Editorial and Stylistic Guidelines[last updated October 12, 2023]
1. Legislative Reports
The deadlines for reports
vol. 46, no. 4
- October 10 (unilingual submissions)
- October 16 (bilingual submissions)
vol. 47, no. 1
- January 15, 2024 (unilingual submissions)
- January 22, 2024 (bilingual submissions)
vol. 47, no. 2
- April 8 (unilingual submissions)
- April 15 (bilingual submissions)
vol. 47, no. 3
- July 8 (unilingual submissions)
- July 15 (bilingual submissions)
vol. 47, no. 4
- October 7 (unilingual submissions)
- October 15 (bilingual submissions)
A legislative report is a summary of important legislation passed or under consideration during a three-month period. Correspondents usually work in the Clerk’s Department or the Library but may come from other services within or outside the legislature as determined by the Editor.
In reporting budgets, throne speeches, ministerial statements or legislation, the position of both the Government and Opposition should be outlined. The report should also make reference to noteworthy private members’ bills, committee reports, Speaker’s rulings, questions’ of privilege, special debates or other unusual occurrences such as the naming of a member. Reports cannot be all inclusive but particular attention should be paid to developments in areas such as procedural reform, freedom of information, conflict of interest, scrutiny of statutory instruments, changes to election acts and other matters directly affecting the role or status of individual parliamentarians. Changes in the legislature due to deaths, retirements, cabinet shuffles or by-elections should be included at the end of the report. In the case of a general election the correspondent should send a summary of the main campaign issues and some analysis of the final results.
Reports should not deal with statements made by ministers at press conferences or outside the House. Federal-provincial relations and constitutional conferences are generally outside the scope of these reports unless there is a specific debate or bill in a legislature. If possible reports should be written in a literate style (not just lists of legislation passed). It is preferable to mention names of members or chairman rather than just their office or their constituency.
There is no fixed length for legislative reports. If there is a great deal of activity, the report will normally be much longer than if the House is not sitting and only one or two committees are meeting. In order to be reasonably topical reports are usually the last items received and it is sometimes necessary to eliminate, at the last minute, a few paragraphs from legislative reports in order to have an even number of pages in the Review. The Editor chooses what he thinks are the least essential ones.
2. Guest Editorials
Guest Editorials are short, (1,500 word maximum) articles written by parliamentarians, former parliamentarians, staff members or individuals with a particular expertise in the subject. Topics should relate to the functioning of parliamentary government (in the widest sense). Most Guest Editorials will be solicited by the Editor but unsolicited ones may be accepted. Opinions expressed in Guest Editorials do not represent the views of the Editor or the Editorial Board. Guest Editorials may be critical of governments, parties or policies but purely partisan editorials will not be accepted.
3. Feature Articles
The heart of the Review consists of original feature articles by legislators, former legislators, staff members, professors, journalists or interested observers. A feature article should not be less than two pages of the Review (about 2,000 words). The average length is about 4 pages in the Review (3,500 words) but some articles may be as much as ten or 12 pages. Many articles are originally prepared for another purpose – speeches, conference papers, etc. and they appear in the Review after being revised by the Editor and author. Some articles are based on proceedings in Hansard or in committees. As a general rule the Review does not reprint articles that have been published in hard copy elsewhere. An exception may be made for a highly pertinent article that was published originally in one language and where the Editor feels it would be of interest to legislators to have it available in the other official language. Material posted on the Internet only is not considered published and the Review does print some of this material. Permission is always sought from the author and the owner of the Internet site if applicable.
Articles should be written in fairly simple language without jargon or technical terminology. Footnotes should be kept to a minimum although some articles may require footnoting. Material that is identified in the text need not be footnoted.
In selecting books for book reviews, a number of factors are taken into account. The book must be recent (published with the last 12 months). It should focus very specifically on the institution of Parliament. Books by members or former members or biographies of political figures are not normally reviewed although there may be exceptions.
We do not normally review revisions or 2nd or 3rd editions of books that have been previously reviewed. However if a number of years have elapsed or if the revision contains a great deal of new material a second review of the same book may be considered.
Books should be primarily Canadian and deal with the Canadian parliament and legislatures although again there may be exceptions. There is no maximum or minimum length for a book review. It should summarize the content of the book and evaluate its usefulness compared to other books on the subject. A single review may cover two or more books that deal with the same topic.
The reviewer chosen should be knowledgeable in the area and should not be someone whose assistance was acknowledged in the preface or who is obviously associated with the book or the author.
Letters to the Editor
The Review does not publish short congratulatory letters or letters of appreciation from individuals whose articles have been published. It does publish letters of a substantive nature commenting in a positive or negative way on articles previously published in the Review or pointing out an error of fact or interpretation. Submissions that are too short to be an article may also be published in the form of a letter with the agreement of the author. Letters must be less than one page of the Review (about 1000 words).
In the case of letters that are critical of a particular article the author may be invited to write a rejoinder to the letter. The rejoinder (to be no longer than the letter) may be printed in the same issue as the letter or in a subsequent issue. Rejoinders may continue at the discretion of the editor until the subject has been exhausted. The Editor may also respond to letters if he feels a response is necessary.
4. Stylistic Consideration (English Edition)
The Review does not have its own style guide for capitalization, punctuation, footnotes etc. but the English edition generally follows the rules in Turabian, Manual of Style. However there are many issues peculiar to a legislature, such as capitalization of Parliament, Speaker, etc. that are not covered and the Editor tries to be consistent within an issue.
The Review uses endnotes rather than footnotes at the bottom of the page where the number is inserted.
The usual format for a book is first name, last name, title of book, publisher, place of publication, year of publication, page number.
The usual format for a periodical is first name, last name, “title of article”, name of publication, number or date of periodical, year, page number.
Bibliographies or reading lists are not used. The Review does not use the academic footnote style (Jones, 1987) where the name and date is placed in the text and the full citation at the end. These are converted to the endnote style mentioned above.
In general single and double digit numbers are written out in full – six not 6, twelve not 12 and three or more digit numbers are left as figures i.e. 101 not one hundred and one. However in an article or a paragraph with many numbers and statistics all numbers should be expressed as digits. Similarly there may times when it is more concise to write out a large number such as six billion dollars rather than $6,000,000,000. When a sentence starts with a number it must be written out.
The preferred format is June 5, 2003 not 5 June 2003.
Bullets and Quotes
As a general rule if a quotation takes more than five lines of type it should be indented with space above and below and printed in a slightly smaller font than the rest of the text. No quotation marks are required when a quote is indented. If the quote is less than five lines it is included with the rest of the text and set off by quotation marks.
For lists of three or more items bullets should be used. A bullet need not be a complete sentence and ends with a semi-colon. A bullet should not be more than a paragraph.
Acronyms and Abbreviations
Acronyms i.e. WHO, NATO, UN may be used but in most cases they should be preceded the first time they are used by the full title, for example the World Health Organisation (WHO) …. The same is true parliamentary expressions such as QP for question period but a few expressions are so obvious in the context of a parliamentary review that they do not have to be written out i.e. MLA, MP. PM etc.
Foreign words and phrases should be in italics. For spelling British usage is preferred i.e favour not favour, programme not program, organise not organize.
Special Considerations Relating to Legislative Reports
In the legislative reports section we put the first mention of a name in bold (without any adjectives such as Mr. Mrs.). Subsequent references are Mr or Ms plus the surname. We do not use Hon. or QC or Excellency.
We prefer not to list geographic ridings every time but some jurisdictions have strong preference for this style and we respect this in the editing process. This is particularly important when two members have the same last name.
Long lists consisting of simply the title of legislation adopted should be avoided or at least put in bullet form.