Mark Twain Forum

Style guide for book reviews

  1. Deadline: Reviews are due two months after you receive the book. Please inform the review editor when your book has arrived. The deadline is particularly important, as we are striving for Forum reviews to appear before print reviews.

  2. Length: 1,000-2,000 words

  3. Format: Please follow these formatting specifications:

    1. The review should be of publishable quality, and should generally follow the conventions in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

    2. Paragraphs should not be indented (except for long, block quotations, which should be indented five spaces).

    3. Indicate italics (e.g., for book titles) with surrounding underscores: _Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ .

    4. Em-dashes are represented by two hyphens with no surrounding spaces (a long dash looks--like this).

    5. Format the header of your review according to the following sample, substituting your own name and affiliation, and the bibliographical information of the book you are reviewing:


      Salamo, Lin, and Harriet Elinor Smith (eds.). _Mark Twain's Letters_. Vol. 5: 1872-73. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Pp. 928. Cloth, 6-1/2" x 9-1/4". $60.00. ISBN 0-520-20822-6.

      Many books reviewed on the Forum are available at discounted prices from the TwainWeb Bookstore, and purchases from this site generate commissions that benefit the Mark Twain Project. Please visit

      Reviewed for the Mark Twain Forum by:
      Wesley Britton
      Grayson County College

      Copyright (c) 1997 Mark Twain Forum. This review may not be published or redistributed in any medium without permission.
      A commonplace: each volume of the University of California editions of
      Mark Twain's works are always eagerly awaited by librarians, scholars,
      and general readers alike. . . .
    6. Biography (optional): The final paragraph of your review should begin "ABOUT THE REVIEWER:" and contain a brief description about yourself (maximum 100 words), written in third-person.

  4. Please do a spell check

  5. Your review will be sent to email subscribers as plain text within the body of an e-mail message. If you are unsure how to format the review as plain text (no italics, curled quotes or curled apostrophes, etc.), email your review to the review editor who will format the review for email distribution on your behalf. It is crucial to use plain text for several reasons:

    1. Accessibility. The medium of the Forum is plain text. Not everyone has the same email reader or an email program that handles html coding.

    2. File attachments to the mailing list are not allowed.

  6. Do not post your review directly to the Forum until you've sent it privately to the review editor in order that he or she may have the opportunity to suggest revisions.

  7. When it is agreed that the review is complete, the review editor will post your review to the Forum at, at which time it will be distributed to the list subscribers. The subject line of the message containing your review will read "Review: [Author, Title]"; for example: "Review: Salamo and Smith, _Mark Twain's Letters_".

  8. After your review has been posted to the email list, the review editor will format the review for html and will place it online in the Mark Twain Forum Reviews section at: <>.

Although the Mark Twain Forum retains the copyright of all reviews, you are free to publish your review elsewhere, as long as (1) it appears first on the Forum, and (2) subsequent publications (in print or electronic media) acknowledge that your review (or an earlier version) appeared first on the Mark Twain Forum.

Thank you for your help in writing a review for the Forum. The book reviews are among the most valuable postings to appear on the Forum, and your time and expertise in preparing a clear and well written review will be greatly appreciated by all of the members.

contact info

Last updated 13 August 2009.