Guidelines for Papers and Theses: House Style

These guidelines give general instructions about the format and organization of research papers and theses in English.

The instructions draw from different sources, but mainly follow the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines for documenting and referring to sources. Please note that the guidelines are those recommended by the English section of the Department of Language and Communication Studies; other disciplines may require that you follow a different system. The instructions are formulated for word processing (MS Word).


General format


The recommended fonts are Book Antiqua or Times New Roman. Font size in the text must be 12. A larger font (14) can be used for headings.


The recommended line spacing is 1.5. Longer quotations should be single-spaced and separated from the text.


In research papers and theses that are not bound, use 2.5 cm margins on all sides.


Paragraphs can be divided either by leaving a blank line between paragraphs, or by indenting the first line of a new paragraph by five spaces.

If the paragraph follows a new section heading, the first line is not indented.

Page numbering

Page numbering should be visible from the first page of the introduction. Previous pages such as the abstract and contents are counted but are not given visible page numbers. The title page is not counted.

Page numbering continues until the end of the document, including the bibliography and appendices.

Place the page number at the centre of the top of the page.


For highlighting or emphasis, use italics. Bold print can also be used for clarity if necessary (for instance if you use a lot of linguistic examples that require italics).


Endnotes and footnotes should be used sparingly. If you do use notes, they should be placed at the bottom of the page using smaller font size (10) and single-spacing.

Organisation of the text

2.1       Sections and headings

The work should be divided into sections and, if necessary, subsections. All sections and subsections should have a clear and concise heading. The headings serve as guidelines of the overall organization of the thesis. Therefore headings that reflect the topic and content of the work are better than very general ones (e.g. Analysis). Chapter headings should be typed in capitals using bold print. Section headings are also typed with bold print, but not capitalized.  

The level of the section is indicated with numbers. The number of levels depends on the length of the work and the complexity of the subject matter. However, too much complexity should be avoided: the number of levels should not be more than three or four.   


2.1  Theories of politeness

2.1.1  Brown and Levinson’s theory


2.2       Organization of sections

The main sections of a Master’s thesis should be arranged as follows:

Title page
Abstract (‘tiivistelmä’) 
Table of contents   [linkki malliin tulossa]
Lists of figures, tables, and abbreviations  
Body of the text  


2.3    Tables and Figures

All tables and figures in the text must be numbered and should always have a heading. The number and heading of a table are placed above the table and those of a figure under the figure. For example: 

Table 1. Test scores of control and experimental groups


Mean score

Standard deviation

Low score

High score


Group A






Group B






Group C






All students







When you refer to the table in the text, use the number of the table: e.g. Table 1 shows the test scores of the three groups.

2.4   Examples

Examples from your data (e.g. samples of text or discourse) should be numbered. The numbering of the examples should be continuous and marked in a systematic manner throughout the text.

All tables and figures in the text must be numbered and should always have a heading. The number and heading of a table are placed above the table and those of a figure under the figure. For example: If you use examples from published sources or a corpus, make sure you provide a clear reference to the source. If your examples are from a data set collected for the purposes of your study (discourse data, interviews, field notes), use a clear system of reference that helps you locate the original text or event that the example is drawn from.

If your examples come from interviews or discourse data in Finnish, an English translation should be included English. For short examples, the translation is given in the text. If the examples are long, the original samples of data and their translations into English can be given in the appendices.
Examples should be separated from the body of the text with a blank line before and after. They should also be clearly indented from the inside margin (5-10 spaces).  
Font size and line-spacing in examples can be smaller than in the body of the text (font 10 or 10.5, single-spaced).

               (1)  This is an example of how to present examples in the paper or thesis.

Short linguistic examples (e.g. words, phrases, short sentences) can be part of the body of the text. These should be clearly indicated by using italics. as in the following example:

            The speaker’s use of the interrogative how can you justify implies that …

Words or expressions which need to be glossed or translated should be italicized and the gloss itself marked with single inverted commas (single quotation marks), as follows:

            The word friissata 'freeze' occurs repeatedly in game vocabulary.

2.5    Appendices

Appendices can be used to include material that is not directly relevant to the main content but needs to be referred to in the text. For instance, if your study is based on a questionnaire or (semi)structured interviews, the questionnaire or interview plan must be included in the appendices. Appendices must have a heading and they must be numbered.

Sources and Citations

We recommend that you get acquainted with RefWorks, an online research management tool designed to help manage information, citations and bibliographies. Refworks is particularly useful for managing in-text citations and creating the bibliography. You can create a free account through the university network. More information and instructions can be found at: https://www.refworks.com/refworks2/?r=authentication::init&groupcode=RWJyvaskylaU

3.1   Using other writers’ work in your text

Using ideas from other texts and citing other people’s work is a central part of academic writing. By citing previous research you can incorporate information from other studies in your own discussion of the topic and support your own argumentation with ideas and information drawn from these studies.

When you use information from other people’s work, you must always indicate the source. Using other people’s ideas without acknowledging them is plagiarism.

Referring to other authors’ work is done in two ways:

  • giving the author’s name (or the title of the work if the author cannot be identified), the year of publication and often also the page number of the work in the text
  • providing the full citation information in your list of references (bibliography)

The purpose of references is to show the reader where the original idea or information can be found and allow the reader to check your interpretation of it. When using other studies in your work, you also need to make sure that the sources you use are reliable. When in doubt, discuss the reliability of your source with your supervisor.

3.2 Alternative ways of citing other writers’ work

In information prominent citations the focus is on the information or topic. The reference is given in parentheses at the end of the sentence:

Literacy practices are central when adult learning in higher education is concerned (Lea 1999: 111).

In some contexts, second language learners have been found to produce more speech than native speakers (Kasper and Blum-Kulka 1993: 9).

In author prominent citations the focus is on the author as the source of some original idea or information:

Seedhouse (2004) analyses the interactional features of classroom discourse …

In a recent study of student performance Seedhouse (2004) ...

There are three acceptable ways of bringing in ideas and information from other writers’ work: paraphrasing, quoting and summarising.

3.2.1 Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the most typical way of citing sources. In a paraphrase you use your own words to report the information taken from a source. A paraphrase is roughly the same length as the original text. If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, make sure you give the page number in addition to indicating the author and year of publication in your text reference.


Original:  “Gender is never static but is produced actively and in interaction with others every day of our lives: speakers are seen as ‘performing’ masculinity and femininity” (Thornborrow and Coates 2005: 9).”

Paraphrase:  Gender should not be seen as static; rather, masculinity and femininity can be viewed as something that is done or ‘performed’ by speakers (Thornborrow and Coates 2005: 9).

Unacceptable paraphrase: Gender is not static, but produced actively in interaction with others, which means that speakers are seen as ‘performing’ masculinity and femininity (Thornborrow and Coates 2005: 9).  [this paraphrase is too close to the original]

If you want to show that you have drawn on the same source for several lines, you need to include an overt statement to this effect within your text. For example:

Coates (1997: 285-286) writes about the performance of femininity and masculinity. Her analysis focuses on the way that girls perform their identity and present themselves as gendered beings. She argues that the culture we live in offers different ways of being, but that all these ways are gendered.

3.2.2  Quoting

Sometimes you may want to quote your source verbatim. Quotations are used

  • when the wording of the original is particularly pertinent to an idea that you are discussing
  • when the writer has used a word, expression or term in an original or novel way
  • to avoid ambiguity or misinterpretation of source material

In quotations it is important to

  • use the original wording exactly (including punctuation, spelling, italics, and even typing errors)

If you change any part of the original text, you need to indicate this in the text. For example:

“Gender is never static but is produced actively and in interaction with others every day of our lives: speakers are seen as ‘performing’ masculinity and femininity” (Thornborrow and Coates 2005: 9, emphasis added).

If the original text has an error or misprint, you can indicate this with marking [sic] after the relevant item in the text.

  • indicate short quotes using double quotation marks. Quoting someone’s work verbatim without indicating this is plagiarism.
  • quotations that are longer than two or three lines can also be separated from the surrounding text by indenting them, using smaller font and single-spacing, and leaving a blank line before and after. In this case it is not necessary to use quotation marks, but the source must be indicated.

Gender is never static but is produced actively and in interaction with others every day of our lives: speakers are seen as ‘performing’ masculinity and femininity”.  In their talk, men and women can be seen to align themselves with the dominant norms of masculinity and femininity as they ‘do’ gender with one another.  (Thornborrow and Coates 2005: 9)

  • keep the quotation as short as possible
  • give the name of the author, year of publication and page number when you refer to the source

3.2.3   Summarising
You can also summarise a part or section of a book or article in our own words without directly quoting or paraphrasing information from the source. While a paraphrase is roughly the same length as the original text, a summary conveys the same message in a concise and condensed way.

When you summarise information, you should introduce the summary by referring to the source as early as possible in the summarising sentences or paragraph(s). The summarising text can be organised using meta-textual elements (e.g. first, second, third). This helps the reader follow the text.

James (1988: 112-113) identifies the following characteristic features of errors. First, ungrammatical utterances are always erroneous in any context. Second, if a form is unacceptable in its context, it is erroneous even if its form is grammatical. Third, an error differs from a mistake in that it is unintentional.

In some cases, the reference can be placed at the end of a summarising sentence or text.  If you summarise information in one summarising sentence, the reference is placed inside the sentence, as follows:

Several prototypical features of advertising can be identified: advertisements use a variety of substances; they are multimodal, embedded in accompanying discourse, and parasitic, using the voices of other genres (Cook 1992: 219).

If your summary extends over two or more sentences, you need to show this by adding an explicit statement to this effect in your text. For example:

Rogers (2004:14) discusses several problems related to CDA. She criticises the unequal balance between social theory and linguistic analysis, which varies according to the background of the analyst. She also claims that methodology is not systematic, nor rigorous.


3.3 Referring to sources within the text

When are page numbers needed?

If you are referring to an entire book or article, there is no need to give the page number in the text; a reference to the author and year of publication is enough.

Recent research on attitudes within discursive social psychology (Potter 1996, 1998, 2000) adopt a social constructionist view.

If you are summarising or paraphrasing some part of the source, or if the information you are citing can be located on particular pages, page numbers must always be indicated.

How to refer to works of fiction?

When you use examples from literary sources or films as examples in your work, you can refer to them using the title of the work in italics.  References in examples should also include the page number, where possible. If you refer to a television series, give the title of the series or show and the number of the episode.

How to cite a work by several authors?

If you are referring to work written by up to three authors, all the authors’ names must be indicated in each reference. If there are three authors, give all the names the first time you refer to the source. After this later in the text you can give the first author’s name and indicate the others with ‘et al.’ (from Latin et alii). If there are more than three authors, you may use et al.

Leiwo et al. (1987) carried out an extensive study of classroom discourse interaction in Finnish schools.

How to cite several works of the same author?

If you refer to several studies by the same author, they can be referred to by indicating the year of publication (e.g. Potter 1996, 1998, 2000). If you refer to sources published the same year, use low case letters (a, b, c) to indicate which of the sources you refer to (e.g. Potter 2000a, 2000b).

How to cite a work with corporate author?

Some documents are published without the name(s) of the author(s). These include official documents such as syllabuses, committee reports, statutes and manuals. These publications are referred to by indicating the full title and the year of publication (e.g. Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2004, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages 2003). If you make frequent use of these documents, you can also refer to them using an abbreviated title (LOPS 2004, CEFR 2003). You may also want to cite a study that is not written by specific author(s), but rather by an organization, government department or agency or commission. In this case you indicate the source by referring to the name of the organization and the year of publication of the work.  You can either include the name of the corporate author in the text (with the year of publication in parentheses) or give it in parentheses after citing the work.

Human Rights Watch (2005) specified children’s rights as follows ….


A recent study reports on interviews with hundreds of children in different parts of the world (Human Rights Watch 2005).

When to use ibid.?

If you need to cite the same work repeatedly, you can use ibid. to show that you are referring to the same source. However, ibid. (from Latin ibidem) should be used sparingly, and only if the original reference can be found close in the text (e.g. in the same paragraph). Do not use ibid. if there is any risk of confusion as to which of the earlier references it is linked to. Often it is better to use metatext to indicate that the points come from the same source.

How to refer to a source indirectly?

If you cannot get hold of the original source of a study and need to refer to the work through another source, the reference is given in the following way:

Adult learners may experience difficulties in adapting to the academic writing community (Ivanic 1998, as quoted by Lea 1999: 108).  [or alternatively: Ivanic 1998, cited in Lea 1999:108]

In this case you include the source that you have used in the bibliography.

How to cite electronic sources?

In general electronic sources are referred to using the same author/date method of reference as for other published sources: give the name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication or of the most recent update. When you refer to papers and articles that have been published both online and off-line, always use this method of referring.  The full details of the source, including page numbers where possible, are given in the bibliography.

Collectively authored web sources are referred to using the title of the web page and the year of publication.

If the author’s name and the date cannot be identified, use the title of the document or of the  web page and the abbreviation n.d. (=no date). If the title is long, you can refer to the source by giving the first few words of the title. The full title is given in the bibliography.

If you are referring to a part of a web document with no identified author, indicate which part you are referring to by giving a section title or heading of the part that you are referring to. The details of the web source are given in the bibliography.

The Bibliography

The bibliography serves your reader. With the help of the information you give about your sources, the reader can find the sources in libraries, book shops or on the Internet and read more about the issues you have raised in your paper (or check that you have used the sources properly).

All the sources that you have cited in your paper or thesis must be included in the bibliography. Other sources that you may have consulted but do not cite, are not included. The bibliography must give all the necessary information about the sources, in other words who wrote the work (author or authors), when the work was published (year of publication), what the work is called (title of book, paper, article, website), and where it was published (e.g. title of journal or website).

If your study is based on published sources (e.g. if you are studying a work of fiction), you should list primary sources and secondary sources separately. Primary sources are those works that you have used as data for analysis. Secondary sources are the studies, scholarly works and other sources that you have used as background or material to help you analyse the primary sources.

The bibliography is organized alphabetically. Entries in the bibliography are marked as follows.

4.1 Books

General format

  • author name(s)
  • publication year (in brackets)
  • title of work (in italics, first word capitalised)
  • place of publication (city or home town of publisher)
  • publisher

One author

Street, B.V. (1995). Social literacies. Critical approaches to literacy in development, ethnography and education. London: Longman.

Yule, G. (2006). The study of language (3rd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • if you refer to an edition other than the first, indicate this in parenthesis. This is important especially in cases where the later edition differs from the original one

Two authors

Barton, D. and Hamilton M. (1998). Local literacies. Reading and writing in one community. London: Routledge.

  • use italics for the title of the book
  • if the title of the book has a main heading and a subheading, use the full  stop to separate the two headings; use a colon only if it is used by the author of the original work

Three or more authors

Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

Ochs, E., Schegloff, E. and Thompson, S. (Eds.) (1996). Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • if you refer to more than one work published by the same author, list them in chronological order (e.g. Potter 1996, Potter 1998); if you need to refer to several studies from the same year, list them in alphabetical order by title and separate them using letters after the year (Potter 2000a, Potter 2000b)

Edited books

Duranti, A. and Goodwin, C. (Eds.) (1992). Rethinking context. Language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Carson, J. G. and Leki, I. (Eds.) (1993). Reading in the composition classroom: second language perspectives. Boston, MA: Heinle and Heinle.

Edited and translated books

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981) The dialogic imagination: four essays. (M. Holquist. Ed., C. Emerson and M.l. Holquist, Trans.). Austin and London: University of Texas Press.

Dictionaries and other works by corporate authors

Concise Oxford English dictionary (2004). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Microsoft Windows. User’s guide for the windows graphical environment. (1990). Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.

Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteet (2003). Helsinki: Opetushallitus.

Modern Language Association (2008). MLA Handbook for writers of research papers. 3rd ed. New York: MLA.

  • if you refer to an edition other than the first, indicate this in the reference


Martin Rojo, L. (2006). Gender and Political Discourse. In Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. (2nd ed), 742–749.

Articles in journals

  • author(s) (last name followed by initials)
  • title of article (first word and proper nouns capitalised)
  • title of journal / periodical (in italics)
  • volume number
  • pages

Baynham, M. (1996). Humour as an interpersonal resource in adult numeracy classes. Language and Education 10 (2), 187–200.

Stevenson, M., Schoonen, R. and de Glopper, K. (2003). Inhibition or compensation? A multidimensional comparison of reading processes in Dutch and English. Language Learning 53 (4), 765–815.

  • this style is used for articles that are published both in print and online. When referring to an online version of the article, you need to include also the URL address (see Electronic sources, below)

Articles in edited books (anthologies, collections)

  • author(s) of the article (last name followed by initials)
  • title of article (first word and proper nouns capitalised)
  • editors
  • title of edited book (in italics)
  • place of publication
  • publisher
  • pages

Baynham, M. (2000). Academic writing in new and emergent discipline areas. In M.R. Lea and B. Stierer (eds.), Student writing in higher education. Bury St Edmunds: Open University Press, 17–31.

Lea, M.R. (1999). Academic literacies and learning in higher education: constructing knowledge through texts and experience. In C. Jones, J. Turner and B. Street (eds.), Student writing in the university. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 103–124.

Articles in magazines and newspapers

Ross, D. (1994). Waiving the rules. New Statesman and Society, April 22, 1994, 31–32.

Krugman, A. (2007). Fear of eating. New York Times, May 21, 2007, p. A1.

Published theses and dissertations

Hakamäki, L. (2005). Scaffolded assistance provided by an EFL teacher during whole-class interaction. Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities 32. University of Jyväskylä.

Unpublished theses and dissertations

Haakana, M. (2000). Laughing matters. A conversation analytical study of laughter in doctor-patient interaction. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Helsinki, Department of Finnish Language.

Lehtonen, A. (2004). English in internal company communication. The employees' views, attitudes and competences. Unpublished Pro Gradu Thesis. University of Jyväskylä, Department of Languages.

Keski-Heiska, A.-M. (2009). English teachers as constructed in the learning autobiographies written by university students. Unpublished Pro Gradu thesis. University of Jyväskylä, Department of Languages. https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/handle/123456789/21726.

Unpublished papers

Leppänen, S. (2011) Policing language identities in translocal practices online. Paper presented at the AILA conference, Beijing, 23–28 August, 2011.

Electronic sources

1) Article in an Online Scholarly Journal That Also Appears in Print

When you cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print, do it in the same way as you would cite a scholarly journal in print, including the page range of the article. Also provide the URL address of the article or the DOI number of the article.

Milani, T. M. 2010. What's in a name? Language ideology and social differentiation in a Swedish print-mediated debate. Journal of Sociolinguistics [online] 14(1), 595–600. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=a92a58e3-0d31-439f-85f4-f8e80d5898d2%40sessionmgr10&vid=4&hid=17

You can also refer to an online article in a precise way by using digital object identifier (doi.). Many scholarly journals, for example, use the doi. name for identifying online articles. The doi. name is usually found on the first page of the article. When referring to articles identified by doi., simply give the doi. name after the author and title of the article.

Piirainen-Marsh, A. (2011). Irony and the moral order of secondary school classrooms. Linguistics and Education, 364–382. 
doi: 10.1016/j.linged.2010.09.003.

2) Article in an Online-only Scholarly Journal

If you cite a journal which appears exclusively in an online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) that does not make use of page numbers, use the abbreviation n. pag. to denote that there is no pagination for the publication. Make sure to provide the URL address of the article and the date of access.

Dolby, N. (2008). Research in youth culture and policy: current conditions and future directions. Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal [online] 6 (2), n. pag. http://www.socwork.de/sws/article/view/60/120

3) Books (or part of a book)

“Creole”, Encyclopaedia Britannica 2005. Encyclopaedia Britannica Premium Service [online]. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9027846. (19 October, 2009).

4) Official documents

Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteet 2003. Finnish National Board of Education [online]. http://www.edu.fi/julkaisut/maaraykset/ops/lops_uusi.pdf. (14 March, 2009).

5) Papers and documents published on web-sites

Burka, L.P. (1993). A hypertext history of multi-user dimensions. MUD history [online]. http://www.utopia.com/talent/1pb/muddex/essay. (10 November, 2008).

GVU’s 8th WWW user survey (n.d.). [online] http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/usersurveys/survey1997-10.  (8 August, 2009).

6) Web-sites

Human Rights Watch 2003: Children’s rights. http://www.hrv.org/children. (20 February, 2003).

The writing centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. http://www.wisc.edu/writing. (10 November, 2002).


For more information on managing citations, see for example “Frequently Asked Questions About APA Style” http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/index.aspx