Category Archives: Grammar and punctuation tips

Simple fact sheets on grammar and punctuation to help improve academic writing

Abbreviations used in academic references

And others (et al.)

  • The latin is et alli, abbreviated to et al.
  • Et al. is used to indicate a list of authors in a reference; for example, Glassop, et al. 
  • Generally, always list all authors the first time, after that you can use the first author and et al.
  • Always consult your official reference style guide to check the requirements
The same place (ibid.)
  • The latin is ibidem, abbreviated to ibid.
  • When repeating a citation consecutively, you can put ibid. to indicate that the reference is exactly same as the previous one
  • For example, (ibid.)
  • If ibid. is used in a footnote, use a capital I: Ibid.
In the place cited (loc. cit.)
  • The latin is loco citato, abbreviated to loc. cit.
  • An alternative meaning is: in the same location
  • When repeating a citation, you can put loc. cit. to indicate that the reference is the same resource (author/s and date) and the same citation location (i.e., page number or paragraph) as the previous one
  • For example, “Smith (loc. cit.), also claims that…”
In the work cited (op. cit.)
  • The latin is opere citato, abbreviated to op. cit.
  • When repeating a citation, you can  put op. cit. to indicate that the reference is the same resource (author/s and date) as the previous one (but the citation location, i.e., page or paragraph number, is different)
  • For example (op. cit., p.3)
Tip:

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Common abbreviations (e.g., i.e., etc.)

For example (e.g.)

  • The latin term is exempli gratia
  • Write the long form, for example, in a sentence and the abbreviated form (e.g.,) when in brackets.
  • Note that there are full stops to indicate the abbreviation
  • Note that there is a comma after the phrase in both the sentence and the brackets to indicate a pause
That is (i.e.)
  • The latin term is id est
  • Write the long form, that is, in a sentence and the abbreviated form (i.e.,) when in brackets
  • Note that there are full stops to indicate the abbreviation
  • Note that there is a comma after the phrase in both the sentence and the brackets to indicate a pause
Etcetera (etc.)
  • The latin meaning is and the rest
  • Write the long form, etcetera, in a sentence and the abbreviated form (etc.) when in brackets
  • Note that there is a full stop to indicate the abbreviation
  • Tip: rarely use etcetera within a paragraph as it indicates that you have provided a sample only; so it probably should be in brackets.

 

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Using a colon, semi-colon or comma in essay writing

 Colon (:)

  • Place a colon (:) before you add a list things: bread, butter, milk

Semi-colon (;)

  • A semi-colon (;) is like a comma, but joins two part sentences together or appends a phrase to a sentence; for example, when you provide examples

Comma (,)

  • Place a comma (,) where you would pause when reading text aloud, or to separate items in a list.
  • If the list is provided in bullet form, then you don’t need to use a comma at the end

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Emphasizing words or phrases

Em dash (–), or elongated hyphen
  • An em dash (–), or double hyphen, is used to highlight a phase; for example, “I went to the market–in Petersburg–to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are wanting the reader to clearly understand that Petersburg is important.
  • If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with a highlighted tone from the rest of the sentence, to draw attention to the phrase.
  • A double em dash (or four single hyphens) can be used to obscure an obscene word; for example, “It was a d___ shame.”
  • An alternative, is to use brackets (); “I went to the market (in Petersburg) to see what the fuss was about.” In this case, you are not so concerned about the reader understanding where the market was.
  • If read aloud, the reader would read the phrase ‘in Petersburg’ with the same tone as the rest of the sentence.
Italics
  • To place emphasis on a specific word or phrase (e.g., make it emotive) you can italicize it; for example, “Justin went crazy when he heard about the event.”
Underline
  • Underlining a word or phrase also draws the readers attention to the emphasis added. However, today, underlining tends not to be preferred in academic writing.
  • Check your official style guide before using underlining; if in doubt, don’t use it.
Exclamation!
  • Use exclamations (!) sparingly in academic writing to highlight emotion (academic work is meant to be objective, and, therefore, emotion free). For example, “Finally!”

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Quoting and Paraphrasing

When you quote work from other people there are a few rules:

  1. If you leave a word/s out, replace it/them with ellipses (…) “…when you leave a word out of a quoted sentence insert three dots…”
  2. If you change any word/s in a quote (sometimes to make it easier to read), then put the new word/s in square brackets  “…when you leave a word out of a quoted sentence [make sure you include] three dots…”
  3. Always include the reference source, with the page number (if appropriate)
paraphrase is a quote that you re-state in your own words, so you need to include the reference source.

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