Lehrhaus English Style Sheet
General Style and Formatting
- When in doubt, highlight or embed a comment.
- Footnotes should be used for citations, but extended discussions should be kept to a minimum. In-text citations and hyperlinks should be utilized when possible. When necessary, please refer to the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Leave one space between a punctuation mark and the subsequent sentence.
- In-text citations should go after quotation [e.g., “The Talmud says that one must wash after eating” (Hullin 100a)].
- Numbers: if it’s one word (e.g., four, eleven, fifty) spell in word-form. If the number is two or more words, then indicate with numerical digits.
- Years: BCE and CE, no periods in between.
- Use American spelling (color, center), not British (colour, centre).
- Centuries should not be capitalized (e.g., second, eighteenth)
- Use the Oxford comma (“a, b, and c”; not “a, b and c”).
- Periods and commas go inside quotations, even if not a direct quote (“like this.” “not like this”.) Colons and semicolons go outside.
- Do not precede names with “the.” Write “Rambam states,” not “the Rambam states.” The same applies to book titles: “Minhat Yitzhak states,” not “the Minhat Yitzhak states.”
- Use Sefaradit, not Ashkenazis (and not Ashkenazith).
- When to transliterate:
- Names of books, people, holidays, months, currencies, letters, etc. for which there is no one official or common spelling.
- Halakhic concepts should be transliterated, but defined at first use. Thus, bishul, when it refers to the melakhah, should be transliterated but defined or translated as “cooking” the first time it appears in a section. When it refers merely to the act of cooking, or in a stray reference outside its main context, translate it as “cooking” and do not encumber the reader.
- Do not use Hebrew characters.
- Under certain circumstances, common or official spellings override all of the above rules.
- Avoid doubling consonants, unless the letter has a dagesh, with the exception of a word that looks very strange.
- Use an apostrophe to separate a diphthong (e.g., ne’elam, na’aseh).
- Grammatical prefixes should be separated from the rest of the word by a hyphen, e.g. ha-olam, be-ma’amaro, mi-ma’amakim.
- Heh ha-she’eilah should not be hyphenated; e.g., tziyyon halo tishali.
- If the prefixed word has become a non-signifying proper name, leave out the hyphen. e.g., the name of a city (Rishon Lezion), book (Bamidbar, Vayikra), or parsha (Vayishlach).
- If there are two prefixes, then include only the first one before the dash, e.g. mi-shenikhnas, ve-hasus, not ve-ha-sus.
- Capitalize only the first letter of a word, e.g., Bo’i Ha-ru’ah, Ha-ma’alot Mi-ma’amakim, unless the second part is a word that should be capitalized, e.g. Tosafot Ha-Rosh, Ma’alot Ha-Torah.
- Transliterating vowels
- Shva na is transliterated as an ‘e’ (e.g., peninei, tefila).
- Shva nach should not be transliterated.
- Sometimes, common pronunciation makes a word hard to recognize if written properly; in these cases, bow to common usage, e.g. shtar, not shetar; ktav, not ketav.
- For everything else, use the following chart:
א (as pronounced)
ה h (even when not pronounced)
י i, unless y is pronounced (e.g. Yishma’el, Mitzrayim)
ע (as pronounced)
צ tz (though often the official transliteration has ‘z’ – Zion, for example)
(sheva na) אְ e
(shva nach) (not transliterated)
(kamatz gadol) אָ a (this is the regular kamatz sound)
(kamatz katan) אָ o (e.g. כל = kol)
(patakh) אַ a
(kubutz) אֻ u
(cholam) וֹ o
(chirik) אִ i
(segol) אֶ e (eh at end of word)
(tzeirei) אֵ ei (if pronounced as such)
ai (e.g. מתי = matai)
- Foreign words (Hebrew or otherwise) that are uncommon in English and not proper names should be italicized. For example, Shabbat and Tamuz are not italicized. Tzitzit is italicized).
- Italicize the names of all books (Teshuvot Ha-Rashba, The Brothers Karamazov), except for biblical books (Shemot). If there will be confusion whether the person or book is intended, add “Book of” (e.g., “Book of Yirmiyahu”).
- As a general rule, use English names for biblical books (Genesis, not Bereishit) and characters (Moses, not Moshe). Do not mix and match. Some genres, though, fit better with Hebrew names, so there is some room for discretion.
- Broader collections (Mishna, Tosefta, Bavli, Yerushalmi, Midrash) are not italicized when they stand alone: e.g., Mishna Sanhedrin, but the Mishna.
- When referring to a commentator by name, even when actually referring to his book, do not italicize (e.g., Rashba on Sukka 32a). However, if the work is named in full, it is Hidushei Ha-Rashba.
- Never italicize the titles of articles, chapters, or reference entries, even if they contain or are comprised entirely of foreign words. (e.g., Rashi, Sanhedrin 2a, s.v. “be-shlosha.”)
- Never italicize names or people or places (even when a book is used as a name. The book Hazon Ish is italicized, but the person Hazon Ish is not).
- Currencies (sela, shekel, dinar) and letters (alef, khaf) are never italicized.
- Halakha is italicized. Halakhic is not. Same with aggadic, midrashic, etc.
Citations and references
- For Tanakh translations, use the New Jewish Publication Society of America Tanakh translation as your guide. Keep to the needs and understanding of the Hebrew original as well as the target audience.
- When citing the Bavli, you need only name the masekhet, daf, and amud: e.g., Bava Kama 15b. Preface Tosefta with t., Yerushalmi with y., and Mishna with m. This applies only when citing an actual page in a footnote or parenthetical reference. Specific references in the main text should be spelled out in full: e.g., Yerushalmi Shevi’it is a major source for the laws of shemita. This may be true for the Bavli as well if you are contrasting it with some other rabbinic source: e.g., This sugya appears in a different form in Bavli Nedarim.
- Longer quotes from other texts should be offset by a paragraph break on either side and left indented. Do not enclose the entire excerpt in quotation marks.
- Above and below, not infra and supra
- If citing the previously cited work, use ibid. Same author, different work: idem. Commentary on the most recently cited work: ad loc.
- Dibur ha-mathil is s.v.
- Chapters, volumes, verses, etc:
- 45a for the Bavli
- 10:20 for anything (Mishna, Yerushalmi, Tanakh, Igrot Moshe) for which it works.
- For a responsum in a collection, or a siman without a halakha, use §. For multiple responsa or simanim – §§ 12-14. Thus, when citing from Shulhan Arukh siman 312 halakha 1, it’s Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 312:1. If it’s generic, write: Shulhan Arukh codifies the laws of bishul in §318.
Specific Style Points
This section will continue to expand as work commences.
- When referring to the larger work, capitalize Mishna. When referring to an individual unit, it is a mishna.
- Tanna’im, Amora’im, Ge’onim, Rishonim, Aharonim – capitalized, not italicized.
- Use “Eretz Yisrael” – not Eretz Israel, the Holy Land, the Levant, Palestine, or Israel. Occasionally use the Land of Israel. Use common sense.
- R. for Rabbi; b. for ben; ibn for ibn; of for mi-; thus: R. Shimon b. Yohai; R. Ovadia of Bartenura; R. Avraham ibn Ezra.
- The senior Rav Kook is Rav Kook. The junior Rav Kook is Rav Z. Y. Kook.
- Unless context-specific or redundant, translate references to the Deity as “God,” or occasionally mix it up with an “Almighty” or two. In context of berakhot, however, translate shem ha-adnut as “Lord” and shem ha-malkhut as “God.”
- de-Oraita: “by Torah law”; de-rabanan: “rabbinic” (no caps).
- Avoid personal pronouns.
- Sages (caps)
- Halla when referring to hafrasha. “Challah” or “challah bread” when speaking of the loaves (I know it can get problematic; I have written the sentence: “bake challah bread for Shabbat, and perform the mitzva of hafrashat halla”
- We pray; we don’t daven.
- In a synagogue, not a shul.
- Some have a safek about how to translate safek. But in truth there is no doubt, only uncertainty.
- Tosafot, not the Tosafot..
- These are guidelines. Use common sense. Sometimes you want the feel of davening in a shul, or even a shtiebl.