Adapting your academic writing to the different stlyle manuals

Most of you have asked me to provide you with links and reference works to use MLA or APA not only in your final assignment for this subject but also to write your TFGs. These are the most commonly used standards required when submitting a manuscript to most academic journals dealing with English Studies. However, you can find many others and even special guidelines fixed by the editors of the publication.

These manuals set rules to:

– format your work (font, spaces, margins, etc. )

– include in-text citations in your essay

– present graphs and tables

– add cited works (articles, chapters, magazines, proceedings, etc.)

All these rules and many others must be followed in order to write coherently in an accurate academic style.

Each standard has its own manual of style and is being updated regularly with new guidelines. Most of these changes have been due to new electronic formats, for instance: e-books, e-journals, blog entries, fora messages, etc.

This has been one of the most recent novelty:

Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA (Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.))

MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in MLA citations. Because Web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the Web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA explains that most readers can find electronic sources via title or author searches in Internet Search Engines.

For instructors or editors who still wish to require the use of URLs, MLA suggests that the URL appear in angle brackets after the date of access. Break URLs only after slashes.

Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. The Internet Classics Archive. Web Atomic and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 13 Sept. 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2008. ‹›.

However, this might not common to the rest of styles, and so it is highly recommended to mention the version of the manual used in each case.

You will find more information about MLA style here:

Remember that you don’t have to learn by heart all the standards and versions of these manuals. There are websites like this which will generate the right bibliographic reference in the last version if you need it. Also, software like RefWorks, Zotero or Cite-you-Like will help you with the elaboration of bibliographies.

APA is the other alternative in our field if we are thinking about writing on teaching and applied linguistics topics. Its website holds a wide variety of training elements and social profiles to inform about any topic of interest to its followers.

It is important to remark, however, that most of the articles analized in this subject follow IEEE standards. Other disciplines, such as medicine, have AMA as a reference to cite and format their scholarly writings. Here you will find a very interesting quiz to test how much to know about using this standard. Since most of the topic dealt have to do with general AEP, it could result quite encouraging for the study of this subject.


Steven Pinker’s Ultimate Writing Guide


Sometime during middle school, I showed my father something I’d written for a class assignment. About halfway through reading, he stopped, pointed and said “that’s grammatically incorrect. You wrote ‘I will now describe.’ The correct wording is ‘I shall describe.'” The word “will”, he told me, implies defiance and determination. But if your sentence starts with the pronouns he, she, we, you or they, the rule is reversed.

It sounded nutty, to say nothing of pointlessly precise, but that was evidently what he’d learned in grade school back in the 1930’s. As far as he was concerned, that made it an eternal truth. For decades now, I’ve just assumed that the rule had gone out of style—but on reading Steven Pinker’s charming and erudite new book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, I’ve learned that there never was such a rule…

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An abstract is a succinct summary of a longer piece of work, usually academic in nature, which is published in isolation from the main text and should therefore stand on its own and be understandable without reference to the longer piece. It should report the latter’s essential facts, and should not exaggerate or contain material that is not there. Its purpose is to act as a reference tool (for example in a library abstracting service), enabling the reader to decide whether or not to read the full text. 

See more at:

Emerald webpage offers other guides on how to write and structure your work (case studies, literary reviews, articles, etc):


Using the Academic Word List

This site will help you expand your academic vocabulary using the Academic Word List (the AWL). All students, home students and overseas students, need to learn the technical vocabulary of their field. As learners of English preparing for academic study you also need to learn general academic vocabulary, words such as: feature, illustrate, regulate, strategy. This core academic vocabulary is used by writers in many different subject areas. Learning vocabulary from the AWL will help you improve your comprehension of academic texts. It will also help you write assignments in an academic style.

Of course the basic vocabulary of English is also important for academic learners. To check if you know this basic vocabulary, look at Word Lists.


The website has some interesting tools such as the AWL Highlighter:

The AWL Highlighter

This program will identify core academic vocabulary in a text, using the Academic Word List. Type or paste your text into the box below. Select the sublist level you want to use. In this program each level includes all the previous levels i.e. level 5 includes levels 1 to 4 as well. Click on submit. The text will be returned as a new web page with words from the Academic Word List, at the levels selected, highlighted in bold type.

What’s a wiki?

Perhaps many of you have never seen a wiki before. It is one of the best ways to develop collaborative activities on the Internet. It is has a long tradition in the area of CALL and ESP (English for Specific purposes) in general.

There are many free tools o create a wiki but we are using Wikispaces (free if used for educational purposes).

To know more about how o work with Wikispaces, watch this video:

All you have to do by now is introduce yourselves in the wiki frontpage forum and in he one that appears in your group.

Talking about technology

You are going to watch two different videos. Listen carefully both of them and answer / reflect on the questions below.

Listen to the following speech and try to think about sort of register used to deliver the communication. Pay attention to the use of verb tenses, coordinating structures, linkers, etc. Think about the skills needed to be a good engineer and add them to the linguistic ones seen during the second unit.

Now compare the language use in that talk with this one:

Can you identify different levels of specialization? Can you find any similarity in both videos? Can you identify the kind of “people” involved? The audience? The level of the producers in both examples?

Comment your feelings using the comments option.