Notes Style Sheet


NOTE: See also Musical Compositions for examples in context, and Digital Technology for technological abbreviations.

  • Use small caps. with periods for A.D.  (not  A.D. or AD) and B.C. or B.C.E. (use author's preference). Notes is not changing to AD, BC, BCE (without periods) as in CMS16, 9.35.

  • Use A.D. 618–907 (not 618–907 A.D.)

  • Common abbreviations of music sets, e.g., collected editions (when used extensively in an article or review) are in italics: NBA  not  NBA (for Neue Bach-Ausgabe; see CMS16, 14.54)

  • Common abbreviations of music series, e.g., LC class M2 (when used extensively in an article or review) are in roman: CMM not CMM (for Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae)

  • Use numerals for liturgical days and weeks; thus 12th Sunday after Trinity (not Twelfth)

  • Avoid beginning a sentence with an abbreviation or acronym

  • Do not use abbreviations in running text except:

    • ca. for circa (not c.); keep roman

    • D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) not DMA (as in CMS16, 10.20)

    • fl. for floruit (i.e., flourished) (not fl.); keep roman

    • illus. for illustration(s) or illustrated in physical descriptions

    • m., mm. for measure, measures (do not use "bar," "bars"). Note that "mm" (for millimeters) is not followed by a period.

    • M.A. (Master of Arts) not MA (as in CMS16, 10.20)

    • no., nos. for number, numbers (for titles of musical works)

    • op., opp. for opus, opera (when part of the title of a musical work, such as Beethoven's String Quartets, op. 18; but spell out as opus when no other title is mentioned: Beethoven's opus 18)

    • Ph.D. not PhD (as in CMS16, 10.20)

    • rpm (revolutions per minute) not r.p.m.

  • Use the following abbreviations in parenthetical citations (most in CMS16, 10.40, including many additional scholarly abbreviations):

    • abbrev. for abbreviation (not abbr.)

    • acc. for accompanied or accompaniment

    • arr. for arranged

    • avail. for available

    • bk. for book

    • bks. for books

    • b&w for black and white

    • CD for compact disc in discographic citations (but prefer spelled out in running text)

    • chap. for chapter [Holoman 2.71 uses ch.; Holoman2 2.71 gives option of ch. or chap.]

    • crit. for critical

    • diss. for dissertation

    • distrb. for distributor (not distr.)

    • ed. for edited/editor

    • eds. for editors

    • ex. for example

    • exx. for examples [Holoman 2.71 uses exs.; Holoman2 2.71 gives option of exs. or exx.]

    • fig. for figure

    • fol., fols. for folio, folios (not f., ff., which mean "on the following page(s)"); for recto & verso, use r, v, or r/v on the text line (not superscript): fol. 34r; fol. 55r/v

    • illus. for illustration(s) or illustrated

    • M.M. for metronome Maelzel. Example: "M.M. [quarter note] = 108" (actual note will replace "[quarter note]" during production)

    • mvt. for movement

    • MS, MSS for manuscript, manuscripts

    • n.p. for "no place" (not s.l.) and for "no publisher" (not s.n.) in bibliographic citations.

      When neither place nor publisher can be ascertained, a single n.p. may serve for both (CMS16, 10.43).

      Use lower-case n. for notes (in running text or footnotes), and capital N. only in bibliographies (where N. follows a period)—examples: (Boston: n.p., 1889)(n.p., 1840); Watson, Henry. Song of the Guilded HandN.p., 1840.


  • Smith discusses the opera at length in chapter 6.

  • Smith's discussion of the opera (chap. 6) is lengthy.

  • Handel's opus 3 is his most frequently recorded orchestral work.

  • Handel's first set of concerti grossi (op. 3) is his most frequently recorded orchestral work

Abbreviating Instruments and Voices

In isolated examples in running text, names of instruments and voices are spelled out. In tables, charts, work lists, etc., space considerations may make it desirable to abbreviate instruments & voices. There are no standard abbreviations for these. Notes uses the abbreviations employed by IMSLP: Petrucci Music Library (see; this source is freely available on the Web without membership or subscription cost. Instruments and voices are listed there alphabetically in English, with their abbreviations, as well as their names in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

The following description of formatting is adapted from the IMSLP page cited above, and the Edwin F. Kalmus Web site (
Abbreviations should be used in the following sequence, and in score-order within each grouping:

  • Voices: solo voices first, then choruses

  • Solo Instruments: woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, keyboard

  • Ensembles: woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, orchestra, continuo

For orchestral works, a “standard” format has developed for the most-used woodwinds & brass (4 each; note the separation by periods, without spaces), e.g.:

“ —” = 2 each flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon —
4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba

Commonly-associated auxiliary instruments (flute & auxiliary piccolo, oboe & auxiliary English horn, B♭ clarinet & auxiliary bass clarinet, bassoon & auxiliary contrabassoon — trumpet & auxiliary cornet, trombone & auxiliary euphonium, tuba & auxiliary Wagner tuba) are linked to their respective primary instruments as follows:
Auxiliary, as well as associated named instruments, are indicated by (1) a forward slash  “/” = may be performed by either/or the associated instrument; (2) letter “d” = player doubles on the auxiliary or named instrument; (3) plus sign “+” = an extra player is required for the auxiliary or named instrument; and (4) parentheses “( )” = associated or named instrument is optional.
Here are four rudimentary examples:

  • = flute & violin play together, with optional piano accompaniment

  • fl/ = flute OR violin, with piano accompaniment

  • = flute, with extra player on associated piccolo, play together with violin and piano

  • = oboe, with extra player on oboe d’amore, play together with violin and piano

A more complicated example (borrowed from the Kalmus Web site):

  • 3d1+1.2+1.3d1(+E♭).3+1 — 8d4.4d2.4.2(d1).2timp.perc.2hp.str

    indicates 3 flutes, one of which doubles piccolo, plus a fourth player playing piccolo only; 2 oboes plus a third player for English horn; 3 clarinets, one doubling bass clarinet, plus a fourth (optional) player for E♭ clarinet; 3 bassoons plus a contrabassoon; 8 horns, 4 doubling Wagner tubas; 4 trumpets, 2 doubling cornet; 4 trombones; 2 tubas, one doubling euphonium (optionally); 2 timpanists; percussion; 2 harps, and strings.

“str” (strings) defaults in orchestral works to (violins I & II, violas, cellos, double basses). If strings distribution differs from this default, specify in square brackets, as shown below.

Square brackets may be used to give more details:

  • fch[2sop.alt] = female chorus, consisting of [2 soprano and one alto parts]

  • str[] = strings, consisting of [2 violin sections, no violas, & one each cello & double-bass sections].

  •[E♭] = flute, oboe, clarinet in [E♭], horn, bassoon

If abbreviations for instruments & voices are used, a key to them (alphabetical by abbreviation) must be given at the head of the table/chart/catalog, or in a footnote, e.g.,  “alt=alto voice — acc=accordion — afl=alto flute — cl[A]=clarinet in A,” etc.

  • Do not abbreviate the following:

    • reprint not repr.

  • Geographical abbreviations:

    • For states: Use the two-letter postal abbreviations in headings, footnotes, and bibliographic citations. In running text, however, spell out the names of states, territories, and possessions of the United States when standing alone, and when following the name of a city (see CMS16, 10.28); thus Concord, New Hampshire, in running text, not Concord, NH. But use D.C. (not DC or District of Columbia) and U.K. (not UK or United Kingdom) in running text (CMS15, 15:31, option 1). Notes no longer uses the older state abbreviations.

  • Languages (used primarily in review headings):

 Eng. (English)  Fr. (French)  Ger. (German)
 Hung. (Hungarian)  It. (Italian)  Lat. (Latin)
 Rus. (Russian)  Sp. (Spanish)  Gk. (Greek)