Skip Navigation

Basic Guidelines for Authors


E&S has moved to an all-electronic process of receiving, refereeing, and publishing articles. Consequently please observe the following guidelines, so as to help us secure a straightforward and timely review of your work. We will ask you to rework and resubmit articles that require a large effort to prepare them for outside review.

Also, consider emailing the editor in advance to introduce yourself and to outline the project you plan to submit. Explain in a few paragraphs your article’s main themes, significance and implications, and tell us why E&S would be an appropriate publication venue. If you have been in contact with the editor or an associate editor at a seminar, conference, annual meeting or elsewhere, an email can serve to renew that connection.

Many thanks,
Phil Scranton, Editor, Enterprise & Society


1. Double space everything – text, inset quotes, bibliography and endnotes.

2. Observe Chicago Manual of Style format for bibliography and citations. No social science inserted references are acceptable. For endnotes, please reference your full bibliographical citations in short form, as, Zinsser, Writing Well, 22, where the full citation reads Zinsser, William K, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Non-fiction, New York: Collins, 2006.

3. When you go to the E&S online submission site, be prepared to include at least three separate files:

  • a title page with your name and contact information
  • an abstract of up to 150 words, headed by the article’s title (you paste this into a box on one of the screens)
  • the article (title and text only), followed by a bibliography, followed by endnotes (these will be converted to page keyed footnotes during production). All notes should be produced with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) as superscripts; we do not use the alternative Roman forms (i, ii, iii)

You may need to send additional files if you have tables, figures, or illustrations. Each type should be uploaded as a separate file. Be certain that no personal identification accompanies these items.

The E&S submission site also has a place for authors to paste in (or compose) a cover letter, which can be an effective way to introduce or re-introduce your work.

The abstract will go to the invited referees, to help them decide whether to participate in reviewing your article. Nothing with your name on it will go to the referees, however, and referees’ names will also be kept confidential. We will strive to have three referees’ reports on each manuscript we send out for review, and we expect to provide you referees’ assessments within 90 days after our requests for evaluations.

Manuscripts will be returned to authors for “repairs” prior to review/refereeing if:

  • they are not double-spaced throughout, lack a bibliography or endnotes, or use incorrect citation formats
  • they are forwarded without separate files for title page and abstract
  • they have substantial stylistic deficiencies (see below)

4. Stylistic issues.

Note: This section is chiefly intended for younger scholars or colleagues outside history submitting an article to E&S for the first time. However, it may also be useful for more-experienced historians to review their prose in light of the following items.

Extensive copyediting of scholarly manuscripts is costly and slows the publication process. We hope E&S authors will pay careful attention to the following matters in advance of submission.

a) Passive voicing is not acceptable and authors must root it out. The passive voice defers causality, responsibility and agency, and is appropriate only when an author genuinely cannot attribute these three to one of the relevant parties or organizations. The classic political/corporate version of this is: “Mistakes were made.” Saying this sets aside accounting for and explaining the mistakes (when and by whom, at a minimum). Review your manuscript to locate passive voice constructions and reframe them into active voice sentences. For the preceding example, a fix could be: “The board of directors erred in this situation.” or “Vice-president Drudge committed the key mistakes.”

b) Strive in your writing to give action/agency to your subjects, not least by seeking strong verbs and minimizing use of flat and weak verb forms (is, was, were, had, do, did).
Please do not start sentences with “And” or “But”; this is casual writing. There are many alternatives: yet, moreover, however, instead, in addition, etc.

c) Avoid serial prepositional phrases. Example: “Critical information about the possibilities of product development for international markets of significant scale with acceptable financials needed to be gathered by the company.” Overloads of prepositional phrases do not make engaging reading. Better perhaps: “Company agents sought to gather critical information about product development possibilities for large-scale, international, and financially-credible markets.”

Prepositional phrases often can be replaced with possessives. “The earliest major rivals of the PRR” can be recast as “The PRR’s earliest major rivals.”

d) Be certain that your essay has what William Germano, citing Konstantin Stanislavski, calls a “throughline” (in From Dissertation to Book, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005 – a guide well worth owning).

A throughline is an arc of argument and evidence that carries the reader forward from your first paragraph to the final lines. It is a bit of dramatic styling that puts a hook into the reader’s mind and pulls him or her into your universe, your research, your claims and findings. Narratives, even the most formally analytical of them, need to have a throughline or a trajectory, because as authors we want to connect with readers. What deeply interests you as the author has to be made interesting and accessible to your clients, the readers. Vague and overlong constructions (the 10-15 line sentence with multiple sub-clauses) are obstructive. Rare are the scholars whose work is so brilliant that they can present it to readers packaged in dense and difficult prose. Equally, hardly any readers are eager to engage presentations that seem to be empirical reports from the archives: detailed, bland, unassuming, essays that lack sustained efforts to engage readers in terms of scholarly significance.

Creating a throughline involves making claims up front, pursuing them through the arc of the essay, documenting them and perhaps indicating countervailing claims and evidence. Creating a throughline also requires concluding paragraphs that show clearly and gracefully how and why your interpretation and understanding merit serious consideration, if not instant assent.

In developing this approach, authors will want to set out their essay’s thematic situation at the beginning of their story and should delineate the changed situation in the conclusion. In between, explain to your reader (the educated non-specialist) what took place in between that brought about those changes, using dates as markers for the throughline. Also, help readers recognize the contingency of outcomes by noting, where appropriate, alternative paths, countervailing forces, disagreements and conflicts among the actors or stakeholders.

One device to advance the throughline is to employ dates at the beginning of sentences, particularly in introductory or concluding matter.
“In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked members of Congress to reduce regulation of railroads. Seven years later, President John F. Kennedy sought broad deregulation of railroads as well as airlines and trucks. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged subordinates to make deregulation part of efforts to create a new Department of Transportation. By mid-1960s, the idea of deregulation had emerged as part of the institutional office of the President.”
Using dates here advances a line of action. Also, putting dates at the beginning of the sentence clears the way for declarative, energetic sentences consisting of nouns, verbs, and objects.

e) Be as clear as you can about what you’re attempting to do. Bill Germano says it well: “For academic writers, the lure of implied meanings is irresistible.” and “What’s clear to you may not be clear to anyone else.” Before submission, do try out your essay on colleagues and other friends willing to assist you. Ask them to read and react; suggestions scribbled on hard-copy drafts can be especially valuable. As well, read your essay aloud to yourself, so as to get a sense of its throughline and its rhythm. You’ll notice when it’s straying, where there are overlong sentences, where more or less information is needed. Even better, read your essay aloud to one or more helpers, especially if you’re new to scholarly publishing. If intelligent colleagues are willing to be honest and tell you that here, there or wherever, the text doesn’t sell the argument, or the example seems not to support the claim, your work will profit. Yes, such precise, critical assistance is difficult to find, but taking these steps makes it less likely that your submission will be returned in a few days, rejected.

f) Specific to US practices, which E&S employs, enterprises are persons under the law and thus they are singular when you refer to them with pronouns. “The company and its finances” NOT “the railroad and their business”… It is correct, though, to write of “the railroads and their businesses.” Similarly “management” is singular, whereas “managers” are plural. A Board of Directors is singular (Board governs number, not the plural prepositional object, Directors), but separately both Boards and Directors are plural. Where possible find the full names of those responsible for actions; where sources cannot provide names, try something like “Members of the board voted 6-3…”

g) Punctuation matters. We do not have staff at E&S to fix authors’ scattered commas, absent commas, or faulty use of semi-colons and colons. Published authors are professional writers, and professionals manage these little marks effectively. The Chicago Manual of Style may be tedious, but it is tremendously valuable.

h) Always have a copy of William Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style [New York: Longman, 1999, 4th ed.], somewhere close to where you write and revise. Try to re-read it every year or two. Among the many virtues of this short, punchy guide to effective formal writing is its attack on over-writing, wordiness, excessive blithering, and such (which the preceding phrase exemplifies). For S&W, every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph needs to be doing some work to get your points across, your evidence in front of readers (at the right place in the throughline), and your conclusions linked to issues of significance and to implications for further thinking and research.

Other key resources for writing style include: William Zinsser, On Writing Well, New York: Collins, 2006, and Claire K. Cook, Line by Line: How to Improve Your Own Writing, New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.

Enterprise & Society aims to be a venue for first-quality research in business history and, as part of that intention, we seek contributions written in a clear and graceful manner. Deficient writing undermines fine research, just as thin research is little enhanced by elegant phrasing. All of us helping to edit and publish E&S will deeply appreciate authors’ efforts to write well just as fully as we cherish their innovative and insightful research projects.