Learning Advice

Last update: 15 November 2016 

Develop your academic writing and study skills using our constructive advice. In here, you can find advice for the following (click on the links to jump to the right sections):

Assignment Presentation Language Appropriateness
APA Referencing (In-text citation) Vocabulary for In-line Citations and Paraphrasing     
APA Referencing (Reference list) Vocabulary for Linking Concepts and Ideas     



Assignment Presentation

An academic assignment should be written and presented in a formal style, unless your lecturer has given you other instructions. This formal academic style follows rules called” academic conventions“. This is so that the lecturer can focus on your ideas, and not be distracted by the format or style of your work. There are two general rules: 

a) Your assignment should be simple and clear.

b) You should be consistent, i.e. you should use the same system for the whole assignment.

Cover page

Each assignment should have a cover page. You can find an assignment cover page template in the course work files in the student server.


Use 12 point for the text of your assignment. Headings can be in 14/16 point, but you should not use larger fonts. Style should be Times New Roman or Courier.

Line spacing

Use double spacing, or 1.5.


The left-hand margin should be set at 4 cm so that the lecturer can write comments. The right margin should be 2 cm.


Leave a line or indent to indicate the start of a new paragraph

Subheading in reports

These should be in bold or italics. An older style also uses underlining. The most common form is bold.


In the APA system, footnotes are used to give extra information which the author feels would disturb the flow of the writing, but these are not used for citations.

Page numbering 

You should number the pages of your assignment, not including the cover page. These are generally part of the footer.

Words from other languages

Write words from other languages in italics. The English word can be written in two ways:

1. Using inverted commas "xxx"

eg: The Japanese o-bento or “boxed meal” can be taken anywhere. Rice, Japan’s staple food, generally accounts for a large portion of each o-bento. O-kazu or “side dishes” are added to suit personal taste or nutritional needs (Uratsu, 1998, p. 3). 

2. Writing an explanation to

eg: The Japanese o-bento [boxed meal] can be taken anywhere. Rice, Japan’s staple food, generally accounts for a large portion of each o-bento. O-kazu [side dishes] are added to suit personal taste or nutritional needs (Uratsu, 1998, p. 3).

Inserting tables and figures

                  Large Tables and Figures


In-text Citation of References

In Western academic tradition, when someone has an idea they own it as their intellectual property. To show this, they usually publish it somewhere. If you use these ideas as if they are your own, it is regarded as a particular kind of theft called “plagiarism”. (Please refer to Section 3.5 of the Study Guide).

It is necessary to use other people’s ideas as this helps to strengthen your argument and also it shows that you understand the topic.


  • Paraphrasing
• This is your own interpretation of information and ideas expressed by someone else
   presented in a new form
• This is one way of borrowing ideas from a source

• It is a more detailed restatement than a summary, and focuses concisely on a single

  main idea
• When you paraphrase you are not required to:

  1. Use quotation marks “...”

    eg: Smith (2008) notes that all students were afraid of submitting their assignments late.

  2. Give a page / paragraph number.

    However when you paraphrase from a specific page or magazine article you may include the page number or a range of numbers eg. pp.34-37

    eg: The everyday experiences in a teacher’s professional life help to change student behaviour for example theft, drug taking and alcohol consumption (Thoray, 2006, pp. 57-60)

NB: If your paraphrase is the main idea or concept of a book or article then you are required to give a page number 


  • Direct Quotations

You can avoid plagiarism by showing the source of the work in a conventional way. This is called “citing” and allows the reader to find the original information himself or herself. Citations should be given for all information, diagrams, statistics, etc. that have been taken from somewhere else (ie. not your own idea). If the information is copied this is called direct quotation and will need quotation marks. 

Print text (books, journals)

You need to include the following information:

• the author’s family name
• the year / or n.d. (no date)
• the page number or numbers / paragraph number / line number (if possible) or write n.p.g    (no page given)
• double quotation marks “....” 
Citation 1 
  • Citation
            Citation 2
            Citation 3 
         Citation 4

Reference list
             Reference 1 
            Reference 2 

     Reference 3
                 Reference 4 
                Reference 5 
                 Reference 6 
                 Reference 7

Using language which does not offend
One aim of academic language is to try to be objective. The guidelines in this section are to help you write so that you will not use language that offends other people. This is an area in which language changes quite quickly, so some terms used in older books are no longer appropriate to use. (APA, 1994, pp. 54-60).
Ethnic identity
As a general rule, you should use the words that people themselves use:


Viet Nam NOT Vietnam
Inuit NOT Eskimos 


Do not refer to men, when you mean both men and women:

people NOT man

humanity NOT mankind

Students should hand in their essays NOT A student should hand in his essay

Do not specify the sex of the person if it is not part of your discussion:

a nurse NOT a male nurse

lecturers’ spouses  NOT lecturers' wives

the chair NOT the chairman

a police officer  NOT a policeman
Try not to refer to people by their disability:


blind people NOT the blind 
a person with a disability NOT  a disabled person
Do not use words which are now outdated: 
disabled NOT handicapped
deaf NOT deaf and dumb
Research participants
Use words which show participation:
research participants NOT research subjects
questionnaire respondents NOT questionnaire subjects 

Useful vocabulary for using In-line Citations

Kouzes and Poser (1987) advocate that...
Taylor (1911) provides a definition of...
Bartol and Martin (1994) suggest that...
Coupland (1995) states that...
Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) comment on...
Bygrave (1997) conducted a study which hypothesized that... Dawson and Palmer (1995) make the important point that... lnkson (1999) reports a rise in...

Both lnkson (1999) and KoIb and Shepherd (1997) argue that... Inkson’s (1999) study examined...
Tannen (1990) devised a questionnaire to...
Schein (1985) notes that... (Gibson,1995, p. 480).

Studies on ... (Cleg, 1989; daft, 1995; Deal and Kennedy 1982) demonstrate... As Handy (1989) states, “learn to cite correctly” (¶ 79) ...

Kruglowski suggests that’ . ..‘(cited in Inkson and KoIb, 2002, p. 456). Kruglowski, (n.d.) cited in lnkson and KoIb, 2002, p. 456 indicates that... 

Useful Vocabulary for linking concepts and ideas 
 yet also but 
 accordingly before after 
 since therefore earlier 
in summary  although  next 
in conclusion  as soon as  nevertheless 
as a result  comparatively  until 
simultaneously  eventually  in addition 
conversely  subsequently  briefly 
on the whole  previously  overall 
however  whereas  just a 
furthermore  and  consequently 
on the other hand  despite thus 
because  while  currently 
in the same way  for this reason 
in spite of