E to Presentation and Submission of Written Work



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Department of History

Guide to Presentation and Submission of Written Work
Instructions for submission:

  • Use Cambria, Times New Roman or equivalent font in 12-point black (no tiny font sizes or fancy/illegible/coloured fonts, such as Impact, please), with 1.5 or double spacing.

  • Use 2.5 cm margins.

  • Number each page.

On the front page of your essay, please include the following:



  • Your name and SID.

  • The Unit of Study code and title (eg ‘HSTY1025 The Middle Ages’)

  • The assessment task (eg ‘Short Paper 1’; ‘Major Essay’)

  • The date the essay was submitted.

  • The question you are answering, and/or a short title for your essay.

  • The word count of your essay, not including footnotes or bibliography. (To obtain an accurate word count for your essay, select the text of the essay, excluding the Bibliography, then go to ‘Word Count’ in the ‘Tools’ menu, making sure that the option to ‘Include footnotes and endnotes’ is NOT checked.)

Save your essay as a word file (NOT a pdf), and label it using the following formula: FamilyName_FirstName_UoSCode_Assessment Task. For example, your first essay in the first-year unit ‘The Middle Ages’ might be labelled like this: ‘Smith_Jane_HSTY1025_Essay1.doc’.


Submit your essay online by uploading it to the LMS (currently Blackboard) before the deadline (be aware of the time as well as the date by which the work is due). Detailed instructions about how to submit your work will be available in each unit of study. Make sure you receive AND KEEP the emailed receipt for your submission. If for any reason your essay goes astray, you will have to produce this receipt as evidence that you submitted it on time, or at all.
File a copy of your essay in a safe place on your computer, and be sure to keep a backup (e.g. on the Cloud or a flash drive, or on another computer). If there are any problems with the submission process, you may need to produce this copy at short notice.

Style and Presentation: Some Pointers
Run a spell-check, but also take the time to proofread your essay carefully yourself. (We have read many essays in which the French Revolution began in 1879 or 1989.) A spell-check will detect neither erroneous dates nor correctly spelled words used wrongly. Watch for common errors, such as mixing up form and from, or than and then. Reading your essay aloud is a good way to detect errors that would otherwise pass unnoticed.
If you are using acronyms for the name of a country, state, institution or organisation, give the full title in the first instance, with the acronym in parentheses, e.g. Australian Historical Association (AHA); thereafter, simply use the acronym.
Avoid contractions such as don’t or wasn’t – they are not appropriate in scholarly prose. [This is also a handy way to resolve the perennial problem of its and it’s. Just remember that its should NEVER need an apostrophe in a scholarly essay. If you can sensibly turn your it’s into it is, then you should do so. If you can’t, then it is the possessive form – e.g. ‘Its effects were uneven’ – and needs no apostrophe.]
Use apostrophes with care. The peasant’s revolt (singular possessive, i.e. one peasant revolting) is unlikely to have been successful BUT the peasants’ revolt (plural possessive, i.e. many peasants revolting) may have stood a better chance. Avoid the temptation to add an apostrophe, just in case, to every word ending in s: The peasants of Russia, for example, are plural, not possessive, and need no apostrophe. For the same reason, no apostrophe should be used in 1870s, 1650s etc, which describe a group of several years.
Use hyphens and dashes with care. The hyphen (-) is used in numbers (twenty-two, forty-five) and compound adjectives (nineteenth-century mores, working-class rebellion, three-year-old boy). The en-dash (–) may be used, with a space on either side, as a punctuation mark – though you should minimise its use in your scholarly work. The en-dash is also used to show a span of years, e.g. 1920–45. You will find the en-dash in your ‘Insert – Symbol’ menu, or use the shortcut ALT-HYPHEN.
Spell out numbers under 100, e.g. one, seventeen, ninety-nine. Numbers from 100 up are given as figures, e.g. 107, except for round numbers and approximations, e.g. five thousand people. Do not start a sentence with a numeral or numeric date. Either spell out the word – e.g. Three hundred and fifty-nine people died that day – or rearrange the sentence: Many people felt the disastrous impact in 1929 NOT 1929 was a disastrous year for many people.
Dates should be written as 24 June 1955. Months should be spelled out in full – February, not Feb. Spell out century numbers, e.g. twentieth century rather than 20th century. Show a span of years as 1920–45, not 1920–1945.

Using Quotations


  • Short quotations (up to three lines long) can generally be run in to the main text using single quotation marks (‘blah blah’). For quotations within a quotation, use double quotation marks: ‘All he could ever say was “blah blah”, and even then he only muttered it ’, she said darkly.




  • Quotations that are four lines long or more must be visually separated from the main text as a block quotation:

You can do so like this, using single spacing and a bigger left-hand indent than the main text. You may wish to leave an additional line space before and after the quotation. You should not use a different or smaller font for the indented quotation, nor should you use italics. Introduce your block quotation with a colon, and do not enclose it in inverted commas.1




  • When you are quoting, you must quote exactly, errors and all. If there is an apparent error of spelling or word-use, you can use the Latin word sic (‘thus’), in italics and square brackets – [sic] – to indicate that the non-standard spelling or usage was like that in the original.




  • Use an ellipsis ( … ) to indicate where you have omitted a word, phrase, line or paragraph from within a quotation. Note that ellipses are not needed at either end of your quotation.



Referencing Style: Using Footnotes
All scholarly essays require references, which show the reader where you found the evidence and ideas on which your analysis is based. Essays without references, or with inadequate references, do not meet the basic requirements of scholarship and will not receive a passing grade.
There are three main academic referencing systems: footnotes, endnotes and in-text references. Essays submitted to the Department of History should always use footnotes. The in-text referencing system, sometimes known as the Harvard system, is used mainly in the social sciences. It takes the form ‘Brown argues that the sky is blue (Brown, 2001: 245)’. In historical scholarship, where sources are often complex (eg a series of documents in a unique archival collection), in-text referencing can be difficult to use, clumsy and awkward. For this reason, footnotes are the preferred form of referencing in History. (You’ll notice that book publishers tend to prefer endnotes, which place the references at the end of the document, keeping the pages of text free from clutter. But journal editors usually prefer footnotes – and so do we, because they enable us see at a glance how you are backing up your arguments.)
To create a footnote, make sure your cursor is placed where the reference mark is needed, then go to the Insert menu (in Microsoft Word for Mac) and choose Footnote (or, if you are using Windows, to Reference and then Footnote). A note will open at the bottom of the page where you may enter the details of your source. The footnotes will automatically be numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of your essay.
In general, there should not be more than one footnote in any given sentence. The reference number should go at the end of the sentence, AFTER the full stop.2 If the information contained in the sentence comes from two or more different sources, you may include multiple references in the same footnote. Do not ‘stack up’ several footnote numbers in the same spot, like this.345
Footnotes should be single-spaced, in 10 point or larger font size, and separated from each other by a single line.
Treat each footnote like a new sentence: it should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop.
Provide the following information for each source: name of the author; title of the source; relevant publication details; and the page number(s) relevant to your reference. A reference to a book (one of the most common forms of footnotes) will look like this:
Kirsten McKenzie, Imperial Underworld: An Escaped Convict and the Transformation of the British Colonial Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, p. 16.
The full information is given in the first citation; in subsequent citations, you should use a shorter version, usually the author’s family name and a short title that clearly identifies the work – e.g. McKenzie Imperial Underworld, pp. 134–5.
Note, in the above examples, the use of ‘p.’ to refer to a single page and ‘pp.’ to refer to multiple or a range of pages. Do not use capital ‘P.’ or ‘pg’.
The format and precise information required vary according to the type of source used, whether book, journal article, chapter or essay in an edited book, or website. For detailed guidelines on how to reference your history essay, please see The History Department’s Guide to Using and Referencing Primary and Secondary Sources.

1 The footnote reference number should be placed at the end of the quotation.

2 Like this.

3 Because then it looks as if you have more than 345 footnotes in your essay!

4 Also, you …

5 … really don’t need ’em.


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