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What Formats Are Used in Writing Linguistics Papers?


Research papers in the field of linguistics require formatting in accordance with American Psychological Association, or APA, conventions. This style is followed for the general outline of the paper, including in-text citations and references. Linguistics papers, however, have several additional formatting norms, established by the Linguistic Society of America, that should be incorporated into final papers.

Basic Formatting

APA style conventions maintained in linguistics papers include setting 1-inch margins for the paper and maintaining a 12 point font throughout, but several additional requirements pertain to linguistics papers. Lines can be spaced at 1.5, or double spacing can be used. An extra blank line appears between sections of the paper, and documents are aligned to the left side of the paper, with only one space after each period. Only the page number appears in the header, and endnotes are used instead of footnotes; they're indicated by a superscripted Arabic numeral following the punctuation mark. Line-end hyphens are not used.

Heading Formats

Section headings and their titles give structure and clarity to linguistics research papers. The heading for the first section in a research paper might read "1. Introduction." The number and period are in boldface type. The words are left in regular type, presented in small capital letters, with only the first word capitalized. The first sentence of a section begins on the same line as the heading. One level of subheadings may be used, yielding section headings such as: "2.1." Any sublevel headings below this start with the heading title in small capital letters.

Typeface Rules

Varied typeface styles indicate certain types of information. Italics are used for linguistic forms and examples but not for author emphasis, loan words or technical terms, including laws, theories and hypotheses; these unitalicized features are indicated by small capital letters. Boldfaced font may indicate the presence of characters originally Greek in nature or draw the reader's attention to a particular detail within a linguistic example. Ellipses are preceded and followed by a space. The Oxford comma is used in a series of three or more items.

Punctuation and Abbreviation

Most punctuation rules follow APA format, such as eschewing quotation marks and using a half-inch indent for block quotes; for linguistics papers, this style is dictated for any quote of more than 40 words. But there are some differences. Single, not double, quotation marks designate a direct quote, unless a quote is cited within the quotation. Quotation marks immediately follow the word before the use of any other punctuation mark. As with APA format, words should be hyphenated only to prevent misreading of a word or when the stem begins with a capital letter, such as non-Dravidian.

Presenting Terms, Examples and Transcriptions

Different symbols represent different forms of words or phrases: Square brackets encase phonetic transcriptions, slashes indicate phonemic transcriptions and angle brackets designate graphemes. Content from languages not using a Latin alphabet is communicated using international phonetic alphabet, or IPA, symbols. At the first use of a non-English word, provide a gloss within a set of single quotation marks, as follows: In Latin, one animal name is ovis 'sheep'. Glosses for longer phrases or full sentences should occur on the line immediately following the original form, with a word-for-word transcription in which the word in the original form and its transcription in the next line are vertically aligned, allowing readers to see the connection between the forms. Publishers may dictate additional conventions.

About the Author

Tara Haughney is a dually certified elementary general and special educator, with teaching experience in Baltimore City Public Schools. She has been working to support youth education through community organizations and schools since 2004. Haughney holds a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs from Northeastern University and an MAT from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

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