter jointly written by the SFE editors (such as the Introduction) and should not be used in entries. For example, rather than "We consider X to be an author of the highest importance", one might write "X is an author of the highest importance" or (slightly more qualified) "It is widely accepted that X is an author of the highest importance".

For the sake of concision, academic preambles and codas should be omitted. Do not, for example, begin with "This entry will argue that ..." or finish with "This entry has shown ..."

Links (Internal Cross-References)

When preparing entries, internal links to other entries are best marked with curly brackets: we have software that automatically converts such marks to active web links. Thus either {Ansible} or {ansible} would become the link Ansible. SFE practice is to link authors by their surnames only: Isaac {Asimov} and Lois McMaster {Bujold} rather than {Isaac Asimov} and {Lois McMaster Bujold}; James {Tiptree}, Jr rather than James {Tiptree, Jr}. Do not include an initial article in a title link, and do not italicize titles which are links, except for any initial article: A {Clockwork Orange} and The {X-Files}, becoming A Clockwork Orange and The X-Files. Please give names in full, especially on their first appearance in an entry: Isaac {Asimov} and not just {Asimov}.

We do not link to cross-reference entries which exist only to direct readers to another entry. For example, the entry for Paul French says only "Pseudonym of Isaac Asimov." If a Paul French title is under discussion, the correct form of link is "Isaac {Asimov} as Paul French", not Paul {French}.

Repeating Links within an Entry. In the Second Edition, we made it a policy not to repeat any links within an entry – an entry on Robert Silverberg might mention Isaac Asimov or Near Future several times, but only the first mention would appear as an active link. For the online edition, we repeat links whenever appropriate. Author links are now generally made whenever the author's name is repeated; other links are made whenever it seems appropriate to do so within the flow of the entry, and according to the weight given the term.

Variant and Parenthetical Links. If a linked headword doesn't fit naturally into a sentence, slight variations are permissible and allowed for by our checking and link activation software: for example, the adjectival phrase {Genetically Engineered} rather than the exact headword {Genetic Engineering}. Plurals are not a problem: {City} links happily to the {Cities} entry. If a link or cluster of multiple links still seems unwieldy in context, you can put it into parentheses: (see {Mars}) – not {see Mars}, please. Multiple parenthetical links appear in alphabetical order separated by semicolons, thus: (see {Space Flight}; {Space Habitats}; {Space Stations}). The space-saving > symbol seen throughout previous editions of the SFE – "> {Mars}" – is no longer used; we always now spell it out as "see".

Links to Nonexistent Entries should be avoided, unless the missing entry is to be supplied as the same time as the new or revised entry containing such links. The SFE unfortunately contains a number of marked-up links where contributors intended to write the relevant entries but never got around to it: we would rather not add to their number and would much prefer to eliminate them. (David Langford can provide a list.)

Date Formats

Book Dates. Book publication dates appear in boldface: Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (1950). Previous short story or magazine versions of the text are not boldfaced: Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (Octember 1948 Astounding; exp 1950). However – this practice is new to SFE3 – not only first book publication dates but variant title (vt) and revision (rev) dates are also boldfaced: Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (1950; rev 1960; vt Toad Princess of Altair V 1965; vt Gender Pirates of the Blood Asteroid 1998).

Short Story Dates. The first mention of any short story in an entry should be followed by its original publication details. For a magazine: "Nightfall" (September 1941 {Astounding}) – note that the year is not here boldfaced. If the story first appeared in an original anthology, the format is: "A Toy for Juliette" (in Dangerous Visions, anth 1967, ed Harlan {Ellison}). Similarly, if the first appearance was in an author's own collection: "Quiddities" (in The Second Best Stories of Brian Aldiss, coll 1980).

Music Ascriptions Individual songs/tracks are treated as analogous to short stories, with the title in quotes but the date in italics rather than roman. Albums are treated like books, with the title in italics but the date in italics rather than boldface. Hence examples as follows:

  • "Song Title" (1990) – song/track referred to in isolation.
  • Great Big Album (1992) – album reference.
  • "Song Title" (in Great Big Album, 1992) – song/track as part of album, analogous to our story-in-anthology protocol. Special case: this example is potentially confusing if an album title is, or ends with, a plausible year number. If the album 1999 came out in 2000, we clarify this with "Song Title" (in 1999, album 2000).
  • "Song Title" (1990; in Great Big Album, 1992) – as above but also noting prior release as a single.

Author/Artist/Creator Dates. See the SFE text for examples of usage. Do not add "b." or "d." when listing author dates within an entry, but put (1900-1980), or (1950-    ) with four spaces, or (?1800-?1850), or even (?   -?   ) with three spaces after the question mark. All date ranges are now given full out: 1900-1980, not 1900-80 (the shorter form was often used in SFE2 for date ranges other than birth-death, but should never be used in SFE3 except when occurring thus in a book, story or essay title). Use BCE and CE where necessary for dates: (200-100 BCE) or (50 BCE-10 CE). Spell out circa for approximate dates: "circa 1800" and not "c1800" as often used in SFE2.

Other "Created Media" Dates. Films, radio and television productions, music releases and games are dated in italics: for example 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Thus the entry for 2001 now begins "Film (1968)." Italic dates are also used in Checklists of albums etc following music entries. Individual issues of comics are treated as analogous to short stories and dated in roman like magazines: Encyclopediaman (December 1990). Comics assembled in book form as graphic novels or collections are treated like books, dated but with "graph" before the date: Encyclopediawoman Conquers the Galaxy (graph 2000) for an assembled serial tale or The Adventures of Encyclopediaperson (graph coll 2000) for a collection of individual episodes. Theatre performances, perhaps not very logically but with a view to the ephemeral nature of a single performance, are dated in roman: an example might be The Play What I Wrote (first performed 1977; 1980), where the boldface date marks book publication of the script.


Any work which has won a Hugo, Nebula or Locus Award should have the fact duly noted in its or its creator's entry, with a link. Linked mentions of other awards are optional. Instances of being shortlisted or nominated for an award are not normally listed unless there is some cumulative interest, as for example: "she has been a Hugo fiction finalist on 25 occasions without ever winning". For Worldcon and Eastercon guests of honour, you may include a {Worldcon} or {Eastercon} link as appropriate in the see also list below the main entry text.

Extended Ascription Practice

SFE3 has added two new clarifying terms which, like "chap" for chapbook and "dos" as in the Ace Double format, appear after the date. (2007 ebook) denotes a first publication in Ebook form; and (2007 web) denotes a work first appearing on a website that cannot be classed as a web magazine. Example: Geoff Ryman's 253 (1996 web; vt 253: The Print Remix 1998). It is not necessary to add "web" for a story published in a webzine whose entry explains its on-line nature: "Some Short Story Title" (January 2001 Strange Horizons). But if the webzine is not so significant as to merit its own entry, "web" conveys useful information: "Some Short Story Title" (February 2001 Perlustrations web), where Perlustrations has no separate SFE3 entry.

Short story ascriptions should always include the periodical or anthology of first publication, routinely omitted in SFE2 for reasons of both space and lack of bibliographical resources. Ideally we give the periodical issue date with enough accuracy to identify the issue: month plus year for most sf magazines, day plus month plus year for fortnightlies, weeklies and dailies. Hence H G Wells's "The New Accelerator" (December 1901 Strand) rather than just "The New Accelerator" (1901) as in SFE2. If you can't trace the source, write (1901 xxxx) and the editors will try to sort it out.

Abbreviated terms are always used within ascriptions to keep them tightly compressed: ed rather than edited by, trans rather than translated by, rev rather than revised, exp rather than expanded, vt rather than variant title, 2vols rather than "in two volumes". Thus (1979; exp rev 1980 2vols) or (2000 3vols; rev 2005). Or a short story title might be followed by (in Dangerous Visions, anth 1967, ed Harlan Ellison).

However, with space limitations removed we now expand abbreviated terms outside ascription brackets in the main entry text: e.g. in "Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek (coll 2001) ed David Langford", the "ed" now becomes "edited by". Similarly, the compressed "prod" and "dir" in film/tv entries can become "produced" and "directed" (or sometimes "producer" or "director"), and "50min episode" or "100 mins" spelt out as "50-minute episode" and "100 minutes". The new term "des", temporarily introduced in Games entries, is already expanded as "designed by".


Checklists and Series Titles. All entries for persons who have published relevant books – authors, artists, critics, editors – now include a Checklist following the entry text. This organizes the titles as one or more bullet lists. See Checklist Format below for further details. Following the introduction of Checklists, we no longer require all titles in a series to be listed within the body of the entry, though obviously all sf series titles must be listed in the Checklist. We leave it to contributors' discretion as to whether or not to include every title in the entry body, a decision which will be weighted by the importance of the author, and/or the importance to that author's work of the series in question, and/or the length of the series. Checklists for authors whose sf works form only a small part of their output may be very selective, and are typically headed "works (selected)" or "works (highly selected)".

Checklist Format. An author Checklist begins with the author's full real name in HTML Header 3 tags. It continues with birth and death information on separate lines, not including the question marks which indicate unknown dates at the head of the entry: if the dates are (?   -1947), birth should be followed by a simple blank or by birthplace information alone. Next comes a list of published works which may be subdivided as appropriate into fiction (the default category, itself perhaps divided to deal separately with major series), nonfiction, and works as editor, each division presented as a bullet list. Please consult editors in complex cases where it is not self-evident how to break the default category down into sub-categories. This should not happen often. An about the author (or for theme entries, further reading) list of critical works may follow. Relevant external links are added as a final bullet list, concluding the Checklist. For further details, see comments after this demonstration outline entry for imaginary author Fred X Bloggs:

Bloggs, Fred X

(1930-    ) US academic and author of the brief Zymurgy series which begins with Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (Octember 1948 Astounding; exp 1950; vt Toad Princess of Altair V 1965) ...

[Entry continues to list and assess his major works. We skip to the closing words of the main entry text:]

... Bloggs may yet create a work of merit. [PN/JC/DRL]

see also: Clichés; Paranoia.

Frederick Xavier Zachary Bloggs

born Nowhere, Oklahoma: 1 April 1930





  • Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (New York: Shark House, 1950) [exp from 1948 Astounding story: Zymurgy: hb/A N Artist]
    • Sex Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (New York: Shark House, 1960) [rev of the above: Zymurgy: pb/uncredited]
      • Toad Princess of Altair V (London: Badger Books, 1965) [vt of the above: Zymurgy: pb/Frank Frazetta]
    • Gender Pirates of the Blood Asteroid (London: Gollancz, 1998) [vt of original book: Zymurgy: hb/nonpictorial]
  • Whip Queens of the Scarlet Planetoid (New York: Shark House, 1952) with Pel Torro [coll of linked stories: Zymurgy: hb/A N Artist]

individual titles

  • Who Put Back the Clock? (Melbourne, Victoria: Pommy Press, 1970) [pb/]
  • Ode to the Lash (London: Fladge Press, 1979) [poem: chap: pb/uncredited]

works as editor

  • Great SF Stories of Chains and Bondage (New York: Perverse Press, 1970) [anth: pb/photographic]

about the author

  • Brian W Aldiss. "Fred X Bloggs: Lord, Take This Cup from Me" (Winter 1965 SF Horizons) [pp14-22: mag/]
  • Phil Stephensen-Payne. Fred X Bloggs: Hack Supreme: A Working Bibliography (Leeds, West Yorkshire: Galactic Central Publications, 1990) [bibliography: chap: pb/nonpictorial]


  • Fred X Bloggs
  • Zymurgy fan site
  • Internet Speculative Fiction Database

Note that "Checklist" is normally capitalized in an entry's references to its own Checklist – e.g. "for details see Checklist" or "[for subtitle see Checklist]". The latter formula is used to deport subtitles of inordinate length from the entry text: Short Version of Interminable Victorian Title [for subtitle see Checklist] (1880); a list of such works may be prefaced with [for subtitles see Checklist] before the first title. Other bibliographers' checklists are not so capitalized except where context requires: we write "E F Bleiler's checklist" but "The Checklist of Fantastic Literature (1948) by E F Bleiler".

Subheadings within Checklists are typically works, works (selected), works (highly selected), works as editor (not edited works as initially used in SFE3), about the author (if suitable biographical, bibliographical or critical cites are available), and links (always present even if no link is given). Significant series (if any) are grouped together under series titles preceded by series at the head of the Checklist, as with Zymurgy above. Subsequent non-series listings typically begin individual titles (as distinct from series; we formerly used but have abandoned singletons). Further subdivisions are possible, e.g. works as editor: nonfiction (as distinct from the default assumption of fiction) or works as editor: scholarship. We do not normally subdivide very short Checklists to this extent.

Checklist Comment Fields

In each Checklist entry, after the standard "Title (Location: Publisher, Year)" information beloved of academics, we add a comment field in square brackets which gives or repeats SFE ascription information, series affiliation, hb/ or pb/ for hardback or paperback, and cover artist where known. Note the successively indented listings of vt and rev variants: the vt which is a retitling of the original rather than of the revision is singly indented (like the listing of the revision) rather than doubly (like the listing of the vt of the revision). The principle is simple when seen on the page, though perhaps hard to describe: each work that is a changed version of an earlier work is always placed one indent in from that earlier work. A routine paperback reprint would not merit an additional listing unless the text were significantly rev(ised), as is assumed above, or exp(anded) or cut.

The hb and pb indicators should always be followed by / and then by the closing square bracket of the comment field if the cover artist or design is unknown: [... hb/] or [... pb/]. Do not indicate an unknown artist or design with a question mark. The cover artist slot may also contain "nonpictorial" for purely typographic designs, or "photographic": [... hb/nonpictorial] or [... pb/photographic]. If a book has cover artwork but the artist is not named and cannot be ascertained, [... pb/uncredited] may also be used. As well as hb/ and pb/, we use the self-explanatory [... binding unknown] for works whose format has not been ascertained; these include pre-1850 books, generally issued in unillustrated wraps for binding, many later French/Continental titles, and other non-English-language editions. We also use na/ – standing for "not applicable" – na/nonpictorial, or na/Jim BURNS (substitute any artist here) for ebooks and CD-ROMs which cannot be assigned a physical format but which often begin with artwork analogous to jacket art or typography; and for broadsheets, calendars and portfolios which are not precisely hb/ or pb/. John Clute's private notation "dw/" for dustwrapper sometimes appears accidentally in comment fields and should always be changed to "hb/"; likewise "hc/" should become "hb/" and "wraps/" should become "pb/". "mag/" is used in the rare cases when we separately list an original magazine publication in the Checklist, for example a foreign-language novel published only in magazine form in the author's home country but translated as a book; this designation is more frequent in about the author and further reading critical cites, for which see below.

The comment field, John Clute points out, can be a receptacle for almost any miscellaneous information. Collaborators, however, are listed after the publication details as shown for the "Bloggs" collaboration with "Pel Torro" above. Prior magazine publication, as above, should be noted in ascriptions within the entry body and repeated in a Checklist comment field.

Order of Precedence in Comment Fields

Here is John Clute's more detailed formulation. Each internal item except the last is followed by a colon and a space. A paragraph sign or pilcrow ¶ is used only very rarely at the beginning of a comment field to mark the preferred English translation of a non-English-language work.

    1) LITERARY NATURE. The never-stated default is "book-length fiction". Alternatively, one and only one of the following:
  • [bibliography
  • [nonfiction
  • [novelette
  • [novella
  • [play(s)
  • [poem
  • [poetry
  • [screenplay
  • [story
    2) INTERNAL STRUCTURE. The never-stated default is "novel". Alternatively:
  • anth
  • coll
  • coll of linked stories
  • fixup
  • omni
  • [Combinations are sometimes useful in awkward cases – anth/coll or coll/omni.]
    3) EXTERNAL DESCRIPTION. Insert any that are applicable, in this order (e.g. "chap: dos:").
  • broadsheet
  • cd-rom
  • chap
  • dos
  • ebook
  • graph
  • pod
  • portfolio
  • tie
    4) NATURE OF VARIANCE. Applies to variant editions shown indented in the Checklist:
  • cut
  • exp
  • much exp
  • rev (typically "rev of the above")
  • vt (may stand alone or follow another term: "vt of the above:", "cut/exp/rev vt of the above:")
  • anon trans of the above
  • trans by J Random Translator of the above
    5) GENERAL COMMENTS. Can usually be omitted. There are many possibilities here; the following appear frequently:
  • book is dated xxxx rather than the correct yyyy
  • written xxxx (when the date of writing is significantly earlier than the publication date)
  • edited by J Random Scholar (applies to single-author colls edited by third parties – anthology editors are specified after publisher details and before the comment field)
  • to the film (following "tie:" when book and film title are the same)
    6) SERIES AFFILIATION. Always given in boldface if applicable:
  • Marauders
  • Marauders: Death Vengeance (indicates a subseries of Marauders)
    7) COVER DATA. Always the last item in a comment field:
  • hb/Kelly Freas] or any other artist
  • hb/]
  • hb/nonpictorial]
  • hb/photographic]
  • hb/uncredited]
  • pb/any of the above]
  • na/]
  • binding unknown]
  • mag/]

Cities and Countries

An important point here is the distinction between geographical entries tagged as International, which deal with past and present sf in the country or region named in the headword, and those tagged as Themes, which cover sf set in or otherwise importantly invoking the named area. Examples in the much more numerous International category are China, France, Germany and Japan: do not link to these from descriptions of sf tales which merely happen to be set in the given region, but do link to them when describing an author who is {Chinese}, {French}, {German}, {Japanese} and so on. The most important geographical Theme entries are California, London and New York: it is appropriate to link to these from descriptions of fictional disasters and other excitements set in these locations.

In the early days of SFE3 we weren't entirely consistent about protocols for cities named in Checklists as places of birth, death and publication. The standard we have adopted is as follows:

  • Cities whose names stand alone: Beijing, Berlin, Moscow, New York, London, Paris, Rome and Tokyo only. We thus avoid the tiresome pedantry of placing Berlin in Prussia or Germany according to date, and Moscow in Russia or the USSR.
  • Cities given with country only: Any in New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland, and most English-language countries: Edinburgh, Scotland. Large English cities like Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, which cover multiple counties or whose precise county varies awkwardly with time: Birmingham, England. All South American, African or Asian cities other than those specifically mentioned in the preceding section.
  • Cities and towns given with county or state only: English cities and towns not covered above, e.g. Brighton, Sussex. All North American locations except New York as above: Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Toronto, Ontario. Likewise for Australia: Melbourne, Victoria; Sydney, New South Wales.

Checklist Publisher Citations

Checklist book publication cites like (London: Orbit, 2010) are straightforward. Some further points:

  • We do not normally include formal indications like "Ltd" or "Inc" in publisher names.
  • For publishers with two linked names, we arbitrarily expand ampersands into ands, for consistency, and because publishers themselves frequently go back and forth for design or other purposes. Thus it's always "Simon and Schuster" in SFE3, although the publisher itself veers between this and "Simon & Schuster".
  • We give the full name of the publisher (minus Ltd or Inc) when we know it; and give shorter forms when unable to verify full name. (This is, if we see a cite to London: Secker, we will always expand to Martin Secker, as that is an invariant; but if we see Secker & Warburg, we will not expand to Martin Secker and Warburg, as we don't know when the Martin was dropped.) We do not indicate whether or not we know the name we give was truncated in the secondary bibliographies we use: that way lies madness. We do indicate that we always use the fullest form of a publisher's name for that book that we have been able to confirm.

"About the Author" and "Further Reading" lists

The format of such references was highly inconsistent throughout the Second Edition. It seemed natural to bring them into line with the newly introduced Checklist format, with the author's name preceding a book or magazine citation. Thus, from the dummy entry above:

about the author

  • Brian W Aldiss. "Fred X Bloggs: Lord, Take This Cup from Me" (Winter 1965 SF Horizons) [pp14-22: mag/]
  • Phil Stephensen-Payne. Fred X Bloggs: Hack Supreme: A Working Bibliography (Leeds, West Yorkshire: Galactic Central Publications, 1990) [bibliography: chap: pb/nonpictorial]

Other possibilities include an edited work about the author, or a paper/essay in such a work:

  • A N Academic and A N Otheracademic, editors. Proceedings of the MLA Conference on the Works of Fred X Bloggs (Ankh-Morpork: Unseen University Press, 2000) [nonfiction: anth: hb/nonpictorial]
  • Darko Suvin. "Beginning to Formulate a Tentative Understanding of How Fred X Bloggs Ever Got Published" in Proceedings of the MLA Conference on Exceedingly Minor SF Authors (Ankh-Morpork: Unseen University Press, 2001) edited by A N Academic [nonfiction: anth: pp100-150: hb/uncredited]

Please note that these lists are ordered chronologically by publication date, not alphabetically by author surname (but use alphabetical order for multiple references published in the same year). Authors are given as e.g. "Brian W Aldiss" and not "Aldiss, Brian W". For cited anthologies, the editor's name or editors' names should be followed by a comma and "editor" or "editors" as appropriate.

The formula further reading is used for reading lists given after theme or other entries which are not about a specific person. Obvious variations on about the author include about the artist, about the film-maker ...

Miscellaneous Format Notes

Headword Format Changes. We no longer show headwords all in capitals (unless all-caps is the normal spelling, as with SFWA) or give full names in the headword in cases where the full name is not used for publication purposes. Where SFE2 might have headed the entry on the author Fred X Bloggs as BLOGGS, FRED(ERICK) X(AVIER ZACHARY), SFE3 simply has Bloggs, Fred X (no full stop after the X) and gives the full name at the head of the Checklist section as in the example above. Headwords appear in HTML Header 1 tags. Please give the headword a line of its own and continue the entry proper in a new paragraph.

Author Initials. In the restricted space of SFE2, we used a great many initializations: the above exemplar Fred X Bloggs (not, remember, Fred X. Bloggs) would have been referred to as FXB in his own entry though not elsewhere. Now, however, we can loosen up and use "Bloggs" throughout his entry.

Signing Entries. Entries are signed at the end of their main text (but before any see also links, bibliographic Checklist, etc) with the writer's or writers' initials in square brackets: thus [JC] for John Clute, [PN] for Peter Nicholls, and [PN/JC] for a Nicholls entry revised by Clute – though a Fred Bloggs [FB] entry might become [JC/FB] if so heavily revised and expanded by Clute that the latter becomes the major author. Check the Contributors list to make sure your initials don't clash with an existing set. If so, some agreed modification will be necessary – were Judith Clute to contribute an entry, for example, she might appear as [JuC].

Media Series vs Anthologies. Gary Westfahl proposes, and we accept, that individual items in a tv or movie series or serial should be termed "episodes" while items in an anthology compilation – such as the distinct stories within Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) – should be termed "segments".

Quotation Marks. Please use plain double quotes for all story, tv episode or individual song titles, and quoted speech/texts: "The New Accelerator" (1901 The Strand), or "That's one small step for a man ..." Quotes within quotes follow the usual conventions: "I was inspired by H G Wells's 'The New Accelerator'," said A N Author. "Logical" British placement of punctuation, please: "... 'The New Accelerator', and similarly themed stories ..." rather than the American "... 'The New Accelerator,' and similarly themed stories ..." Line breaks within quotations may be conventionally indicated by slashes – with surrounding spaces, please: "This line / that line" rather than "This line/that line". John Clute notes that aside from the use of double rather than single outer quotes, our house style is similar to Penguin's.

Ellipses: please do not include spaces. Write "..." rather than ". . .".

Some Spelling and Style Issues. We use Oxford English spelling with the "ize" rather than "ise" forms of verbs and verb-based words. Below are a few notes on specific cases. Doubtless more will follow; when in doubt, search the working text for examples of established usage.

  • aluminium – spelt thus, though aluminum should be retained in quotations and book/story titles which use the US spelling.
  • artefact – spelt thus, though artifact should be retained in the special cases above.
  • Homo sapiens – thus, with italics and capital H, when referring to our species in ordinary text. (But Homo Sapiens where appropriate in book titles.)
  • lifeform(s) rather than life-form(s) or life form(s).
  • nonfiction – unhyphenated, except of course when citing titles that contain "non-fiction".
  • sf, lower case, is our preferred abbreviation for science fiction. At the beginning of a sentence: "Sf themes ..." rather than "SF themes ..."
  • science-fictional, formerly used without a hyphen, is the preferred SFE adjective form. Avoid the fannish sfnal, stfnal, stefnal, etc. John Clute tends to use "sf-like" when he is referring to elements in a text which incline us to refer to that text as sf, and "science-fictional" when referring to elements in a text which evoke the way genre sf stories narrate sf-like material; but this is perhaps no more than a nuance.
  • twentieth century (adjectivally twentieth-century) is now preferred to SFE2's compressed "20th century", and similarly for other centuries.

External Links

All entries for creators (authors, artists, editors etc) have a links subhead at the bottom, even if there's nothing to put there. This, where applicable, is followed by a bullet list of links to relevant pages on websites other than, with precedence as follows:


  • Creator's own website or websites
  • Any other relevant site or page devoted to the creator [fan sites are often of interest; we rarely list publishers' author pages in this position, since these are generally low on impartial factual content]
  • Internet Speculative Fiction Database page for the creator
  • Internet Movie Database page for the creator
  • Encyclopedia of Fantasy [usually a link or links to EoF theme/motif articles which have been cited in the entry]
  • Picture Gallery [normally inserted by David Langford after confirming that at least one relevant image has been added to the Gallery]

For film and television entries, there are fewer likely options:


Where multiple films are covered in the same entry (see for example Batman Films, Tarzan Films) we give an IMDb link for each; likewise for any spinoff movies listed in a tv series entry.

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