VCH Style guidelines

A (26) | B (23) | C (51) | D (17) | E (14) | F (15) | G (11) | H (21) | I (11) | J (5) | K (1) | L (12) | M (17) | N (15) | O (11) | P (37) | Q (3) | R (31) | S (22) | T (15) | U (9) | V (1) | W (6) | Y (4)

Style guideline item

  • abbeys and other religious houses


    • The estate was held by Westminster Abbey.
    • the monks of Ramsey Abbey
    • the community of Dunster Priory 


    • The abbey of Westminster.
    • The monks of the abbey of Ramsey
    • The priory of Dunster

    The name of the building, however, if used in an architectural context, should also use an initial cap. For example:

    • Beaulieu Abbey now houses the National Motor Museum
    • Newstead Abbey was the home of the 6th baron Byron of Rochdale.
  • Abbots

    It will often suffice to refer to, e.g., bishops and abbots by the title of their offices. If it is necessary to give a personal name also, a surname where known should be added to or substituted for a forename.

    • Abbot Thurston of Peterborough
    • Thurston, Abbot of Peterborough
  • Abbreviation of figures

    Use the least number of figures, except for numbers from 10 to 19 standing alone or in addition to hundreds or thousands. Follow the same ruling for dates, but never repeat only three out of four figures in a date.


    Collective numbers in figures must not be abbreviated, and must be given in full.


  • account (abbreviation)

    In the case of financial documents, abbreviate as acct without full point in footnotes. For example:

    • TNA, SC 6/HenVIII/3074. This is an undated and worn membrane from an acct roll, apparently for the Daubeney estates.
  • acre, acres

    Abbreviate as a. whether singular or plural.

    When using in text, add a space between the figure and the unit:

    • 15 a.
    • In 1086 the manor had 12a. of meadow.
    • The inclosure award dealt with 512 a. 1 r. 5 p. of arable land. 

    See also: hectare, hectares (unit of measurement), rods and perches

  • action (civil law)

    When describing proceedings in equity or civil law, action, cause, suit or action should be used. Case applies only to proceedings in common law.

  • Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum

    Use the edition of C.H. Firth and R.S. Rait, abbreviate to Acts & Ords of Interr. I, 123.

    See: public records (published)


  • Acts of Parliament and bills (guide to use)

    Some information about the history of the classification and recording of Statutes, together with a full explanation of the method of citing Original Acts in the House of Lords Record Office, is set out in Archives 3, 201–8.

    References in VCH will nearly always be to printed texts. Note, however, that the title ‘Act’ is printed on many texts that are in fact bills, in particular 18th-century private bills, which may differ in detail from the Acts as passed.

    Acts passed before 1483 should be referred to by their conventional historical names if any, which should be printed in, and by the regnal year, the statute number if there is one, and a chapter number, using abbreviations, punctuation and spacing as in the following examples. The particulars should be taken from Statutes of the Realm.

    • Statute of Westminster II, 13 Edw. I, c. 37
    • 5 Ric. II, Stat. II, c. 5

    Public General Acts and Private Acts declared public passed between 1483 and 1962 inclusive should be cited by sessional date and chapter number in arabic numerals, as set out, up to the end of 13 Anne, in Statutes of the Realm and, from 1 Geo. I, in the Chronological Table of the Statutes. If a short title has not been given in the text and cannot readily be deduced from the text, it should precede the numerical reference in the footnote. Acts passed since 1 January 1963 should be likewise cited, except that the year of grace replaces the sessional date. Where only part of a long Act is relevant, the section-number or numbers should be given; for much of the 18th century the Acts as printed in ‘black-letter’ type by the king’s printer in sessional volumes have no section-numbers, and if a precise reference is needed the page-number should be given. Notice that the term ‘Private Act’ is here used in its proper sense of an Act not founded upon a public bill.

    • Norwich Worsteds Act, 26 Hen. VIII, c. 16
    • Brawling Act, 1 Mary, Sess. 2, c. 3
    • New Forest Act 1800, 39 & 40 Geo. III, c. 86, s. 11

    Acts that are not public or declared public passed before 1798 should be cited in the same way as Public General Acts, including non-ital. arabic numerals, with the addition of Private Act at the end of the citation. For similar Acts from 1798 on, the precise category should be stated. The categories and the periods during which they are distinguishable are:

    • 1798–1802: Local and Personal; Private and Personal, not printed.
    • 1803–1814: Local and Personal; Local and Personal, not printed.
    • 1815–1868: Local and Personal; Private, not printed.
    • 1869– present: Local; Private; Private not printed [up to 1873]; Private, not printed or numbered [from 1874].

    For example:

    • Aston Magna Incl. Act, 6 Geo. I, c. 8 (Private Act)
    • Oakham Canal Act, 39 & 40 Geo. III, c. 86 (Local and Personal)
    • Napier Divorce Act, 2 & 3 Vic. c. 52 (Private, not printed)

    Wherever possible, the statutory short title of an Act should be used. Some Acts passed between 1800 and 1861, and most Acts passed since, have a short title specified within the Act itself; in addition the Short Titles Act 1896 (59 & 60 Vic. c. 14) and the Statute Law Revision Act 1947 (11 & 12 Geo. VI, c. 62, sch. 2) gave statutory short titles retrospectively to many Acts which until then had lacked them.

    See also the Chronological Table of Statutes, the lists in each Sessional Volume of Acts, and the Lords’ Journals.

    The citation of the original manuscript Acts in the House of Lords Record Office should, when used, follow the Parliament Office practice of numbering all the Acts of each session with arabic figures in a single series, and should be followed by (Original Act) in parentheses. Where only part of a long Act is relevant the ‘press’ number and line number should be given.


  • Acts of the Privy Council

    Cite as Acts of PC 1386–1410, 123 or Acts of PC 1452–7, 123.

    See: public records (published)


  • Alumni Cantabrigienses

    Cite as Alumni Cantab. to 1751 or Alumni Cantab. 1752–1900.

  • Alumni Oxonienses

    Cite as Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714 or Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886.

  • ampersands

    The ampersand as a symbol for 'and' should only be used in the context of company names. Even in such case, it should only be used where the ampersand was part of the original company name (for example Marks & Spencer).

    It may, where appropriate, be used in quoted text, but & c. for etc. should not be used.

    See: company names; proprietary names; etc.

  • ancient parish

    An ancient parish was a medieval administrative unit for both ecclesiastical and civil matters. VCH applies the term to all pre-1830 parishes.

    See: parish

  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

    Use the Whitelock translation of 1961, - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Revised Translation (Westport CT, 1961) -  cited as D. Whitelock (ed.), A-S Chron. (1961), 123.


  • Anglo-Saxon personal names

    See: forenames

  • anonymous works/authors
  • ap (Welsh - son of)
  • archaeological

    Abbreviate as Archaeol. in journal titles in footnotes.

    See: Articles (in academic journals)

  • Architectural

    Abbreviate as Archit. in journal titles in footnotes.

    See: Articles (in academic journals)

  • Architectural styles (names of)

    When used as a proper noun, use an initial cap. for example:

    • Adamesque
    • Italianate
    • Gothic
  • Architectural terms

    For the correct and consistent usage of architectural terms, please consult and use the English Heritage Thesaurus of Monuments:

  • articles (in academic journals)

    Articles in journals: The first citation in each article should give the author’s initials and surname, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume (and, if necessary, series), the year to which the volume relates (which may not necessarily be the year of publication), and either a page-number or, if the reference is to the article as a whole, the range of page numbers occupied by the entire article. Part-numbers need not be cited, unless each part is paginated separately, or different parts of a volume were published in different years.

    Volume numbers should be in arabic. It is not necessary to separate journal numbers from the title by a comma. Volume number and date, should be followed by a comma, then page number(s). Where it is necessary to cite a part, it also be in arabic and separated from the journal number by a full point. For examples of spacing, punctuation, the use of inverted commas and italics, etc see the examples given here.

    Journal titles may be abbreviated using the forms given here for each component of the title (Journal, Transactions, Archaeological, Historical etc.); standard abbreviations have been devised for the most frequently cited journals. Note that in the case of journal titles the abbreviation Jnl has been adopted rather than Jour. as recommended by ODWE.

    The main county antiquarian journal may be cited merely by its initials in the VCH for the county in question but should be abbreviated using standard abbreviations in the VCH for other counties: thus WAM for Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine in VCH Wilts., but Wilts. Archaeol. Mag. elsewhere.

    • P. Riden, ‘The origin of the new market of Chesterfield’, Derbs. Archaeol. Jnl 97 (1977), 1–24
    • P. Riden, ‘The output of the British iron industry before 1870’, Econ. Hist. Rev. 2nd ser. 45 (1977), 233–56
    • S. Kelly, `Trading privileges from 8th-century England’, Early Medieval Europe 1.1 (1992), 4

    Subsequent references within the same article should use the author’s surname and a short title.

    • Riden, ‘New market’, 12
    • Riden, ‘Output’, 240

    It may sometimes be necessary to give references to popular local history magazines, society newsletters or more general periodicals, which may or may not have a formal structure of volume numbers, or may have one which is less widely used than the date of publication. Such references may be to articles with an author and title or to short, anonymous paragraphs. The exact form of reference will depend on the nature of the periodical and of the item being cited; the following example illustrate different approaches; see also newspapers.

    • P. Riden, ‘Early settlement on the site of Chesterfield’, Derbs. Miscellany 6.2 (1973), 1–10
    • ‘Grafton Regis’, Northants. County Mag. May 1931, 4–7
    • ‘Bete Hall’, Chesterfield & District Local Hist. Soc. Newsletter, no 47 (2000), 8–12
    • Towcester & District Local Hist. Soc. Newsletter, Winter 2000, p. 1

    See also: Articles (in books and edited volumes); Bibliographical style for books, edited volumes or articles

  • articles (in books and edited volumes)

    The first citation in each article should give the author’s initials and surname, the initials and surname of the editor of the book, the title of the book, the year of publication, and either the page referred to or, if the reference is to the entire essay, the first and last page of the essay.

    • D. Crook, ‘The Warren charter of the earl of Derby of 1251’, in P. Riden (ed.), Essays in Derbyshire History presented to Gladwyn Turbutt (2002), 16

    Subsequent citations within the same article should use the author’s name and a short title.

    • Crook, ‘Warren charter’, 17

    See also: Articles (in academic journals); Bibliographical style for books, edited volumes and articles

  • Associated Architectural and Archaeological Societies

    Cite their journal in footnotes as Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers 1, 123.

    See: Articles (in academic journals)

  • Association

    Use the abbreviation Assoc. in journal titles in footnotes.

    See: Articles (in academic journals)

Style guideline info

  • Abbreviations

    The authority for most points concerning abbreviations is the Oxford Guide to Style, Chapter 3, Abbreviations and Symbols.

    Try to make the abbreviations as intelligible as possible, even at the expense of slightly greater length. Short words are best not abbreviated; do not, for example, reduce ‘Feudal’ to ‘Feud.’ or ‘July’ to ‘Jul.’ In references excessive use of abbreviations in infrequently cited works is to be avoided. Works or institutions that are commonly cited in a particular volume should, however, be heavily abbreviated in that volume. Use abbreviated titles generally if they are frequently cited within the text and cross referenced in the list of abbreviations. Spell out in full if they occur only infrequently.

    • Abbreviations should be used primarily in references.
    • Editors will wish to devise their own abbreviations of frequently cited sources specific to their county.
    • All such abbreviations should be listed alphabetically in the preliminary pages of each volume. If standard abbreviations for periodicals or reference works are mentioned, ensure that they are also included in the list.

    General principles

    • Avoid excessive use of punctuation after abbreviations, unless absolutely necessary.
    • Accepted abbreviations such as HMSO, (His/Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), Oxford DNB (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), TNA (The National Archives), EETS (Early English Text Society) or VCH (Victoria County History) do not require any punctuation
    • Partial abbreviation such as Rot. Chart. (Rotuli Chartarum 1199—1216) or Cath. Rec. Soc. (Catholic Record Society) should carry full stops.
    • For further discussion of use of full point, in abbreviations refer to the Oxford Guide to Style, Chapter 5, Abbreviation

    See also: Punctuation.