In university and research writing, it is important to follow the convention in your subject and any guidelines given by your university, target journal or publisher. It is also important to be consistent in your language, for example in spelling and punctuation.

An easy way to do this is to use a style sheet. This helps give your text a consistent and professional appearance, allowing readers to concentrate on your content.

A style sheet is simply a reference sheet for writing and formatting your text. It can include style guidelines stipulated by your university, journal or publisher as well as a list that you compile as you write your text. A number of style pointers are given below (for further information, see the relevant Writing Help sections):

English variety

Whether you use British English, US English or other English variety


Your spelling where there is more than one possible form, for example judgement or judgment, ageing or aging

In British English, whether you use s or z in words such as organise and organize


Whether you use a comma before and and or in series such as London, Sydney, and New York and Cape Town, Edinburgh or Vancouver

Whether you use a comma after e.g. and i.e. and before etc.


Whether you use a hyphen with non and co, for example nonconformist or non-conformist, coeducation or co-education

Whether you write a term as one word, hyphenated, or as two words, for example lifetime, half-life and life cycle

Quotation style

Whether you use ‘single’ or “double” quotation marks

Title and heading style

Are your titles formatted consistently?

Figure and table style

Are your figures and tables formatted consistently?

Bullet style

Are your bullets formatted consistently?


Whether you capitalize the first letter of cross-references, for example Chapter or chapter 1, Figure or figure 2, Table or table 3


Whether you use normal type or italics, for example et al. or et al., in vivo or in vivo


Title spacing

Line spacing

Word spacing, for example 10 mm, 5g, p. 55


Which numbers you write as words and which as figures

Whether you use a comma or space to divide multiples of a thousand, for example 10,000 or 10 000

Whether you use %, per cent or percent


Are your dates formatted consistently?


Have you used the standard abbreviations in your subject?

Have you defined all your abbreviations?

Footnote or endnote style

Are all the reference numbers correct?

Reference style

Your reference style, both in your text and bibliography