AK2 Text Layout and Usage Guidelines
TRENAK2 Basic English Professional Writing (Hopkins)
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere
These guidelines are intended for written work in the English Section
of the Department of Translation Studies. Based on general
English usage (American and British), they reflect the continuing
change of layout standards from rules based on
typewriter technology to digital culture conventions. The guidelines
assume that texts will be produced with word-processors using proportional
fonts, and that they will be increasingly conveyed in electronic format.
Checklist of Main Layout Points
- Academic papers should normally be written in the 3rd person;
printouts should be full-size A4 pages, using only ONE side of the paper
unless otherwise specified.
- Text should be left-justified with a "ragged right" margin and no
- Text should be single-spaced with size 11-12 Arial or other
'non-serif' font, unless otherwise specified. [NB: As of 09
February 2010, Arial is the 'official university font' for general
documents, with Avenir and Adobe Caslon Pro recommended for
specialized documents. See note below]
- Paragraphs and other text elements should be separated by
- Mixed-case text should be used for main and sectional titles,
not ALL CAPITALS.
- Usage for the layout of other text elements should follow the
General Layout Background
The primary concept in English page layout is the centering of text on
the page. There should be roughly-equal margins on the top, bottom, and
both sides. The minimum left and right margins should be 1.2 inches (3 cm)
and 0.8 inches (2 cm) respectively; standard top and bottom margins are 1
inch (2.6 cm) each. Word processors should be set for a left-justified
text with "auto-hyphenization" off, to eliminate awkward line spacing and
'Block' paragraphing is strongly recommended instead of indenting.
Double-spacing (two hard-returns) should be used between all paragraphs,
and between paragraphs and other text elements, such as titles, subtitles,
and indented quotations (as in this document). Do not use a single
hard-return within a paragraph block to suggest distinctions
between 'major' and 'minor' thoughts. Each paragraph should be a
coherent, logical entity which is separated by double spacing from the
paragraphs above and below.
The text body should normally use a size 11 or 12 Arial* [see below] or
other non-serif font (Helvetica, Tahoma, etc.) for maximum clarity. Main
titles should use a size 14 or 16 font, with sectional titles
distinguished by double-spacing and boldface, or a slightly-larger
contrasting font (such as the boldface Arial titles vs. normal Verdana
text in this document). Exceptions to normal font size may include
letters, résumés, or other documents where the text should fit
(readably) onto a single page.
* [NB: Following a decision by the Rector on 09 February 2010
(Rehtorin päätös 9.2.2010, D120/095.01/2010), Arial
is the 'official university font' for general usage, with Avenir and Adobe
Caslon Pro to be used for specialized documents (Avenir and Adobe Caslon
Pro are not standard fonts, and are not available on most university
computers). See the 08/2010 Aikalainen (p.14) for further detail.]
Unless otherwise specified, papers should be single-spaced and printed
on only one side of an A4 sheet of paper. Note that working drafts of
formal writing (research papers, etc.) are often requested to be
double-spaced, a relic of typewriter technology. While the print versions
of some research papers may still be requested with double-spacing, their
digital versions should be single-spaced.
Speeches are usually triple-spaced with a larger font for ease of
reading. Conversely, letters and outlines are always single-spaced for
concise appearance, except where a letter or outline is so brief that
double-spacing would "balance" the text on a single sheet of paper.
Multi-page texts should have page numbers, preferably in the
upper-right corner as part of a document "header." Numbering begins with
Page 2; the first text page does not have a number, as the first
page is evident by the paper's title (which should be at the top of the
first text page instead of using a separate "title page". Papers should be
printed as full-size A4 pages, not the reduced-size default of some
university printers. Adjust university printer "properties" to produce
Punctuation and Spacing; Quotation Marks with Periods and Commas
After a period, exclamation point or question mark, monospace
typewriters required a two-space gap before the start of the next sentence
to ensure a visible break. After a comma or semicolon, there was
one space before the next character. After a colon there were two spaces.
One should still follow these practices.
When using proportional fonts, the font itself will adjust the two
literal spaces to one proportional space, but leave the two literal spaces
intact in case the text is later converted to a monospace font. The
difference between a monospace (typewriter) and proportional font can be
seen as follows (the first uses the monospace "Courier" font, the second
the proportional "Times" font and the third the proportional "Arial" font,
all with an HTML size of "3"):
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. (vs)
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
With parenthetical elements, do not leave spaces inside
the parentheses; do it (this way); not ( this way ). A comma may
follow a parenthetical remark (like this), but never precedes a
With typewriters, dashes were formed by using the hyphen, but
differently in the US and Britain. British English used - like this
- a hyphen preceded and followed by a space. American English--like
this--used two hyphens, with no intervening spaces. (In neither country
can a comma be used together with a dash,like this.) Word
processors and HTML coding can produce a so-called 'em' dash
a regular dash which is the same in American and British
American and British usage also differs with quotation marks used
together with periods and commas. In American usage, commas and periods
are always inside closing quotation marks, whereas in British usage they
may be inside or outside closing quotation marks depending on whether they
were part of the original quotation. However, unless one is writing
specifically in American or British English, either style may be used, as
long as the text is consistent and the intention is clear.
Underlining, Boldface, Italics and Quotation Marks
With typewriters, titles of books were generally underlined, indicating
that in a printed text they would appear in italics. Thus Lord of the
Flies appeared like this. Titles of articles, poems, essays, songs
and so on were put in quotation marks: for example T.S. Eliot's "The Waste
Land" or Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
Words "referred to as words" in the text were either underlined or put
in quotation marks, as were non-English words to indicate that
they were non-English words and would appear in italics in a
printed text. Thus, "Kalakukko is a specialty of Kuopio."
Likewise, with translated terms the foreign word was underlined and the
translation put in quotation marks: Thus "Kalakukko, the "Savo
fish loaf," is a specialty of Kuopio."
However, word processors enable the use of boldface or
italic characters directly. Thus one can write:
Words introduced by so-called, marked, referred to as, and similar
descriptives should be put in italics (or quotation marks) to indicate the
exact word or phrase referred to. [Fred was known as the "phantom of New
York" during the 1890s. The case was marked Fragile.]
- Lord of the Flies (instead of Lord of the Flies);
- Kalakukko is a specialty of Kuopio; and/or
- Kalakukko, the "Savo fish loaf", is a specialty of Kuopio; or
- Kalakukko, the Savo fish loaf, is a speciality of
Writing Dates, Sums of Money, Numbers and Percentages
In international English, dates should always have the month written in
full; do not write dates only as numbers. The most common forms
are 15 January 2010 (without a comma), or January 15, 2010
(with a comma separating the numbers).
Numbers of more than four digits normally have a comma separating the
thousand-units. Write 10,000 instead of 10 000. In Britain, 10 000 is
still "officially acceptable" except for sums of money, when one should
use either £10,000.00 or £10-000.00. However, one should not
use only spaces to separate units of numbers, as software may
regard the number as separate "units" when spaced apart.
Currency symbols come before the numbers, without a separating space:
thus $55.00 or £66.00 or €77.00. As both the dollar and pound
symbols are used by several currencies, international writing must
be unambiguous about which currency is intended. This may be done via
using ISO 4217
three-letter currency abbreviations, such as USD 55.00, GBP 66.00 or EUR
77.00, instead of currency symbols. ISO 4217 abbrevations are separated
from the numbers by one space. To be perfectly certain, explain in the
text which currency is being used. Unless one is beginning a sentence, all
currency names are in lower case (one dollar, one euro; five dollars, five
euros). Note that in English the plural of "euro" is
When numbers appear in the text, the rule is to write out numbers in
word form if this can be done in two words or less; thus fifty-four would
be written out, but 5,468 would be in numerals. A general rule is that
numbers should not start a sentence in numerical form. Exceptions to this
include scientific or technical papers, which may have so many numbers
that awkward structures would otherwise appear.
Numbers and letters used as itemizations on the left margin are
followed in English convention by a period (full stop) plus two spaces.
The rule is for numbers to "grow" inwards, to maintain a straight
left-hand margin and be efficient to type. Note the spacing and straight
1. Point one
22. Point two
333. Point three (etc.)
When using the percentage sign (%) in English, unlike with common
practice in Finnish, no space should be left between the number and the
percentage sign. It should be 57%, not 57 %.
Capitalization of Titles in SAE and SBE
The first letters of all words in titles except articles and
prepositions are usually capitalized in English. American usage
capitalizes all the primary words in titles almost without exception.
British usage for the titles of newspaper or periodical articles is to
capitalize the first word with the remainder (except for proper nouns) in
lower-case, as in Finland. However, British usage resembles American with
the titles of books, research papers, and the like. If in doubt,
capitalize; this will seldom be "wrong."
Avoid Dividing Words
Word division is problematic in English. It sometimes follows phonetic
form, and sometimes "logical" syllabic division. It is best not to divide
words at all, especially in formal writing. But if you must divide words,
consult a dictionary like the Oxford Learner's (at least for
British English) which gives standard word divisions.
Avoid Using Abbreviations
Abbreviations should not be used in formal writing, or when
writing for an 'international' audience, except for very common ones such
as "Dr." Otherwise, if it is practical to abbreviate, first "establish"
the abbreviation in the text. Note that abbreviations from other languages
seldom 'transfer' to English. Such forms as n:o, s-thing, and
f.ex. are not used in English. One should also not use
"etc." in formal writing, particularly at the end of a sentence.
Avoid Contracted Words in Formal Writing
Likewise, one should not contract words (hadn't, didn't, it's, etc.) in
formal writing; always spell out the full forms of words. Full word forms
are more precise, and suggest a higher level of seriousness and
Quotations, In-text Citations and Author Notes
When quoting a passage of three lines or less, use quotation marks to
distinguish the quoted text, with an in-text citation following the
quotation (Quick Guide). The
numbers of author notes should
be indicated with superscripting.12 If a quotation is
longer than three lines it should be single-spaced and indented from both
the left and right margins without quotation marks.
This usage with long quotations (any quotation that
is longer than three lines) helps the quotation stand out
prominently and makes the layout more attractive. Quotation marks
are not required for indented quotations because it is obvious from
the indentation that it is a quotation. Note also the format for an
indented in-text citation to page 103 of a source written by
"Jones" as listed in the paper's Works Cited page. (Jones
Citations for English Section papers should follow the conventions of
the MLA Handbook or the Section's "modified-MLA house style". See
the Quick Guide to Citations and Overview of MLA Citation Style for
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Last Updated 03 June 2010