VCH Style Guidelines

Regnal years

The common form of dating of medieval government documents, i.e. in the third year of king Edward the third after the Conquest. If a document or event cannot be dated more precisely than any one regnal year use 'in 1330–1, not ‘in 1330/1'.

The rendering 3 Edward III is not to be used.

See also yearsuncertain years; fiscal and regnal years

Saint's Days or Festal Dates

Festal dates or Saint’s Days used to indicate recurrent events (e.g. a fair) or periods (e.g. of access to common grazing) should have the day and month (which can be found in C.R. Cheney (ed.) (rev. M.C.E. Jones)A handbook of dates: for students of British History (Cambridge, 2000)) added in round brackets after them, except for moveable feasts and for Christmas, Lady Day and Michaelmas, the dates of which are assumed to be known to the reader.

days and months

These should be given only exceptionally, to locate events of exceptional importance. If given, they should be expressed in that order, without commas and without ‘st’ etc. except when the day of the month stands alone.

  • 1 January 1234 
  • 1st January

Abbreviations for the months - Apr., Jun., Aug., etc. - should, in the text, be used only in lists, or parenthetical comments.



Use the forms:

  • the 1540s 
  • the forties

Do not use any of the following:

  • the 1540’s
  • the 1540 s
  • the ‘forties. 

Note also:

  • the first (or second) decade of the 20th century

See also: Years, ranges of years


Centuries should be expressed in figures, with a hyphen after the number in attributive use, but not between a further qualifying adjective and the number. The th should be in roman, not in superscript.

  •    in the mid 19th century
  •    a mid 19th-century building

It is better to use ‘century’ in the singular when reference is to a period less than two whole centuries:

  •   In the 13th and early 14th century
  •   In the late 15th century and the 16th
  •   In the late 17th and the 18th century
  •   In the 19th century and the early 20th

Notice in the second and third examples that the definite article is necessarily repeated; in the first and fourth its repetition is optional.

general period names

Use initial capitals for the names

  •      the Middle Ages 
  •      the Neolithic Period
  •      the Iron Age 
  •      the Interregnum

 Capitalisation also applies when the adjectives ‘early’ or ‘late’ are used, for example:

  •      the later Middle Ages

Note also that medieval needs no initial capital.


As far as possible, express all dates according to the year according to modern reckoning, except where it is essential to indicate a date (between 1 January and 24 March) according to the reckonings employed both before and after. in such cases use the form 1234/5.

  • The English method of reckoning the year before 1752 should not be referred to as ‘Old Style’. The expressions ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’ can denote only the Julian and Gregorian calendars respectively.
  • Where necessary, add A.D. or B.C. to a year-date. 

In ranges of dates, use an en-rule, not a hyphen, abbreviating the second date to the minimum that is intelligible, except with numbers between 10 and 19. For example:

  • 1234–7
  • 1760–1830
  • 10–11 July
  • Bishop Longchamp (1189–97)

 Where the forms ‘from … to’ or ‘between … and’ are used, note that both prepositions are required and there should be no abbreviation. for example:

  • from 1692 to 1697, not ‘from 1692–7’ or ‘from 1692 to 97’.

Ranges of dates should not be used where the exact date of an event is uncertain: the form ‘about 1340–60 the manor passed’ should not be used. See also uncertain years.

Avoid phrases like ‘in 1234–7’ and use instead one of the following:

  • c.1235 
  • between 1234 and 1237 
  • in the period 1234–8
  • in the mid 1230s
  • over the period 1234–7 
  • 1234 × 1237. Note that in the last example a multiplication sign, not letter x, is used; that ‘c.’ is set close up to figures; and that ‘mid’ is not linked to a date by a hyphen.


See also: uncertain years; fiscal and regnal years; ranges of numbers; circa, c.

uncertain years

Where the evidence is such that the date cannot certainly be said to be either one year or the next use the form in 1234 or 1235. This should not be confused with a date given in a specific fiscal or regnal year but which cannot be ascertained more precisely.

Do not use the preposition ‘in’ before a date preceded by 'about' or c..

See also: yearsfiscal and regnal years

fiscal and regnal years

Where an event cannot be dated more narrowly than to a fiscal or regnal year use in 1234–5, not ‘in 1234/5’.

If it is not clear from the context that such a date represents no more than one twelve-month period, it may be desirable to add the fiscal year or the regnal year.

See also: yearsuncertain years