1. General suggestions
The most important point in your paper (at whatever level) is a coherent argumentation and not the formal details. However, it is important that your paper is
- transparent and
This means that you should
- choose appropriate fonts, spacing and margins to make it easy to read,
- make all your references easily traceable (exact page references, for instance), and
- make it clear for every single sentence whether it gives your own thoughts and words, whether it reports someone else's ideas in your own words (an indirect quotation), or whether it reports someone else's precise words (direct quotation).
Note that the formal details below (except for the items 2, 3 and 4) merely try to summarise the standard conventions in linguistics. You will find that most books and journals in linguistics use these or fairly similar conventions. (see notes on plagiarisms in section 13 below!).
The ranges indicated are only approximate.
- BA "Introduction to Linguistics": 3,500 to 4,000 words (9 to 10 pages)
- BA seminar: 4,000 to 5,000 words (10 to 13 pages)
- BA thesis: 8,000 words (plus/minus 10%)
- MA seminar: 5,000 to 7,000 words (13 to 18 pages)
- MA research seminar: 7,000 to 9,000 words (18 to 23 pages)
- Lehrdiplom für Maturitätsschulen: 6,000 to 8,000 words (15 to 20 pages)
- MA thesis: 20,000 to 30,000 words (50 to 75 pages) (see special requirements)
4. Title page, table of contents and pagination
The title page hould contain the following items:
- Title of the paper,
- Author's name and contact details, also including student ID number
- Title of the (pro)seminar and name of the instructor.
This is followed by the table of contents. Start page numbering on the first text page.
5. Linguistic examples
Letters, words or phrases cited as linguistic examples or subject of discussion should be italicized. Sentences should be set apart from the main body of the text by indenting and leaving extra space before and after; in that case they should be preceded by Arabic numerals in round brackets.
To be used sparingly; use double quotation marks or italics.
7. Format of references in your text
Do not use footnotes for references! Footnotes should only be used for additional information with which you do not want to stop the flow of your argument in the main text. References are given by (1) the last name of the author(s) (if there are more than two you can use "et al."); (2) the year of publication (followed by a, b, etc., if you refer to more than one title in any given year by the same author(s)); and (3) the precise page number unless you are referring to the entire article or book. The following are relevant examples:
- This insight has gained ground in recent years (Sacks et al. 1974; van Dijk 1977a, 1977b). Hymes (1969: 29) distinguishes the following functions: ... Many sociologists (e.g. Goffman 1974) claim that ...
8. List of references
The list of references at the end of the paper must contain all the sources you quote in your paper (and only those) arranged in alphabetical order. Notice that the year of publication is typed immediately after the name(s) of the author(s). This makes it easier for the reader to check your references in the text. Titles of books and journals are in italics. Use the following format:
Milroy, James. (1992) Linguistic Variation and Change. On the Historical Sociolinguistics of English. (Language in Society 19). Oxford: Blackwell.
Sacks, Harvey, Emanuel A. Schegloff and Gail Jefferson. (1974) A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50.4, 696-735.
Sag, Ivan A. (1997) English relative clause constructions. Journal of Linguistics 33, 431-483.
Trudgill, Peter, and J.K. Chambers (eds.). (1991) Dialects of English. Studies in Grammatical Variation. London: Longman.
Wolfram, Walt. (1991) Towards a description of a-prefixing in Appachian English. In: Peter Trudgill and J.K. Chambers (eds.). Dialects of English. Studies in Grammatical Variation. London: Longman, 229-240.
Unpublished or forthcoming works should not get a date but be marked 'n.d.'. Two or more publications by the same author in the same year should be distinguished by means of a, b, c, etc. Note that all the information included in the above formats is necessary. The reference to the original publication date of an old work may be given between square brackets at the end of the reference.
9. Electronic sources
To cite files available for viewing/downloading via the World Wide Web, give the author's name (if known), the year of publication, the full title of the work, the full http address, and the date of the visit. e.g.
Jucker, Andreas H., and Christa Dürscheid. (2012) The linguistics of keyboard-to-screen communication: A new terminological framework. Linguistik online 56, 6/12. http://www.linguistik-online.org/56_12/juckerDuerscheid.html (accessed January 25, 2017).
For some practical advice see the MLA Practical Advice with URLs.
Use double quotation marks. Longer quotes should be set apart from the main body of the text by indenting and leaving extra space before and after.
Be careful to use either British or American English spelling, but not a mixture.
12. Sexist Use of Language
Please avoid! Use he/she or they to refer e.g. to a generic reader or listener.
Please, note that your paper will undergo a preliminary check for plagiarism at Turnitin and/or Docoloc. In addition, you are required to sign the form "Selbststaendigkeitserklaerung" and submit a scanned copy together with your paper submission.
Check: MLA on plagiarism