Academic Style Sheet

This style sheet discusses some special rules for writing academic papers. The sections in large print contain essential information which all students should read carefully before embarking on their first paper. The sections in small print deal with special cases; they may be consulted as needed. For additional problems not covered in this style sheet consult the books by Standop and Gibaldi listed in the bibliography.

1. Layout

All essays must be typewritten or printed, with the text printed on one side only of DIN A4 paper. The pages are to be numbered with Arabic numerals. The spacing should be one and a half, except for indented quotations, footnotes and bibliographies, which should be single-spaced. Leave a margin for your teacher to write in.

      New paragraphs must be indented three to five spaces (like the word "New" 
in this paragraph).

2. Title Page and Contents Page

The title page contains a) the title of the paper; b) the title, semester, and lecturer of the seminar for which the paper has been written; c) the student's name, address and / or e-mail address. While the title page is included in the page count, the page number "1" is omitted. Hence, the first page number that appears is the "2" on the contents page.

      The table of contents appears on the second page (the text proper starts on the third page). It describes the structure of the paper and indicates the page on which each section or subsection begins.

3. Italics / Underlining

The following items should be italicised:

  • titles of independent publications, i.e. of books or journals (exceptions: the Koran, the Bible)
  • words or phrases that are not simply used but commented upon (e.g.: the words tale and tail are homophones; it is impossible to define the term democracy)
  • foreign words and phrases (e.g. sui generispar excellenceGemütlichkeit)

Italics for the purpose of emphasis should be avoided.

Instead of italicising words, you can underline them. This convention dates from the time when scholars used typewriters, which did not allow for italicisation. When a manuscript was handed in for publication, a passage that was underlined in the typewritten manuscript was italicised in print. Choose one of the two, either italics or underlining, and stick to it throughout your paper. Do not use both.

4. Quotation Marks

Double quotation marks (". . .") are used to indicate quotations and titles of publications that are not independent, i.e. publications that are part of a book or journal. This includes poems, short stories, articles, and book chapters. Example: The short story "The Dead" was published in 1914 as part of a collection entitled Dubliners. Single quotation marks ('. . .') indicate quotations within quotations as well as translations or definitions of words and phrases discussed in the paper. Example: In Shakespeare'sTwelfth Night, the word cousin means 'relative.'

5. Quotations

All quotations must, in every detail of orthography and punctuation, be identical with the source. Obvious mistakes in the source may be indicated by a [sic]. Quotations must also be accompanied by a bibliographic reference that enables the reader to locate the passage in the original source (see 7 below). Quotations have to be taken from the original. If, in exceptional cases, a passage is quoted from a second-hand source, a "qtd. in" (quoted in) must be added. Short quotations are marked by double quotation marks.

Quotations which cover more than three lines must be indented three to five spaces (like this paragraph). The spacing is single; the quotation marks are omitted. Longer quotations of verse are also presented in single spacing and without quotation marks. Shorter verse quotations may be integrated into the text, with the end of a verse being marked by a stroke: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate." The end of a stanza is signalled by a double stroke (//).

Modifying Quotations?

Sometimes it is necessary to add something to a quotation, e.g. to explain a pronoun that would otherwise be unintelligible. Like the above-mentioned [sic], such an addition must be placed in square brackets: "He [Gabriel Conroy] watched sleepily the silver flakes." If one wishes to omit a passage from the middle of a quotation, one must indicate this by means of an ellipsis which is placed in square brackets to signal that it is not in the original: "He watched [...] the silver flakes." If one wishes to change an upper-case letter into a lower-case one at the beginning of a quotation (or vice versa), one should indicate this with square brackets: James Joyce writes that "[h]e watched sleepily the silver flakes." Do not add unnecessary ellipses at the beginning or end of a quotation, as in the following example: James Joyce writes that "[...] [h]e watched sleepily the silver flakes [...]" If you wish to highlight a word in a quotation by means of italics, you have to add the explanatory comment "(emphasis added)."

      Modifications must not distort the meaning of the original and should be used sparingly. One should try to formulate the text surrounding the quotation in such a way that no modification is necessary.

6. Bibliography / Works Cited

An academic paper must contain a bibliography, i.e. a list of all the sources that have been used. It is placed at the end of the paper. The items listed are ordered alphabetically by the author's or editor's name. The relevant bibliographical facts about a book are taken not from its cover, but from its title page (inside the book) and, if necessary, from the small print on its half-title page (the reverse side of the title page). The following information is required in the following order:

  • Author's or editor's last and first name. Up to three authors or editors are listed; if there are more than three, only the first appears with the addition "et al." (Lat. et alii, 'and others'); for an editor or for editors, add "ed." or "eds."
  • Title and subtitle in italics; capitalise all words except articles, prepositions, and the following words: andorto; always capitalise the last word.
  • (Number of volumes, if more than one).
  • (Editor and / or translator, if named in addition to author).
  • (Edition, if not the first).
  • (Title of series, if book appeared in one, and number of volume, if volumes are numbered).
  • Place of publication, publisher, and date of publication; if impossible to ascertain, add "n.p." (no place of publication given), "n.p." (no publisher given) (this is no mistake; the two abbreviations are indeed identical), or "n.d." (no date of publication given). If more than one place is given, list only the first.

If an entry covers more than one line, indent the second and subsequent lines three to five spaces. This way the authors' names are more readily noticeable.

Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. London: Bloomsbury, 2003. Ortony, Andrew, ed. Metaphor and Thought. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1993.

Shelley, Mary. The Journals of Mary Shelley: 1814-1844. Ed. Paula R. Feldman and Diana Scott-Kilvert. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1995.

Wells, H. G. Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (Since 1866). 2 vols. London: Gollancz, 1934.

A journal article requires the following information: author of the article; title of the article in double quotation marks; journal title in italics; volume number; year of publication in round brackets followed by a colon; page numbers. For articles in collections, give first the title of the article, then the title of the collection, followed by page numbers.

Lehman, Steven. "The Motherless Child in Science Fiction: Frankenstein and Moreau." Science-Fiction Studies 19 (1992): 49-58.

Mellor, Anne K. "Frankenstein: A Feminist Critique of Science." One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature. Ed. George Levine. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1987. 287-312.

Some Special Cases

Reprint. A clear distinction should be made between reprints, in which the text remains unaltered, and new or revised editions, in which the text is altered. If a reprint is being used, it is insufficient to give only the publication date of the reprint. Instead, one must always provide the date of the last revised edition (or of the first edition, if it has not been altered).

      Individual work(s) from a multi-volume edition. There are two possibilities:

Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. 2 vols. Ed. Fredson Bowers. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1973. 2: 121-271.

Marlowe, Christopher. The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. 2 vols. Ed. Fredson Bowers. Cambridge: CUP, 1973.

If from the complete edition of Marlowe's works only Doctor Faustus is being discussed, the first solution is preferable; if several pieces are being examined, the second entry is the better choice.

      Newspaper or magazine. Clifford, James. "Encounters with the Exotic." Times Literary Supplement (22 June 1984): 683.


Work by anonymous author.For a work whose author or editor is not given on the title page, begin the entry with the title. Alphabetise by the first word of the title (ignoring articles). Do not use Anonymous.

      Pseudonym. If the author of a source is best known under a pseudonym, the source should be listed under the pseudonym, with the author's real name added in square brackets.

Twain, Mark [i.e. Samuel Langhorne Clemens]. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Ed. Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty, and Hudson Long. Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 1961.


Pfister, Manfred. The Theory and Analysis of Drama. Trans. John Halliday. European Studies in English Literature. Cambridge: CUP, 1988.

If the original title is important, it should be added in square brackets:

Pfister, Manfred. The Theory and Analysis of Drama [Das Drama: Theorie und Analyse]. Trans. John Halliday. European Studies in English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.

      Films or Movies. Films (in theaters or not yet on DVD or video) require the following information: title, name of the director, name of the film studio or distributor, and the release year. If relevant, performer names may be listed (headed by "perf.") after the director's name.

Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young. Warner Bros., 1982. Film.

      Recorded Films or Movies. Recorded fims films or movies require the following information: title, name of the director, the distributor, and the release year. If relevant, performer names may be listed (headed by "perf.") after the director’s name. End the entry with the appropriate medium of publication (e.g. DVD, VHS, Laser disc).

Matrix. Dir. The Wachowski Brothers. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss. Warner Bros., 1999.DVD.

      Recorded Television Episodes (e.g. DVD, Videocassette). Recorded television episodes require the following information: episode name in quotation marks, the series name in italics, the distributor name, and the date of distribution. End with the medium of publication (e.g. DVD, Videocassette, Laser disc). Information about directors, writers, performers, producers between the title and the distributor name may be included by using abbreviations: dir., writ., perf., prod. etc.

"The One Where Chandler Can't Cry." Friends: The Complete Sixth Season. Writ. Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. Dir. Kevin Bright. Warner Brothers, 2004. DVD.

      Source not published as book. Some dissertations are available only on microfilm. In such cases, the entry should contain the additions "diss." and "microfilm":

Dietze, Rudolf F. Ralph Ellison: The Genesis of an Artist. Diss. U Erlangen-Nürnberg, Microfilm.

      Publication on CD-ROM. CD-ROMs are cited in the same way as printed texts, with the simple addition "CD-ROM":

Braunmuller, A. R., ed. Macbeth. By William Shakespeare. CD-ROM. New York: Voyager, 1994.

      Online publication or website. The three examples that follow refer to a complete scholarly project or information database, a document within a scholarly project or database, and a personal home page; if you cannot find all of the information listed here, cite what is available:

The Electronic Text Center. Ed. David Seaman. 1998. Alderman Lib., U of Virginia. 14 Feb. 1998 <>.

Dove, Rita. "Lady Freemdom among Us." The Electronic Text Center. Ed. David Seaman. 1998. Alderman Lib., U of Virginia. 19 June 1998 <>.

Dawe, James. Jane Austen Page. 15 Sept. 1998 <>.

      Relevant source not accessible. Works which appear relevant to a paper, but which are neither obtainable in the available libraries nor via interlibrary loan, may be included in the bibliography with the explanatory comment "not accessible."

7. Documenting Sources

In an academic paper, the use of a source must be documented (not only if it is quoted from directly but also if it is paraphrased). The use of a source must be indicated immediately; listing it in the bibliography or referring to it somewhere else in the paper is not enough.

      Since the bibliography contains a complete list of cited works, the author's last name and the page number generally suffice to document a source in the main text of the paper. Example: In an article on The Island of Dr Moreau, Gorman Beauchamp describes the novella as a "theological grotesque" (409). Or: The Island of Dr Moreau has been described as a "theological grotesque" (Beauchamp 409). Sources should not be indicated by footnotes. If several works by an author are listed in the bibliography, an abbreviated version of the title must be added to the author's last name (e.g. Atwood, Oryx 35). If a source is being used several times in a row, the author's name need not be repeated every single time. Basic rule: It must be obvious to the reader from which source a particular piece of information has been taken. Here are a few additional ways of indicating page numbers:

  • ibid.): quotation is from the same page as the previous quotation (from Latin ibidem, 'in the same place');
  • (ibid. 188): quotation is from the same source as the previous one, only from a different page;
  • 188 f.): pages 188 and 189;
  • 188 ff.): page 188 and two or or more of the pages following; in this case, a more precise reference like (188-200) is preferable.

When citing primary texts, always use a scholarly and reliable edition - the latest standard edition, if possible. In the case of the Bible, Shakespeare's plays and similarly well-known texts, which exist in many different editions, it might be more helpful to the reader if the page numbers are replaced with a different type of reference. In quoting from plays that are divided into acts and scenes, indicate the act, scene and line(s) (e.g. Much Ado About Nothing 1.2.24-26); in the case of long poems, give stanza and verse numbers.

Footnotes / Endnotes Footnotes are nor required for documenting sources. They can be used for a qualification, an explanation or additional evidence whose inclusion in the main text would interrupt the argument considerably. Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout a paper or, in the case of longer papers, throughout individual chapters. The existence of a footnote is indicated in the main text by a superscript Arabic numeral (i.e. by an Arabic numeral that is raised slightly above the line). The numerals should be placed immediately after the sentences, clauses, or phrases containing the quoted material; they should follow, rather than precede, punctuation marks.

The use of abbreviated book, journal, and series titles is acceptable if the abbreviations are common in the field of English studies - e.g. OED or PMLA. A list of internationally accepted abbreviations of journal titles can be found on the first pages of each volume of the MLA Bibliography; for the standard abbreviations of Shakespeare's plays and other important works (including the Biblical writings), see the MLA Handbook. In a bibliographical entry, University Press can be abbreviated as UP (e.g. Princeton UP or U of Madison P); Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press are shortened to CUP and OUP. If one wishes to use abbreviations that are not readily understood (e.g. in discussing several novels with long titles whose abbreviations would render the text more readable), one must explain these abbreviations in a list at the beginning of the paper.

8. Documenting Sources in Linguistics

Most linguists prefer a bibliographical convention that differs from the one given above in one respect. In the works cited, the date of publication is not placed at the end of the entry but after the name of the author (compare the following entries with the entries for the same books and articles under 6):

Baugh, Albert C., and Thomas Cable. 1978. A History of the English Language. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

Culler, Jonathan. 1973. "Paradox and the Language of Morals in La Rochefoucauld." Modern Language Review 68: 28-39.

Lakoff, George. 1993. "The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor." Metaphor and Thought. Ed. Andrew Ortony. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP. 202-251.

In a parenthetical citation based on this type of bibliography, the year of publication is added to the name of the author. Example: It has been argued that "metaphor [...] is absolutely central to ordinary natural language semantics" (Lakoff 1993: 203). Or: Lakoff argues that "metaphor [...] is absolutely central to ordinary natural language semantics" (1993: 203). In the citations, several works by one author are not distinguished by short titles but by the year (e.g. Lakoff 1993, Lakoff 1998, etc.). Several works by one author published in the same year are distinguished by small letters (e.g. Lakoff 1993a, Lakoff 1993b, etc.).

9. Plagiarism

If you use somebody else's words or ideas without acknowledging it, you are guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a severe offence, and it will be sanctioned accordingly. For an exhaustive definition of plagiarism, and tips on how to avoid it, see this web page published by Indiana University, Bloomington.

As a safeguard against plagiarism, the following declaration of authenticity must be attached to every written assignment:

I hereby declare that the work submitted is my own and that all passages and ideas that are not mine have been fully and properly acknowledged. I am aware that I will fail the entire course should I include passages and ideas from other sources and present them as if they were my own.

------------------            ----------------
Signature                     Date

10. Bibliography

Gibaldi, Joseph, ed. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2003.

Standop, Ewald and Matthias Meyer. Die Form der wissenschaftlichen Arbeit. 17th ed. Wiebelsheim: Quelle und Meyer, 2004.

11. What this Style Sheet Is Not About

This style sheet sets out the special rules for writing academic papers. Apart from conforming to these rules, papers should also be well-structured and written in a correct and clear style. To achieve this, you may find the following works helpful.

Aczel, Richard. How to Write an Essay. Stuttgart: Klett, 1998.

Crowther, Jonathan, et al. Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English. Oxford: OUP, 2002.

Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell The Holt Handbook. 5th ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Sinclair, John, et al. Collins Cobuild English Dictionary. London: HarperCollins, 1995.

Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 2nd ed. Oxford: OUP, 1995.