Citation style

There are number of clear differences in citation style between German and English. In English documents authored by non-natives, two formatting problems are particularly common; I would like to discuss them here:

(1) Formatting when listing multiple authors: According to APA Citation Style, each author of a title cited in a bibliography should be identified last-name first, with multiple names separated by commas. In the German-speaking world, however, the ubiquitous standard is to separate each name with a slash, e.g. “Adorno, Theodor / Horkheimer, Max (1944).” When German academics submit manuscripts for publication in English-language journals, the bibliographies almost invariably use the slash as a separator. While I have seen the slash used in this way in one or two instances in publications authored by English native speakers since becoming attuned to this problem, it is certainly exceedingly rare. The slash should be dropped in favor of a comma.

(2) Punctuation separating titles and subtitles: In addition to the “en dash,” which is standard in both English and German, the period is used most frequently as a title/subtitle separator in the German-speaking world, as in the following example: “Minima Moralia. Reflexionen aus dem beschädigten Leben.” However, the colon – which is exceedingly common in this context in English – is virtually never used in German. As this separating element is not part of the title per se, but should be viewed instead as a meta-element only added during citation, the language of the document citing the publication should govern whether a period or colon/en dash is used. Accordingly, the period should never be used as a title/subtitle separator in English-language publications. This is another extremely common problem that I see when editing manuscripts written by Germans natives, and it is an issue that is easy to overlook if one fails to give due attention to the citation-formatting differences between German and English.

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