When Virginians cast their votes for a new governor next Tuesday, they will have heard and read a lot about the major party candidates - Republican John N. Dalton and Democrat Henry E. Howell - but they will know almost nothing about the men and women who will be key advisers to the winner.

They shouldn't feel left out. The top officials of the two campaigns and the candidates themselves say they know very little about who their advisers will be and have deliberately avoided spending much time thinking about it.

Neither Dalton nor Howell would list potential advisers when asked by reporters to do so during the last two days.

Dalton, a member of the present administration as lieutenant governor, understandably did not promise to clean house if elected governor.

"There will be no wholesale replacement of agency heads and cabinet officers if I am elected," he said in an interview. "I have been a part of this administration and stand behind it."

Dalton said there will be "selective changes" in key state administrative posts, but he declined to be more specific.

Howell was not available for an interview on the question of advisers as the campaign drew toward its end. His campaign manager, William Rosendahl, said in a telephone interview that not list of names has been compiled. "You will have to wait until after Nov. 8," he said.

Both Rosendahl and Dalton manager William A. Royall said that because the gubernatorial race is thought to be very close, the candidates and their staffs have devoted all their energies to winning, not to post-election planning.

The Howell campaign has a single adviser who has given thought to a transition from the administration of Republican Gov. Mills E. Godwin to a Howell administration. He is Larry Sabato, whose highly regarded analyses of recent Virginia elections have been published by the University of Virginia Institute of Government.

Rosendahl said Sabato has prepared a transition plan to guide Howell between election day and the Jan. 14 inauguration of the new chief executive. He has also made a list of goals that should be met in the first few months of an administration.

Rosendahl said that neither he nor Howell has seen the Sabato study or discussed it with him. "It won't be given to Henry until Nov. 9 the day after the election," Rosendahl said.

Dalton at one point in the campaign suggested that his staff make arrangements for post-election office space for a transition team, but Rovall said the candidate was persuaded that no time should be taken from the Campaign effort for this project.

"John Dalton is a part of the state government," Royall said. "He knows what needs to be done and what he wants to do. There will be time enough after he defeats Henry Howell," Royall said.

Howell's Democratic primary election opponent former Attorney General Andrew P. Miller, began transition planning even before the June 14 primary, only to be upset by Howell by about 13,000 votes out of about 403,000 cast.

Both campaign and government officials note that enough is known about the distinctly different Howell and Dalton styles to make broad predictions of their administrative style, whichever one is elected.

No less a commentator than President Carter joked about Howell's tendency to rely on his own political judgement rather than the advice of others when Carter campaigned for the Democrat in Virginia on Sept. 24.

Howell's staff members have described in interviews how their candidate challenges their ideas in planning sessions and often seems to dismiss suggestions that later show up in his speeches and policy statements.

Howell has often described himself in campaign speeches as "not an expert in anything" but "a super salesman" of good ideas that he gleans from others. He has also promised from time to time to staff his administration with "movers and shakers."

All of this seems to add up, in the view of those interviewed, to an unstructured Howell administration staffed by persons who will make policy proposals directly to Howell. His record as a campaigner indicates he himself would supply the political evaluation of these proposals.

Dalton's campaign style and his own statements suggest a more methodical administration.

He said in the interview that he expects to rely heavily on his cabinet, still a relatively new institution in Virginia, just as he has relied on a steering committee of senior advisers in his campaign.

He described this committee of 14 as balanced between conservatives and moderates. It includes one black and two women. He said he sometimes rejects its advice, but always gives it heavy weight in his decisions.

The committee includes former Gov. Linwood Holton; former Del. W. Roy Smith, an influential Democratic member of the House of Delegates before his retirment in 1975, former state GOP Chairman Richard D. Obenshain; Fairfax County Sheriff James D. Swinson, former Alexandria city Council member A. George Cook Ill and Del. Wyatt B. Durrette (R-Fairfax.

The heavy political coloration that these and other committee members give to the advice going to Dalton may not necessarily end with the campaign if he is elected. The candidate himself said in a recent speech, "Good government in good politics.I expect to be a good governor because I am a good politician."