Brigham Young University Department of Linguistics

October 15, 2001


This document describes how to format abstracts, papers, and theses submitted to the BYU Department of Linguistics and its classes. Information on physical formatting, text citations and bibliographic references are included.

Examples of formatting are provided and a listing of major bibliographic formats is given. In addition this document is provided in the format used for papers.


Brigham Young University Department of Linguistics

This document is divided into a number of sections and is set in the general format that should be used for student papers and theses. The formats for these two types of document are essentially identical, except that a thesis requires additional front matter as set out by the university (see section for more information on this topic).

The following sections describe how to set up your paper, how to format references, and how to deal with examples, tables and figures in papers for submission to the BYU Departments of Linguistics.

1.  General Guidelines. This section describes general formatting guidelines for papers and theses, including descriptions of formats for title pages, abstracts and contents.

1.1.  Type face and size, alignment, and margins.

1.1.1.  Type Face and size. Where possible you should use Roman characters in a serif type face for all text. If you do not know what this means, use Times or Times New Roman, which are found on almost all computer systems, or ask someone for assistance in selecting an appropriate type face. Do not use sans-serif faces (such as Arial, Helvetica, or Franklin Gothic) as these are generally harder to read than serif text faces.

Text should be set in 10–12 pt. size. It should be double-spaced (except for the body of the abstract and those parts of theses mandated by the University to be set single-spaced).   Foreign language citations. Citations in languages that do not use Roman script (such as Russian, Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic) should be transliterated into Roman characters (Roman characters are those based on the Latin alphabet and include characters not found in the English alphabet, such as å, ß or ç). This rule applies to data in which the language and not the writing system is the object of study. In cases where a writing system is the object of study you should use a type face appropriate for the language under consideration. Non-Roman characters may also be used in cases where their use is well-established in a particular linguistic discipline (e.g., it is common to use Cyrillic long and short jerz characters in Slavic linguistics).

If you do not have a type face for a specific language and you must cite something in that language’s writing system you may leave space in your paper and clearly write the text in by hand in black ink.  phonetic characters. Phonetic characters may be inserted using an IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) font, or with some other phonetic representation that is well-established in a particular subfield. If you do not have an IPA font a number of good IPA fonts are available free of charge from the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) web page at In cases where existing IPA fonts do not supply what you need, you may neatly write characters into your paper by hand in black ink

1.1.2.  Alignment. Body text should be left aligned. Titles should be centered. The first paragraph in a section should not be indented, but all following paragraphs in a section should be indented. For alignment of examples please see section ??.

1.1.3.  Margins, page size, and printing concerns. Margins on your pages should be 1" on both top and bottom and 1.25" on right and left. You should use US letter size paper (8.5 x 11") for all text pages. Pages should be printed on one side only and your copy stapled on the upper-left-hand corner.

2.  Specific formatting concerns.

2.1.  Title page. The title page must contain the following double-spaced text: title (in all capitals) followed by one blank line, followed by the author’s name, followed by the date. (See the title page of this document for an example.) This should be vertically centered in the title page.

2.2.  Abstract. The abstract should be on its own page and should not exceed one page in length. It should include the word “ABSTRACT” in all capitals as a title at the top of the page followed by one blank line. The first paragraph of the body of the abstract should not be indented, but all following paragraphs in the abstract should be indented. Note that the abstract’s text is single-spaced, unlike body text.

2.3.  Body. Body text should be double-spaced and left-aligned. The first paragraph of a section should begin immediately following the section title (as in this paragraph). All following paragraphs should be indented on the first line.

The first page of the body should begin with the title in all capital letters followed by one blank line and then the author’s name in italics.

The first section of a paper (the introduction) should not be numbered or titled and should begin with its first paragraph without indentation.

2.3.1.  Section headings. All sections and subsections except the first one should begin with a section heading. Section headings begin with an Arabic number, followed by a period (e.g., 1.), followed by the section title in small caps, followed by a period. The first paragraph of the section begins immediately following the title. Succeeding paragraphs are indented as normal. Subsections begin the same way, with numbers added as needed (e.g., 1.1., There should be one-line spaces between sections and subsections.

2.3.2.  Examples.  Example format. Examples are single spaced with one extra line before and after the example. Examples are numbered with the number enclosed in parentheses. The number is indented the same amount as your body paragraph indentation and the remaining text is indented about .5" further, as in the following:

(1)                 Az-t             nem       tud-om,                      hogy     megy-e
dem-acc neg      know-1.sing.def,   comp  go.3rd.sing.ind-alt.
I don’t know if he is going or not

Examples should include needed information for readers. A typical form is shown in example (1). The first line gives the example in the language, the second line gives a literal morphemic parsing of the example, and the third line a free English translation.

In cases where examples have multiple parts these should be given letters, as in the following:

(2)                 a.        Nem        tud-om
           neg        know-1.sing.def
           I don’t know
b.       Nem        tud-ok
           neg        know-1.sing.ind
           I can’t/don’t know how to









1st person





2nd person





3rd person





Table 1. This table is an example of how a table would be formatted on a page. (This particular table shows Hungarian verbal endings.)

Figure 1. This is an example of how a figure should be placed. This chart shows the total number of letters in three scripts versus the number in which upper and lower case have distinct forms.


Variations on examples are typically numbered with the number of the original example plus a prime (') (for the first variation) or double prime (") for the second variation, as in ‘comparing (3)' with (3) shows that this minor change…’.  Referring to examples. Examples are indented and are referred to by number, as in ‘as can be seen in example (1)…’. To refer to part of a multipart example you would refer to it as in ‘Example (2)b shows…’. Use the numbers rather than making references like ‘as the example given below shows…’. (In student papers and theses this rule may seem trivial, but when papers are edited if they are referred to by number it is much better because examples, figures and tables may be moved from where the author originally put them.)

2.3.3.  Figures and tables. Figures and tables are placed at the top of a page (and may be ‘stacked’ if necessary, with one table or figure appearing higher on the page than another), as shown with Table 1 and Figure 1. Figures and Tables should be referred to in the text by number (e.g., ‘Figure 3 indicates that…’). They should not be in-line as in ‘as indicated in the following figure, Chinese shows substantial deviation from this: [then the figure]’. (This is because figures cannot always appear in the text exactly as placed when a paper is printed in a journal.) All Tables and Figures must also have a caption that indicates the nature of the Table or Figure as shown. These captions appear beneath the table or figure.

2.3.4.  Citing texts in the body. Use only in-text citations to provide references, not footnotes or endnotes. Citations within the text should be of the form (Jones 1955:223-27) or (Smith 1965). In cases where two or more authors share the same family name use the minimum needed information to distinguish between them, e.g., ‘(T. Smith 1996:143)’ and ‘(P. Smith 1987:325)’. In the event that two authors share the same family name and the same given initial, use the full first name in citations. Citations should include page numbers where specific content is referred to, but may simply cite the year where a work is mentioned in its entirety.

Avoid the use of citations that do not specify a full page range, such as ‘(Kovacs 1979:323ff.)’ (which simply means ‘page 323 and following’)‚ as these citations do not provide sufficient information for someone to obtain the material you cited. Instead list a full page range, as in ‘(Kovacs 1979:323-45)’. However, if you are citing a work in which a topic is discussed throughout the work and you do not intend to refer to a specific page, you may use the notation ‘passim’, as in ‘(Kovacs 1979 passim)’.

2.4.  Typographic concerns. There are a number of specific typographic conventions used in linguistic papers that should be followed in student papers.

2.4.1.  Citation of linguistic forms. Citations of words when used as an object of study (whether in English or any other language) should be italicized. Glosses should be set in single quotes and placed immediately following the term, regardless of whether they occur in quotations or plain text, as in ‘Hungarian vigéc ‘traveler’ is derived from German Wie geht’s? ‘How goes it?’ and is an example…’ Cited forms should have a gloss provided after their first occurrence in a section, but should not be glossed after this first occurrence in a section.

2.4.2.  Quotations. Use single quotation marks around a word or quotation from another author, and double quotation marks around quotations within quotations. Short quotes may be put in-line with other text, but longer quotations should be set off as a separate paragraph that is indented .5" from the left margin and single-spaced and followed by an in-text citation. An example of such a long quotation is as follows:

Thus, we can readily surmise that the context of these symbols is intended to be religious. Moreover, it is consistent with the general religious beliefs for which we have evidence throughout the Celtic world. (Griffen 2001:221)

2.5.  End-notes. (Please note that you should use end-notes and not foot-notes for papers and theses.) End-notes should appear immediately following the end of the body text. End-notes should be single-spaced. End-notes are usually reserved for short additional material that is tangential to the main text but which should be included for full information. Examples of such text are notes of thanks, explanation of technical methods used to arrive at results, or indications of where further information can be found. The following example1 is an example of how an end-note would appear:

1     This is an example of an end-note. You might thank people who helped your research along or mention extra information, such as the method you used to determine your results.

2.6.  Appendices. Appendices are used to present supplementary data and other information not included in the body text that is needed for full use of a paper or thesis. Appendices, if used, appear after the body text and before the end-notes (if any appear) and References section. Appendices should begin on a new page and should have a title of the form ‘APPENDIX A’ centered on its own line at the top of the first page of the appendix. In general appendix text is not double-spaced, and may or may not follow other rules set forth in this guide, depending on the nature of the material. Whatever format is used for the content, it must be clear and well-formatted.

2.7.  References section. The References section is intended to contain only references to works actually cited in your paper and is not a bibliography; it should contain citations of only those items referred to in the text, and should have the forms given in this section. The References section should begin on its own page with the title ‘REFERENCES’ centered on its own line.

Entries in the References section are listed alphabetically by the first word in each entry. Multiple entries that start with the same name or term are then sorted by date of publication, with earlier publications appearing before later ones.

Note that only first words of titles are capitalized in English-language titles in the References section. For foreign-language citations, capitalization should be in accord with the custom for the language used (for example in German titles nouns would be capitalized).

2.7.1.  Formatting guidelines for references section. The following are general guidelines for the formatting of the references section:  Authors’ names. In general references start with the name of the author in small caps (or the first author, if there is more than one author) in the form Family Name, Given Name (e.g., Chafe, Wallace). Additional authors are listed after the first author in with the given name first, separated by commas with an ampersand (&) (but no comma) preceding the last author in the list (e.g., ‘Witkowski, Stanley R., Cecil H. Brown & John H. Broadbent’ for three authors, and ‘Witkowski, Stanley R. & Cecil H. Brown’ for two authors). Wherever possible the full given name of an author should be used, unless the author customarily uses only initial(s), e.g., M.A.K. Halliday. If the original work does not list a full name, and reasonable attempts to determine the full name do not give the full first name, initial(s) may be used.  Entries with no listed authors. If no author is listed for a work, or if the reference is to an edited volume, then the first item in a reference should be, in order of preference, editor or title. If the first item in the reference is an editor, then "(ed.)" should follow the author's name (or "(eds.)" if there is more than one editor).  Lists of editors. Lists of editors appearing as the initial items in the reference are formatted as per lists of authors (as in section, except that all are given in the normal order (i.e., GIVEN NAME followed by FAMILY NAME), unless they appear as the first item in the reference (in which case the ordering of editors follows the convention for authors).  Agreement with in-text citations. Note that the first item listed in an entry must agree with the manner in which the cited item is referred to in the body of your paper.

  1. If more than three authors or editors are listed in a reference then the in-text citation may refer to the item by the first author's name followed by "et al.", but the listing in the references section must include all listed authors/editors. In instances in which two consecutive entries share the same author(s) the name(s) of each author may be replaced by three dashes in entries after the first one.
  2. Multiple listings by the same author(s) should have the name(s) of author(s) given for only the first item. At other occurrences they should replaced by three dash characters (see the Chafe items in the example below). Multiple listings should be sorted in ascending chronological order; if multiple listings occur within one year then they should be listed by alphabetical order of the title and a lower case a, b, c, etc. should be added to the year to distinguish between the items.

2.7.2.  References format. Each entry should contain the following elements in the order and with the  punctuation given:

Authors. year of publication. Full title and subtitle of the work.


They must then include the items given below. (Note that only the first listed place of publication should be included in the place of publication. If, for example, your source lists New York, London and Warsaw as places of publication, include London only for place of publication.)  For journal articles:

Full name of the journal and volume number:inclusive page numbers for the entire article.  For articles in a book

In title of the book, ed. by full name(s) of editor(s), inclusive page numbers. Place of publication: Publisher.  For books and monographs

the edition, volume or part number and series title (series title and number in parentheses) (if any apply). Place of publication: Publisher.  Internet resources. Where possible refer to printed versions of articles rather than on-line versions. If no printed version is available internet resources may be cited, listing the following items (add the exact web address for the site in place of "URL" below and most recent date you accessed the site in place of the blank):

Author (if known). Year (if provided). Title. URL. (Accessed on ____).

2.7.3.  Sample bibliographic entries

Bennet, David C. In press. Towards a better understanding of clitic systems. LACUS forum 28.

Chafe, Wallace. 1988. Punctuation and the prosody of written language. Written communication 5:396-426.

———. 1994. Discourse, consciousness, and time: The flow and displacement of conscious experience in speaking and writing. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Grimm, Jakob. 1965. Deutsche Mythologie. 3 vols. Reprint of 4th ed., Berlin, 1875–78. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Lehmann, Winfred P. 1970. Review of Parametric linguistics by Louis G. Heller and James Macris. Word 26:139-41.

Melby, Alan K. 1995. Why can't a computer translate more like a person?. (Accessed on August 2, 2001).

Pike, Kenneth L. 1974. A syntactic paradigm. In Advances in tagmemics (North-Holland linguistic series 9), ed. by Ruth M. Brend, 235-50. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co.