Manuscript Writing Style
This resource covers American Sociological Association (ASA) style and includes information about manuscript formatting, in-text citations, formatting the references page, and accepted manuscript writing style. The bibliographical format described here is taken from the American Sociological Association (ASA) Style Guide, 4th edition.
Contributors:Deborah L. Coe, Dana Lynn Driscoll
Last Edited: 2011-04-20 06:09:19
Manuscript Writing Style
In addition to providing guidelines for the general formatting of a manuscript and for in-text citations and the page of references, which follows a document, the ASA Style Guide also specifies a particular style of writing for presenting sociological work.
Generally, avoid writing in the first person, unless instructed to do so. Avoid giving an opinion, unless the purpose of the writing is to make an argument.
Use the active voice (click here to view the OWL's resources on active voice).
Spell out words such as percent, chi-square and versus, rather than using their abbreviations (except when presenting data in tables or graphs).
Whenever using data that someone else collected, or whenever referring to that data, or whenever using another person’s ideas, whether published, unpublished, or available electronically, reference the author(s). This is true whether quoting their work verbatim or paraphrasing it (click here to view the OWL's resources on avoiding plagiarism).
Use straightforward language, avoiding jargon, superlatives, wordy phrases and common expressions.
Pay close attention to such “nuts and bolts” issues as consistent use of verb tenses and accuracy in spelling, punctuation, sentence construction, and following a well-thought-out outline.
Unless gendered terms are important to the analysis or demographics, use nongendered terms wherever possible.
Instead of man, men, or mankind, use person, people, individual, or humankind.
When appropriate, use a plural noun (people) or pronoun (they). Replace gendered pronouns with an article when possible (the instead of hers).
Race and Ethnicity
Avoid racial and ethnic stereotyping.
Be as specific as possible when using terms that describe a race or ethnicity.
Use the following terms:
- African American (no hyphen)
- black (not capitalized)
- white (not capitalized)
- Hispanic, Chicano, Latino, or Latina (Latino if gender is unknown or known to be male; Latina if known to be female)
- American Indian or Native American (no hyphen)
- Asian or Asian American (no hyphen)
Avoid using the following:
The first time you use an acronym, you should give the full name with the acronym in parenthesis.
Afterwards, you can use only the acronym.
Later in the text:
The DoE suggests that...
Different sections of a paper may call for different verb tenses but use the same tense within each section.
Use the past tense to communicate that the research being reviewed has been completed.
It is possible to mix tenses if it helps to explain the finding.
Use the past tense to explain the methods used in the research.
Use either past or present tense but don’t mix them.
In addition to following general writing conventions, the ASA Style Guide also provides the following guidelines:
Use only one space after punctuation marks (do not use two spaces between sentences).
Punctuation marks should be in the same font (including italics) as the text that precedes it. (Note: this is a change from the previous usage in The Chicago Manual of Style).
When numbering a series of items in a list, use the convention (1), (2), (3) rather than 1. or 1).