Engaging Students, Volume 5: Style Guide for Authors

Engaging Students, Volume 5: Style Guide for Authors

General considerations

The style of your submission should be loosely modeled on what Dan Cohen, Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America, calls the “blessay,” or blog-essay. Blessays engage serious ideas and scholarly literature using a clear, readable style, often attained by minimizing disruption of inline citations or explanatory footnotes. Referring to exemplars on BLDGBLOG and The Atlantic Magazine’s website, Cohen observes that the blessay “uses the apparatus of the web more than the apparatus of the journal, e.g., links rather than footnotes. Where helpful, [it] uses supplementary evidence from images, audio, and video—elements that are often missing or flattened in print.” Blessays may freely incorporate links to websites, blogs, Wikipedia, newspaper and magazine articles, YouTube, IMSLP, Spotify, Storify, books in the Open Library, or journal databases. In most cases, these links should be attached to text so that they disrupt the flow of the sentence as little as possible.

Special terms and further reading

In general, replace explanatory footnotes with a link to another source on the web offering further explanation or a helpful image.


“Bloom’s taxonomy of learning objectives depicts six levels of learning that lead to mastery, representing a cognitive domain that spans from factual knowledge to high orders of the intellectual process.”

Kevin R. Burke

“Discussing with students the Music Genome Project connected with Pandora Radio will introduce them to practical applications of high order aural thinking.”

Kevin R. Burke


In a blessay, citations should not disrupt the flow. Try to find a balance between ease of reading with ease of tracking down supplemental information. We encourage you to incorporate the author’s name or reference into the sentence, and link the author’s name to the source. In many cases, it might be most appropriate to cite an entire study or chapter rather than a specific page range. Although page numbers are not normally used in the blessay format, we encourage them, especially when making direct quotations. When it is not possible to include the author’s name within the sentence itself, parenthetical author-date references are acceptable.

​Journal articles

If the article was published in a print journal, link the relevant text to a citation in a journal database, Ebscohost, ERIC, or the journal’s website. If the article is open access, link directly to the full article.


“…some studies have shown JiTT quizzes given before class to have a greater impact on actively engaging students.”

Bryn Hughes

“An effective performance must not only be correct, but also creative, emotional, and communicative (Mitchell 2011).”

Deborah Rifkin

Michael Callahan taught a semester of baroque counterpoint as a hands-on keyboard workshop.” –Anna Gawboy

Citations of books

Link author text or title text to the appropriate citation on the Open Library, https://openlibrary.org. The use of page numbers is not necessary in the Blessay format, even when using direct quotations.


Michael Rogers observed that, in many core undergraduate theory curricula, “too much emphasis on narrow course content and acquisition of knowledge . . .obscures the more far-reaching goals of theory instruction…”

Anna Gawboy

“The pedagogical techniques offered in Donald Finkel’s book Teaching With Your Mouth Shut attempt to democratize responsibility for learning, rather than treat the teacher as all-knowing authority figure.”

Carla Colletti

Citations of musical recordings or playlists

Link text to YouTube recordings, playlists on Spotify, or on another recording database. When possible, link to an official source (such as Spotify, Last.fm, or the artist’s or label’s own website or YouTube channel) to minimize the likelihood that a reader will follow a link and find that the recording has been removed.


“Although we could identify the blues scale used in the C major prelude, we would miss the joke of such a phenomenon occurring in a piece supposedly written in the early eighteenth century.”

Enoch S. A. Jacobus

“Here is a new playlist that includes four canonic examples of Jiangnan Sizhu that very closely match the given paradigm…”

Kevin R. Burke

Citations of scores

Link text directly to the file on IMSLP or other sheet music database.


“The opening two measures of Chopin’s Nocturne in C minor….”

Software and other products

Link the title to the manufacturer’s website or another resource explaining its use.


” I…used the free and open-source digital editing software Audacity to teach independent, active listening habits.” –Crystal Peebles

“Brian discussed Audio Hijack Pro, a downloadable app for Mac OS X…that allows you to make audio recordings…” –Stephen Gosden

During the submission process, PDFs of documents or materials can be submitted via email or archived on sites such as Dropbox or GoogleDrive and linked within the essay. When essays are published, we will move supplementary materials to the FlipCamp.org site and create a permanent link. When linking to non-permanent resources created by others (such as course websites), authors should seek permission to reproduce those resources on FlipCamp.org.


“This information was gleaned through feedback sheets I distribute periodically throughout the semester.” –Trevor de Clercq

“…using clickers in real time is also useful in aural skills classes, such as asking students to indicate their hearing through the Do/Ti test (Daniel Stevens’s creative development of the guide-tone method).” –Phil Duker

Bibliographical references

Compile all sources in a bibliography located at the end of your blessay. The citation format follows conventions of the “Author-Date” system outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style, http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. The title of each reference should be hyperlinked as suggested above. When citing online sources in the bibliography, it is not necessary to spell out the hyperlink as you would in a print publication, since the page is accessible from the hyperlinked title.


Schubert, Peter. 2008. Modal counterpoint: Renaissance style. New York: Oxford University Press.

Print article:

Alegant, Brian. 2008. “Listen Up! Thoughts on iPods, Sonata Form, and Analysis Without the Score.” Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 22: 149–76.


Stim, Rich. “Copyright FAQs.” Copyright and Fair Use, Stanford University Libraries. Accessed August 2, 2013.


Talbert, Robert. 2011. “How I make screencasts: Chapter 0.” Casting Out Nines, February 28. Accessed August 2, 2013.

Include the following copyright notice at the conclusion of your blessay:

This work is copyright ⓒ2017 [your name here] and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

(Note that all authors retain copyright of their own essays. However, by licensing it under CC BY–SA, you are giving away some of your rights as copyright owner. Be sure you understand this fully before submitting an essay.)