AAG Review of Books Guidelines for Reviewers

The AAG Review of Books was launched in 2013. Prior to that, book reviews were published in the AAG’s flagship journals, the Annals of the American Association of Geographers and The Professional Geographer. The establishment of the AAG Review of Books (AABRB) journal provided a purposeful location and dedicated focus on books (and increasingly other media and formats too) produced by and for geographers. Until December 2024, the editorial team of the AAGRB consists of Dr. Debbie Hopkins (Editor-in-Chief), Professor Noel Castree (Associate Editor), Neha Arora (Editorial Assistant) and Jennifer Cassidento (AAG Managing Editor). The editorial team are supported by over 20 editorial board members who help to identify the most important pieces of work by and/or for geographers to be reviewed in the journal.

Reviews are written on invitation from the editorial office, although the editorial team does welcome suggestions, particularly those pertaining to geographically significant works written by scholars in other disciplines, and formats beyond books.

While the AAGRB mostly reviews books, we have also reviewed other formats including documentaries. Please contact the editor with any ideas of reviews for alternative media. Although the details below refer to books, they should also be interpreted for other formats where relevant.

All reviews are free access 12 months after initial publication.

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We are looking for reviews that go beyond summarizing the content and structure of the book (or other media). Reviews should critically engage with the content, reflecting on its importance to the discipline more widely and its engagement (or not) with contemporary debates. The AAGRB is flexible in its approach and allows reviewers to determine how they go about presenting their review; however, it is unlikely that a chapter-by-chapter description will offer a sufficiently detailed examination, and in the case of edited collections, reviewers should try to avoid describing every contribution.

Ultimately, the AAGRB is interested in lively scholarly writing that will appeal to a broad cross-section of geographers, other scholars, and members of the educated public. As a rule, readers are interested in at least two things: knowing whether the book is worth reading, and understanding how a volume contributes to the progress, conception, and stature of geography or related disciplines. Keep in mind that the best reviews are something of an art form and entirely worth reading on their own.

We have three categories of reviews:

i. Book Review (one book)
This form of essay reviews one text, and discusses its structure, content and substantive argument(s) in light of the broader literature. The review author should consider what the text brings to the discipline of geography – what geographers can learn from this text, and/or how it extends geographical knowledge. It could also engage with sub-disciplinary debates, and/or social or political contexts.

The reviewer should state the goal of the book author(s) and assess the extent to which that aim is achieved. The reviewer should not only report the content of the book, but rather critically engage with the material presented in the text. Chapter-by-chapter summations are to be avoided, as should a description of every contribution in the case of edited collections. Reviewers are encouraged to instead concentrate on those chapters/contributions they consider to be the most significant within the context of the book/volume.

Book reviews should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words, and a full reference list should be included.

ii. Review Essay (two or more books)

This form of essay has the same focus of the ‘book review’ (refer to point ‘i’, above), but responds to two or more books. As such, it should provide an engaged commentary across the different texts, to draw out themes, including comparisons and potentially contradictions.

Review essays should be between 2,500 and 5,000 words in length, depending on the number of books being reviewed.

iii. Review Forum (one book)

The review fora category involves a number of scholars reviewing a book independently but presented collectively, with the organizer introducing the piece, and the author of the book responding to the reviews. The organizer will usually prepare a structure with the panel members, and many arise by way of ‘author-meets-critic’ conference sessions. In the best review fora, the contributors bring their (sub)disciplinary and thematic expertise to examine a particular chapter or line of argument from the book. Together, these create a compelling examination of the whole text from a variety of angles.

With review fora, we generally recommend that organizer writes a 500-word introduction, the review panel members write 1,000–1,500-word commentaries, and the book’s author responds with a minimum of 1,500 words. We offer a degree of flexibility with review fora and their specific word counts, and as such will discuss this with organizers individually.

Please remember that all contributions to the AAGRB should be written in a style that is accessible to a cross-disciplinary and international readership. Keep in mind that the best reviews are something of an art form and entirely worth reading on their own.

At any point a reviewer thinks a book does not merit a review, they should discuss the matter with the editor.

Timelines and Processes

We usually request that the review be completed within three months of receipt of the book. However, there is some flexibility with this and a submission date is agreed between the editorial team and the reviewer. If the review cannot be completed within six months of receipt, we request that the book be returned to the AAGRB office for re-commission.

Once the review manuscript is submitted to the AAGRB, it will be read by the editor, who will make suggestions and comments and return the manuscript to the review author for revisions. Once a final manuscript is submitted, it will be assigned to a journal issue, and sent to the publishers. The review author will receive proofs via CATS for their approval.

Reviews are submitted using ScholarOne. Following the commissioning of a review, reviewers will be sent a link which will provide details of the submission date and book details. We do not accept email submissions unless previously agreed with the editors.

Style Guidelines


All reviews should be written in U.S. English and begin with a heading containing the book’s bibliographic data. This heading should be organized as follows [double spaced]:

Title and Subtitle [Upper case and boldface]. Author(s) or Editor(s). Place of Publication: Name of Press, Date. pp.[both Roman and Arabic numerals]; maps, diagrs., ills., notes, bibliog., index [include these as appropriate]. $00.00 paper (ISBN); $00.00 cloth (ISBN); $00.00 electronic (ISBN).

Geographies of Mars: Seeing and Knowing the Red Planet. K. Maria D. Lane. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011. xiii and 266 pp., maps, photos, diagrams, illus., notes, bibliog., index. $45.00 cloth (ISBN 978-0-226-47078-4); $7.00 $36.00 electronic (ISBN 978-0-226-47095).

The reviewer’s data follows the bibliographic data [double spaced]:

Reviewed by Phil Topos, Department of Chorology, University of New Jersey, Pine Barrens, NJ.

All paragraphs of the review should be indented. Use 12-point type (Times New Roman) and double-space the text throughout the review. In addition, please include four or five keywords at the end of the review, as well as a region and theme.

Responsibility for accuracy rests with you, the reviewer. We therefore urge you use the style sheet below and check the final draft for accuracy of content, U.S. grammar, and U.S. spelling, along with the accuracy of cited passages and their page numbers! In addition, please make sure that ALL features such as appendices, bibliographies, diagrams, illustrations, indices, maps, notes, photos, tables, etc. are listed, and that the correct number of Roman numeral prefatory pages are indicated. Please remember that all contributions to the AAG Review of Books should be written in a style that is accessible to a cross-disciplinary and international readership.

General Style Points

1. All sources cited in the text of a paper must be listed in the references section, and vice versa. Authors will be asked to add textual references to any sources listed in the references section and not cited in the text, and to provide full citation information for any sources cited in the text and not listed in the references. Any sources the authors choose not to cite will be deleted.

2. Serial commas should be used: “the first, second, and fourth candidates” (rather than “the first, second and fourth candidates”).

3. Year date ranges should be expressed using whole years, rather than just the last two digits: “1932–1933,” rather than “1932–33.”

4. Reviewers should avoid over usage of hyphens.

Word Choice, Acronyms, etc.

5. “Percent” should always be spelled out in text.

6. In phrases such as “the discipline of geography,” geography should not be capitalized.

7. Please spell out acronyms when they are first used  even those authors might expect to be commonly understood. The acronym should appear in parentheses following the spelled-out title or term for later use. For example, when first referred to in-text “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is located in …” The abbreviation “CIA” can then be used for the remainder of the review.

8. Abbreviated country names do not need to be spelled out, but when abbreviated in-text they must be separated with a period. For example, when the United States is referred to in its abbreviated form it should appear as the “U.S.” rather than the “US.”

9. Words in a language other than English should be italicized only when they cannot be found in a standard English-language dictionary. Non-English words that are specific to a particular paper’s subject should be italicized and briefly defined when they are first used. Thereafter, they do not need to be italicized. The exception is scientific names of species (e.g., Canis familiaris), the convention for which is to retain italicization for all uses.


10. All quotation marks should be double. The only exception to this is if material is quoted within a quote, in which case single quotes are used for the embedded quote.

11. Periods and commas should appear inside quotation marks. All other punctuation should appear outside quotation marks, unless the quotation marks delineate a direct quote and the placement of the punctuation would alter the meaning of the quote.

12. “Scare quotes” (quotation marks used to set off a word that is not a direct quote) should be kept to a minimum and used only for emphasis. Unless the author feels it necessary to retain scare quotes on a particular term or terms throughout the paper, that term should be introduced in scare quotes and appear thereafter without them.

13. Direct quotes from secondary sources that are 60 words or more in length should be set as extracts/block quotes (i.e., separated from surrounding text by one line at beginning and one line at end, and indented 0.5 inches on either side). Shorter quotes should be integrated into the text.


14. Sources with up to three authors should be parenthetically cited every time using all author names; sources with more than three authors should be parenthetically cited every time using the first author name and “et al.” (“et al.” should not be italicized): Callifer et al. 1973. Note that all author names should be listed in the references section.

15. Articles not yet published should be referred to in parenthetical citations and in references as “forthcoming,” rather than as “in press” or by projected year of publication.

16. In the references section, all authors should be listed for each reference.


Reviewers can include their ORCiD identifier with their book reviews, should they wish to do so. This information should be included after the reviewer’s name and affiliation.

Example: Reviewed by Debbie Hopkins, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. ORCiD: 0000-0002-7778-8989

If you do not have an ORCiD identifier, but are interested in having one, these links will provide more information:

Register for an ORCiD identifier

Reviews are to be submitted vis ScholarOne using the link provided by the editorial team. If you have additional questions about format or content issues related to your book review, please contact the editorial team at AAGbooks@kellogg.ox.ac.uk or aagrbmailbox@gmail.com

Last updated: August 24, 2023