Helpful Hints on Citations, Plaque Locations

From IEEE Milestones Wiki

Because Milestones are dedicated in many different parts of the world, and each situation varies, this page is intended to help people writing Milestone Proposals with hints and suggestions. Consult with staff at for additional advice.

Writing a good citation

Citations are a maximum of 70 words because of size limitations of the plaque. 60 looks better. Different word-processing programs may count "words" differently. It is best to do a final hand count to be sure. For milestone plaques, numbers, acronyms, and abbreviations count as words. Hyphenated words are counted separately, e.g. "remote-controlled" is two words.

The goal is to make the citation as meaningful as possible to the general public. One of the secrets to writing a good citation is to focus on the achievement, and what made the achievement most significant. The broader the claim, the harder it is to support, and thus the harder for the History Committee to approve the milestone. "First" is often difficult to prove, so it is best to avoid the word unless you have very solid documentation.

Active voice is preferred over the passive voice. For example, "On this site, XYZ developed the device..." is better than "The device was developed at this site by XYZ corporation..."

Acronymns should be spelled out unless they are in very common and international usage.

Oxford comma. It is IEEE style to use the Oxford comma to separate a series. Thus, "The device was conceived, designed, and constructed..." instead of "The device was conceived, designed and constructed..."

The title includes a year or year range, thus it is usually not necessary to include the date(s) in the text of the citation. "On this site, from 1967-1969...") Not repeating the dates will also save you words. An exception to this is when the achievement took place over several years, and that needs to be explained in the citation.

Avoid using words such as "today," or "now" ("...led to many devices in use today...") as the plaque is intended to be relevant many years from the date it is mounted, and even a widespread technology might no longer be in use in the future.

Words such as "demonstrated" can have multiple meanings, and need to be used with care. Although it is possible to demonstrate something in a paper, the general public reading the plaque will assume that "demonstrated" means demonstrated via a physical object or actual display.

Location of the plaque(s)

Finding an appropriate location for the milestone plaque is sometimes one of the most difficult obstacles milestone proposers face. The building where something happened may have been torn down or altered; the achievement might have occurred in a place not safe or accessible to the public (on a satellite in space, on the main line of a railroad, etc.); the owners of the site may not wish to have a plaque attached to their property, etc.  However, with some creative thinking, an appropriate place can usually be found. If the lab where something was developed no longer exists, perhaps the place where it was demonstrated to the public, or had its first operational use, is.  In cases where the location is remote (e.g. a power transmission line), a duplicate plaque at the power utility's in-town offices may be appropriate.

The purpose of the plaque is to increase the general publics appreciation of the heritage of IEEE's fields of interest, and the plaque location should be chosen with that in mind.

Following are some examples of location obstacles, and the solutions used. Details may be found on the specific milestone pages (see list of dedicated milestones).

Telstar Satellite: The ground station in Andover, Maine, was no longer in existance, and the land itself was owned by a new owner, and was not publicly accessible. The plaque was therefore mounted on a stone in the town commons nearby, where many more people would see it and be aware of the importance.

Thomas A. Edison West Orange Laboratories: The Laboratories are owned by the United States National Park Service, which does not allow plaques on its property. The nominators approached the Town of West Orange, which made a site for the plaque available in a well-trafficked area a little more than 1 km away from the labs.

Here is a photograph of an attractive mounting of the Milestone plaque for the First Optical Fiber Laser and Amplifier in the Southbridge, Massachusetts town common. The building where the laser was developed (in the background) had been converted to private residences, and did not have an appropriate place to attach the plaque. Therefore, the plaque was placed in the more public commons nearby.

Here is an example of a pedestal mounting of a milestone plaque.
Here is an example of a wall mounting of a milestone plaque with a second plaque bearing the translation.
Here is an example of an exterior wall mounting of a milestone plaque.
The Uruguay Section came up with an elegant way to create the Spanish translation of the milestone plaque for the Rincon del Bonete Hydroelectric Station. The bronze English-language plaque is mounted on the powerhouse wall, while the lucite translation is mounted in the overlook. Both are viewable by the public.
Here is an example of a sidewalk mounting of a milestone plaque.
The French Transatlantic telegraph cable Milestone plaque integrates the plaque with explanatory historical material on the same plinth on the French coast below the former cable station.
The Poulsen-Arc Radio Transmitter plaque is mounted next to photographs of Poulsen and his transmitter
The Multiple Silicon Technologies on a Chip plaque mounting evokes the circuit technology it commemorates.

For details of plaque dimensions, bolt hole locations, and the hardware involved in installing a plaque, please see Plaque mounting details

Back to Milestone Program Guidelines