The Manual of SCD

The Manual of Scottish Country Dancing, known to dancers as The Manual, is regarded as the essential guide to Scottish Country Dancing, giving detailed instructions on steps and formations and other aspects of dance performance, along with information on its historical background and the wonderful music that makes it possible.

Evolution of The Manual

The volume has its origin in the booklet produced in 1924 by Miss Milligan, co-founder of the RSCDS and doyenne of Scottish Country Dancing, which was constantly revised and extended by her until her death, when the RSCDS acquired the copyright to its latest incarnation. Working parties of eminent RSCDS dancers from across the globe laboured to transform this into The Manual, first published in 1992, and to revise and amend it, issuing a second edition in 2005 and the current, third, edition in 2013 – an authoritative blend of Miss Milligan’s experience and wisdom with the advances and developments that have transformed Scottish Country Dancing to create a vibrant, constantly evolving, internationally practised dance form still firmly grounded in its traditional roots.

The 2013 edition is available for purchase in a hard copy or electronically (PDF) from the shop.



As new formations are devised and added to the bank of instructions, mistakes or misprints are identified and corrected, and changes are made to accepted practice; The Manual never stands still. Updates issued since 2013 can be downloaded on the publication updates page and a working party is engaged in producing a new, revised edition.

In this, the history and music sections will be extensively rewritten, in part to reflect the huge growth of popularity in Scottish Country Dancing outside Scotland (and the UK). The electronic version will eventually include helpful video clips to illustrate steps and formations.

Publication Updates

Mission statement

The reasoning behind the 2013 revised edition of The Manual being the same as those of the manuals previously adopted or published by the Society are:

  • To provide an accurate, factual and helpful source of reference for anyone interested in Scottish country dancing and the work of the RSCDS.
  • To provide a degree of standardisation for the practical performance of the steps, formations and dances found in RSCDS publications. This edition also includes descriptions of some common formations not currently in dances published by the RSCDS.
  • To provide advice to all who are involved in promoting the aims and objects of the RSCDS.
Contents of the 2013 edition:
  1. The Scottish Country Dance – Historical Background
  2. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
  3. The Scottish Country Dance
  4. The use of music in teaching dance
  5. Steps
  6. Hands and Handing; Formations
  7. Notes for dances
  8. Essential teaching skills and further advice
  9. Appendices

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Join an RSCDS Branch & receive member benefits

There are 159 RSCDS Branches and over 300 Affiliated Groups in more than 50 countries around the world, located on all continents (except Antarctica).

They organise and run classes, dances and other social events in their own areas and are committed to helping develop Scottish Dance and Music for future generations.

We encourage you to try Scottish Country Dancing for yourself to see just how much fun it can be, so please come along and learn how to 'Dance Scottish'. 

Wherever you are in the world there is most likely Scottish Country Dancing.

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