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Essays and papers

Length & content

Individual professors will specify the length of papers, though the text of term papers, excluding endnotes and bibliography, is usually fifteen (15) to twenty (20) pages (3750 to 5000 words) long. Individual professors will also generally give specifications about research protocols and methodologies.

Stylistic guidelines

In the Human Sciences, there is an increasing tendency to use the "author-date" system of documentation. This is rapidly replacing the older "footnote-bibliography" system and is recommended by this style sheet. The author-date system is more efficient and takes up less space. Instead of footnotes or endnotes, all references are placed within the body of the paper by noting in brackets simply the author's name, the date of publication when necessary, and the page number(s). A List of References with full bibliographic data is then given at the end of the paper. This style is represented by examples A-C of the references section below. Some professors may wish to retain the footnote-bibliography system. This style is represented by example D of the references section below.

Title page

For a short paper, type the title two (2) or three (3) inches from the top of the page on which the paper begins, double space, and type the student's name, double space again, and start the paper. For a longer paper use a title page, including title, writer's name and student number, course number and name, and date. In this case the title does not appear on the first page of the text.

Page numbers

The title page, the preface and the table of contents, when used, are unnumbered, as is the first page of the text. Each succeeding page is numbered with an Arabic numeral beginning with page 2. Numerals should be placed in the top right-hand corner, one inch (26 mm) from the top and side edges of the paper. No abbreviations, such as p. or pg., should be used with the numeral.


All papers should be typed double-spaced on one side of the page with adequate margins (1 1/2 inch, 38 mm, for top, bottom, and left-hand margins; 1 inch, 26 mm, for right hand margin). Double-spacing should be used throughout, except for extended quotations, endnotes, and the List of References, which are single-spaced with a double space between separate items. Paragraph indentations should be eight (8) spaces.


Following standard Canadian usage, spelling should conform to the Oxford English Dictionary (i.e. "British" spelling). Please note that the O.E.D. prefers the ending -ize to -ise for verbs and related formations: civilize, not civilise; civilization, not civilisation.

For students trained to use American spelling, usage should conform to Webster's Third International Dictionary. What should be avoided is mixing the two spelling systems. If the student uses a word-processor with a spelling check, the system of spelling for which the check is programmed should be determined and followed consistently.


Punctuation should be light and follow the rules of grammar rather than the way in which you hear the text in your head. In practice this means eliminating most non-grammatical commas.

Double quotation marks should be used exclusively, except for quotations within quotations, where single quotation marks are used. Full-stops and commas at the end of a quotation should be placed within the closing quotation marks regardless of whether they belong to the quotation or not; colons and semicolons should be placed outside the closing quotation marks. An exception to this rule is when a reference in brackets occurs immediately after the quotation. In this case there is no final mark of punctuation, the quotation marks close the quotation, the reference is given in brackets, and the sentence ends with a full-stop, thus "... irrational rules of uncleanness" (Douglas 1966, 13).

Square brackets are used for parenthetical material within round brackets.

See also Abbreviations, example D 2 below.


Short quotations should be included within the body of the text and enclosed in double quotation marks. Longer quotations (over five lines) should be set off from the body of the text as a block quotation by indenting five spaces and single spacing. In the latter case, quotation marks should not be used unless they belong to the passage quoted. Verse quotations should be centred on the page.


Dates should be given in the order: day, month, year (e.g. 21 March 1685). The abbreviations B.C.E. and C.E. are recommended, though B.C. and A.D. may be used. A.D. always precedes the year.


In the author-date system all footnotes should be eliminated. The material that would go into them should either be incorporated into the main text or be deleted. All references must be included in short form within term-papers, with full bibliographic data given in the List of References at the end.

For a quotation within the text, the reference is given in brackets immetiately after the quotation.

In the case of reference to a single book or article by a single author, the author's surname and the page number(s) of the book or article are placed within the brackets, e.g. (Maritain 74-75).

Where more than one book or article by a single author is cited, the date of publication of each work is placed immediately after the author's surname, e.g. (Douglas 1966, 13). For more than one item for the same year, the letters a, b, c, etc are placed after the date.

If reference is made to more than one author with the same surname, the author's initials or first name is placed before the surname, e.g. (Mary Douglas 70).

If a work in more than one volume is cited, the volume number is given in upper-case Roman numerals immediately before the page number(s) and followed by a comma, e.g. (Brown II, 101-102).

For works by two authors or editors, both surnames are cited, followed by the page number(s), e.g. (Morton and McLeman 45). When there are three or more authors or editors, the surname of the first author is cited, followed by the Latin phrase et al. (Kee et al. 40-41).

In the case of well-known general reference works, such as The Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Oxford English Dictionary , no information need be given in brackets in the text of the paper. It is sufficient merely to name the work quoted. For signed articles in more specialized reference works, sueh as the Encyclopedia of Religion or the Encyclopedia of Philosophy , the author's nane and the volume and page numbers are given, e.g. (Joy VII, 105-06). In both cases, the reference sources are included in the List of References at the end of the paper. For examples see C 6 below.

Since classical and biblical texts are not copyrighted, they can be cited in brackets in the text of a paper without the usual reference apparatus. Where, however, particular editions of classical and other ancient texts are used, these should be included in the List of References. The translation of the Bible that is being cited should be mentioned in the text of the paper; if more than one translation is used, this can be noted in brackets after the reference, e.g. Mt 25:31-46 (RSV) = Matthew 25:31-46 (Revised Standard Version). It is advisable to use abbreviations, but they should follow a standard and consistent system. For biblical citations, consult New Testament Studies 34, 3 (1988): 476-79 and Journal of Biblical Literature 107, 3.

(1988): 579-96 (the latter also provides citation forms for pseudepigraphal and early patristic texts, Targuss, Talmud, Nag Hammadi and Qumran texts). For classical Greek and Latin texts, the abbreviations listed at the beginning of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed., are recommended. See C 7 below.

Full bibliographic data for books and articles are given in a list at the end of the term-paper and are arranged alphabetically by the authors' surnames.

The following examples may prove helpful.

A. Internal references

One book by one author
"The serpent indeed was persuasive, as the Bible reports" (Brams 22).

More than one book by one author
"Robertson Smith used the idea of survivals to account for the persistence of irrational rules of uncleanness" (Douglas 1966, 13).
"Social intercourse requires that unintended or irrelevant organic processes should be screened out" (Douglas 1973,100).

One article by one author
"You might expect that English writers would partake of the national character, at any rate to the extent of dodging discussion of the metaphysics of their form" (Kermode 62).

More than one article by one author
"Writing and text are not one and the same problem" (Ricoeur 1975-76, 17).
"It is the naming of God by the biblical texts that specifics the religious at the interior of the poetic" (Ricoeur 1979, 219).

B. Corresponding list of references at end of papers

Brams, Steven J. Biblical Games: A Strategic Analysis of Stories in the Old Testament. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1980.
Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966.
____. Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973.
Kermode, Frank. "The House of Fiction: Interviews with Seven English Novelists." Partisan Review 30 (1963): 61-82.
Ricoeur, Paul. "Philosophical Hermeneutics and Theological Hermeneutics." Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 5 (1975-76): 14-33.
____. "Naming God." Union Seminary Quarterly Review 34 (1979): 215-27.

Note: Bibliographic entries are arranged alphabetically by author's surname. For more than one entry under the same surname, the items are arranged chronologically. Alternatively, they may be arranged alphabetically by the initial letter of the first main word of the title ("A" and "The" excluded). For short papers, however, chronological arrangement is recommended. A common practice is to displace the date of publication to immediately after the author's surname. In this case, the publication date is not repeated after the name of the publisher or the journal number.

C. Special cases

A work by more than one author
Kee, Howard Clark, Franklin W. Young, and Karlfried Froelich. Understanding the New Testament. 3rd ed. Englowood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973.

A translation
Maritain, Jacques. Art and Scholasticism and The Frontiers of Poetry. Trans. Joseph W. Evans. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1962.

A work in more than one volume (also an example of a reprint of an older edition)
Hoffding, Harald. A History of Modern Philosophy. Trans. B.E. Meyer. 2 vols. 1900; rpt. New York: Dover, 1955.

An edited collection of articles
Tennyson, G.B., and Edward E. Ericson, Jr., eds. Religion and Modern Literature: Essays in Theory and Criticism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1975.

A single article from an edited collection
Kaufman, Maynard. "J.F. Powers and Secularity." In Adversity and Grace: Studies in Recent American Literature. Ed. Nathan A. Scott, Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 163-81.

Entries and articles in encyclopaedias and dictionaries
Oxford English Dictionary. 1933 ed. s.v. "Structure," 3d.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1967 ed. s.v. "Phenomenology." XVII, 810-12.

Joy, Morny. "Images: Images and Imagination." The Encyclopaedia of Religion. New York: Macmillan, 1987. VII, 104-09.

Biblical and classical texts
Gen 1:2; Exod 3:4, 6, 8 and 13:9-14:4; Mt 23:23-24, 29-33; Lk 16:19-31; 2 Cor 1:3-4. JV = King James Version; RSV = Revised Standard Version; NEB = New English Bible; JB = Jerusalem Bible.

Homer, Il. XVI. 6-19; Od. I. 1-5. Ovid, Met. X. 79-85. References to Plato should be included in the text, using the Stephanus pagination (e.g. Symposium I 79e-180b), though if a translation is used it should be listed in the References. Likewise, for Aristotle the Bekker pagination is used (e.g. Pol. 1336b12-20), often with the book and chapter numbers prefixed and followed by a colon (e.g. Eth. Nic. VI. i:ll30a2-17). Again, translations should be included in the List of Referenecs.

D. Use of the footnote-bibliography system

When this system is used, footnotes are numbered consecutively through the paper. They may be placed either at the bottom of each page, beneath a line drawn for twenty spaces, or at the end of the paper. In the latter case, they are simply Notes or Endnotes. When listing more than one work by the same author, the order is always alphabetical by first keyword of the title rather than chronological.

Footnotes or endnotes should be single-spaced with double spacing between each entry.

Notes of this type are punctuated as a single sentence, without inversion of the author's names.


1Steven J. Brams, Biblical Games: A Strategic Analysis of Stories in the Old Testament (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1980), pp. 22-23.

2Paul Ricoeur, "Naming God," Union Seminary Quarterly Review 34 (1979): 215.

Observe the following characteristics:

  • The same indentation as for paragraphs (8 spaces) is used.
  • The number is placed half a space above the author's first name, or superscript is used.
  • The normal order of names is used; i.e. first name, or initials, surname.
  • A comma follows the author's name.
  • The title of a book is underlined, while the title of an article is placed in double quotation marks.
  • In the case of a book, there is no comma between the title and the publication data given in brackets.
  • In the case of an article, a comma is used after the title and within the closing quotation marks.
  • For books, the publication data are enclosed in round brackets in the order: first-listed place of publication (followed by a colon), publisher (followed by a comma), date of publication (which is always the date following the copyright symbol on the back of the title page; in the case of a revised edition, it is the second or latest copyright date).
  • For articles, the name of the journal follows the title of the article and is underlined; it is followed by the volume number of the journal in Arabic numerals (convert Roman numerals to Arabic), the year of the journal in brackets, a colon, and the page number(s) without the abbreviation p. or pp.

Further examples:

An edited collection of articles
3G.B. Tennyson and Edward E. Ericson, Jr. eds., Religion and Modern Literature: Essays in Theory and Criticism (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1975), pp. 53-54.

An article from an edited collection
4Maynard Kaufman, "J.F. Powers and Secularity," in Adversity and Grace: Studies in Recent American Literature, ed. Nathan A. Scott, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 968), p. 178.

A translation
5Walter Burkert, Greek Religion. trans. John Raffan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. 150-151.

Note that the abbreviations ed., eds., trans. are not followed by the preposition "by."


It is becoming increasingly the practice in academic writing to abbreviate the words University and Press as U and P. This procedure may be followed if used consistently. Likewise, for American publications the postal abbreviations for states may be used. These should be used only when confusion with another place of publication could occur.

For example:

(Chicago: U of Chicago P. 1968);
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1985).

The abbreviation Ibid. (thus, without underlining) is used only when a footnote refers to the same source that is cited in the immediately preceding footnote.

The abbreviation Op.cit. should be avoided. When a single source is cited frequently in a paper, the surname of the author should be used, followcd by a comma and the page number(s). If more than one work by the same author is referred to, the order is: author's surname, short title, page number(s).

Kermode, p. 63.
Ricoeur, "Philosophical Hermeneutics," p. 25.


Students are responsible for checking the accuracy of all citations and quotations in their papers. Failure to document a paper properly may result in a charge of plagiarism, which is a serious offence and grounds for expulsion from the University. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another person's words or ideas, usually those which have appeared in published form. Sometimes inexperienced students mistakenly think that research consists in copying out information from encyclopedias and other reference works. Not only is this not what research is, it technically constitutes plagiarism if the resource works are not properly acknowledged. Research is the collection of data for purposes of the development, clarification, and support of one's own ideas and arguments. A research paper is the report on the results of this kind of investigation.