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SERC Formatting and Style Guidelines

Published onFeb 05, 2021
SERC Formatting and Style Guidelines

Below are the formatting and style guidelines for authors submitting work to the MIT Case Studies in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing series. Manuscripts accepted for publication will undergo copyediting prior to publishing.

Chicago Manual of Style

Articles are copyedited and published following the The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.

For the purposes of simplifying the submission and peer review processes, we recommend using our template.

 Additional information on formatting and style considerations are provided below.

Spelling and Grammar

  • Please use American English spellings and grammatical conventions.

  • We encourage active voice whenever possible.

ACTIVE Example: Ethicists achieve many things.

PASSIVE Example: Many things are achieved by ethicists.

Please note that MIT Case Studies in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing is reviewed, edited, and published in American English. Therefore, American English language spelling, grammar, and readability are important components of our review and decision process. Authors who feel that their English-language writing skills could use polishing are encouraged to consider seeking the assistance of a language editing service.

Abstracts and Keywords

Abstracts consists of a single paragraph, no longer than 250 words. The abstract should give a clear summary about the case study’s purpose, considerations, and conclusions. Keywords, usually a set of 4-6 terms, can enhance discoverability for search engines while also providing readers high-level classifications about the topic(s) covered.

Manuscript Length

Cases published in the MIT Case Studies in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing series should be brief—averaging 3000-4000 words of main text, in addition to notes and references—and appropriate for use in undergraduate instruction.                        

Permissions for Copyrighted Materials

Written permission is required if authors include any content published in copyrighted material, such as figures and tables, or quoted text exceeding Fair Use parameters. It is the author’s responsibility to acquire permissions for copyrighted materials. Authors must provide proof of permissions before publication.


Authors may use up to two levels of headings. For clarity, headings should be numbered with Arabic numbers.


  1. Section Title

    1.1. Subsection Title

    1.2. Subsection Title

  2. Section Title


  • Please put commas inside of quotation marks when quoting.

  • Double quotation marks should indicate direct quotations only. If quotation marks indicate hypotheticals, ironies, or colloquialisms, please use single quotation marks around the first instance; later uses of this term do not require quotation marks.

  • Please use one space between sentences.

  • If emphasizing language within quotations, please use italics and include “[emphasis added]” in brackets.

  • Please use the Oxford comma before “and” in groups of three or more.

Example: “We bought apples, orangesand grapes.”


When using abbreviations, please spell out the full name or title at first use with the abbreviation in parentheses. For all subsequent uses, use the abbreviation. If there are more than 10 abbreviations, include a glossary of abbreviations. These can be incorporated into supplementary material.

Notes and Bibliography

Please follow The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, when preparing notes and bibliography.

The example citations below are provided to assist with style and formatting. However, please be advised that a separate bibliography section is not mandatory.

Sample Citations

The examples below are from The Chicago Manual of Style. For more details and examples, see chapter 14. of The Chicago Manual of Style.



1. Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 315–16.

2. Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 12.

Shortened notes

3. Smith, Swing Time, 320.

4. Grazer and Fishman, Curious Mind, 37.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Grazer, Brian, and Charles Fishman. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.

For many more examples, covering virtually every type of book, see 14.100–163 in The Chicago Manual of Style.

Chapter or other part of an edited book

In a note, cite specific pages. In the bibliography, include the page range for the chapter or part.


1. Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” in The Making of the American Essay, ed. John D’Agata (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

Shortened note

2. Thoreau, “Walking,” 182.

Bibliography entry

Thoreau, Henry David. “Walking.” In The Making of the American Essay, edited by John D’Agata, 167–95. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

In some cases, you may want to cite the collection as a whole instead.


1. John D’Agata, ed., The Making of the American Essay (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

Shortened note

2. D’Agata, American Essay, 182.

Bibliography entry

D’Agata, John, ed. The Making of the American Essay. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

For more examples, see 14.103–5 and 14.106–12 in The Chicago Manual of Style.


For books consulted online, include a URL or the name of the database. For other types of e-books, name the format. If no fixed page numbers are available, cite a section title or a chapter or other number in the notes, if any (or simply omit).


1. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851), 627,

2. Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, eds., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), chap. 10, doc. 19,

3. Brooke Borel, The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 92, ProQuest Ebrary.

4. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Penguin Classics, 2007), chap. 3, Kindle.

Shortened notes

5. Melville, Moby-Dick, 722–23.

6. Kurland and Lerner, Founders’ Constitution, chap. 4, doc. 29.

7. Borel, Fact-Checking, 104–5.

8. Austen, Pride and Prejudice, chap. 14.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007. Kindle.

Borel, Brooke. The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. ProQuest Ebrary.

Kurland, Philip B., and Ralph Lerner, eds. The Founders’ Constitution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851.

For more examples, see 14.159–63 in The Chicago Manual of Style.

Journal article

In a note, cite specific page numbers. In the bibliography, include the page range for the whole article. For articles consulted online, include a URL or the name of the database. Many journal articles list a DOI (Digital Object Identifier). A DOI forms a permanent URL that begins This URL is preferable to the URL that appears in your browser’s address bar.


1. Susan Satterfield, “Livy and the Pax Deum,” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 170.

2. Shao-Hsun Keng, Chun-Hung Lin, and Peter F. Orazem, “Expanding College Access in Taiwan, 1978–2014: Effects on Graduate Quality and Income Inequality,” Journal of Human Capital 11, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 9–10,

3. Peter LaSalle, “Conundrum: A Story about Reading,” New England Review 38, no. 1 (2017): 95, Project MUSE.

Shortened notes

4. Satterfield, “Livy,” 172–73.

5. Keng, Lin, and Orazem, “Expanding College Access,” 23.

6. LaSalle, “Conundrum,” 101.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Keng, Shao-Hsun, Chun-Hung Lin, and Peter F. Orazem. “Expanding College Access in Taiwan, 1978–2014: Effects on Graduate Quality and Income Inequality.” Journal of Human Capital 11, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 1–34.

LaSalle, Peter. “Conundrum: A Story about Reading.” New England Review 38, no. 1 (2017): 95–109. Project MUSE.

Satterfield, Susan. “Livy and the Pax Deum.” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 165–76.

Journal articles often list many authors, especially in the sciences. If there are four or more authors, list up to ten in the bibliography; in a note, list only the first, followed by et al. (“and others”). For more than ten authors (not shown here), list the first seven in the bibliography, followed by et al.


7. Rachel A. Bay et al., “Predicting Responses to Contemporary Environmental Change Using Evolutionary Response Architectures,” American Naturalist 189, no. 5 (May 2017): 465,

Shortened note

8. Bay et al., “Predicting Responses,” 466.

Bibliography entry

Bay, Rachael A., Noah Rose, Rowan Barrett, Louis Bernatchez, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Jesse R. Lasky, Rachel B. Brem, Stephen R. Palumbi, and Peter Ralph. “Predicting Responses to Contemporary Environmental Change Using Evolutionary Response Architectures.” American Naturalist 189, no. 5 (May 2017): 463–73.

For more examples, see 14.168–87 in The Chicago Manual of Style.

News or magazine article

Articles from newspapers or news sites, magazines, blogs, and the like are cited similarly. Page numbers, if any, can be cited in a note but are omitted from a bibliography entry. If you consulted the article online, include a URL or the name of the database.


1. Rebecca Mead, “The Prophet of Dystopia,” New Yorker, April 17, 2017, 43.

2. Farhad Manjoo, “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera,” New York Times, March 8, 2017,

3. Rob Pegoraro, “Apple’s iPhone Is Sleek, Smart and Simple,” Washington Post, July 5, 2007, LexisNexis Academic.

4. Tanya Pai, “The Squishy, Sugary History of Peeps,” Vox, April 11, 2017,

Shortened notes

5. Mead, “Dystopia,” 47.

6. Manjoo, “Snap.”

7. Pegoraro, “Apple’s iPhone.”

8. Pai, “History of Peeps.”

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Manjoo, Farhad. “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera.” New York Times, March 8, 2017.

Mead, Rebecca. “The Prophet of Dystopia.” New Yorker, April 17, 2017.

Pai, Tanya. “The Squishy, Sugary History of Peeps.” Vox, April 11, 2017.

Pegoraro, Rob. “Apple’s iPhone Is Sleek, Smart and Simple.” Washington Post, July 5, 2007. LexisNexis Academic.

Readers’ comments are cited in the text or in a note but omitted from a bibliography.


9. Eduardo B (Los Angeles), March 9, 2017, comment on Manjoo, “Snap.”

For more examples, see 14.188–90 (magazines), 14.191–200 (newspapers), and 14.208 (blogs) in The Chicago Manual of Style.



1. Kory Stamper, “From ‘F-Bomb’ to ‘Photobomb,’ How the Dictionary Keeps Up with English,” interview by Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, April 19, 2017, audio, 35:25,

Shortened note

2. Stamper, interview.

Bibliography entry

Stamper, Kory. “From ‘F-Bomb’ to ‘Photobomb,’ How the Dictionary Keeps Up with English.” Interview by Terry Gross. Fresh Air, NPR, April 19, 2017. Audio, 35:25.

Website content

It is often sufficient simply to describe web pages and other website content in the text (“As of May 1, 2017, Yale’s home page listed . . .”). If a more formal citation is needed, it may be styled like the examples below. For a source that does not list a date of publication or revision, include an access date (as in example note 2).


1. “Privacy Policy,” Privacy & Terms, Google, last modified April 17, 2017,

2. “About Yale: Yale Facts,” Yale University, accessed May 1, 2017,

3. Katie Bouman, “How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole,” filmed November 2016 at TEDxBeaconStreet, Brookline, MA, video, 12:51,

Shortened notes

4. Google, “Privacy Policy.”

5. “Yale Facts.”

6. Bouman, “Black Hole.”

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Bouman, Katie. “How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole.” Filmed November 2016 at TEDxBeaconStreet, Brookline, MA. Video, 12:51.

Google. “Privacy Policy.” Privacy & Terms. Last modified April 17, 2017.

Yale University. “About Yale: Yale Facts.” Accessed May 1, 2017.

For more examples, see 14.205–10 in The Chicago Manual of Style. For multimedia, including live performances, see 14.261–68.

Social media content

Citations of content shared through social media can usually be limited to the text (as in the first example below). A note may be added if a more formal citation is needed. In rare cases, a bibliography entry may also be appropriate. In place of a title, quote up to the first 160 characters of the post. Comments are cited in reference to the original post.


Conan O’Brien’s tweet was characteristically deadpan: “In honor of Earth Day, I’m recycling my tweets” (@ConanOBrien, April 22, 2015).


1. Pete Souza (@petesouza), “President Obama bids farewell to President Xi of China at the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit,” Instagram photo, April 1, 2016,

2. Chicago Manual of Style, “Is the world ready for singular they? We thought so back in 1993,” Facebook, April 17, 2015,

Shortened notes

3. Souza, “President Obama.”

4. Michele Truty, April 17, 2015, 1:09 p.m., comment on Chicago Manual of Style, “singular they.”

Bibliography entry

Chicago Manual of Style. “Is the world ready for singular they? We thought so back in 1993.” Facebook, April 17, 2015. 


  • Tables should not be formatted as image files or embedded images. We prefer tables in editable forms such as Word docs.

  • Tables should include call-outs in the manuscript for placement, as well as legends. Legends should include short titles/headings and a brief description.

  • Please label all tables clearly and use Arabic numbers when labeling figures (Table 1, Table 2).

Figures and Illustrations

  • Images must be referenced in the manuscript (this will also help with placement).

  • Label all images clearly and use Arabic numbers when labeling figures (Figure 1, Figure 2) and include a descriptive caption.

  • If figures have multiple parts, please label each segment in consecutive order using Arabic numbers and lower-case letters (Figure 3a, Figure 3b).

  • For the review process, the only requirement for figures and illustrations is legibility. For revised manuscripts, figures and illustrations should be submitted in production-ready quality (see below).

    • For high quality figures, image files should be submitted at a minimum of 300 dpi resolution. They may be any common image file type (.jpeg, .png, .svg, .webp, or .gif).


Data Visualizations

Data visualizations are interactive media beyond static figures, images, or tables.

  • Data visualizations are supported and can be displayed as .gif images or embedded as an iFrame.

  • Creators of data visualization should be listed on the article as a contributor using the CRediT Taxonomy.


Videos may be embedded into the online platform in two ways:

  • File submitted as .mp4 or .webm file

  • Video uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and embedded via link

Authors must have permission to publish videos in their work and include the permitting source in the descriptive caption.

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