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Pennsylvania Literary Map Biographies Style Manual

Basic Format

Pennsylvania Literary Map Biographies should be laid out as follows:

Font: Times New Roman, 12 point. Use bold or italics wherever indicated (see sample also).
Margins: 1 inch on all sides
Paragraphs & Spacing: Set all sections left with indent, single line spacing within and between entries or paragraphs, but double space between sections.
Length: 500-1500 words (including all headings, lists, references, etc.)
Titling electronic file: Bios should be submitted to the Center for the Book as an attachment and the file should be saved as: Author’s Last name, First name.doc (for example: Updike, John.doc).

The Header

List the Last Name, First Name Middle Name or Initial. (Nicknames, Pseudonyms or Maiden Names in parentheses) Do not precede the name with "Name:".
Born: Should include date and location e.g.: April 13, 1952 in Reading, Pennsylvania
Died: Should include date and location e.g.: August 31, 1980 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. For living authors this entry should be left blank.
Literary Vocations: List as many as apply from the list of Literary Vocations in the appendix.

Geographic connection to Pennsylvania: Gettysburg, Adams County (See appendix.)

Keywords: Universities attended/staff or faculty of, additional pseudonyms if different from name in header, title of most popular work, major award, important relationship with other writer, etc. There is no limit to the number of keywords you can include.

Abstract: This section should note (1) the key events of the figure's life—major work(s), primary occupations(s) held by the individual; (2) the figure's specific connection to Pennsylvania (no matter how tenuous); and (3) the essential trajectory of the figure's life. The abstract should not contain redundancies or "filler." It should be brief and to the point (100 words or fewer).

The Biography and Reference Lists

(Works, Sources, For More Information)

The biography—introduced by "Biography:"—should be presented in three separate but not labeled sections, with single spaces between. Each section may contain one or more paragraphs.

Section One should mention the early life, schooling, and career of the figure.

Section Two should contain the most important literary contributions and any significant awards. This part should note the work or field of endeavor, literary or otherwise, for which the individual is most known, and any criticism of the author's work the biographer deems useful.

Section Three will describe the figure's present endeavors and provide the most current information on his/her place of residence or on the place and circumstances of his/her death.

Works: Create a bulleted list of the major works of the writer (maximum of 12) —do not confuse this list with your list of sources!—dividing and grouping the works in categories (e.g. Novels, Short Stories, etc.). Always use the first publication year for each citation: check the CAT or WorldCAT (if Penn State doesn't own a first edition). All works should be listed in chronological order.

Use the following formats:
(For genres not listed here, abridge the appropriate MLA form as illustrated by the examples provided below.)

For books:

Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.

Rabbit, Run. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1960.

For short stories or chapters in a book:

"Title of short story or chapter," in Title of Book. Ed. John Doe. City, State: Publisher, Year. page span.

"The Big Front Yard," in The Hugo Award Winners: Volumes One & Two. Ed. Isaac Asimov. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday, 1970. 117–163.

For magazine or journal articles:

"Title of article." Magazine or Journal Name. Volume (Number): page span, year.

"Elusive Evil: A Review Essay." The New Yorker 72(20): 62–65, 1996.

For any work with a co-author or collaborator, insert "(With [John Doe])" after the title of the work cited. You need not list the author because the entry is in his/her "Works:", as in this entry for Moss Hart.

The Man Who Came to Dinner. (With George S. Kaufman) New York: Random House, 1939.

Sources: The list of sources used should begin here. Follow the style of the bibliography but include the author's name. Refer to the MLA style guide for additional guidelines as needed.

For books:

McCullough, David. The Johnstown Flood. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1968.

For articles:

Platizky, Roger. "Poe's The Cask of Amontillado." Explicator 57:4 (1993): 206–9.

For web sources:

Boudinot, Ryan. "Don DeLillo, Stadium Vendor." McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Timothy McSweeney's Belief in a More Sanitary Afterlife. 19 January 2004. 26 January 2004. <>.

The two dates listed represent the date posted and the date accessed.

For More Information: For well-known figures, list the most recent (or best known) biography here. This would also be the appropriate spot to provide the URL for sanctioned websites.

last updated 1/10/06
©2001 The Pennsylvania State University
U.Ed. LIB 02-53
Penn State Libraries Center for the Book - Library of Congress