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Report Writing

Cornelis Krottje
Emily Lewis

Edition 1.0
IBS Report Writing Standards 20162017 by Cornelis Krottje and Emily Lewis.
All Rights Reserved.

Conceived, compiled, and written by Cornelis Krottje and Emily Lewis. Approved by the Management Team of IBS,
Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands (February, 2017).
Typeset in Alegreya using LATEX2 and the memoir class by Lettersetterij Krottje, Leek, The Netherlands.
Produced in 20162017.

17 2 1

Accuracy: In language assessment, and the CEFR specifically: the degree to which
a text applies grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and task-specific features
correctly and appropriately.
body: An informal term used to refer to all material between introduction and
conclusion; should not be used as a formal chapter or section heading
boldface type: Thick, dark type used for printing words or letters (OALD), e.g. bold-
CEF or CEFR Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Coherence An aspect of language assessment as used by the CEFR to measure the
development of a learners ability to link elements in a text through
paragraph writing and transition words or phrases.
end matter: All material following the main matter of a book or report, such as ap-
pendices or indices
footer: A fixed text area at the bottom of each page.
front matter: All material preceding the main matter of a book or report, such as
front page, acknowledgements, or table of contents
header: A fixed text area at the top of each page.
indentation, to a space left at the beginning of a line or print of writing, to start a
indent: line or print or writing further away from the edge of the page than the
other lines, respectively (OALD).
italic type, italics, to The use of printed letters that lean to the right (OALD), often involv-
italicise: ing slightly different letter shapes, e.g. italics.
line a single row of words and symbols, usually part of a sentence, that runs
from the left margin of a text block to its right margin; not to be con-
fused with a sentence
main matter: The part of a book or report that contains the most relevant content,
usually starting with the introduction and ending with the reference
Range An aspect of language assessment as used by the CEFR to measure the
development of a learners vocabulary and idiom
sentence: a combination of words and phrases, centred around a verb, that to-
gether make up a statement or question, always beginning with a cap-
ital letter and ending in a full stop; not to be confused with a line.
standard: An accepted or approved example of something against which judg-
ments or measurements can be made; a level of excellence or quality.

sentence case: The use of uppercase (i.e. CAPITAL) letters using the norm for standard
sentences, such as in The quick brown fox from Boston jumped over the
lazy dog from Tennessee.
system font: A typeface (i.e. font) that comes pre-installed on a computers operating
title case: The use of uppercase (i.e. CAPITAL) letters using the norm for titles, such
as in The Quick Brown Fox from Boston Jumped over the Lazy Dog
from Tennessee.
word processor: A software package which enables the user to enter, edit, manipulate,
store, retrieve, format and print text.

List of Figures vi

List of Tables vii

1 Introduction 1

2 Standards for Structure 3

2.1 Title Page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2 Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.3 Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.4 Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.5 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2.6 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.7 Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.8 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
2.9 Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.10 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2.11 Main Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2.12 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2.13 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
2.14 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.15 Appendices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

3 Standards for Layout 13

3.1 Front Matter Specifics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.1.1 The title page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.1.2 The Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3.2 Main Matter Specifics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.3 Endmatter Specifics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.3.1 The References: lay-out standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.3.2 The appendices: layout standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.4 Page Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.4.1 Margins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.4.2 Page identification: headers, footers, and pagination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Headers and footers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

CONTENTS Page numbering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

3.4.3 Font type and size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.4.4 Paragraphing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
3.4.5 Section headings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
3.4.6 Starting a new page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.4.7 Line spacing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.4.8 Line justification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.5 Text Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.5.1 Capital letters & treatment of names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Sentence capitals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 the first letter of headings and captions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 peoples names (see next section on names) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Toponyms (geographical names) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Institutions and organisations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Time units with names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Titles of people or bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Published work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Trade names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Ships, aircrafts, and other vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Capital letters in abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Capitalisation and word order in names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Adjectives derived from proper nouns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
3.5.2 Punctuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Full stops/full points/periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Commas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Semi-colons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Colons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Apostrophes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Question marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Exclamation marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Hyphens and dashes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Parentheses/round brackets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Square brackets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Slashes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Quotation marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Ellipsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
3.5.3 Type formatting: boldface, underlining, and italics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Underlining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Boldface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Italics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
3.5.4 Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Numbers expressed as numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Numbers expressed as words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Mixed usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

CONTENTS Ordinal numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Decimals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Roman numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Comma use in large numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Plurals of numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
3.5.5 Symbols and abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
3.5.6 Quotations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 In-line quotations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Block quotations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
3.5.7 Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
3.5.8 Tables and figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Table and figure numbering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 The table title . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Table notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Using figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
3.5.9 Cross-references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
3.5.10 Footnotes and endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

4 Standards for Language 67

4.1 CEFR: Accuracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
4.2 CEFR: Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
4.2.1 General tone & register . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
4.2.2 Neutral language use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
4.2.3 Conciseness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
4.2.4 Jargon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
4.3 CEFR: Coherence and Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
4.3.1 Persuasiveness through logical ordering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Deductive versus inductive writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Secondary and primary research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 2+2 approach, scientific approach, and the yardstick approach . . . . . . 72 Writing a outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
4.3.2 Paragraphing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 General rules for paragraphing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Types of paragraphing: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
4.3.3 Linking words and phrases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

5 Standards for Referencing 81

5.1 Avoiding Plagiarism: When and Why to Cite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
5.2 Anti-plagiarism tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
5.3 Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
5.3.1 Quotations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
5.3.2 Paraphrases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
5.3.3 Summaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
5.4 Author-year referencing APA-style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

5.4.1 Step 1: In-text parenthetical referencing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
5.4.2 Step 2: The references list . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 List ordering principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 The reference list entry: who, when, what, and where . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

6 Conclusion & recommendations 95

References 97

A Report Assessment Rubric Template 99

B Report Checklist 101

C CEFR Descriptors for Writing 103

D Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases 105

E Referencing Samples APA Style 115

F Sample Student Report 117

List of Figures

3.1 Two layout options for reference list entries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

3.2 The problem with full justification in a reference list. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.3 Two different methods of delineating paragraphs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.4 Dutch paragraphing versus English paragraphing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
3.5 Examples of fully justified text and left-justified (ragged-right) text. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.6 Example of a fully justified, hyphenated text compared to the same without hyphenation. . . . 23

5.1 Screen capture of an online, academic article database entry, including DOI. . . . . . . . . . . . 93

List of Tables

List of Tables

2.1 Report sections and how they are generally ordered. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

2.2 Some core differences between purely analytical reports and proposals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

3.1 Different approaches to chapter and section heading formatting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

3.4 All relevant horizontal-line punctuation for report writing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.5 An overview of certain symbols one may encounter in business reports. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
3.6 Commonly used abbreviations in English writing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
3.7 Sample table APA style no. 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
3.8 Sample table APA style no. 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
3.9 Sample table APA style no. 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

5.1 In-text citation pattern variations APA style. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85

5.2 The four main segments in APA reference list entries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

1 Introduction
As in most disciplines, standards in writing should not be a constricting straitjacket. Not only should they
provide clearly delineated parameters within which the author can safely practise his or her writing skills,
but they should also allow professional writers to use them as guidelines rather than strict rules, assisting
them in the composition and finalisation of their work. In that same vein, it was a matter of course that
students at the International Business School (IBS) of Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen,
(Hanze UAS) would benefit from an up-to-date handbook providing them with clear criteria for writing
professional texts. Even though a similar document had been made available at IBS in the early nineties
(Murcott, 1991), it was high time that a revised, modernised version of an IBS report writing guide see the
light of day.

The purpose of these standards, therefore, is to provide students and staff at IBS alike with rules and guide-
lines for the structure (i.e. sectioning and paragraphing) of the content, and layout (i.e. visual formatting
and structuring) of assignment reports and similar documents (e.g. project reports) to the effect that these
texts will have a uniform and pleasing appearance and give the reader an enjoyable reading experience.
The focus will therefore lie on the style, formatting, structure, language, and communication standards
more than on the content. Indeed, students at IBS are required to ensure that their project, assignment,
and research reports are in a standardised format, are well structured, have been prepared through careful
word-processing, and are easy to read and understand. Secondly, this guide will give the student a useful
framework for composing and writing reports later during their career. A final (but not less important)
purpose of standardisation is that it will facilitate teachers and supervisors in the accurate assessment of
student work.

Chapter 2 will give an overview of content requirements: what elements does one expect to find in the
macrostructure of a properly structured business report? Chapter 3 will present IBS standards for layout
and formatting, ranging from criteria for title page composition to rules about punctuation, footnotes,
and jargon. Chapter 4 will examine some requirements of language use: accuracy of vocabulary and gram-
mar, style issues, as well as coherence in paragraph writing. Chapter 5 will offer instructions on how to
reference external sources using the author-year system, and this guide will conclude with some notes of
practical advice, as well as appendices that include, among other useful material, an annotated sample

Many of the suggestions in this document pertaining to report structuring are based on current IBMS
conventions as included in the syllabi of the IBMS courses ERS1, ERS2, and ERS3, as well as the Graduation
Projects and Masters Thesis handbooks. Much of the input this guide offers regarding layout, and text
formatting in particular, are based on Ritters Oxford Style Manual (2003) although some material has been
borrowed from the guide used at the School of Communication, Media & IT (Westerkamp, 2014). The
section on author-year referencing (also known as the Harvard system) is based on the referencing style
as employed by the American Psychological Association (APA) and explained in their Publication Manual

2 Standards for Structure
It is recognised that projects and assignments vary tremendously in emphasis. The list of main sections as
given in table 2.1 covers the needs of most types of reports used in the International Business programmes,
but there may be occasions when it is permissible (or even desired or required) to deviate from it.

Report sections: Email Memo Y1 GPJ Masters

or report Project report Thesis
letter reports
Front page/title page ! ! !
Abstract ! !
Executive Summary ! !
Preface (!) !
Acknowledgements ! !
Contents ! ! !
List of Illustrations !
List of Tables !
Message header ! !
Introduction ! ! ! ! !
Theoretical Section/Literature Review ! !
Methodology ! ! !
Findings (Data Collection / Analysis / Evaluation) ! ! ! !
Conclusion ! ! ! ! !
Recommendations (!) ! ! !
Project process evaluation !
Glossary !
References ! ! !
Appendices ( )! ! ! !
! !) = possibly included
Table 2.1: Report sections and how they are generally ordered; = definitely included; (
(Also see Lewis 2015; cf. Blumberg, Cooper, & Schindler, 2014)

The general image that should be imprinted on students minds by the end of their first year is that the av-
erage business report should have at least a title page, Executive Summary, Introduction, Methodology,
Findings, Conclusion, Recommendations, and list of References. Whether or not any of the other sections
are included depends on the audience, purpose of the report, presence of (too) detailed material, use of
jargon, report size, etc.

To the critical student reader: Given the fact that not all types of chapter/section were necessary for this
guide, it does not contain all those sections either. As this document itself is not a business research
report, it does not, for instance, have a methodology. It does, however, attempt to provide sufficient
explanationsand, where possible, examplesto illustrate how to use said sections.

Standards for Structure

2.1 Title Page

The title page or cover page should contain: The full title of the report; your name (or names in case of
group work); your class, group, and/or team number; the date of submission, and the course-specific pur-
pose for which the report has been written, e.g.:

This project report is presented to complete the requirements of the ... assignment
in the International Marketing Analysis module IMA of IBS.
(Murcott, 1994, p. 6)


Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement of the degree Master of Business

Administration of the International Business School of Hanze University of Applied
Sciences Groningen.
(IBS, 2015, p. 17)

N.B. This is not the same purpose as mentioned in the purpose statement of the report, which expresses
the purpose of the report in a corporate context (i.e. in the case of the company or organisation you areor
pretend to bewriting for), such as This report will investigate the four different essay-writing strategies
that the Department of English may employ to improve its first-year students academic writing skills.

In the case of graduation project reports, the title page should also include the names of the supervisor and
co-marker, the name of the company involved, as well as the word count, and the word CONFIDENTIAL
in case of confidential information.

2.2 Abstract
The purpose of the report abstract is to enable a researcher to decide at a glance if it would be worthwhile
to read the body of your report. At IBS, however, the requirement for abstracts is mostly restricted to
bachelors and masters theses; in doubt, students should consult their teacher or supervisor. Should the
report in question require an abstract, though, then it is important to remember that it should sell despite
its professional style. In the absence of inspiration, the temptation to write it in the form of a contents list,
so often seen in technical papers, should be avoided:

*Section 1 of the report introduces the concept of specificity. Section 2 examines

and discusses relevant factors. Some variables are introduced in section 3, and
their impact is assessed in section 4. Finally, . . . (etc.)1

Neither does the word abstract imply that this section will comprise sentences and phrases randomly
extracted from the body of the report. The abstract should be a succinct, well-rounded, condensation of
the whole report, giving the gist of it, and summarising methods of research, findings and conclusions. It
should give the essential ideas contained in the report.
1 Throughout this guide, any examples of wrong or undesirable writing will be marked with an asterisk, as has been done here.

Executive Summary

There should be no fear that, in disclosing the final conclusions, the abstract will prevent people from
reading the rest of the report; it is not supposed to resemble an exciting and tantalising detective story in
which everything becomes clear in the final pages! Instead, a good abstract that summarises the main line
of the report lets the reader know where the report is going; the detail will then make more sense.

An abstract should be written only after the rest of the report has been finished. A good general guide is
that its maximum length should be one page. In fact, the shorter it is, the better, provided that the sense
is not lost. Some reports, such as the Graduation Project report, even have a lower maximum; therefore,
checking the course-specific requirements is strongly recommended. Confidential reports should not in-
clude any confidential information in the abstract.

2.3 Executive Summary

This is a most important part and may well be the only chapter or section that some readers read in de-
tail. The Executive Summary (first word pronounced [Ig"zekj@tIv], so stress on the second syllable) sum-
marises all the major areas of the report: the purpose, research methods, findings, conclusions, and rec-
ommendations. The main difference between an Abstract and an Executive Summary are the different
functions each document serves. While an Abstract is read by someone trying to decide whether or not to
read the rest of the document, an Executive Summary is read by someone who will read the entire report,
or who would like to but is unable to find the time yet still needs to get the full gist of it. At IBS, the Execu-
tive Summary should not be more than one page regardless of the length of the report2 . It should be listed
in the table of contents, but not numbered as a chapter.

2.4 Preface
Texts such as books or longer reports sometimes contain a personal statement from the author in the
form of a Preface. Should such a section be written by someone else, then this is usually referred to as a
Foreword; usually, these are not found in business reports, though. Alternatively, instead of a preface, the
introduction may also be used for the same purpose if necessary. In such a case, such a personal statement
tends to be placed at the very end of the introduction.

2.5 Glossary
The presence or absence of a glossary depends on the subject matter; this section should provide an
overview and explanation of any important terms used in the text that the reader may or would be un-
familiar with. One should realise that the occurrence of a term in the glossary does not mean the term
requires no explanation in the main matter of the text.

The glossary is arranged alphabetically by headword, where each headword is followed by an explanation
or definition. Each following headword-definition pair is clearly visually separated from the previous one.
For an example of a glossary, see page i.
2 Other organisations (universities, corporations, etc.) may require longer summaries.

Standards for Structure

2.6 Acknowledgements
If you have had assistance in the assignment, or in preparing the report, or would like to acknowledge
groups or individuals who have enabled the project, thank named people and organisations, such as advis-
ers, colleagues, teachers, or your host firm in the Acknowledgements. Acknowledgements are an optional
report section although they are often used in the more formal, longer types of report, such as the Grad-
uation Project report. They may refer to reasons why the report was written, they may mention special
circumstances or sources of inspiration, they may express gratitude (including name and function of the
individuals concerned), and they may include the authors or authors personal notes (Lewis, 2015, p. 25).

2.7 Contents
The report section commonly referred to as table of contentsin APA style, simply styled Contents
should enable the reader to find items in the report, and understand the contents and structure of the
report at a glance. The decision down to which section level page numbers should be given is a compromise
between making the contents list too dense on the printed page, and minimising the amount of searching
that the reader will have to do to find a topic. A good general guide for business reports is that if page
numbers in the list are more than five apart, the level which has been chosen is too high.

TAny material that precedes the table of contents should not be listed; any material that follows it ought
to be included, though. If the report contains many illustrations and/or diagrams, it might be advisable to
list those separately within the table of contents. The alternative is to create a completely separate List of
tables and/or List of illustrations on the page(s) following the table of contents. Such an extra section or
sections should then also be listed in the table of contents.

Appendices should be included as well, where each appendix (A, B, C, etc.) is listed separately.

2.8 Introduction
The first numbered chapter or section of the report, the purpose of the Introduction is to set the scene. It
should open up the topic of the report, give the background, history, references to previous work on the
same subject, reasons for the assignment (also known as a problem statement), and aim or objectivesor
purpose statementof the project or assignment. The reports purpose statement is one of the most im-
portant elements of the introduction as it clearly informs the reader of the direction the report will take,
something more clearly illustrated in section 2.12 on page 8.

As for background information, in a lengthier report a separate background chapter following the introduc-
tion may be more appropriate. Examples of such chapters or sections are more detailed background de-
scriptions of a company or a corporate sector or branch, or a literature review with the aim to provide
theoretical background to the problem in question.

The introduction to a report should also contain a paragraph offering a preview of the rest of the report,
briefly outlining which elements the reader may expect in the report, andbefitting a deductive writing

Literature Review

approachpreferably including the thesis statement or core idea the report intends to convey. For exam-

The report will conclude that, in order to meet the needs of the Ukrainian market,
Philips should consider replacing its present distribution system by the Selective
Distribution System. Finally, it will offer some practical recommendations on how
the Selective Distribution System had best be implemented.

In this case, the first sentence of the paragraph gave an explicit preview of the conclusion (the thesis state-
ment paraphrased), while the final sentence summed up what the recommendation section will cover,
which always builds on the conclusion/thesis statement.

In some cases, introductions to reports that do not contain a Preface or Acknowledgements section may
also include personal information from the author such as acknowledgements. If such information is
required, though, it is best to keep it separate.

2.9 Literature Review

In lengthier research reports, a literature review might be required.3 A literature review provides a sum-
mary of the material that has been published on a particular subject. This section should explain what is
already known about the research problem. The literature should also introduce any theoretical frame-
works and models which will be used to answer the research questions. The literature review should be a
cohesive summary and synthesis of all the relevant literature, not a randomly selected annotated bibliog-

Potential structuring choices for a literature review includebut are not limited tochronological by pub-
lication date, general to specific, or from least accepted to most accepted. In the end, the choice will depend
on the audience, the complexity of the material, and the purpose of the writer.

2.10 Methodology
The purpose of this section is to convince the reader that the methods chosen to collect the data are appro-
priate for answering the research questions. The length and theoretical complexity of this section depends
on the type of report being written. At the very least, this section should explain how the information used
in the report was obtained; there is, however, a reason that it is called Methodology rather than Method:
in addition to describing the means of analysis, it should also outline the logic underlying the choice of
research method.

In longer reports, the central research question and sub-research questions should be presented here,
as well as an indication of how the questions translate into the data desired and sources required. At
this point, a clear distinction should be made between primary data (i.e. raw data directly obtained by
3 Students should always check the assignment instructions to verify which report sections are required.

Standards for Structure

the author) and secondary data (i.e. data that was collected and/or processed by someone other than the
author) and all methods used to obtain both types of information4 should be described in detail.

An examination of the other methodological options and an explanation as to why these methods were not
chosen might be appropriate. Any limitations, such as time or access to information, should be addressed.
Finally, this section should include a critical evaluation of the reliability and validity of the data and how
the researcher minimised bias. See also Business Research Methods (Blumberg, Cooper, and Schindler, 2014)
and Research Methods for Business Students (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2015) for more information on
how to write a methodology.

2.11 Main Body

The structure and content of the main body of the report will depend on the requirements and purpose of
the project or assignment. Note the scare quotes surrounding this sections heading, however; what the
student should definitely keep in mind is that reports should generally not have chapters or sections called Body
or Main body; the informal term body is merely a label meant to indicate whatever comes between Intro-
duction and Conclusion (including, for instance, the Methodology chapter). What it will most oftenif
not alwayscontain is a section called Findings or something similar; section headings such as Data,
Analysis, or Discussion are not unheard of. Alternatively, besides the Methodology, the remaining sec-
tions may be using very subject-specific headings (e.g. The Wernham-Hogg Model and Its Implications)
instead of the aforementioned more generic ones.

The data that has been collected should be presented in a logical and persuasive (where appropriate) man-
ner. Visual representations of the data should be chosen where it is helpful. One should avoid relying too
heavily on statistical instruments such as Chi-square tests to explain the data; the researcher must view
these as a means to an end and not as the end itselfmost importantly, statistical results need to be ex-
plained and analyzed in textual form. Any details of dense and in-depth statistical analyses had best be
saved up for the appendices, however.

2.12 Conclusion
Students should distinguish between the Conclusionwith a capital letter, in the broad sense of the
word, denoting the report section by that name, and the conclusionwithout a capital letter, giving the
narrow sense of the word, echoing the reports thesis statement.

The purpose of the Conclusion (i.e. the section) is to draw together the results of the report, summarise its
findings, and draw a conclusion or conclusions as the culmination of those findings. There should be a clear
link between the reports Introduction and Conclusion, which should become clear through a restatement
of the reports purpose statement and thesis statement in the Conclusion. The summary of the main find-
ings shoulddue to its very naturenever include new information; it should merely include information
4 Primary data and secondary data are (hopefully) the result of primary research and secondary research, respectively; these two
forms of research also go by their more descriptive aliases of field research and desk research. Despite what the labels primary and
secondary may suggest, however, it is usually the case that the secondary research precedes the primary research both logically and
chronologically: Generally, primary research is used to fill any remaining gaps in the secondary research.


Analytical report Proposal

Purpose statement The aim of this report is to analyse This report will analyse a number
the underlying cultural issues that the of marketing strategies for Abellio-
worlds largest U.S.-based home im- ScotRails train lines (standard as well
provement retailer Home Depot faced as steam train) with an eye on maxi-
when entering the Chinese market in mal revenue, and will offer a recom-
2006. (focus on analysis) mendation. (focus on proposal)
Conclusion (i.e. the Having insufficiently considered In order to capture a larger market
thesis statement) the differences between Chinese share in the Scottish public trans-
and American values, attitudes, and port railway market, Abellio should
behaviour, Home Depot has not increase investment in online market-
adequately adjusted their business ing, ticket-and-train usage analysis,
strategy and model to the Chinese and customer service. (main clause of
market. (main clause of statement statement phrased as a brief, undetailed
phrased as an informed observation) recommendation)
Recommendations C.E. Consulting has prepared a num- Concerning their online marketing,
ber of detailed recommendations on Abellio is advised to increase their
how Home Depot had best cope with budget in that department by at least
the aforementioned problems. . . etc. fifteen per cent before the end of the
(specific recommendations logically built next quarter. Hiring an external. . .
on conclusion) etc. (comprehensive, practical, concrete
recommendations as developed from the

Table 2.2: Some core differences between purely analytical reports and proposals.

that has already been covered before in the report. The result of this is that in-text citations (signalling the
presence of new secondary source evidence) should not be found in the Conclusion.

It is also important to remember that the core of the conclusionwhich is essentially the same message as
conveyed by the reports thesis statementshould be directly tied to the reports purpose statement; after
all, the thesis statement should directly answer the research question. Indeed, if the purpose of the report
is to analyse a particular problem or situation (what is going on exactly, how did something happen, etc),
then the conclusion will basically answer only that question and no other; the potential Recommendation
section of such aotherwise purely analyticalreport would then suggest a course of action based on that
(analytical) conclusion. Alternatively, if the very purpose of the report is to suggest or propose what a com-
pany or other organisation should or had better doalso based on an analysis of a problem or situation
then the thesis statement (the focus of the conclusion) will already be phrased as a recommendation even if
the Recommendations section immediately following it (notice the capital R) will give the actual, prac-
tical recommendations. Some sample differences between analytical reports and conclusions is given in
table 2.2.

2.13 Recommendations
Whether this section is required depends on the type of report being written. It should not be included
in informational reports, is generally expected in analytical reports, and should definitely be included in

Standards for Structure

persuasive reports such as proposals. Even though recommendations in the broad sensepossibly merely
a suggestion5 may already be found in the conclusion (see previous section), a Recommendations chap-
ter or section provides specific advice on how to proceed and should be formulated according to (or at the
very least inspired by) S.M.A.R.T. criteria6 . In other words, the Recommendations section should read like
a detailed action list.

It may also contain suggestions or ideas for further research. In that sense, then, it may actually contain
information that has not been mentioned earlier in the report, provided that it flows from, and is based
on, the conclusion logically and directly.

2.14 References
Include, as an additional yet unnumbered chapter before any appendices, the details of all secondary sources
that you have consulted. Generally, reports written for IBS modules require a reference list called Refer-
encesnot Reference List, List of References, or Bibliography; simply References, in line with the Publi-
cation Manual of the APA. Whereas a Bibliography would also include sources for anything that might have
helped write the report, for further background reading, or for related works of interest, the References
section only lists sources actually used (quoted, paraphrased or summarised) in the report. An example of
how to lay out a reference list is given on page 97 of this guide.

Contrary to popular belief, all sources used in IBS reports require references, regardless of whether the
sources have been quoted, summarised, or paraphrased. For all three forms of borrowing, parenthetical
author-year references will need to have been supplied in the running text, and it is absolutely vital that
the author-year combinations given in the in-text references correspond exactly to the author-year entries
in the References section.7 For example, if a source is listed in the reference list under the corporate au-
thor name of The LEGO Group but the citation uses the name Karlsson, the reader has a problem as
there is no way he or she can directly connect the two besides engaging in some thorough digging through
the report, which would be utterly undesirable. The References should give the exact details for all sum-
marised, paraphrased, or quoted material so that the authenticity of your material may be checked, and
the authority of the source to support your argument is given. Any references used must be structured
and formatted according to the standards as laid out in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association (APA, 2010). An explanation of APA referencing can be found in chapter 5 on page 81ff., and an
extensive list of APA referencing examples can be found in appendix E on page 115ff.

2.15 Appendices
Supporting information, the inclusion of which might spoil the thread of discussion on the main body
of the report, should be placed in appendices. Examples of information typically placed in the appendices
5 recommendation: the act of telling somebody that something is good or useful or that somebody would be suitable for a particular
job, etc (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary)
6 To the uninitiated: The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
7 The only exception to this is information that has been acquired through so-called personal communication, which basically implies

that it cannot be easily verified by the reader, if at all. Such sources should be kept to a minimum, obviously. See also appendix E on
page 115.


include interview transcripts, questionnaires, and detailed balance sheets. The appendices should be titled
and listed separately in the table of contents. Specific reference to an appendix should be made in the
relevant section of the report. For example:

. . . In the Netherlands partnerships are encouraged to draft a partnership contract

(Appendix B: Example Partnership Contract, page 103). . .

As the example above shows, if the report has more than one appendix, they should be designated Ap-
pendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, and so on. If the report has only one appendix, it should simply be
referred in-text as the Appendix, its heading being Appendix (both without an appended letter). Any
appendix should always be given a title, though, separated from the labels by a colon (e.g. Appendix D: In-
terview Transcript). In cross-referencing within the running text, only the label needs to be mentioned:
The precise wording of his response to the allegation may be found in Appendix D, for example (see also
APA, 2010, p. 39). If an appendix has subsections, then numbers may be added to indicate subdivisions
(e.g. Appendix A.2, Appendix D.8, etc.). A similar approach should be taken with the numbering of tables
and figures in appendices. Tables in, say, Appendix B should be labeled Table B1, Table B2, etc.

3 Standards for Layout
An often underestimated aspect of writing by students, the overall layout of the page and formatting of
the finer details often affect the audiences reading experience of the text, be it consciously or subcon-
sciously. Ideally, the report is laid out and formatted in such a way that it actively facilitates the reading
and understanding of the text yet does not distract the reader from its content.

This section provides advice on the superficial appearance of the report. It starts with the specifics of
the preliminary material, main text, and end matter of the report as layout treatment between them is
generally different in some details. Section 3.4 will give details on commonly accepted criteria for the
layout of pages in a report such as pagination and headings, after which section 3.5 will cover more detailed
aspects of text formatting; punctuation marks and type formatting are but a few of the many issues that
will be covered rather succinctly.

3.1 Front Matter Specifics

The front matter of a report is basically all those parts that lead up to (but do not include) the Introduction:
the title page, any abstract or executive summary, preface, glossary (if not included in the back), acknowl-
edgements, table of contents, list of illustrations, and/or list of tables.

3.1.1 The title page

The title page of the sample report in appendix F will give some idea of how such a page could be laid out.
In brief, it stands out among the rest for its lack of header and footer and its lack of paragraphed text.

Centralised text and sensible use of different font size and formatting may improve the attractiveness of
the title page. In this case, sensible means that not too many different fonts and font sizes should be
used; Word Art creations (use of 3d-letters, shadows, and the like) will be punished by flogging.

The report title andif presentsubtitle are usually set in a larger font size than information like the
author or authors names and student numbers, supervisor and co-markers names, date, company name,
and word count. Any confidentiality label may also be set larger in order to stand out visually.

Any illustrationsbarring the Hanze UAS logo and/or a company logohad best be kept to a minimum
or at the very least integrated into the title page discreetly. Students should absolutely not go overboard
with this; less is more. The title page has no header or footer (as discussed in section 3.4.2).

3.1.2 The Contents

The Contents section in a report is a listing of all the major chapter and/or section and subsection head-
ings of your report. It gives the reader an overview of the title and first page number of all the chapters,

Standards for Layout

sections, and subsections that follow it, including any lists in the front matter of the report (e.g. a List of

Although often referred to as table of contents or even List of Contents or contents list, it is better style
to use the simple heading Contents atop its first page (see also Ritter, 2003; APA, 2010; and this guide on
page 6). The reports table of contents list should follow the same formatting principles as the contents list
of this style guide. Heading and paragraph reference numbers (see also section 3.5.9) should be included
in it for all but the lowest level of sub-heading.

Many word processors can generate contents lists automatically, but care should be taken to ensure that
English rather than some other language package is selected so that the list will indeed be labeled Contents
and not, for example, Inhaltsverzeichnis, and that the automatically generated table of contents will need
to be updated just before the final print or submission.

This guides table of contents (p. vi ff.) may serve as an example of a clearly laid out Contents section. Note
the use of level-based indentation, which gives a very clear visual representation of the chapter and section
hierarchy, as well as the neatly justified right margin.

3.2 Main Matter Specifics

The main matter forms the core of your report. It runs from the introduction up to, and including, the con-
clusion and recommendations. Its chapters, sections, etc, are numbered from 1 up and have headings that
give a clear indication of their respective content. The main matter itself could be divided further into be-
ginning (introduction), middle (body chapters or sections), and end (conclusion and recommendations).
More about the content of its sections in chapter 2; more about the lay-out specifics of the main matter in
section 3.4.

3.3 Endmatter Specifics

The end matter of a report (also called back matter in US English) consists of all supplementary material at
the end. Although its page numbers continue on from the main matter, it is definitely not a part of it;
chapter numbering is not continued after the main matter, for example. The end matter of a report at IBS
will most likely consist of the references list and any appendices .

3.3.1 The References: lay-out standards

Its heading should be References (not List of References or Reference List; it should be fairly obvious to
the reader that it concerns a list). If the writer also wants to include sources for background information
or further reading, the list should be called a Bibliography. This should only be done in consultation with
the teacher in question.

As figure 3.1 shows, the layout of your reference list can be tackled in two ways: either by using white lines
between each reference list entry and the next, or by using hanging indentation. In case of the latter, the first
line of each entry is set flush left while the remaining lines are indented. Hanging indentation is preferred

Endmatter Specifics

in the case of APA referencing, but what is most important is that it is clear where one reference entry ends
and the next one begins.

Herbst-Damm, K. L., & Kulik, J. A. (2005). Herbst-Damm, K. L., & Kulik, J. A. (2005).
Volunteer support, marital status, and the Volunteer support, marital status, and the
survival of terminally ill patients. Health survival of terminally ill patients. Health
Psychology, 24, 225229. Psychology, 24, 225229.
/10.1037/0278-6133.24.2.225 /10.1037/0278-6133.24.2.225
Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity
Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity affects economic, social status. The
affects economic, social status. The Washington Washington Post, pp. A1, A4.
Post, pp. A1, A4. Shotton, M. A. (1989). Computer addiction? A
study of computer dependency. London,
Shotton, M. A. (1989). Computer addiction? A
England: Taylor & Francis.
study of computer dependency. London,
Six sites meet for comprehensive anti-gang
England: Taylor & Francis.
initiative conference. (2006, November/
Six sites meet for comprehensive anti-gang December). OJJDP News @ a Glance.
initiative conference. (2006, November/ Retrieved from
December). OJJDP News @ a Glance. Retrieved ojjdp/news_at_glance/216684
from ojjdp/news /topstory.html

Figure 3.1: Two lay-out options for producing clearly separated reference list entries: on the left, entries set fully
flush-left and separated from the next entry by means of a white line; on the right, entries with hanging indentation
(i.e. first line of each entry set flush left and every subsequent line indented).

In either case, the entries should be set flush left against the left margin, with a ragged (i.e. uneven) right
margin. Full line justification gives a very poor visual effect as the rather forced interword spacing tends
to create gaping holes in some lines, as can be seen in figure 3.2. This may get especially dramatic if end-
of-line hyphenation is switched off. More on justification in section 3.4.8.

Herbst-Damm, K. L., & Kulik, J. A. (2005). Volunteer support, marital sta-

tus, and the survival of terminally ill patients. Health Psychology, 24, 225229.
Schwartz, J. (1993, September 30). Obesity affects economic, social status. The Wash-
ington Post, pp. A1, A4.
Shotton, M. A. (1989). Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency. Lon-
don, England: Taylor & Francis.
Six sites meet for comprehensive anti-gang initiative conference. (2006,
November/December). OJJDP News @ a Glance. Retrieved from

Figure 3.2: Full justification (i.e. flush left and right margins) in a reference list may create the rather messy biblio-
graphical equivalent of a Swiss cheese: full of holes. . .

3.3.2 The appendices: layout standards

The layout parameters for the appendix or appendices are pretty much the same as the preceding text with
the exception that the labeling starts anew from the first appendix onwards: Appendix A, Appendix B,
and so on. However, if there is only one appendix, it should simply be styled Appendix (without a letter).
Any and all appendices should also have a clear heading, like the headings in this document. Appendices

Standards for Layout

may also be subdivided, in which case numbers should be added to create lower-level sectioning: A.3, for

3.4 Page Composition

Before this guide delves into the detailed layout specifics of text (at letter and word level), it is of vital
importance to cover the layout criteria at the page and paragraph level. These are very often aspects of
writing that can be edited and assessed without even having to read what the text says: aspects like page
margins, headers and footers, font formatting, and spacing. The most important ones are covered below.

3.4.1 Margins
In setting the left, right, top, and bottom margins of a report, students should take two things into account:
whether the document is intended for printing, and if so, whether it should be printed on one or two sides.
In case it is not meant to be printed, the text should simply look good on screen; assuming A4-sized paper
as default, APA guidelines recommend a maximum line length of 6 in. (ca. 16.5 cm), corresponding to
about an inch (ca. 2.5 cm) on each side. Is the text supposed to be printed (or at the very least printable)
and handed in in a ringbinder or plastic binder, then extra room for hole-punching and binding may be
required. In the case of single-sided printing, this should always be on the left; in the case of double-sided
printing, this will alternate between left and right.

For more information, go to, search for Set page margins >
Set margins for facing pages. Other free or proprietary software will most likely have similar options.

Some courses may require more specific settings. For instance, the suggested margin standards for Mas-
ters theses at IBSaimed at single-sided printingis to leave a margin of at least 1.25 in. (ca. 3.2 cm) on
the left for hole-punching and binding. The minimum right margin should be 1 in. (ca. 2.5 cm). Top and
bottom margin should be at least 0.75 in. (ca. 1.9 cm). What goes for most guidelines in this document
counts here as well: Should the teacher or supervisor require extra space for note-taking, then it would be
wise to consult him or her regarding any preferences. Alternatively, any course-specific documentation
may offer further details.

3.4.2 Page identification: headers, footers, and pagination

Every page should be identifiable. Then, if pages subsequently become mixed, they can easily be reassem-
bled. Ease of identification may occur through proper use of a combination of headers and footers, and
pagination. Headers and footers

Each page (except the title page) should have a header and a footer1 with the following information:
1 Should the inquisitive student want to do more research on this, headers and footers may also be called running headlines, head-
lines (not be confused with newspaper headlines), running titles, pageheads, and running heads; and running footline and running foot,

Page Composition

Report title
Student name(s) and number(s)
Page number

Generally, avoid putting logos or other pictures into headers or footers as they tend to create a messy
appearance. Details about pagination (i.e. page numbering) are given below. An example of an ceffective
business report header and footer can be found in the student sample report in appendix F. Page numbering

Page numbers should be printed in the footer, at the bottom right-hand side, for ease of retrieval, and they
should commence on the first page following the title page.

In the case of relatively long reports (e.g. extensive business research reports such as GPJs or Master the-
ses), the front matter of the report should use italicised lowercase roman numerals (i.e. i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.)
up to, but not including, the introduction. Then, from the introduction section (i.e. chapter I) onwards,
pages should be numbered using arabic numerals (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.).

If the document has verso (left) and recto (right-hand) pages in the case of double-sided printing (like this
guide does), then the left-hand pages should have the page number in the footer on the bottom left, and
the right-hand pages should have the page number on the bottom right.

3.4.3 Font type and size

The font style and size chosen should be simple and easy to read (on screen as well as on paper). Suggested
safe fonts include the following: Times New Roman in 12 point size, Georgia in 11 point size, Arial in 11
point size, and Calibri in 11 point size. However, you may ask your teacher if he or she has a preferred
font for the report; ultimately, your teacher is your audience in this case, and your audience should have a
pleasant reading experience.

For those who care about fonts, though, opinions about the quality of some system fonts,2 such as the
omnipresent Arial and Times New Roman, are generally divided. It just may convey the wrong kind of

Fame has a dark side. When Times New Roman appears in a book, document, or advertisement, it connotes
apathy. It says, I submitted to the font of least resistance. Times New Roman is not a font choice so much
as the absence of a font choice, like the blackness of deep space is not a color. To look at Times New Roman
is to gaze into the void. (Butterick, 2016)

Obviously, there is a certain degree of subjectivity at play here. On the whole, Times New Roman is con-
sidered a fairly legible font and therefore more than acceptable. However, the message here to the student
writer is, Please consider carefully which font you want to use in the writing of your report; do not just go
for the default!
2 System fonts are fonts that come pre-installed on most computer operating systems.

Standards for Layout

It is also useful to be aware of the distinction between serif and sans serif fonts. Serif fonts (such as Times
New Roman, Computer Modern, and Century Schoolbook) are generally considered to be more suitable
for printing. Sans serif fonts (such as Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana) are generally considered more suitable
for the screen. The APA also recommends a serif typeface because it improves readability and reduces eye
fatigue although a sans serif typeface may be used in figures and headings.

For some good recommendations on font use, those who care may also want to check the System fonts
page of Buttericks Practical Typography (Butterick, 2016).

N.B. The audience of the report may have very specific font or other layout preferences due to dyslexia:
sans serif rather than serif, or extra interlinear spacing for instance. As dyslexia may take on many forms,
however, it is best to consult the intended reader(s) in that case: a solution that is suitable for one reader
may not necessarily work for another. A study that shines some light on this was conducted by Rello and
Baeza-Yates (2013, 2016).

3.4.4 Paragraphing
In English writing, a paragraph can be visually marked and identified as a single unit of text in two ways.
One can either indent its first line (see the left column of fig. 3.3)except when it immediately follows a
chapter or section headingor one can separate it from the preceding or following paragraph by means of
vertical spacing such as a single white line, as illustrated by the right column of fig. 3.3. The former is used
most in the printing of English text in general and is also most economical on paper; the latter, however,
tends to be used more in business communication although this style does use more paper (Burrough-
Boenisch, 2004, 119). The style often seen in journalism where one has simply hit the Enter key at the
end of a paragraph (or, God forbid, every other sentence) and just continue on a new line is strongly dis-

Each paragraph of text of the report should represent a separate idea or subject. The first sentence of each
paragraph should clearly signpost what follows; the last sentence should round off the topic. Avoid exces-
sively short or long paragraphs. The concept of subparagraphs within paragraphs, which is common in
Dutch usage and which tends to increase their length, is not used in English (see also Burrough-Boenisch,

In such a case, the writer will have to make a carefully considered decision about where the one topic ends
and the next one begins.

3.4.5 Section headings

Word processors offer options to format your text, including various style sets to clearly differentiate be-
tween the various different levels of heading (i.e. chapter headings, section headings, subsection headings,
etc.). For example, this document uses the formatting as given in the third column of table 3.1. However,
one could also consider using a standard as offered by a proprietary software packagesuch as MS Word
in first column, or an officially established format such as the style required by the APA (as shown in the
second column).

Page Composition

3.4.1 Some paragraphs 3.4.1 Some paragraphs

This is the first paragraph right after This is the first paragraph right after
a section heading, and similar to many a section heading, and similar to many
other well-written paragraphs in writ- other well-written paragraphs in writ-
ing, it has at least two supporting sen- ing, it has at least two supporting sen-
tences. The first supporting sentence tences. The first supporting sentence
shows that this paragraph has a first shows that this paragraph has a first
supporting sentence; in that sense, its supporting sentence; in that sense, its
more of a token supporting sentence. more of a token supporting sentence.
The second supporting sentence actu- The second supporting sentence actu-
ally has something to add: it says that ally has something to add: it says that
supporting sentences in well developed supporting sentences in well developed
paragraphs also have supporting detail. paragraphs also have supporting detail.
An example of supporting detail is this An example of supporting detail is this
sentence. sentence.
This is the second paragraph, which
is rather short and poorly written and This is the second paragraph, which is
has just been written to show a layout rather short and poorly written and has
feature: how a paragraph transition can just been written to show a layout fea-
be achieved visually through first-line ture, namely how a paragraph transi-
indentation (except in paragraphs im- tion can be achieved visually by increas-
mediately following a section heading). ing the amount of vertical space be-
This third paragraph is even worse tween paragraphs.
in terms of development, but at least it
clearly shows yet another visual para- This third paragraph is even worse in
graph transition. terms of development, but at least it
clearly shows yet another visual para-
graph transition

Figure 3.3: Two different methods of delineating paragraphs: first-line indentation versus vertical spacing.

Standards for Layout

Figure 3.4: Sample pages from the Dutch and English versions of a text about reed: the Dutch sample on the left
shows typically Dutch subparagraphs; the right-hand sample is one of two types of layout that students are ex-
pected to be able to use at IBS, clearly indicating where one paragraph ends and the next one begins (Burrough-
Boenisch, 2004, p. 117; also see fig. 3.3).

Level MS Office 2010 (MS Word) APA This guide...

1 1 Level-1 Heading Style A Chapter Heading

The formatting specifications of level-1 head-
1 A Chapter
The default chapter heading style in
ings for submitting work according to APA
Microsoft Office 2016 has Calibri Light, set The formatting specifications of chapter
standards are centered text, set in a boldface
at 16pt, in blue (accent 1, darker 25%), and headings in this document are Huge font
sans serif font, using title case (i.e. Uppercase
flush left with the margin (raggedright). size, raggedright, boldface, and use of title
and Lowercase Heading; APA, 2010, p. 62).

2 1.1 Level-2 heading style A Level-2 Section Heading 2.1 A Section

MS Office 16s default section (i.e. level-2) The formatting requirements by the APA for
heading style uses Calibri at 13pt, in blue section headings is that they be set flush left, The formatting specifications of section head-
in a boldface sans serif font, using title case ings in this document are huge font size,

Page Composition
(accent 1, darker 25%), and set flush left
(raggedright). (combining uppercase with lowercase). raggedright, boldface, and use of title case. s

3 1.1.1 Level-3 heading style This constitutes a level-3 heading. 1.1.1 This is a subsection.
The formatting specifications of subsection
MS Office has its default level-3 section head- The formatting specifications of subsection
headings in APA journals are indented, in a
ings set in Calibri, at 12pt, in blue (accent 1, headings in this document are LARGE font
boldface sans serif font, and use of sentence
darker 50%). It is set flush with the left mar- size, raggedright, boldface, and use of sen-
case (i.e. Only one capital letter and the rest
gin, producing a raggedright text. tence case.
all lowercase, ending in a full stop).

4 Level-4 heading style This constitutes a level-4 heading. This is a level-4 heading.
MS Word 2016 also uses Calibri for its lower- In APA, subsubsection headings are required This guide has level-4 headings that are set
level headings, this time set at 11pt, blue to be indented, in an italicised boldface sans in Large boldface type, raggedright, and use
(accent 1, darker 25%), and italicised, flush serif font, and use sentence case, to end in a sentence case.
left (raggedright). full stop.

5 Level-5 heading style This constitutes a level-5 heading. Level-5 headings in this guide In this
As with level 4, level-5 headings are set in In APA, paragraph headings are required to be guide, level-5 section headings are set in bold-
Calibri but at the same size as the normal indented, in italicised sans serif, and use sen- face and one size larger than the text and are
text (11 pt). Only difference with level 4 is tence case, to end in a full stop. immediately followed by an m-dash yet run in
the lack of italics in the title heading. with the first paragraph of the text following


Table 3.1: Different approaches to chapter and section headingspre-set formatting styles: from Microsoft Office, the APA, and the format as used by this guide.
Standards for Layout

3.4.6 Starting a new page

Each new report chapter or (level-1) section and appendix of a report should start on a new page. Subsec-
tion and paragraph headings should only start on a new page if there is not room for at least two lines of text to
follow them on the same page. In other words, subsections and paragraphs that start at the bottom of a page
should have at least two lines of text before the page ends; if this is not the case, they ought to be moved to
the next page.

By extension, try to avoid widows and orphans as they create a rather awkward reading experience. A widow
is the final line of a paragraph appearing alone at the top of the next page; an orphan is the first line of a
paragraph appearing alone at the bottom of a previous page.

Do not split tables or lists over two pages if they can fit on one page or less. If possible, visual support
should be located on the same page as the text referring to it. Should this rule negatively affect the lay-out,
exceptions may be made.

3.4.7 Line spacing

Whether you should print your report with single (interlinear) spacing, double spacing, or one-and-a-half
spacing depends on the requirements of the assignment; however, if there is a need to make provision for
comments and correction (for peer or supervisory feedback, for example), the line spacing of the report
should be one-and-a-half or more.

Additionally, extra vertical space should be used in the following instances:

Before displayed lists

Before and after block quotations
Before and after tables, figures, illustrations, or equations
Between paragraphs in case they do not use first-line indentation (also see section 3.4.4).

Special care should be taken with section transitions: there should always be more vertical space before a
section heading than between it and the paragraph that opens the section. We do not think there is a need
for further illustration. . .

3.4.8 Line justification

There are two acceptable ways of justifying paragraphs in the text. Ranged left, flush-left, or left-aligned text
is aligned on the left side with ragged right margins. Fully justified text is aligned on the left as well as the
right. Whichever form of justification is chosen, one should be consistent throughout the report. Exam-
ples are given in figure 3.5. The reference list of a report would be an exception to this: full justification
had best be avoided in that case as it would cause a significant number of holes in the text area.3

Also, if the choice for fully justified paragraphs is made, automated end-of-line hyphenation should be
turned on as well, as not doing so may cause holes in the text, as shown in fig. 3.6.
3 As illustrated in figure 3.2.

Text Composition

Figure 3.5: Examples of fully justified text (aligned on both sides), and left-justified text (with a ragged right margin)
(Butterick, 2016, ....).

Figure 3.6: Example of a fully justified text with hyphenation on and the same text with hyphenation off; the second
has more holes in it (Butterick, 2016, ....).

3.5 Text Composition

In order to fully assist the reader in understanding written professional text (say, a business report), the
writer of such a text (e.g. a business and management studies graduate) should be aware of a number of
typographic and style rules. This section will cover the standards that one can expect at the paragraph,
sentence, and word levelcapitalisation, punctuation, emphasis, symbols, and numbersas well as how
to format quotations, lists, floats (i.e. tables and figures), and internal referencing.

3.5.1 Capital letters & treatment of names

The use of capital letters defined in these standards are based on English usage, with some additions.
The general principle is that capitals should be used (a) to indicate the start of a sentences, and (b) to
distinguish proper nouns from other words. Especially this second usage causes difficulties in practice.
What follows below is a concise rendering of the principles.

Standards for Layout Sentence capitals

Sentences should always start with a capital letter. This goes for unquoted material, as well as fully quoted
sentences (and by extension, quoted thoughts). If a full main clause follows a colon (:), the main clause
should also start with a capital letter. Some examples:

He decided to set up his own business.

The company accountant had been told, You have no business here.
It is imperative to remember the ninth commandment: Thou shalt not bear false

Full-sentence items in list should also start with a capital letter, unless the items merely end the intro-
duction to the list; list items that are no full sentences should not start with a capital letter. Compare the

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, There are a number of things that people
and people understanding what this trope is should simply accept in life: Some peo-
about by the time they finish this sentence. ple strongly dislike Philip Glasss Einstein
on the Beach. Bare-chested construction
workers drinking coke during lunch hour are
rare. Most toddlers prefer Teletubbies to
The Nine oClock News. the first letter of headings and captions

The first letter of headings and captions should always be capitalised, regardless of whether they are
phrases or full sentences (rare).

Fig. 3.2: Overview of ERS1 results in period 20132014.

Table 15: Estimated casualty figures per country.
Fig. x: Full justification (i.e. flush left and right margins) in a reference list may
create the rather messy bibliographical equivalent of a Swiss cheese: full of
holes. . . peoples names (see next section on names)

As a rule, first letters of peoples names are written with capital letters, with the occasional exception of
certain prefixes or prepositions that may be part of a name (e.g. Kees de Vries). Specific rules for this are
language-dependent and are covered in section Toponyms (geographical names)

Geographical names are also capitalised in English: countries, towns, regions, waters, etc.: Bangladesh,
Israel, Vatican City; London, Winterfell, Vienna; Valencia, the American South, County Wexford; the Mississippi,
the Bering Strait, Darkmere.

Text Composition

The word river should only be capitalised if it is considered part of the name: the Hudson River, the East
River (compare Lake Erie, Loch Ness); if it precedes it and/or is meant descriptively, it should not be capi-
talised: the river Thames, the river Rhine, the Mississippi river and state. Exceptions may occur and acceptable
usage should be checked in peer-reviewed texts, either in print or online.

If compass directions (i.e. north, south, east, and west or any combination thereof) are part of a geograph-
ical name, they are capitalised as well: West Lothian, South Dakota, West Midlands, or, in translations, North
Holland, North-Calais, Middle East, etc. If it is only meant descriptively, it should not be capitalised: compare
Northern Ireland to northern England.

Nouns and adjectives describing nationalities (whether politically, regionally, or locally) should always be
capitalised: Swabian, American, Peruvian, Welsh, Prussian, Chinese, etc. Same goes for the names of lan-
guages: Roumanian, Kiswahili, Letzebuergisch. In some cases, however, the adjectives are not capitalised.
See section for more on this. Institutions and organisations

Where people formally organise themselves in society, they often have a name or label. These names of
bodies of people should always be capitalised.

Official institutions: the Government, the Opposition, the Court, Parliament. If it is meant descriptively, no
capital letter is used: The region has always had its local parliament. Note that in the US, government is
always written without a capital letter.

Organisations, societies, and companies are always capitalisedthe Sherwood Forest Foundation, Sony,
Qbuzz, Groningen University Theatre Society, Royal Dutch Shell, the Roman Catholic Church, do their
departments: Department of English Language and Culture, International Business School, Foreign and Common-
wealth Office, Human Resources, etc. They should not be written between quotation marks, nor should they
be italicised unless the name is emphasised or explicitly introduced. Time units with names

Most time units with names (days, months, festivals, holidays) are written with an initial capital; the
names of the seasons do not: Tuesday, April, Michaelmas, Ramadan, Passover, the Fifth of November but spring,
summer, autumn/fall, and winter.

Time zones are capitalised in scientific and British usage: British Summer Time, Greenwich Mean Time, In-
ternational Atomic Time; in the US, they are not: daylight saving time, eastern standard time, mountain standard
time (but: DST, EST, and MST).

When referring to centuries or decades, use lower case, except when denoting a culturally particular era:
the twentieth century, the twenty-first century, the nineteen-thirties (or 1930s), the nineteen-eighties (or 1980s), but
the Roaring Twenties, the Swinging Sixties. Titles of people or bodies

Personal titles always receive a capital letter in English. This may concern function titles, titles of rank,
nicknames, or in shortened forms.

Standards for Layout

Function titles and titles of rank are capitalised if they denote a specific person rather than the concept
and if they precede a name without being separated by a comma; if they are used descriptively and they
follow the name with a comma, no capitalisation is used: the Prime Minister, the Vice-President, the Pope, the
Chief Justice, the French Ambassador, King Willem-Alexander, Team Leader Janet Primrose, Dean Roger Williams,
but: Anne Williams, the managing director; Mr Rutte, the prime minister; and Mrs Primrose, our team leader. Also,
if used descriptively only, no capitalisation: a prime minister, a French ambassador.

Further descriptive use of the title of body or individual should be done without capitalisation:

Oslo Universityour university Aunt Maggieher aunt

the Oranje Hotelthat hotel Lake Eriethis lake
United Workers Union of Kenyathe union South Renfrewshire Collegetheir college

If shortened forms of titles or names are used as synonym for specific people or organisations in an official
sensein policy documents or contracts, for instance capitalisation should be used:

the Dean the Chamber (of Commerce)

the Ministry (of Health) the University statute
the Service (e.g. Home Security Service) the Centres policy Published work

Many published works are written in title case, meaning that each first and major word of the title is cap-
italised.4 . With the exception of journal, magazine, and titles, title case is not used in reference list entries.
Also, an initial The should only be capitalised if it is part of the name.

Books: Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, Research Methods for Business Students, For Whom the Bell
Tolls, The Origin of Species, The Tin.
Journals and their articles: American Economic Review, MIT Sloan Management Review. Even though
the original title of an article may not use title case, this should be used when mentioning the title in
writing (APA, 2010, p. 101): Health and Economic DevelopmentEvidence from the Introduction
of Public Health Care. Again, reference list entries use sentence case only (more on this in the
chapter on referencing).
Religious books and their parts/books: the Quran, the Authorised Version, Second Epistle to the
Newspapers: Financial Times, Stornoway Gazette, Bildtse Post, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune
Pictures, Plays, films, and TV programmes: Constables The Hay Wain, Waiting for Godot, The Wolf of
Wall Street, Newsnight
Governmental or legal documents (bills, acts, treaties, policies, and legal): the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, the Bill of Rights, Factory and Workshop Act 1911. Trade names

Trade (brand) names should always be capitalised if used proprietarily; if they are used generically, they
should not. In such a case, it usually considered best practice to use a term that is truly generic rather than
a brand name that may be unknown to foreign readers.
4 Major words include nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, (not articles, conjunctions, or prepositions)

Text Composition

Hoover, Jacuzzi, Xerox, Biro, and Kleenex are proprietary terms (i.e. brand names), and are therefore
written with a capital letter if they denote the brand in question. They have, however, also evolved into
nouns or verbs or both and should not be written with a capital letter if used thusly: a hoover/to hoover,
a jacuzzi, to xerox, a biro, and a kleenex are generic termsa jacuzzi not made by Jacuzzi or a biro by
Bruynzeel is not unheard of. It is, however, better to use truly generic terms instead: a vacuum cleaner/to
vacuum, a hot tub or whirlpool bath, to photocopy, a ballpoint pen, and a tissue. Ships, aircrafts, and other vehicles

Names of types and specific vehicles should be capitalised; names of specific vehicles should also be itali-
a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor the Mary Celeste
a Down Easter the HMS Enterprise
a Dacia Logan the Hindenburg
a Lockheed SR-71 the Flying Dutchman Capital letters in abbreviations

Generally, capital letters are used in abbreviations if the words they stand for would be capitalised, such
as titles and departments, generally omitting full-stops. Examples are MP, IBS, FTSE.

In the case of abbreviated names, initials should be spaced apart: J. P. M. Smith instead of J.P.M. Smith. Capitalisation and word order in names

This section will give an overview of capitalisation and ordering of names in written text as well as in list-
ings (including alphabetisation), with an emphasis on language-specific treatment of non-English names.
Many examples were taken from the Oxford Style Manual (Ritter, 2003). Some of the rules about prepo-
sitions given here may deviate somewhat from the APAs; either is fine and any correct and consistent
application is important.

The general rule is that all names are given initial capital letters, be they a first, middle, or surname (i.e.
family name), regardless of order. There may be exceptions, which are always language-specific. How-
ever, the two overruling criteria in all instances are (a) Consistency is key, and (b) Follow the bearers

Especially with regard to that second criterion: It is absolutely imperative that the spelling of peoples
names, incl. spacing, accents, and punctuation, are copied accurately, especially if they are directly ad-
dressed, but also if they are involved as a third party or merely referenced. Not doing so might cause
offence, which is highly undesirable if a business deal is at stake.

What follows below is an overview of the English treatment of names from a various number of languages.
These rules mostly cover issues of capitalisation, spelling, spacing, and rules for indexation/listing. The
languages are arranged alphabetically.

Afrikaans Being a daughter language of 18th-century Dutch, Afrikaans largely follows Dutch rules
(see the paragraph on Dutch names below).

Standards for Layout

Van Riebeeck (just the surname), but

Jan van Riebeeck (including the first name) and
Riebeeck, Jan van (in references or indexes)

Arabic In alphabetising, ignore any articleal or derivatives (e.g. ad-, an-, or as-)and list the person
under the capital letter of their last name: e.g. Ah.mad al-Jund is listed as al-Jund, Ah.mad, but is alphabetised
under J. For other aspects of spelling (e.g. spelling variants like Nasser vs. Nasir vs. please follow the
spelling that occurs most frequently in the context in question).

Prefixed elements like abu, umm, ibn, bin, and akhu are not alphabetised but do determine the alphabetical
UNCLEAR!!! positioning in a list.

Chinese Personal names in Chinese usually consist of two parts: a monosyllabic family name (i.e. the
surname) followed by a bisyllabic personal name. Both names should be written with an initial capital.
Some Chinese people, when working in an English language context, have already swapped their names
(i.e. [given name], [family name]) in accordance with many Western languages; it is best to ask in case of

As to the romanisation of other Chinese names (placenames, etc.), the student should be aware of the ex-
istence of a number of transcription methods. For consistency, it is considered best to stick to one method
of transcription only.

Dutch/Flemish The most common name particles in Dutch (as used in both Belgium and the Nether-
lands) are de, van, van de, and variations of these three.

In northern (i.e. non-Flemish) Dutch, the prefix de is not capitalised, unless at the start of a sentence or if
used without the personal (first) name:

Richard de Groot
De Groots article on Lithuanian nanotechnology research offered an interesting
The study by De Groot (1988) was used for the framework.

Neither does northern Dutch include the name particle de in alphabetisation:

Groot, Richard de
Vries, Dennis de

Flemish Dutch, on the other hand, does capitalise the prefix consistently (and includes it in alphabetisa-

Jan De Bruyne
De Bruyne, Jan
De Clerque, Alain

In Dutch in the Netherlands, the prefixes van, van de, van den, and van der do not have an initial capital,
unless at the start of a sentence or if used in isolation:

Text Composition

Niels van de Keer was approached for the automation process.

The alterations suggested by Van de Keer boosted results significantly.

As with de, the prefixes van and van de are not included in alphabetisation:

Keer, Niels van de

Rossum, Maarten van
Dommele, Jeroen van

Flemish Dutch, on the other hand, does capitalise the prefix or prefixes consistently and also includes them
in alphabetisation:

Vandroogenbroeck, Alain
Vandommele, Jeroen
Van Rompuy, Herman

Surnames of UK or US citizens that originate in Dutch surnames usually get initial capitals for de, van, and
related, and are also used in alphabetisation.

French The name particles that most frequently occur in French are de and its derivative forms d, de
La, and Du.
The particle deor, before a vowel, ddoes not get an initial capital; also, it is alphabetised under the

Alembert, Jean le Rond d

Mairan, Jean-Jaques de

If the name is an anglicised one or starts a sentence, de is capitalised and used for alphabetisation:

De Rainault, Robert
De Quincey, Thomas

In de La, only La gets a capital, and is also the basis for alphabetisation:

La Fontaine, Jean de
Stamps celebrating La Fontaine were issued in 1995.

The prefix Du is written with a capital D and is also used as the basis for alphabetisation: e.g.

Duchamp, Marcel
Du Deffand, Marie

German The German prefix von receives no initial capital, nor is it used in alphabetisation:

Liebig, Justus von

Hippel, Eric von

If the surname stands alone, the prefix is often left out:

Standards for Layout

Liebig attended grammar school at the Ludwig-Georgs-Gymnasium in Darmstadt.

In the 1950s, Hippel attended a public school in Weston, Massachussets.

The prefixes von der and vom are not capitalised unless used at the start of a sentence. They are always
retained and do form the basis for alphabetisation:

Von der Ahe, Chris

Vom Rath, Carl
Although eccentric, von der Ahe made a number of innovations.
Having been of major importance to the German sugar industry, vom Rath passed
away on 13 September 1904.

Hebrew/Ivrit The word Ben in modern Isreali names is a part of the surname, has an initial capital,
and must be attached to whichever name follows it by means of a hyphen:

David Ben-Gurion
Avraham Ben-Yosef

In listing:
Ben-Gurion, David
Ben-Yosef, Avraham

Hungarian Hungarian names are transposed in English writing. While the original Hungarian has
the surname preceding the given name in normal writing, as in der Jnos (surname, given name), English
texts should adapt it to the English word order: Jnos der (given name, surname). In that case, the alpha-
betical listing should also follow the English principle: der, Jnos (i.e. surname, comma, given name).

Italian Generally, prefixes (De, Della, Del, Di, etc.) are all capitalised in Italian as well as used in alpha-

Gaetano De Sanctis
De Sanctis, Gaetano

The only one exception would be in the case of aristocratic names that begin with de, degli, or di:

Lorenzo de Medici
Medici, Lorenzo de

Not adhering to this exception (e.g. *De Medici, Lorenzo) may cause offence.

Text Composition

Irish & Scottish Most names in English writing follow an Anglicised spelling: OBrien, ONeill (using
a capital O with apostrophe) or MacMahon, (Mc)Guinness (using a variation of the Gaelic prefix Mac directly
attached). Some individuals may prefer a more traditionally Irish (i.e. Gaelic) spelling in English writ-
ing, though (e.g. Dara Briain or Proinsias Mac Cana); stick to the bearers preference as far as spelling is

Names derived from Scottish Gaelic follow the same principles. In both casesalso in the case of spelling
variants (MacDonald, Macdonald, McDonald, MDonald, etc.)alphabetical arrangement should follow as it
were spelled Mac. This means that McDonald would precede Macnab. If a bearer explicitly uses the Gaelic
spelling of their name, follow that preference (e.g. Murchadh MacIlleathain instead of Murdo Maclean).

Japanese Japanese personal names, like in Chinese and Hungarian, have the surname (e.g. Omura)
preceding the given name (e.g. Mizuki). Contrary to its treatment of Hungarian names, the Japanese name
order is maintained in English. The surname leads in alphabetisation, so a listing would give Omura Mizuki
under the O.

Korean Standard order is surname followed by given name, where the surname is most often mono-
syllabic (e.g. Kim, Yi, Pak, Chong, Choe, etc.) and personal names most often consist of two syllables con-
nected by a hyphen (e.g. Tae-woo, Min-il, Il-Sung). Deviations from this pattern are not uncommon. Consult
a native speaker or literature for further details on the romanisation of Korean.

Spanish Determining which name elements constitute given names and which constitute surnames
can be difficult in Spanish due to a large degree of variation. Usually, however, the surname consists of
two elements: the fathers family surname followed by the mothers family surname (sometimes separated
by the particle y or i). If there is one surname, the second one may have been dropped. Alphabetisation
should be done according to the first surname. Gabriel Garca Mrquez should be listed under the G: Garca
Mrquez, Gabriel.

US English Names that reflect foreign family ties may be treated in various, sometimes unexpected
ways. John von Neumann and Bas C. Van Fraasen are listed under N and F, respectively, rather than V. Names
that contain generational suffixes such as Jr. (including the period) or III should be separated from the
name by a space rather than a comma in APA style: John Smith Jr. and John Smith III. In listing, the suffix
should be placed after the given name or initials: e.g. Smith, J., Jr.

In the case of middle names, these always go with the first name; alphabetisation follows the surname.
The books by F. Scott Fitzgerald are Fitzgeralds novels, not Scott Fitzgeralds novels. Listing would be:
Fitzgerald, F. Scott in an index, or Fitzgerald, F. S. in a reference list.

Thai Given name comes before family name, but the given name is often used for alphabetisation
(with no inversion and no comma after the first name). Occasionally, the Western approach (alphabetisa-
tion based on surname, with inversion and a comma) is followed, though. The individuals preferences (if
known) had best be followed.

Vietnamese Vietnamese names follow the order family name, middle name, given name: Nguyn Tan
Dung, where Nguyn is the family name. Indexing, referring, or referencing the name is done according

Standards for Layout

Dung could be referred to as Mr Dung in an English text, and

to the given name, however. Nguyn Tan
referenced as Dung, Nguyen Tan. Military leader Nguyen Vo Giap becomes General Giap and is indexed as
Giap, Nguyen Vo.

Foreign place names Whether or not to use an original place name (Roma, Kln, Den Haag) or the
English translation of that same place name (Rome, Cologne, The Hague) can be a matter of course in some
cases, in others it may be more difficult. One would not want to tread on toes due to cultural or political
ignorance. In all cases, it may be best to consider this carefully.

The Oxford Style Manual provides a list of examples of preferred English usage at Oxford University Press:

Ankara (not Angora) Beijing (not Peking or Peiping)

Brussels (not Bruxelles or Brussel) Florence (not Firenze)
Gdask (not Danzig) Geneva (not Genve, Genf, or Ginevra)
Guangzhou (not Canton) Livorno (not Leghorn)
Lyons (not Lyon) Marseilles (not Marseille)
Munich (not Mnchen) Reims (not Rheims)
Sichuan (not Szechuan Vienna (not Wien)

In doubt, they advise the use of reference works such as The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World or the
New Oxford Dictionary of English, which includes placenames. Most Wikipedia (!) articles tend to give the
right forms as well. . .

In the case of place names that have more than one occurrence (say, Wellington in New Zealand or Welling-
ton in Canada), it may be useful to specify, depending on your audience. As the Style Manual puts it, When
in doubt it is best to err on the side of caution, supplying additional clarification for all but the most famous
place names. (Ritter, 2003, p. 107)

If the student writer needs to refer to the past of a town or city in a time when the area was under different
political control, it is best to use the name that was officially used at that time (e.g. Breslau before 1945;
Wrocaw after 1945) although in that case, one may have to carefully balance political sensitivities with
practical considerations of communication. The same goes for competing place names in current use:
considering whether or not to use the term British Isles may not be trivial when working foror writing
toan Irish company, for instance.

Foreign toponyms referring to bodies of water may already contain words meaning lake, sea, river,
etc. For that reason, phrases such as Lake Windermere or the IJsselmeer lake should be avoided. In other
words, it would be practical to investigate if the stretch of water in question has any words in it that may
be translated as lake, sea, river, or a similar concept.

Similarly, Britains highest mountain is simply called Ben Nevis rather than *mount Ben Nevis or *Ben
Nevis mountain as the context in which the name is used should already make clear that it is a mountain.
Also, a Dutch toponym such as St. Pietersberg, rather than having the word hill or mountain added to
it, creating an awkward phrase, had better be accompanied by a translation5 :
5This is only possible if the name is translatable and/or if the name already has an accepted English translation and is easily recog-
nised by that name.

Text Composition

Additional industrial activity near Sint-Pietersberg (En. Mount Saint Peter) had
best be avoided for the aforementioned reasons whereas the village and church
nearest Mount Saint Peter might actually benefit financially from a further. . . (etc.)

In this case, the italics make clear which is the original name, and the writer has a choice whether or not to
continue with the translation or the original name. Recognisability of the namefor the sake of general
readabilityis most important, however.

Finally, in that same vein, familiarity with anglicised forms may be more important than official tran-
scriptions despite the fact that the latter may be more correct. Hiroshima rather than Hirosima, Seoul and
Pyongyang rather than Soul and Pyongyang, Jerusalem rather than Yerushalyim, and Abu Dhabi rather than
Abu Z.ab, to name just a few. Adjectives derived from proper nouns

The general rule is: if the adjective is still close to the name in terms of meaning, it should be capitalised,
but if the adjective is rather removed from the source in terms of meaning, is rather indirect, and is more
conventional, then no capital should be used. Examples:

Italian Anything of, or relating to, Italy or the italic A somewhat slanted, cursive font based
Italian language on a stylised form of handwriting
Arabic Anything of, or relating to, Arabia or the arabic Referring to the Indo-Arabic numeral
Arabic language system (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)
Roman Relating to the city of Rome, the Roman roman Referring to roman numerals (I, II, III,
Republic or Empire, or to the Romans etc.) or roman script (like this, as op-
posed to italics)
Georgian Period in British history named after titanic huge, enormous
Kings George IIV
French Anything of, or related to, France french concepts such as french fries

Difference in usage is not all that regular, though, and there appears to be a trend towards more capitalisa-
tion in these contexts (Ritter, 2003, p. 7980), as examples such as Spanish flu, German measles, and Turkish
delight show. An awareness of the issue is useful, and consistency is important.

3.5.2 Punctuation
In some matters of punctuations there are simple rights and wrongs; in others, one must apply a good ear
to good sense (Truss, 2005, p. 27). This section will give an overview of the simple rights and wrongs
the basic rules and guidelines. Student are advised to stick to those until they have mastered them6 and it
has become second nature, by which time they may consider making exceptions to the rules because they
have developed a good instinct for it.

Type one space after all commas, full stops, colons, and semicolons unless they are immediately followed
by a closing bracket (parenthesis) or quotation mark. There should be no spaces before commas, full stops,
colons, and semicolons.
6 Until they have mastered them may mean until long after the student has been awarded his or her Bachelors degree. . .

Standards for Layout Full stops/full points/periods

All sentences must end in a full stop, which is in that case always followed by a space. For the use of full
stops in abbreviations, see section 3.5.5 on page 55. For the use of full stops with quotation marks, see
section on page 48. For the use of full stops in reference lists, see chapter 5 on page 81. Commas
Comma usage is inarguably the trickiest area of punctuation in English. Not only is the purpose of a
comma to indicate a small break, or pause, in the flow of information, but also to clarify the structure of
the sentence to the readerto indicate different parts of a thought or sentence, and they do so in a very
regular and structured manner. Although the finer points can be quite tricky, the following four basic rules
will resolve a majority of problems:

Use introducer commas Set off any introductory materialwords or phrases preceding the
grammatical subject of a sentencewith an introducer comma:

Fortunately, no members of staff were hurt.

Consequently, the marketing budget was increased by 10%.
In light of both companies recent financial setbacks, they decided to merge.

In the same way, one can connect a subordinating clause before7 a main clause, especially if the clause is
quite long and may confuse the reader:

Since the climate in southern Spain is quite hot and dry, HEMA will not be selling
umbrellas in its stores there.
Although recent industrial activities by Axis Chemicals have disturbed the
centuries-old ecosystem in the area, no further research has been done.

Do not use introductory commas right after subordinating conjunctions like because or although, nor after
the coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.8 See appendix D for an overview of the
different types of commonly used linking words.

Use inserter commas Inserter commas always comma in pairs; they are written before as well as after
any word, phrase, or clause inserted into the middle of a main clause:

The auditor in question, however, refused to participate in the investigation.

The lender, on the other hand, would purchase insurance for the investment.
Donald Trump, who canceled a campaign appearance in Miami on Friday, called for
restoring law and order.
The second building, which has serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing
members, has substandard wiring, is completely inadequate for the companys
power needs, and is situated in an area resembling a demilitarized zone, is still
under consideration despite the aforementioned flaws.
7 Note that the comma is not required if the subordinating clause follows the main clause: HEMA will not be selling umbrellas in its
southern Spanish stores since the climate is quite hot and dry there.
8 The mnemonic FANBOYS (i.e. f or, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) may be useful in that respect. . .

Text Composition

They are also used when interrupting a quotation with a clause with a reporting verb:

A loan, as the article says, may be considered usurious because of excessive or

abusive interest rates or other factors.

Use tag commas Words, phrases or non-restrictive clauses can be placed after a tag comma at the
end of a sentence:

The region has not always been this prosperous, though.

Columbia Pictures had been acquired by Sony in 1989, for example.
For a balloon to float, it must be filled with helium, which is lighter than the air
around it.9

Use coordinating commas These are commas that connect two parallel words, phrases, or clauses,
mostly in cases where the coordinators and or or are used as well. There are two situations for this:

1. Listings of three or more items (i.e. words or phrases):

We offer fair pay, excellent benefits,10 and regular working hours.

me, myself, and I
Hearth Tax listing was arranged by county, barony, parish, and townland.
flying through the air, crawling on the ground, and swimming underwater
the bishops of Winchester, Salisbury, Bristol, and Bath and Wells

N.B. If you have a list with longer items that themselves include commas, use a semicolon to separate the
items instead:

They pointed out, in support of their claim, that they had used the materials
stipulated in the contract; that they had taken every reasonable precaution,
including some not mentioned in the code; and that they had employed only
qualified workers, all of whom were very experienced.
I should like to thank the Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford; the staff
of the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and the staff of the Pierpont Morgan Library,
New York.
9 N.B. Leaving the comma out before which would result in a sentence that may still be grammatically correct, but it would be a

sentence that makes no sense as helium which is lighter than the air around it would imply that helium that is heavier than air
would be a possibility too, which it isntnot on planet Earth, at least. . . . The comma after float is optional but preferred, as the
grammatical structure of the sentence is less clear without it.
10 There is no argument that a comma is required after pay. The comma preceding and (the so-called Oxford comma or serial comma)

is not required but recommended where it will prevent ambiguity, such as in the last example.

Standards for Layout

2. The linking of two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction:

The IT department attended a sensitivity training last week, and they will be
reporting on their experiences this afternoon.
Advertising is essential to the free enterprise system, yet care should be taken to
avoid irritation due to overkill resulting in the subsequent creation of a negative
Certain organisms can limit yield and cause crop failure by damaging the plants, so
some degree of pest control is imperative.

Frequent comma mistakes Students should not assume that comma usage in English follows the
same rules as their native language. Some of the more frequently occurring comma mistakes include the

Problem: Faulty example: Correction:

1 Comma between *The franchise agreement The franchise agreement be-
long(ish) subject between Abellio and ScotRail, tween Abellio and ScotRail
and predicate will have an overall positive will have an overall positive
impact on the Scottish railway impact on the Scottish railway
infrastructure. infrastructure.
2 Comma before *The CFO stated, that profits The CFO stated that profits
that (restrictive were down by 5%. were down by 5%.
clause) *The car, that we saw, was The car that we saw was red.
red. OR (as a non-restrictive clause)
The car, which we saw, was
3 Comma splice / *It also provides protection in It also provides protection in
run-on sentence case of accident, the window case of accident; the window
does not spread and the film does not spread and the film
holds if the window is broken. holds if the window is broken.
4 commas after *Although, standardisation Although standardisation
subordinators leads to cost savings, entering leads to cost savings, entering
a new market includes factors a new market includes factors
like legal requirements. like legal requirements.

The table with linking words and transition phrases in Appendix D gives some more examples of proper
punctuation usage. Semi-colons
The semicolon (;) is not necessarily difficult to use as long as it is clear that it is more like a full stop than
a comma; contrary to a full stop, it connects sentence parts very strongly, though. It can also be a very
eloquent device if used properly. Semicolons are used in three different ways:

1. between two independent (i.e. main) clauses that are strongly related to each other,
2. before conjunctive (i.e. linking) adverbs and adverbial phrases when followed by an independent
clause, and

Text Composition

3. between list items that themselves contain commas.

Between main clauses If two main clauses or sentences need to be connected without any explicit
linking word or phrase, then a semicolon can be used.

A majority of startups fail in their first year; perseverance is the most important
character trait an entrepreneur can have.
Computer use is increasing; computer crime is, too.
To be born a gentleman is an accident; to die one, an achievement.

Before connectors In the connection between main clauses, semicolons can also be used before con-
junctive adverbs (e.g. however, therefore, consequently, additionally) and linking phrases (e.g. on the other hand,
for example, in short) in order to make the connection more explicit.

There has been a sharp decrease in turnover; therefore, the board will be forced to
make cuts.
The efforts as well as performance of the teaching staff have been outstanding thus
far; as a result, all pupils are ensured excellent bilingual education.

Between list items that contain commas If a list has items that themselves contain commas, the
items should be separated with semicolons instead:

Among some other items, the menu contained egg and bacon; egg, sausage, and
bacon; egg and Spam; egg, bacon, and Spam; egg, bacon, sausage, and Spam;
Spam, bacon, sausage, and Spam; Spam, egg, Spam, Spam, bacon, and Spam;
Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle
pt, brandy, and a fried egg on top, and Spam.

At the time of writing, students at IBS rarely (if ever!) use semicolons in their writing. However, even
though it should not be overused, it can add a bit of flair to a sentence. It is also an easy way to fix the
dreaded comma splice (also see the section with frequent comma mistakes on page 36). Colons
Colons are used in sentence writing between main clauses to announce elaboration or explanation of a
point. They are similar in use to semicolons, with the exception that

1. colons only focus attention before (a) lists, (b) appositives, and (c) direct quotations (where semi-
colons just signal that the clause before and after the semicolon are strongly connected) and

2. colons are not used to separate items in a list.

Standards for Layout

Introducing lists A colon is used between a list and its introduction:

The ceremonial county of Cornwall is divided into six districts: Caradon, Carrick,
Kerrier, North Cornwall, Penwith, and Restormel.
The first schedule of the Interpretation Act 1978, defines the following terms:
British Islands, England, and United Kingdom.
In late 2011, Thomson Reuters announced a new organizational structure with four
divisions: Financial and Risk, Legal, Thomson Scientific (Intellectual Property &
Science), and Tax & Accounting.

N.B. Do not use a colon right after a form of to be or the words include or to in this case, unless the word is
followed by the following or as follows:

Incorrect: The language factors used in the assessment of the English

course are: grammatical accuracy, vocabulary range, and struc-
tural coherence.
Correct: The language factors used in the assessment of the English
course are grammatical accuracy, vocabulary range, and struc-
tural coherence.
Correct: The language factors used in the assessment of the English
course are the following: grammatical accuracy, vocabulary
range, and structural coherence.

Introducing appositives A colon after a main clause can also direct focus to an appositive or appo-
sition: a word or phrase that refers to the same thing mentioned before it.

There was one major exception: the National Health Service, which was widely
popular and had wide support inside the Conservative Party.
The scale model showed Butler Library at Columbia University: allegedly one of the
most beautiful college libraries in the United States.
An effective teacher has at least two important characteristics: thorough knowledge
of his subject and the ability to multitask.

Introducing quotations or paraphrased speech The colon should only be used in this manner
when a full main clause introduces the quotation or paraphrase, when a block quotation is introduced (in
which case no quotation marks are used), or when the introduction of the quotation is rather formal and

Marc Zuckerberg had a very clear opinion on this: Its OK to break things . . . to
make them better.
His attorney had asked him about the accusations only yesterday: Were you or
were you not directly involved in the burglary?
Philip: I cant come to bed! Im glued to a tax demand! [in a transcript]
Lords, ladies, and gentlemen: Allow me to present tonights guest of honour.

Text Composition

If the colon is preceded by a phrase rather than a full main clause, no block quotation is involved, and the
context is neutral or informal, a comma should be used:

According to Zuckerberg, its OK to break things . . . to make them better.

He was asked, Were you or were you not directly involved in the burglary?
Philip said, I cant come to bed! Im glued to a tax demand!

Separating titles from subtitles If a title of a publication (i.e. book, article, film, etc.) is separated
into main title and subtitle, they should be separated by a colon:

Business models for model businesses: Lessons from renewable energy entrepreneurs
in developing countries.
Robert the Bruce, historiography, and the Dumfries homicide case: On the variety
of representation in the accounts of a political murder.
Towards a more circular economy: Proposing a framework linking sustainable public
procurement and sustainable business models.

Occasionally, m-dashes may be found in such contexts as well:

Playing seriouslyHow gamification and social cues influence bank customers to

use gamified e-business applications.

Additional use (AmE only) In American English, colons are also used in time notation as well as
in salutations of formal letters and emails. In expressions of time, they separate hours from minutes. In
salutation of formal correspondence, they are used right after the salutation.

Expressions of time:

Normally, classes at IBS are scheduled between 8:30 and 16:30.

The fire alarm went off at 4:23 p.m. exactly.

British English would use a full stop/period in such cases: 8.30, 16.30, and 4.23 p.m., respectively.

In letters:

Dear Mrs. Philips:

Dear Professor Sobecki:
Dear Sir/Madam:

British English would use a comma rather than a colon in these cases. Apostrophes
Generally, apostrophes (sing. apostrophe, pron. [@"pOstr@fi], so stress on the second syllable) are not used
to spell plurals, but are mainly used to indicate possessive (i.e. genitive) constructions and to indicate

Standards for Layout

Possessive of singular nouns and irregular plurals Regardless of which letter the word ends on,
apostrophe+s is added to indicate possession. Any irregular plurals not ending in s also receive the apostro-
phe+s treatment when used to indicate possession.

the generals boots

the authors signature
a companys most important assets
the childrens ideas (plural of child)
the oxens ploughing harnesses (plural of ox)

The only exception to this is names from the ancient or classical world that end in s (Archimedes bath, Zeus
wives, Jesus disciples, Confucius teachings) or names that end in an [Iz]-sound (e.g. Bridges score, Moses tablets),
where the apostrophe follows the final s.

Possessive of regular plurals In the case of regular English plurals, which end in s already, the apos-
trophe follows the s:

the soldiers boots as opposed to the (one) soldiers boots

their babies needs their babys needs
the boys haircuts the boys haircut

Time or quantity indications Although in terms of meaning these are not really possessives, this
type of expression does make use of the possessive s.

a months time
two months notice
twenty meters worth

Omissions Apostrophes to indicate omission are most often found in contractions: Im, youre, cant,
well. Generally, however, such contractions are indicative of informal writing and they should be avoided.
Obviously, levels of acceptability may vary quite a bit in the business world: it will be less problematic in an
informal internal memo used in a company of only five people than it might be in a very formal technical
report in a large multinational.

Very importantly, its can never be used as a possessive. The word pronounced [Its] is only used as a pos-
sessive pronoun if spelled without an apostrophe (so its)compare my, your, his, her, our, their. It can only
be spelled with an apostrophe if it is an actual contraction and can be replaced with its full form: it is or it

The same rule can be applied to the following:

whos (= who is) Whos afraid of the big bad vs whose The question is whose job
wolf? this is.
theyre (= they are) Theyre not afraid. vs their Their suggestions were im-
youre (= you are) Youre being very informal. vs your Your computer has issues, as
do you.
theres (= there is) Theres the rub! vs theirs This office is theirs, not

Text Composition

Omissions indicated by an apostrophe can also be found in clipped year and decade references, in which
case the century digits have been replaced by an apostrophe.

I grew up in the 80s.

The Summer of 69 is a real classic.

This is still used more in twentieth-century references than with years after 2000, but there appears to be
in increase of references such as the banking crisis of 07. Also, well meaning word-processing software
may automatically turn a well typed apostrophe into an inverted comma (a ) right after a spaceit is
important to watch out for this; it should really be an apostrophe and not an opening quotation mark: it
is simply the wrong punctuation symbol and it may look slightly confusing as well:

Wrong: the winter of 4445

Right: the winter of 4445

A small set of plurals Last but not least, there are few plurals that are spelled with an apostrophe,
mostly in cases where the word in question is not used as a noun under normal conditions.

With verb forms: Please list the dos and donts of presenting.
With conjunctions: We advise against using sentence-initial buts and ands.
With letters: It is high time to dot the is and cross the ts. Question marks

Unless used in quotations, questionnaires, and research questions as posed in the methodology section
of reports, question marks should be avoided in academic writing and business reports. In academic es-
says and research reports especially, there is no use posing direct questions to the reader; instead, they
can be rendered as statements about things/issues/variables being unknown. For example, the question
So why does Deloitte appear to be facing financial difficulties? could be rendered instead as The question is why
Deloitte appears to be facing financial difficulties or The underlying factors of Deloittes financial setbacks will need to
be investigated.

In some cases, question marks can be used to signal doubt about a particular element in a sentence by
placing it between brackets right after the contentious part of the statement (e.g. Adam Smith was born in
Kirkcaldy in early June 1723 (?)), but this may also be rephrased using expressions such as allegedly or is
believed to if the placement of the question mark still leaves room for interpretation. Exclamation marks

Unless used in quotations, exclamation marks should generally be avoided in academic writing and busi-
ness reports. They are mostly indicative of informal writing or speech and do generally not contribute to
a professional writing style.

In some cases, however, exclamation marks may be used by the writer to indicate amusement, surprise,
or unbelief concerning certain facts, in which case it should be put between (round) brackets/parenthe-
ses: (!).

Standards for Layout

A parents lawsuit against McDonalds in August 2003 claimed that the fast-food
chain had failed to clearly communicate the effect that the food and its ingredients
among which large quantities of fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterolhave and that
it was therefore responsible (!) for their childrens obesity, heart disease, diabetes,
high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

If the amusement, surprise, or unbelief is about the element in a quotation (and hence an external com-
ment by a subsequent author or editor), the exclamation mark should be written between square brack-
ets: [!].

According to CNN, one of the girls said that a McMuffin for breakfast and a Big
Mac meal for dinner was her regular [!] diet.

N.B. Care should be taken not to use it too much for marking absurdity, ignorance, or illiteracy as this may
come across as patronising. Hyphens and dashes

The importance of this group of punctuation marks is severely underestimated. First of all, despite the
fact that the most frequently used symbols in this category can be easily represented by the same keyboard
key, they are definitely not the same. Hyphens and dashes could all be described as horizontal lines, but
they are of different length and/or height in many fonts, are produced slightly differently in most word
processors, andmost importantlyalso serve different purposes. Strictly speaking, we can distinguish
between at least four different symbols: the hyphen (-), the n-dash (), the m-dash(), and the minus sign
()11 ; they are used for four different purposes, which will be described, explained, and exemplified below.

This section will ignore the underscore (_) as it is mainly, if not only, used in computer language (i.e. file
names, URLs, etc.). Table 3.4 gives the four different (typographical) forms, briefly recapitulates how they
are used, and shows how they can be includedor acceptably representedin most word processors.

1. Connecting words to create compounds. The general rule is that the hyphen is used to connect
words. However, there are no consistent rules on when to write compounds as separate items, when to
connect them with a hyphen, and when to write them as a single wordunsurprisingly, even dictionaries
may disagree on when to hyphenate a compound and when not to. One could argue that, as far as word
combinations in English go, they appear to evolve from being separate words via being hyphenated to
being written as solid one-word dictionary entries. Besides that general observation, the student writer is
always advised to consult a good dictionary for this purpose12 . In addition, however, there are definitely
quite a few good guidelines on when and where to use hyphens. According to Truss (2008, pp. 145147),
among others, the following situations require the use of hyphens:

1. When ambiguity must be avoided: a re-formed committee can hopefully provide a fresh perspective on
things, whereas a reformed committee (not a Catholic committee) is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Recreation and re-creation are two completely different concepts. A similar problem may be found in
11 The reader may already have noticed that the n-dash and the minus sign in this font are basically the same; in many fonts, however,

they may not be, which shows sometimes. Not distinguishing between these two is least problematic.
12 e.g. Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries for British English, and Merriam-Webster for American English, to name just a few.

Text Composition

the pairs extra-marital relations versus extra marital relations, and newspaper-style book versus newspaper
style-book. Similarly, a small scale factory is a small factory that manufactures scales, while a small-
scale factory is a factory that produces a small amount of something (Ritter, 2003, p. 134).
2. When numbers over twenty need to be spelled out: thirty-two, forty-nine, etc. (N.B. theres no hyphen
in four hundred, two thousand, etc.)
3. When nouns or adjectives are linked up in case of equal importance or if one can read to or and
between them (see also Ritter, 2003, pp. 140141). Examples are: employer-employee relationship, on-off
switch, Dover-Calais crossing, cost-benefit analysis, American-French relations. In this category, the n-dash
may also be used instead.
4. When a noun phrase is used to qualify another noun: corrugated iron versus a corrugated-iron roof ,
technology from the twentieth century but twentieth-century technology. A rather embarrassing mis-
take would be made if one referred to the eight hundred odd members of the House of Lords (i.e.
all eight hundred members are weird people) rather than the eight hundred-odd members of the
House of Lords (i.e. it has eight hundred members, give or take, which ispresumablythe in-
tended meaning).
5. In the case of certain prefixes: semi-illiterate, bi-annual, non-negotiable, quasi-scientific. Very often,
these may also be written as one (and very often are in US English). In doubt, consult a dictionary.
6. Mispronunciation or confusion may be avoided through hyphen use in words like co-opt or shel-like
(cf. *coopt and *shelllike).
7. In the case that words needs to be divided in two at the end of a line of text. Proper hyphenation
in that case (i.e. knowing for certain where to hyphenate) can be very important. The hyphen-
ation in the sentence The suspect was charged with mans-laughter (Shackle, 2003) is rather awk-
ward. Dictionary consultation is advised, as many dictionaries also include hyphenation points (e.g.
manslaughter (Manslaughter, n.d.))

2. Indicating a range or span When expressing a range or span or similar connection between items
(even cooperation; also see previous section, point 3), writers should use an n-dash ():

pp. 3448
timbertinfoil (a range of dictionary entries)
the DoverCalais crossing
ArabAmerican relations (relations between . . . ) but an Arab-American shop (a shop run
by Arab-Americans)
the LloydJones theory (one theory, two people) but the Lloyd-Jones theory (one theory,
one person)

3. Setting off additional, non-restrictive information Ideally, setting off parenthetical informa-
tion other than with brackets or commas is done by means of m-dashes (). This may happen in the middle
of a sentenceas exemplified by this sentence interruptionor at the endlike this. Usually, m-dashes
are more emphatic in their interruption than commas, so they should not be overused. Also, they should
not be used with spaces. Should the use of spaces really be preferred, then it is best to use n-dashes ()
with spaces instead like so.

Standards for Layout

4. Indicating subtraction (mathematics) Use of the minus symbol is restricted to the mathematical
domain. As far as the subject matter of this guide is concerned, this does not require further explanation.

name symbol Unicode usage application

hyphen - U+2010 Connects individual words to form com- -
pounds (e.g. co-operation, semi-illiterate,
a 28-year-old)
m-dash U+2014 Without spaces, sets off parenthetical state- Go to Insert
ments (compare brackets and inserter Special character. . .
commas); for alternative, see n-dash (e.g.
Some traditional Dutch store names
among which De Harense Smid and
V&Ddid not survive the recession.)
n-dash U+2013 1. With spaces, sets off parenthetical state- Is automatically cre-
ments (compare brackets and inserter ated in most word
commas) (e.g. Some traditional Dutch processors by typing
store names among which De Harense Space - Space ,
Smid and V&D did not survive the reces- followed by the next
sion.) word and another
Space .
2. Without spaces, expresses a span Go to Insert
or range (e.g. 19841989, MaySept, Special character. . . or
AardvarkAcademia) use hyphen key ( - )
minus U+2212 With spaces, subtraction in mathematical Go to Insert
sign equations (e.g. 13 8 = 5) Special character. . . .

Table 3.4: All relevant horizontal-line punctuation for report writing: the hyphen (-), n-dash (), m-dash (), and
minus sign (). Parentheses/round brackets

Parentheses should not be used as an alternative to other types of punctuation. Instead, use them (spar-
ingly) to enclose numbers, words, phrases or sentences which

are cross-references to other parts of your document, such as other chapters, appendices, bibliogra-
are in-text references to external sources, providing a direct link to the reference list in the back-
are used to separate list items,
are there to add clarity to your report without altering its meaning, or
may not be essential to a sentence but may be interesting or helpful to some readers.

Within parentheses, use square brackets [ ] for extra parenthesis. Spaces should always be used around

Text Composition

bracketsa space before the opening bracket and a space after the closing bracketunless they are
directly followed by other punctuation (like this). Some examples:

(see pp. 3537)

. . . was John Maynard Keynes (5 June 188321 April 1946).
2 million (2.4 million)
This section will cover three important rules in improvisational theatre: (a) actively
listen, (b) always accept a given offer, and (c) do not ask but contribute.
He hopes (as we all do) that the project will be successful.

Never should parenthetical bits be put back to back; in that case, use a semicolon instead:

Incorrect: *(e.g. bitcoins) (Gearloose & Hoddard, 2013)

Correct: (e.g. bitcoins; Gearloose & Hoddard, 2013) Square brackets

Square brackets ([ and ]) are used for comments, corrections, interpolations, parenthetical notes, or
translations that a subsequent author or editor has appended to an original text. (Ritter, 2003, p. 143).
Especially in quotations, they are used to enclose additional material that was not in the original:

The stories discussed in this dissertation were often part of such collections
[Sheridan Le Fanus and Sayers], but most appeared in magazines first.
The original Bell Gurder, a black metal-bodied [emphasis added] telephone by the
Bell Telephone Manufacturing Company (Antwerp, Belgium) was made in the

Square brackets may also be used to denote parenthetical information already enclosed in parentheses (to
limit [or preferably even completely avoid] visual confusion). Slashes
The often misused slash (/; also known as solidus, stroke, and oblique, among other names) should only
be used to indicate alternatives and it should therefore read as or. Frequently used examples are either/or,
his/her, on/off, masculine/feminine/neutral. In some cases, however, wrong usage may be confusing. The
following two phrases have a distinctly different meaning:

the Rotterdam/Amsterdam/The Hague area

the Rotterdam-Amsterdam-The Hague area

The first denotes the area of either Rotterdam, Amsterdam, or The Hague; the second refers to the combined
area of those three. As slashes are often misinterpreted, it may be best to use the more explicit or instead:
the Rotterdam, Amsterdam, or The Hague area.

Some alternative uses given by Ritter (2003, p. 147) concern their use in abbreviations:

Standards for Layout

abbr.: meaning: abbr.: meaning:

A/C account Bs/L bills of lading
c/o care of I/O inputoutput
N/A not applicable N/V non-vintage
W/D withdrawal U/w underwriter
24/7 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Special care should be taken when using the forward slash with informally or parenthetically written dates;
American contexts will have the day and month reversed: 8/3/2014 will most likely be interpreted as the
third of August rather than the eighth of March. To avoid such ambiguity, it may be best to write dates in
full, especially in the running text:

Negotiations will start on March 8, 2014. (Am.)

Negotiations will start on 8 March 2014. (Br.)
Implementation will be phased in from August 3 onwards. (Am.)
Implementation will be phased in from 3 August onwards. (Br.)

Lastly, the slash may be used in technical contexts to indicate fractions (to separate numerator from de-
nominator; e.g. 4/5) and to indicate per in units of measurement (e.g. 35 km/h). Quotation marks

Quotation marks, also called inverted commas or speech marks, serve three purposes:

to set off quoted material in the running text,

to highlight or emphasise particular terms, and
to set off titles of certain types of text from the rest of your writing.

They come in two types:

single quotation marks (. . . ), mostly used in British academic publications and book publishing, and
double quotation marks (. . . ), used in US writing and publishing without exception, and are often used
in British journalism.

Very importantly, English text should not be mixed with alternative quotation styles such as employed in
Dutch, German, or French writing:

Style Sample
Dutch *Microcredit has enormous potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.
German *Microcredit has enormous potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.
French *Microcredit has enormous potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.
Corrected: Microcredit has enormous potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.

Purpose #1: Actual quotations Quotation marks are used to enclose relatively short quotations in
the running text:

Churchill said, This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
(British practice)

Text Composition

Churchill said, This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
(US/APA style; preferred at IBS13 )

If other quotations are nested within the quotations, the other type is usedsingle would be used within
if double is the default (US/APA style), and double would be used if single is the default (British):

He had written, Churchill said, This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which
I will not put, but did not really believe it. (British practice)
He had written, Churchill said, This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which
I will not put, but did not really believe it. (US/APA style)
According to his consigliere, Don Corleone should never have said, Ill make you
an offer you cant refuse as it set off a rather unfortunate chain of events.
(US/APA style)

In the case of quotations of 40 or more words (APA, 2010, p. 92), no quotation marks are used, and the quo-
tation is set off as a block quotation. Should that block quotation contain any quotations, then the default
quotation style is used for such secondary quotations (i.e. double quotation marks in American/APA
style, and single quotation marks in British style).

Purpose #2: Highlighting terms or phrases To set off special words, technical terms, or words
used in a special sense:

Tautology is the term used when two concurring wordse.g. burning

firecreate an overlap in meaning.
Their specialisation is the scientific discipline between biology and geology, called

An alternative in this case would be to set such terms in italics instead (e.g. Their specialisation is the
scientific discipline between biology and geology, called palaeontology.). Using a combination of both is
possible, but then their respective uses should be differentiated, such as using italics for foreign terms
(e.g. pianissimo) and using quotation marks for their translation (to be played very softly).

Special caution should be taken in the case of so-called scare quotes, which are quotation marks used to set
off slang words or colloquialisms or terms that one generally disagrees with or does not approve of. To

Special caution should be taken in the case of scare quotes.

They have cut down the trees in the interest of progress.
Many of these hackers seem rather clever.

Such use should be limited or avoided where possible. As Ritter points out somewhat jocularly:
13 This does not mean that British practice is not allowed; it is, as long as it is applied consistently.

Standards for Layout

In these examples the quotation marks are used merely to hold up a word for inspection, as if by tongs,
providing a cordon sanitaire between the word and the writers finer sensibilities. (You may wish to avert
your eyes, gentle reader, whilst I unveil the word boogie-woogie.) (Ritter, 2003, p. 149)

In such cases, it may be best to use the word so-called or an alternative instead; especially try to avoid using
both at the same time.

Purpose #3: Report, essay, article, or episode titles In the running text, quotation marks set off
report, essay, article, or episode titles:

The article Was There Too Little Entry during the Dot Com Era? has provided a
number of insights.
Veisbergss The Contextual Use of Idioms, Wordplay, and Translation (1997)
agrees on this point.
In the season 2 episode The Children of Israel, Carpenter comments further on
religious tolerance.

N.B. When included in APA reference list entries, such titles lose their quotation marks, as with the second

Veisbergs, A. (1997). The contextual use of idioms, wordplay, and translation. In D.

Delabastita (Ed.), Traductio: Essays on Punning and Translation (pp. 155159).
Namur, Belgium: Presses Universitaires de Namur.

Punctuation and quotations First of all, all question marks, exclamation marks, colons, and semi-
colons go outside of the quotation marks unless they were part of the original quotation:

Did he say, Good morning, Dave?

No, he said, Where are you, Dave?
Was it really wise of him to shout, Stop!?
There are three major definitions of the word gender: vernacular, sociological, and

Besides that, there are two correct ways of choosing what to do with commas and full stops: the British
and the American approach. In the British approachalso called logical punctuation14 commas and
full stops are placed inside the quotation marks if they were also there in the original quotation. In the American
style, essentially all commas and full stops are put inside the quotation marks. The following examples were
taken from Wikipedia.
14This term is by no means intended as a judgement on American-style punctuationit is not necessarily less logical, it merely
follows a different logic. . .

Text Composition

British style:
Carefree, in general, means free from care or anxiety.
The title of the song was Gloria, which many already knew.
She said she felt free from care and anxiety.

American style:
Carefree, in general, means free from care or anxiety.
The title of the song was Gloria, which many already knew.
She said she felt free from care and anxiety.
(Quotation marks in English, 2016)

As with the choice of quotation marks themselves, IBS has a preference for APA style, which follows the
American approach to punctuation. In the end, however, consistency and correct usage is most important.

[sic] The Latin sic is short for Sic erat scriptum, Thus was it written, which is written in italics between
square brackets, [sic], to identify logical or grammatical mistakes, misspellings, etc. in quotations, as in
the following example:

The company is selling a T-shirt for girls with the following grammatically incorrect sentence written in
shiny silver print: If your [sic] single, so am I. (as cited in Grammarist, n.d.)

However, as Ritter points out, in many cases it may not be fair or even necessary to focus on a detail that
may be no more than dittography or printers error: unless the mistake has textual significance, trans-
mitting the content of the quoted matter is usually more important than reproducing its original form,
warts and all. (2003, pp. 192193)

In short, generally try to avoid its use unless the error could be relevant, like in the example above, or
interesting for other reasons. Admittedly, this is somewhat subjective, but this is where critical thinking
comes in. A good alternative would be to paraphrase the quoted material in question. Ellipsis
A series of three equally spaced full points ( . . . ), otherwise known as ellipsis, is used to indicate that words
or phrases have been deliberately omitted from a quoted source.

A mere two percent of the students . . . had committed plagiarism.

If used at the end of an incomplete sentence, no full stop should be added after the ellipsis (i.e. no four
dots) unless the ellipsis is part of an embedded quotation in a larger sentence.

The question that had been posed was whether they should. . . .

If four points are used in the middle of a quotation, then the parts before and after the ellipsis must be
complete sentences and the fragment after the ellipsis must start with a capital letter:

Standards for Layout

By the time Sylvania Electric Products merged with General Telephone in 1959,
Sylvania had become a manufacturer of electronics, lighting, television, radio and
chemistry and metallurgy. . . . The company operated as a separate entity and pro-
duced cameras, photo flash bulbs, general lighting and TVs and anti-missile de-
fense systems.

Ellipsis can also be used to signal to the reader that the logical continuation of a sequence is obvious and
therefore left to the reader:

Progress reports will need to be submitted in February, April, June, . . .

by Gerard Philips, Anton Philips, Frans Otten, Frits Philips, . . .

3.5.3 Type formatting: boldface, underlining, and italics

In most professional writing and text editing, roman type (i.e. the type of letters that these very words
are set in) is used as the standard. However, like in professional typesetting and writing, the student will
want to let text stand out for reasons of convention, emphasis, or extra clarity and will therefore have to
resort to alternative styles. Underlining being rather outdated, especially italics and boldface will be of use
to students of IBS. Underlining
The use of underlininglike sois a remnant from typewriter days. Where text would be emphasised,
the writer would underline it on the typewriter, and the typesetter would then set it in italics. In the 21st
century, underlining has become largely obsolete. In other words, underlining had best be avoided! Boldface
Boldface type or simply Bold is generally only used to indicate headwords in glossaries or dictionaries and
in titles and headings. Italics
In short, italics are used to emphasise text or stress speech, to style titles, certain levels of section heading,
and to denote language other than English.

Text emphasis Very often, text will need to be set off from the surrounding text either in order to put
extra emphasis on it (in a similar way that intonation would do in spoken language) or to create a clear
focus on a term or concept that is being introduced:

Jenny Hereford was not the main proponent of drastic reforms in the higher ranks,
The structure of a paragraph is more important than its length.
Internal transaction costs are called bureaucratic costs in order to distinguish them
from the transaction costs of exchanges between organizations in the environment.

Text Composition

If the original text in a quotation does not contain any emphasis but the report writer would like to em-
phasise certain words by adding italics, this should be made clear by adding the phrase emphasis added
between square brackets right after the emphasised word or phrase:

Recreational drama facilitates individual and group [emphasis added] expression

and involves the pleasurable breaking of taboos around touch and languages
(Johnston, 2005, p. 5).

Titles and names Italics are used to set off the titles (and subtitles) of books, journals, magazines,
newspapers, reviews, or similar type of periodicals, as well as of plays, films, television and radio series,
albums, and CDs. Its constituent parts (i.e. chapters, sections, articles, episodes, tracks, etc.) are always
set in roman type:

The concept was also abundantly covered in Joness Organizational Theory, Design,
and Change (2007).
It was The New Yorker that opened with a rather condemning headline that
Queens 1975 album A Night at the Opera also featured their hit single Bohemian

Individual names of vehicles (trains, ships, etc.) should also be italicisede.g. the Queen Elizabeth, the
space shuttle Enterprise, the Enola Gay, Michiel de Ruyters flagship De Zeven Provincin, etc.

Section headings In APA style, level-4 and 5 headings are styled in italics. Also see section 3.4.5.

Foreign words and phrases In some instances, foreign words and phrases are italicised, especially
when a short, still slightly exotic, phrase is to be used and highlighted. If the word or phrase has suffi-
ciently assimilated into the language (e.g. facade, ad hoc, cafe, gesundheit, rsum) it is set in roman instead
(so facade, ad hoc, cafe, etc.).

Furthermore, in line with the idea of Guo Qing, parochialism is another concept to
keep in mind.
As outlined in the council meeting minutes, Stornoway should be especially
concerned about its gnomhachas-sheirbheisean or service industry.
Their average salary amounts to 30,000 per annum.

3.5.4 Numbers
This section generally follows the approach (and has adapted some examples) of the APAs Publication Man-
ual. Any quotations are from the same, unless otherwise indicated.

Standards for Layout Numbers expressed as numerals

In quite a fair number of instances, numbers should be expressed as numerals.

First, numbers from 10 onwards (n 10) are expressed as numerals. In such cases, the suffix of ordinal
numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, . . . ) does not need to be written in superscript; 33rd is fine, but 33rd is com-
pletely acceptable, too (and even recommended by certain style guides)!

12 cm wide
the remaining 10%
25 years old
10th-grade students
the 15th trial
13 lists
105 stimulus words

Section will also include some exceptions to this rule, however.

Second, any numbers mentioned in the abstract or any graphical display should be expressed in numerals.

Third, numbers that are followed by units of measurement will need to be expressed in numerals:

a 5-mg dose
with 10.54 cm of

Fourth, numerals should be used in any numbers that represent statistical or mathematical functions,
fractional or decimal quantities, percentages, ratios, and percentiles and quartiles:

multiplied by 5
3 times as many [proportion]
0.33 of the
more than 5% of the sample a ratio of 16.1
the 5th percentile

Fifth instance is numbers that represent time, dates, ages, scores and points on a scale, exact sums of
money, and numerals as numerals:

1 hr 34 min
at 12.30 a.m.
scored 4 on a 7-point scale

If, however, the number is an approximation of time (usually indicated by signal words), words should be
used instead:

about four years ago

a timespan of three decades

Numbers from a numbered series (e.g. books, tables, etc.) or any number from lists of four or more items
are expressed by numerals, too:

Text Composition

Grade 8
Table 3
row 5 Numbers expressed as words

In some cases, numbers need to be expressed as words. Numbers that begin a sentence, title, or headings,
for example, will need to be expressed in words (even though, where possible, sentence-initial numbers
had best be avoided altogether):

Forty-eight percent of the sample showed an increase; 2% showed no change.

Twelve students improved, and 12 students did not improve.

Also, most common fractions in running text can be expressed as words:

one fifth of the class

two-thirds majority

Last but not least, universally accepted, fixed expressions:

the Twelve Apostles

Five Pillars of Islam Mixed usage

Sometimes, using a mix of numerals and words, especially when used back to back, may visually clarify
the structure of a phrase or sentence:

3 one-hour sessions
ten 7-point scales Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers (first, 2nd, sixth, 85th, etc.) should be treated as cardinal numbers (one, 2, six, 85, etc.) in
the same context (see the previous sections).

Cardinal Corresponding ordinal

two orders second-order factor
four grades the fourth-graders
one item, 75 trials the first item of the 75th trial
three groups both the first and the third group Decimals
The zero numeral (0) should not be used before a decimal point if a statistic cannot exceed 1, such as in
correlations, proportions, or levels of statistical significance:

r(24) = .43, p = .028

Standards for Layout

If it can be greater than 1, a zero should be used:

0.23 cm
Cohens d = 0.70
0.48 s

The number of decimal places to be included when reporting fractions largely depends on rules regarding
precision and statistical significance. Generally, though, readers find fewer decimal digits easier to cope
with than more digits.

The Publication Manual advises that two decimals should be used when reporting correlations, proportions,
and inferential statistics such as t, F, and 2 . The advice on p values is that values less than .001 should be
reported as p < .001 and that other p values should be reported exactly up to two or three decimals (e.g.
p = .031). For more details, consult the relevant section of the Publication Manual. Alternatively, consult
your statistics teacher. Roman numerals

Only use roman numerals if they were used in any original title or terminology (e.g. a Type II error). Do not
use roman numerals for standard enumeration in lists. Comma use in large numbers

When expressing figures of 1,000 or higher, commas should be used between sets of three digits:

The first batch was a total of 35,250 units.

A salary increase of $7,400 was considered unreasonable in light of the recent cuts.
The party pledged 5,400,000 to the fishing sector alone if they would make it into

Exceptions to that rule are:

years 19802016
page numbers page 1029
binary digits 00110010
serial numbers 290466960
degrees of temperature 4327
acoustic frequency designations 3500 Hz
degrees of freedom F(24,1000) Plurals of numbers

Numbersbe they words or numeralscan be put into the plural simply by adding s or es:

twos and threes sixes 1830s 20s and 30s

Text Composition

3.5.5 Symbols and abbreviations

Symbols are conventional or official shorthand forms for words or concepts and are often employed in
scientific and technical writing. Which symbols one is most likely to encounter depends on the discipline,
area, or field the text is written for. Table 3.5 (p. 55) gives a collection of symbols that may be encountered
in business writing and how to use them. Naturally, if other symbols are needed in an assignment, their
use should be carefully checked.

field/ symbol: meaning: usage notes:


currency euro (EUR) Contrary to usage in francophone and germanophone

pound sterling (GBP) countries, which place the currency symbol after the
$ US dollar (USD) amount, currency symbols in English texts always di-
Chinese yuan rectly precede the currency amount (i.e. without a space;
(renmimbi; CNY) e.g. 5, $15, 67, etc.). Decimal amounts (if used at all)
are generally written with two decimals after the decimal
Japanese yen (JPY)
point. Integer (i.e. non-fractional) amounts are written
| Indian rupee (INR)
without decimal point or decimals unless used in a sum
or table with other fractional amounts: . . . as 5.37 and
7.63 do add up to 13.00. The double 0 should not
be replaced with a dash (e.g. 15. [Dutch usage]) in such
instances. Smaller unit symbols (e.g. p [pence], c [cents],
etc.) in amounts less than one dollar/pound/etc. directly
follow the amount (e.g. 68p).


legal texts section symbol Used in legal documents to refer to sectionsfollowed by

(U+00A7) a non-breaking space and the section number: 3, 8.4.
In the case of more than one section, the sign is duplicated:

chemical Number of atoms in formulas always in subscript: CO2 ,

substances H2 O, CH4 , etc.

cm, kg, non-breaking space between number and symbol; no

distance, weight,
dl, etc. period (unless it ends the sentence); symbol should not be
units of volume, etc.
made plural: 2 dl, 350 mg, 5.36 m2
ment temperature in Celsius Amount immediately followed by the symbol: 19,
(C) or Fahrenheit (F) 66.2F; temperature indications in Kelvin do not use the
degree symbol.
, ,
angle, global Follows amount directly: e.g. N 53 14 21 , E 6 31 54
positioning (degrees,
minutes, seconds)

Table 3.5: An overview of certain symbols one may encounter in business reports.

Standards for Layout

Sometimes one might use abbreviations which may not be familiar to the reader. In that case, the writer
should give the full name or phrase the first time it appears, followed by the abbreviation in brackets, e.g.
International Business School (IBS). Subsequently, just the abbreviation can be used. In other cases, abbre-
viations may need to be translated. Conventionally, Hanzehogeschool Groningen is abbreviated in Dutch as
either (de) Hanze, (de) Hanzehogeschool or HG. In English, however, the full name of the institution is Hanze
University of Applied Sciences, Groningen and it should always be abbreviated as Hanze UAS.

Finally, some abbreviations are common in English writing but need to be used (and written) correctly.
Most of these had best only be used between brackets or in footnotes. Table 3.6 gives an overview of regu-
larly occurring abbreviations along with alternatives for normal text:

Table 3.6: Commonly used abbreviations in English writing.

Abbr. Meaning/alternative Usage notes Examples (mostly from Lee,

cf. (lit. confer) compare, Used in combination with Abbott (2010) found sup-
or see, by way of references to contrastive sec- portive results in her mem-
comparison ondary sources. Not to be used ory experiment, unlike
as a replacement for just see. those of previous work
(cf. Zeller & Williams,
2007). She expands on the
working memory literature
(see also Evans & Potter,
e.g. (Lat. exempli gratia) for Used in footnotes or between Some studies (e.g., Jenk-
example, for instance, brackets only and introduces ins & Morgan, 2010;
such as examples. Both in lowercase Macmillan, 2009) have
(no italics), with two periods supported this conclu-
and no space. In Am. English sion. Othersfor example,
often followed by a comma. Chang (2004)disagreed.
i.e. (Lat. id est) that is, namely Used in footnotes or between The experimenters manip-
brackets only, and introduces ulated the order of presen-
an alternative phrasing (para- tation (i.e. first, second, or
phrase or explanation) of an third) of the three images
aforementioned point. Both as well their size, that is,
in lowercase (no italics), with whether they were small or
two periods and no space. In large.
Am. English often followed by a
comma. Compare viz. (see be-
Continued on the next page. . .

Text Composition

Abbr. Meaning/alternative Usage notes Examples (mostly from Lee,


etc. (Lat. et cetera, and other Used in footnotes or between Students ranked their
things) and so on, and so brackets only. Requires at least school subjects (chem-
forth, and the like; such two list items to clarify their istry, math, etc.) in order
as, like, for example relationship and show in what of preference, first, second,
way the list would continue. third, and so on, until they
Should not be used if the list had ranked the entire list.
already begins with e.g., in- A majority ranked science-
cluding, for example, etc. Do related subjects (biology,
not use with lists of people; use chemistry, etc.) as their
and others instead. Also, do second favorite.
not write and etc. or &c.
et al. (Lat. et alii) and others Used in normal as well as par- Thomas, Greengrass, and
enthetical text; also used in the Hopkirk (2010) made sev-
reference list; also see chapter 5 eral excellent points about
on referencing. goal-seeking behavior.
Thomas et al. began with
how goals are selected.
ff. and the following pages Preferably avoided, butwhen The majority of Egyptian
or lines really necessaryused to in- Grammar gives a seem-
dicate an open page or section ingly comprehensive yet
range. relatively concise overview
ofas the title already
indicatesthe grammar of
Middle-Egyptian (Gardiner,
1957, p. 25ff).
p., pp. page, pages Used in reference list entries The Oxford Style Man-
and in parenthetical references ual gives a clear overview
to specify individual pages and of some distinguishing
page ranges, such as (Philips, characteristics of Ameri-
2003, p. 6) can English (Ritter, 2003,
pp. 237249).
viz. (Lat. videlicet) namely, Used to introduce a more de- We first replicated our ear-
that is to say, to wit tailed description of something lier study (viz., Black &
stated before; what that some- Avery, 2008) and then ex-
thing is composed of, consists tended it.
of, or constitutes.
Continued on the next page. . .

Standards for Layout

Abbr. Meaning/alternative Usage notes Examples (mostly from Lee,


vs. versus, against Used to connect competing el- This map will track the
ements. v. is also found, but electoral vote count for
this shorter abbreviation is lim- a prospective Clinton
ited to court cases and related vs. Trump 2016 race.
legal contexts.
Legal: United States
v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683
(1974), was a landmark
United States Supreme
Court decision.

3.5.6 Quotations
If text from an external (secondary) source is included in a piece of writing verbatim (i.e. literally word for
word), then it is referred to as a quotation (also see chapter 5). There are two ways in which quotations may
be included in writing, depending on the length of the quotation: as in-line quotations or as block quotations.
For both types, in-text references will need to be added. More information about in-text references can be
found in section 5.4.1. In-line quotations

If a quotation has fewer than 40 words, it may be included as an in-line quotation. This means that the quo-
tation is embedded within the normal paragraph lines and, besides being set between quotation marks,
follows standard paragraph formatting. As the authors wrote in their Report Writing Standards demonstra-
tively, Something along these lines. . . (Krottje & Lewis, 2016, p. 58). Block quotations

If a quotation has 40 or more words, it should be included as a block quotation. This means that the quota-
tion is set apart from the rest of the text and given different formatting. The whole block is indented by
inch (ca. 1.3 cm) from the left-hand margin and is separated from the preceding and following text by extra
vertical space, the maximum of which should equal about one white line. Some writers or editorslike
this documentsalso use a smaller font size (e.g. size 10 where the standard paragraphs use 11):

Place direct quotations that are 40 words, or longer, in a free-standing block of typewritten lines, and omit
quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same
place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first
line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-
spacing throughout. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. (Purdue
OWL, 2014).

Text Composition

It should be realised that quotations should really be used to a minimum, except where using the exact words
from a source really makes the difference. In most cases, paraphrasing and summarising will be better.

3.5.7 Lists
Many word processing programs will recognize a list and automatically indent accordingly; if the software
does not recognise it automatically, indent one centimetre (one TAB position) from the left margin of the
paragraph in which they occur. Use numbers or simple bullet points as required. It should be kept in
mind that the use of numbering may imply that the ordering chosen is relevant (logically, chronologically,
or otherwise).

In the case of nested lists (lower-level lists within lists), care should be taken to be consistent with regard to
tabbing: level-1 items should be indented equally to other level-1 items. Level-2 items should all be indented
further yet equally to each other, etc. The following sample (listing types of business entity in Switserland)
was lifted from Wikipedia:

Stiftung / fondation / fondazione: foundation

investment fund (Anlagefonds / fonds de placement / fondo di investimento)
Investmentgesellschaft mit festem Kapital / SICAF (socit dinvestissement
capital fixe) / SICAF (societ di investimento a capitale fisso): invest-
ment trust (UK), closed-end company (US)
Investmentgesellschaft mit variablem Kapital / SICAV (socit dinvestissement
capital variable) / SICAV (societ di investimento a capitale variabile):
OEIC (open-ended investment company) (UK), open-end company (US)
Verein / association / associazione: non-profit association
wIG (wirtschaftliche Interessengemeinschaft) / GIE (groupement dintrt conomique)
/ gruppo di interesse economico: EIG (economic interest grouping)
Einzelunternehmen / RI (raison individuelle) / ditta indivduale: sole trader
(UK), sole proprietorship (US)
Gesellschaft business entities
partnerships (Rechsgemeinschaft / socit de personnes / societ di per-
eG (einfache Gesellschaft) / socit simple / societ semplice: part-
nership by contract
KolG (Kollektivgesellschaft) / SNC (socit en nom collectif) / soci-
et in nome collettivo: GP
KG (Kommanditgesellschaft) / SC (socit en commandite) / soci-
et in accomandita: LP
trading companies (Krperschaft / socit de capitaux / societ di capi-
KomAG (Kommanditaktiengesellschaft) / SCA (socit en com-
mandite par actions) / societ in accomandita per azioni: publicly
traded partnership (PTP)
GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschrnkter Haftung) / Srl (socit
responsabilit limite) / Sagl (societ a garanzia limitata): Ltd.
(UK), LLC (US)
AG (Aktiengesellschaft) / SA (socit anonyme) / SA (societ anonima):
plc (UK), Corp. (US/Can)

Standards for Layout

Genossenschaft / Scoop (socit cooprative) / societ cooperativa: co-operative

Zweigniederlassung / succursale / succursale: branch (of a company)
(Types of business entity, n.d.)

An additional way in which the different levels may be distinguished is by using various types of bullet
points for the respective levels. Obviously, nothing too excentric should be used for this; bullet-point re-
placements such as hearts, smileys, rotary-dial telephones, actual bullets, or other random dingbat-type
symbols had best be avoided. . . .

3.5.8 Tables and figures

It speaks for itself that tables and figures should only be used if they truly support the written text through
clarification or exemplification. Also, less is more: tables that have a surplus of data in their cells are less
effective than tables with an effective minimum. Lastbut very importantly, the inclusion of any table
or figure must be justified (i.e. explained) in the text, which should also clearly reference the table or figure
by mentioning its number; this last point is especially convenient if the layout of the page prevents the table
or figure from appearing in the same location as where it is referred to in the textwhich may even mean
on a different page altogether. An example of this is table 3.5 on page 55.

The following sections will give some more detail on labels: any table or figure should always be accom-
panied by a label, including its number as well as a caption that clearly indicates what the table or figure
represents. Table and figure numbering

Tables and figures should be numbered using arabic numerals in the order in which they are first referred
to in the text even though they may be discussed in more detail at a later point in time. Tables ought to
be numbered simply as Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, etc. and figures simply as Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, etc. In
other words, letters suffixed to the numbers (e.g. 1a, 1b, etc.) should be avoided.

Consecutive numbering may be used in the case of a relatively short report with few figures or tables; in
very extensive reports with long chapters, however, involving many figures and tables, the numbering
may be reset at the start of each chapter, combined with the chapter number prefixing the table or figure
number (e.g. Figure 3.15, Table 6.9, etc.). The same approach can be adopted for figures in the appendices:
Figure B.12, for example. The table title

The title of a table or figure should be clear, explanatory, and unambiguous: its content should become
clear to the reader immediately:

Table 3: Overview of Most Commonly Used Statistical Abbreviations and Symbols

Figure E.6: Visualisation of Step 2 in the Home Depot App

Text Composition Table notes

Tables can be accompanied by notes in case the caption (the table title) itself will need further explanation
and putting the information in the running text would interrupt the flow of the section or chapter too
much. APA style allows for three types of notes: general notes, specific notes, and probability notes.

General notes refer to the table as a whole and are introduced by the word Note (in italics) followed by a full
stop. They explain or provide additional information about the table data in general and usually end on
explanations of any symbols or abbreviations used.

Note. Factor loadings greater than .45 are shown in boldface. M = match process;
N = nonmatch process.
(Example taken from APA, 2010, p. 138)

If the table is copied from (or based on) an external source, this is also the place to include the in-text

Specific notes refer to relevant details with regard to the data in specific rows, columns, or cells, and are
introduced by means of superscript lowercase letters in the table (i.e. a , b , c , etc.). These should be ordered
from left to right and from top to bottom. The informational notes below the table may be arranged in a
row if the line width allows for it:

an = 45. b These items were not in full working order.

Probability notes come last and are only needed if the table offers statistical data. They are used to convey
information on p values, where asterisks are used as note symbols in general, or a combination of asterisks
and daggers (or some other symbol) if the table covers a mix of one-tailed and two-tailed tests, respectively:

p < .05, two-tailed. p < .01, two-tailed. p < .05, one-tailed. p < .01, one-tailed.

If all types of notes are used below a table, they should be ordered in the sequence they were discussed
above: general note, specific note, and probability note:

Note. The participants . . . responses.

a n = 25. b n = 42.
p < .05. p < .01.

An important visual rule for proper table layout is that lines in tables should be used only economically
(i.e. sparingly), especially vertical lines, which are often redundant and tend to create a somewhat messy

Standards for Layout

Last but not least, three examples of effectively laid out tables; the first example illustrating a more text-
based table:

Table X: Inducements and Contributions of Organizational Stakeholders

Stakeholder Contribution to the Organization Inducement to Contribute

Shareholders Money and capital Dividends and stock appreciation
Managers Skills and expertise Salaries, bonuses, status, and
Workforce Skills and expertise Wages, bonuses, stable employ-
ment, and promotion

Customers Revenue from purchase of goods Quality and price of goods and
and services services
Suppliers High-quality inputs Revenue from purchase of inputs
Government Rules governing good business Fair and free competition
Unions Free and fair collective bargaining Equitable share of inducements
Community Social and economic infrastructure Revenue, taxes, and employment
General public Customer loyalty and reputation National pride
Note. Adapted from Joness Organizational Theory, Design, and Change (2007, p. 28).

Table 3.7: Sample table APA style no. 1

The second example, showing APA standards at work in a table representing relatively basic data. . .

Table X
Wood the Woodchucks Chucked in Experiment 1

Woodchuck chucked (in kg) %
1 423.9 94.2
2 373.0 82.9
4 347.0 77.1
6 411.3 91.4
Note. Each virtual woodchuck received a 450-kg wood-
pile. Woodchucks 3 and 5 were removed from the analy-
sis because they would not chuck wood.

Table 3.8: Sample table APA style no. 2

The third example, adopted from the APAs Publication Manual, who in their turn borrowed it from a psy-
chology journal, being a table with statistical output:

Text Composition
Table X: Predictors of Self-Reported Moral Behavior

Self-reported moral behavior

Model 2
Variable Model 1 B B 95% CI
Constant 3.192 2.99 [2.37, 3.62]
Gender 0.18 0.17 [-0.00, 0.33]
Age -0.06 -0.05 [-0.14, 0.03]
Social desirability bias -0.08 -0.08 [-0.10, -0.05]
Moral identity internalization -0.17 -0.16 [-0.26, -0.06]
Moral identity symbolization -0.07 -0.06 [-0.01, 0.12]
Perceptual moral attentiveness 0.07 [0.00, 0.13]
Reflective moral attentiveness -0.01 [-0.08, 0.06]
R2 .29 .31
F 19.07 14.46
R 2 .01
F 2.39
Note. N = 242. CI = confidence interval. Adapted from Moral Attentive-
ness: Who Pays Attention to the Moral Aspects of Life? by S. J. Reynolds,
2008, Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, p. 1035. Copyright 2008 by the
American Psychological Association.

p < .05. p < .01.

Table 3.9: Sample table APA style no. 3 Using figures

Figures should only be included if their presence can be completely justified: they must be convincingly
instrumental in the understanding of the report, and the text referring to the figure should also offer a
clear justification of the presence of the figure in the report.

Once it has been decided that the figure is relevant to an understanding of the report, the focus must be
on ensuring clarity of communication and staying true to the information value of the figure, whether it
concerns a graph, a chart, a map, a drawing, or a photograph. The APAs Publication Manual offers some
useful standards for the inclusion of figures. An effective figure

augments rather than duplicates the text,

conveys only essential facts,
omits visually distracting detail,
is easy to readits elements (type, lines, labels, symbols, etc.) are large enough to be read with ease,
is easy to understandits purpose is readily apparent
is consistent with and in the same style as similar figures in the same article, and
is carefully planned and prepared.

As additional advice, it recommends that the figures

lines are smooth and sharp,

typeface is simple and legible,
units of measure are provided,
axes are clearly labeled, and

Standards for Layout

elements within the figure are labeled or explained.

In the interest of clarity, the student writer should always check to what extent all the relevant elements in
the figure are clearly legible and interpretable: carefully consider the graphical quality of the image. Screen
captions, for example, are not included just for the sake of including themthey have a communicative
function and one should be able to read what they depict. Images may need to be cropped so that only
the relevant information is included, and their resolution (the number of dots or pixels in a certain area)
needs to be high enough for the images to be clear.

The label of the figure should immediately follow it, including its number, as well as a caption or title (i.e.
the description plus clarification). If the figure was borrowed or adapted from a secondary source, then an
in-text reference to said source should be provided as well. For more practical details on the inclusion of
figures, as well as some examples, see the Publication Manual (APA, 2010) on pp. 150161; especially useful
is the subsequent figure checklist on p. 167.

3.5.9 Cross-references
To cross-refer, pronunciation /"kr6srif3:/, in the construction cross-refer (something) to something means
to refer to another text or part of a text, especially to give more information about something. When
cross-referring (also cross-referencing), the text will contain one or more cross references (pronounced
/"kr6srEf(@)r@nsIz/)[notes] that [tell] a reader to look in another part of a book or file for further infor-
mation (Hornby, 2010, p. 364).

In either situation, be it internal or external cross-referencing, the cross reference may be part of the run-
ning text, such as the final sentence of the previous subsection, or may be included as a parenthetical
reference (i.e. between brackets), like at the very end of the previous paragraph. How to handle external
cross-referencing will be covered by chapter 5 (p. 81ff.).

The purpose of cross references is a combination of increasing intertextual and/or intratextual coherence
as well as ensuring that a text is as economically written as possible. The coherence of a text depends on
how clearly its constituent elements are connected, and an economical approach to essay-, thesis-, and
report-writing depends on the writer not unnecessarily repeating material all over the place, only repeat-
ing information where it helps the reader understand the message without interrupting the flow of the
story or argument.

Examples of internal cross-reference phrasing are:

as explained/covered/. . . in chapter x
as explained/covered/. . . on page x
This is dealt with in/on/by . . .
(See section 5.2 for an analysis of y)
(cf. the consequences of applying the Wesson & Phillips model as described on pp. 36-42)

3.5.10 Footnotes and endnotes

Text or quotations which explain or elaborate a supporting point made in the report may distract the
readers attention from the main flow of the text; they may clutter the main text. If there is a danger of

Text Composition

distraction, a small amount of such text can be put out of the way at the bottom of the page as a footnote15 .

Footnotes should be separated from the body of the text by a clear horizontal line, which most word proces-
sors will do automatically. Although footnotes should not be overused, endnotes are strongly discouraged.
In line with APA standards, footnotes and endnotes should never be used to provide referencing infor-
mation at IBS!16

15 Quod erat demonstrandum. . .

16 Students are advised never to plead not having been informed. . .

4 Standards for Language
Language is assessed at IBS based on the levels and descriptors of the Common European Framework of
Reference for Languages (or CEFR for short). The IBMS national platform has established that the level re-
quired for level 1, 2 and 3 is B2, B2C1 (i.e. high B2) and C1, respectively (National Platform IBMS, 2011). For
an overview of the assessment criteria plus descriptors for each of these levels in written communication,
please see appendix C. The assessment criteria themselves are categorised as Accuracy, Range, Coherence,
and Argument. These are described in more detail in the following sections.

4.1 CEFR: Accuracy

Accuracy refers to using vocabulary and grammar correctly. Writing without mistakes is obviously desir-
able, but not all errors are equal. One should first strive to eliminate errors that affect understanding and
meaning. For example, a slightly incorrect passive form like had been approve instead of had been approved
is not as egregious as getting the tense completely wrong (will implement instead of has implemented). That
being said, the end level (C1) for an IBS graduate demands a high level of accuracy and students should
strive to eliminate all errors.

Certainly, when writing outside exam conditions there is no excuse for sloppy, incorrect writing. Word
processing software offfers proofreading tools to catch silly mistakes and typos like the one in this sen-
tence. Moreover, students often work on reports in groups, and can thus trade work for proofreading. It
is often difficult (even for highly-educated native speakers) to proof ones own work, so students should
make use of the possibility of peer reviewing or peer-editing when the assignment allows. When this is
not permissible or possible, students should plan to take some time away from writing assignments so
that they can look at their own work with a fresh perspective. Another method that may work is to read
backwards and check each individual word. This is not likely to catch missing words and many grammar
mistakes, though.

Accuracy is not simply about avoiding mistakes, though. Accuracy also refers to the vocabulary and gram-
mar choices made. Business professionals and students are expected to express themselves succinctly
and specifically. Some English vocabulary, while perfectly acceptable (and common) in everyday speech,
is simply not specific enough for professional and academic writing. For example, the word get should be
avoided and replaced with alternatives which describe the action more specifically (i.e. receive, become, ob-
tain, etc.). Another example in that same vein is the overuse of informal and ambiguous adjectives such as
good and bad, which can easily be replaced with more specific qualifications such as appealing, exceptional,
clear, tasty, high-quality (etc.), and unacceptable, rough, inadequate, crooked, faulty (etc.), respectively. If the
essay, report, or thesis is assessed separately on accuracy, range, and coherence, then such vocabulary-
related accuracy issues will also automatically affect the assessment of the students range.

Standards for Language

4.2 CEFR: Range

When writing at IBS, students are expected to demonstrate a mastery of the appropriate range of lan-
guage. What this means will depend on the type of assignment and the audience, but in all cases formal
academic and/or business conventions will be appropriate. Students are encouraged to use the Academic
Word List (Victoria, 2012) and a business vocabulary textbook such as Cambridge Business Vocabulary in Use
Advanced (Mascul, 2015). However, range is not limited to simply selecting the right word. Other language
choices also affect range. The following table shows some important characteristics of formal versus in-
formal writing:

Informal example Formal example

Slang, everyday (Will u) please tell me. . . Academic/business Could you please inform
speech, vocabulary me. . .
contractions, Hey you guys Dear colleagues
phrasal verbs Shouldnt should not
He tried to show. . . He attempted to illustrate/
He pointed out demonstrate. . .
He highlighted

Active voice I wrote this report. Passive voice This report was written.

Emotional Their proposal is Cautious Their proposal fails to ad-

ludicrous. dress the following points. . .

Subjective I believe that. . . Objective One may argue that. . .

language language

4.2.1 General tone & register

The tone of a business research report should breath an air of seriousness and objectivity and thereby
convey an academic perspective on the matter under investigation. However, if the opposite is achieved
in a text, and the tone is inappropriate to the professional audience it was intended for, the credibility of
the writer may be negatively affected, the effectiveness of the argument may be severely weakened, and
the readers of the report may become annoyed (Driscoll & Brizee, 2012).

Many online as well as offline tools are available to the serious language learner, assisting the student in
improving vocabulary range and raising it to a higher, more professional, and/or even academic level:

an advanced learners dictionary: A learners dictionary is essentially a monolingual dictionary that takes
the needs of language learners into account. Dictionaries such as Merriam Websters Advanced
Learners English Dictionary, the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (9th ed.), Cambridge Learners Dic-
tionary (4th ed.), or Collins COBUILD Advanced Learners Dictionary (8th ed.) offer a wide range of in-
formation on spelling, grammar, context, collocational information, example sentences, pronunci-
ation, etc. Some focus on British English, some on American English, many offer joint information
on both varieties as well as others. Most if not all of these dictionaries also have a strong presence
online with all kinds of digital tools to assist the student in their language proficiency development.
A good example of this is the homepage of the OALD, the website

CEFR: Range

the Oxford 3000: According to its own website, The Oxford 3000 is a list of the 3000 most important
words to learn in English. The keywords of the Oxford 3000 have been carefully selected by a group
of language experts and experienced teachers as the words which should receive priority in vo-
cabulary study because of their importance and usefulness. The list can be found on the web-
site of the aforementioned OALD, at
ford3000. A very interesting blog about how to use the Oxford 3000 can be found at the English
Language Teaching Global Blog, including a useful Excel file (Oxford University Press ELT, 2013).

the Academic Word List (AWL): The Academic Word List is a collection of general (i.e. not subject-spe-
cific) words that occur in English academic and professional writing very frequently. It is based on
a corpus of academic written texts from 28 subject areas in four academic disciplines; the words
were selected based on their range and frequency and the total list covers ca. 10% of written aca-
demic text. Consequently, studying the entries to the AWL would be an excellent starting point
for improving your knowledge of English. The homepage of the AWL is at http://www.victoria A tie-in to the OALD can be found at http://www

the Academic Phrase Bank: The University of Manchester offers a comprehensive collection of useful aca-
demic language that may be freely used in academic and or professional writing: phrases for be-
ing critical, being cautious, classifying, listing, comparing, contrasting, defining terms, describ-
ing trends, and so on and so forth. The phrase bank can be found at http://www.phrasebank

a thesaurus (synonym dictionary): Thesauruses are very useful for finding alternatives to words, be that
either synonyms (words with the same meaning), near-synonyms (words with nearly the same
or very similar meaning), antonyms (words that mean the opposite), or merely words that are
related to the word in question. There are many printed thesauruses, but also a good many to
be found online: and are very good for online use; a
good offline digital thesaurus (for MS Windows and Linux users) would be Artha Thesaurus from

a good collocation dictionary: Collocations are word combinations that [happen] very often and more fre-
quently than would happen by chance (Hornby, 2010, p. 290), such as be widely denounced, con-
clusive evidence, or easily avoidable. Collocation dictionaries, a tool that many language learners
are unaware of, help the student writer push their writing to a higher level by providing insight into
many accepted word combinations. Using it thoroughly may make the difference between a B2 and
C1 level. Can be found at is a context-based multilingual translation search engine that can function as a quick-fix-
with-context dictionary or as a check to see whether or not ones English translation is the right
one in the right context. It is based on a vast corpus of official translations from various places. Not
100% infallible, but still a very useful tool. Also available as a smartphone application (for online as
well as offline use), the tool can be found at

Standards for Language

4.2.2 Neutral language use

Careless writing may exhibit signs of discriminatory language usemost often in the form of male-centric
writing. Although such language use may often be unintentional, it should still be avoided where possible.

Although some English vocabulary allows gender distinction, one should use gender neutral language in
academic and professional English. Man as a catch-all term that is meant to include the entire human
race should certainly be replaced with (more) gender-neutral options (i.e. machine-made instead of man-
made (if the context allows for it); humanity instead of mankind) and there is no need to indicate gender
when discussing occupations (i.e. business professional instead of businessman; chairperson or chair instead of
chairman or chairwoman). One might scoff at the political correctness of this advice, but using terminology
such as sportsman excludes 50% of the population and is simply unnecessary with perfectly clear gender-
neutral alternatives like athlete.

Pronoun usage is another area where gender-neutrality might be an issue. One should not simply use he
as the default pronoun when the gender of the subject referred to is unknown. In this case, there are two
popular options: either he can be replaced with he or she or the subject can be made plural. The latter is
usually the better option for purposes of clarity. For example:

Incorrect: *A student who wishes to study abroad must ensure he has the required
number of credits.
Correct: A student who wishes to study abroad must ensure he or she has the
required number of credits.
Correct: Students who wish to study abroad must ensure they have the required
number of credits.

Consistent use of the plural form is desired in such cases; a sentence such as A student who wishes to
study abroad must ensure they have the required number of credits is grammatically awkward to say the

4.2.3 Conciseness
In general, English tends towards conciseness; in business writing this is certainly the case. Busy man-
agers are not interested in wasting time struggling through someones elaborately crafted, inordinately
redundant and overly complicated text. In an international business environment where
most professionals are not native English speakers, formulating ones ideas as simply and concisely as pos-
sible carries an added advantage.

So what is conciseness, then, in order to be concise? According to Strunk & White:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnec-
essary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine
no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all
detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. (2000, p. 23)

Some tips for eliminating wordiness (the opposite of conciseness) include the following:

CEFR: Coherence and Argument

Avoid phrasal verbs: use decrease instead of cut down on

Avoid wordy phrases: use because instead of due to the fact that
Avoid redundant phrases: difficult dilemma is a tautology; dilemmas are by definition difficult, so
including difficult adds nothing
Avoid nominalisations: use We do not intend to fire anyone instead of It is not our intention to fire anyone.

A tool that may help get rid of (or should we say purge) phrasal verbs is the aforementioned thesaurus.
However, special care should be taken in the case of near-synonyms offered: any results under consider-
ation should always be cross-checked with a good English-English dictionary, preferably a high-quality
learners dictionary.1

4.2.4 Jargon
Specific terminology and uncommon words should be defined unambiguously, but one should also take
ones audience into account; a report specifically aimed at the financial department may require different
terminology to be explained than a report written for an HR manager. The definition can be included
in the text the first time that the word is used, and listed alphabetically in the glossary. Please note: one
should refrain from using obscure unnecessary jargonThe following fragment from Tenners Tech Speak,
Or, How to Talk High Tech (1986) brilliantly illustrates this:

Tech Speak is a postcolloquial discourse modulation protocol for user status enhancement. Its a refer-
ential system for functional-structural, microscopically specific macroscopic-object redesignation. Its
a universal semantic transformation procedure. Its a holophrastic technocratic sociolect. Its a meta-
semiotic mode for task specific nomenclature. (as cited in Hirst, n.d.)

The approach that should be used with jargon is: adapt to your audience; technical language should only
be employed in case your audience feels comfortable using it and can effectively communicate using it. If
the audience is unfamiliar with particular jargon terms, either introduce it clearly or paraphrase it. The
example that Russel Hirst gives in his Professional Writing Style is striking:

If you are an entomologist [someone who studies insects], dont hesitate to say in a lecture to fellow bug
lovers: Coleoptra hydrophilidae reproduce most prolifically in densely byrophic environments [but if]
youre speaking to non-specialists, you may want to say, Water beetles thrive in thick moss. (Hirst, n.d.)

Clearly, the style adopted in both examples is indicative of the background knowledge of the respective

4.3 CEFR: Coherence and Argument

Coherence in writing refers to the extent to which different ideas are linked to each other. Coherent texts
can be created by presenting ideas in a logical order, by grouping them in units called paragraphs, and by
using linkers in the form of linking words, transitional phrases, or even transitional sentences.
1 See the previous section on some useful sources, including thesauruses and learners dictionaries.

Standards for Language

4.3.1 Persuasiveness through logical ordering

Logical ordering can be implemented at various places within a report and at various levels. This section
merely aims to give a few examples of how the general ordering of information may affect the clarity of
the text (and any argument) positively. Deductive versus inductive writing

The most common form in Western academic writing (or at the very least in the Anglo-Saxon tradition)
is one that makes use of a deductive approach: a statement or claim is made that is subsequently proven
by means of one or more premises2 , evidence, and argumentation. The following conclusion will then
reiterate and confirm the initial claim or thesis statement.

Inductive writing, on the other hand, has a more exploratory approach where the reader is carefully guided
through the text from argument to argument, from evidence to evidence, without giving away the an-
swer (i.e. the conclusion) too soon. The path towards the conclusion gradually becomes clear to the reader,
and, by the time the Conclusion section is reached, the thesis statement can be unveiled. This type of writ-
ing has its uses too, as it may be the practical approach for reports on more sensitive issues. A more deduc-
tive alternative in such situationsbarging in with a controversial statement on a delicate issue, to put it
bluntlymay reap the opposite effect and cause the reader to dismiss its findings forthwith. For more on
this, an interesting read would be Kaplans Universitys Academic Support Center Blog (Fudge, 2015).

The deductive approach is generally preferred in IBS business research reports. Possible exceptions should
be discussed with the lecturer or supervisor in question. Secondary and primary research

Another example of logical ordering is the organisation of the methodology and tools and source descrip-
tions. For example, many students, often erroneously triggered by the terms primary and secondary,
have a tendency to present all information about their means of primary research before discussing their
secondary research. However, as part of the process of constructing the argument, findings of secondary
research (e.g. literature research) often precede any primary research material (interviews, question-
naires, etc.) in the report. Primary research is often used to fill a gap (i.e. answer questions) that the
secondary research is unable to fill. Exceptions to this may occur, of course; consulting the course lecturer
or thesis supervisor may offer clarity in this. 2+2 approach, scientific approach, and the yardstick approach

Also the findings themselves can be presented in various ways, depending on the context (e.g. report size
or scope) or the effect that needs to be achieved. Three common approaches are the 2+2 approach, the
yardstick approach, and the scientific approach.

The 2+2 approach This approach is often used inductively, where all the arguments and supporting
evidence add up to a conclusion, an approach that may be effective in the context of a more sceptical audi-
ence. The main points of the outline constitute the main supporting points and evidence that lead to the
conclusion and/or recommendation.
2 premise (n, formal) a statement or an idea that forms the basis for a reasonable line of argument

CEFR: Coherence and Argument

The yardstick approach Another commonly used approach in analytical reports, the yardstick ap-
proach presents possible solutions to a problem as set off against pre-established criteria. With such an
approach, it is vital that these criteria are given before the various options are compared in order to in-
crease objectivity in the eyes of the reader. Presented independently before the options, the criteria are
used as a figurative yardstick in order to measure the suitability of the possible solutions.

The scientific approach Albeit the most thorough and complete approach as far as the quality of the
analysis is concerned, the scientific approach is not suitable for every kind of audience. It will postulate a
number of hypotheses (the solution as well as alternatives), and will then carefully analyse each option in
terms of its advantages and disadvantages, carefully weighing all evidence in favour of and/or against it.
The conclusion will then summarise all the main findings and conclude which option or options are valid.

The benefit of this approach is that it presents (or at the very least means to present) the full picture. The
downside is that the report will inevitably be longer and not as easy to digest as the other two. A non-
specialist audience may experience an overload of evidence and argumentation, resulting in them finding
it more difficult to properly compare all the pros and cons. Writing a outline

In order to allow oneself to properly and carefully compose a well-structured report, it may be vital to start
the writing process by (1) writing both a clear purpose statement and thesis statement of the text as well
as (2) crafting a clear outline of the report structure. Such an outline may be written in the form of a topic
outlineespecially useful in the initial phasesor in the form of a sentence outline; this last type is especially
useful in the final outlining phase, intended to help flesh out the topic outline and start thinking in terms
of topic sentences and supporting sentences (explained further in section 4.3.2).

A well developed outline can assist the struggling student writer as it will help him or her to identify and
organise the content before the actual writing begins. It offers a clear base for the writing at the paragraph
and sentence level, allowing the writing to take place small sections at a time. Focus is no longer required
on the larger structure at that stage so that all effort can focus on potential problems at sentence level:
style, grammar, vocabulary, and coherence at sub-paragraph level.

A clear outline is characterised by a clear visual representation of the hierarchy of ideas (from chapter level
down to supporting details at paragraph level), resembling a tree-like structure with main branches, sub-
branches, sub-sub-branches, and so on. This is most often done in the form of a multi-levelled numbered
list, the various levels differentiated through indentation as well as the use of different kinds of enumer-
ation: capital roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, etc.; for chapter level), capital letters (A, B, C, etc.; for section
level, etc.), arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.), lowercase roman numerals (i, ii, iii,
iv, etc.), arabic numerals between brackets, lowercase letters between brackets, etc. Sometimes, instead
of brackets, italics may be used at the lower levels.

IV. Candidates
A. Small-and medium-sized enterprises
1. Definition SMEs
a. . . .
b. . . .

Standards for Language

2. Guillemot Books
a. Size
b. Equipment outdated: Iris printer
c. Link to education: Prints Calisota College Weekly
3. Peregrine Press
a. Size
b. Equipment: Platen printing press
c. Link to education
B. Larger companies
1. . . .
2. . . .

In some cases, people use multi-level section numbering when outlining (e.g. 3.5.1. or; this may,
however, result in a rather restless outline especially in the case of long and complex reports where several
levels are involved.

A very practical outlining variant is the so-called integrated outline, which includes any relevant secondary
sources used for the research in question in the form of in-text references (i.e. authors surname, year of
publication, and page number when relevant). Compiling such an outline during the writing and research
process will ensure a more thorough reviewing of any literature used for the research before writing, but it
will also minimise ones chances of committing accidental plagiarism. Creating a system for this, ensuring
consistency, is very much advised.

In that vein, it is also recommended to find a handy digital tool for such type of outlining (or any type of
outlining). Given the fact that outline writing is, say, 20 percent writing and 80 percent editing (if not
more), any preference should go out to software that allows for an easy visual reordering of information
when required3 .

4.3.2 Paragraphing
As was introduced earlier in section 3.4.4, one of the most important units of text in writing is the para-
graph. Without proper paragraphing (and for a visual definition of proper paragraphing, see the afore-
mentioned section), a text will not exhibit as much clarity as when it is properly divided into paragraphs.
This section will present the basic structural requirements for what constitutes a decent paragraph as well
as give an overview of different types of paragraphs. General rules for paragraphing

Contrary to what many student writers do initiallyfollowing some kind of stream-of-consciousness ap-
proach to paragraph writing (if they use paragraphs at all4 )well-written paragraphs generally include a
number of structural elements that give a certain predictability and flow to the text. The average para-
graph contains at its heart a so-called topic sentence, which conveys the core message of the paragraph5 .
Even though it may occasionally be implied only, the topic sentence is most often explicitly written, usually
3 One example of such software is the online outlining and writing tool Gingko (
4 Also see section 3.4.4.
5 Comparable to how a thesis statement relates to the larger essay or report.

CEFR: Coherence and Argument

somewhere early on in the paragraph, and it is always joined by one (rarely) or more supporting sentences.
Supporting sentences may explain, describe, define, elaborate, exemplify, provide evidence, and so on.
The total package of possible sentence types, logically ordered, would look as follows

introductory sentence (optional)

topic sentence
supporting sentences
concluding sentence (optional)
transitional sentence (optional)

As is clear from this list, a paragraph may contain three other types of sentence: introductory sentences,
concluding sentences, and transitional sentences. Introductory sentences open up the paragraph as it were,
provide a platform, and establish a basis on which the heart of the sentence may be presented. A sen-
tence such as Another raison dtre for the Dutch East India Company was more political than mercantile
in nature, however clearly paves the way for a clear and unambiguous topic sentence outlining the afore-
mentioned political reason.

Concluding sentences, as the name indicates, come at the end of a paragraph, after the supporting sentences.
They tend to merely paraphrase the topic sentence, much in the same way that a concluding section or
chapter will also echo a texts thesis statement. Occasionally, in the absence of a topic sentence, a conclud-
ing sentence may take over that function instead.

Transitional sentences function as a bridge from one idea to the next, as if to signal This paragraph has just
talked about X, but, hey, wait until you read the next paragraph: its going to cover Y! Although introduc-
tory sentences or even topic sentences themselves may also function transitionally, separate transitional
sentences may also be found at the end of a paragraph. An example of a transitional sentence would be
Despite this potential benefit, however, there are some strong financial arguments against a reorganisa-
tion of the Law Faculty, paving the way for a paragraph that will go into one or more counterarguments. Types of paragraphing:

The supporting sentences in a paragraph often follow one of several patterns: they can be spatially or-
dered (descriptive paragraphs), they can be chronologically ordered (narrating and process-describing para-
graphs), and they can be logically ordered (paragraphs that exemplify, outline cause and effect, compare,
divide, classify, or define). Most of the example paragraphs below have a topic sentence; some have an
implicit topic sentence or topic phrase, though.

Spatially ordered body paragraphs The function of these paragraphs is to describe (in a non-chron-
ological way) what things, ideas, or people look like, are like, consist of, etc, to whichever degree of detail:

Apache was the name given to the Indian tribes who inhabited the south-western part of
the United States and parts of northern Mexico. They were excellent hunters and raiders
who had little trouble to protect their band. In the past, each Apache band was led by
its own chief, who was chosen by a tribal council. Most important decisions were made
by the council, and all the Apache council members had to agree before an action could
be taken. An Apache chief was more like a tribal chairman than a president. Most of his
job was mediating between other Apaches. Probably the most famous Apache chief is
Geronimo, who led a series of rebellions.

Standards for Language

(Read and Write BALL at UKI, 2011)

Chronologically ordered body paragraph Paragraphs that are chronologically ordered can per-
form more than one type of function: they could narrate something that will happen or has already hap-

Following his flight from the battle, Charles Edward Stuart managed to avoid capture
by Government forces by fleeing to France via the Hebrides with a small company. First,
only four days after the battle, Stuart had reached Arisaig on the west coast of Scotland.
After spending a few days with his close associates, Stuart left most of them in a small
boat and made his way to the island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. From there,
he travelled to Scalpay, between the islands Harris and Lewis, and from there made his
way to Stornoway. For five months, Stuart criss-crossed the Hebrides, constantly pur-
sued by Government supporters and under threat from local lairds who were tempted
to betray him for the 30,000 upon his head. During this time he met Flora Macdon-
ald, who famously aided him in a narrow escape to Skye. Finally, on 19 September, Stu-
art reached Borrodale on Loch nan Uamh in Arisaig, where his party boarded two small
French ships, which ferried them to France. He never returned to Scotland.
(Adapted from Battle of Culloden, Wikipedia)

Chronologically ordered paragraphs could also describe the general order in a process, however:

Members of the court have disclosed, however, the general way the conference is con-
ducted. It begins at ten a.m. and usually runs on until late afternoon. At the start each
justice, when he enters the room, shakes hands with all others there (thirty-six hand-
shakes altogether). The custom, dating back generations, is evidently designed to begin
the meeting at a friendly leve, no matter how heated the intellectual differences may be.
The conference takes up, first, the applications for reviewa few appeals, many more
petitions for certiorari. Those on the Appellate Docket, the regular paid cases, are con-
sidered first, then the paupers applications on the Miscellaneous Docket. (If any of these
are granted, they are then transferred to the Appellate Docket.) After this, the jus-
tices consider, and vote on, alle the cases argued during the preceding Monday through
Thursday. These are tentative votes, which may be and quite often are changed as the
opinion is written and the problem thought through more deeply. There may be further
discussion at later conferences before the opinion is handed down.
(Anthony Lewis, Gideons Trumpet, cited in Kirszner & Mandell, 2011, p. 86)

Logically ordered body paragraphs These come in various forms and shapes, but all have in com-
mon that they establish a logical relationship between its componentsthey may exemplify, outline cause
and effect, compare, divide, classify, define, and so on. Here is an example of a paragraph that exemplifies:
it illustrates a random companys success through various forms of media:

WWWetc is the classic example of a successful enterprise. Naturally, its success has
become evident through its annual financial figures, but its booming image has espe-
cially been fostered by the degree of critical acclaim through most media in the past
three decades. For instance, since the early eighties of the twentieth century, CEO Brian
OHalligan has put himself in the vulnerable position of regular, light-hearted talk show
guest at several American late-night shows, creating an increasing goodwill from many a

CEFR: Coherence and Argument

commercial channel as well as among the average American television audience (Phillips,
2007; McDougall, 2012). Also, newspaper corpora analysis performed by Wilson in 2003
seemed to suggest an overall favourable disposition towards the company between 1985
and 2002: where 19% of articlesbackground as well as opinion piecesappeared gener-
ally neutral, no less than 73% of items in international newspapers were outright positive
in their verdict of the company. A final example is WWWetcs presence and popularity
in modern media. They were one of the first corporations to develop a lasting presence
on the World Wide Web (Colquhoun, 1996), and an ever increasing number of people
(exceeding two million) have subscribed to their weekly podcast on Corporate Social Re-
sponsibility, subscribers who hail not just from the corporate corners of society but also
from political offices and campus dorm rooms (WWWetc, 2014).

Other paragraphs may be structured as to clarify the relation between cause and effect of one thing or other:

The main reason that a young baby sucks his thumb seems to be that he hasnt had
enough sucking at the breast or bottle to satisfy his sucking needs. Dr David Levy point-
ed out that babies who are fed every 3 hours dont suck their thumbs as much as babies
fed every 4 hours, and that babies who have cut down on nursing time from 20 minutes
to 10 minutes . . . are more likely to suck their thumbs than babies who still have to work
for 20 minutes. Dr Levy fed a litter of puppies with a medicine dropper so that they had
no chance to suck during their feedings. They acted just the same as babies who dont
get enough chance to suck at feeding time. They sucked their own and each others paws
and skin so hard that the fur came off.
(Benjamin Spock, Baby and Child Care, cited in Kirszner & Mandell, 2011, p. 87)

Often, certain logical constructions can be approached in more than one way. Comparing and contrasting
in paragraphs could be achieved point by point (in this case the three criteria used to compare two publish-
ers). . .

Guillemot Books and Peregrine Press are publishing houses that have a few striking
characteristics in common. First, both are relatively small publishing companies in terms
of staff. Guillemot Books is Calisotas smallest publisher, offering employment for a to-
tal of only 23.0 FTE. Similarly, Peregrine Press, although slightly larger, offers employ-
ment to fewer than 30 people, even though most of these work part-time. A second way
in which these two publishers are similar is that both use outdating printing presses.
Guillemot Books still has an Iris printer, whereas most Iris printers in the industry have
been replaced with printers that are less expensive and produce more durable print.
Peregrine Press still actively use a Platen printing press from the late 1930s, but that is
largely because of the companys educational function. In that same vein, both publish-
ing houses also have a historic link with tertiary education. Whereas Guillemot Books
has been the de facto printing press of the Calisota College Weekly, Peregrine Press has
provided work placements and traineeships for typography and graphic design students
from Duckburg Universitys Fine Arts Faculty.

. . . but comparing and contrasting could also be achieved by structuring it per subject (in this case by first look-
ing at all the criteria for the one publisher before looking at those criteria for the other publisher).

Standards for Language

Guillemot Books and Peregrine Press are publishing houses that share a few striking
characteristics in terms of size, equipment, and links to education. Guillemot Books is
Calisotas smallest publisher, offering employment for a total of only 23.0 FTE. Also, the
company still uses an Iris printer, whereas most Iris printers in the industry have been
replaced with printers that are less expensive and produce more durable print. Last,
Guillemot Books has been the de facto printing press of the Calisota College Weekly. In
comparison, Peregrine Press, although slightly larger than Guillemot Books, also offers
employment to fewer than 30 people, even though most of these work part-time. Also,
like Guillemot, Peregrine Press uses an outdated printing press: a genuine Platen print-
ing press from the late 1930s is still actively used in the production process although
that is largely because of the companys educational function. Even more linked to ed-
ucation, Peregrine Press has provided work placements and traineeships for students of
typography and graphic design from Duckburg Universitys Fine Arts Faculty.

Here is an example of a compare-and-contrast paragraph making use of analogy: comparing one thing to
another because of similar characteristics:

Ants are strikingly similar to human beingsto an extent that some might even con-
sider embarrassing. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars,
use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves. The families of weaver
ants engage in child labor, holding their larvae like shuttles to spin out the thread that
sews the leaves together for their fungus gardens. Also, they exchange information cease-
lessly. One could go as far saying that they do everything but watch television.
(adapted from Lewis Thomas, On Societies as Organisms as cited in Kirszner & Mandell, 2011, p.

A very transparent form of logical paragraph structuring is used when describing a divisionpresenting
the constituent parts or elements of something, and elaborating on or developing in what manner those
parts are distinctive:

The blood can be divided into four distinct components: plasma, red cells, white cells,
and platelets. One component, plasma, is ninety percent water and holds a great number
of substances in suspension. It contains proteins, sugars, fat, and inorganic salts. Plasma
also contains urea and other by-products from the breaking down of proteins, hormones,
enzymes, and dissolved gases. The red cells, another component of blood, give blood
its distinctive color. The red cells are most numerous; they get oxygen from the lungs
and release it in the tissues. The less numerous white cells are a component of blood
that defends the body against invading organisms. Finally, the platelets, which occur in
almost the same number as white cells, are responsible for clotting.
(student writer, cited in Kirszner & Mandell, 2011, p. 89)

Similarly, a classifying paragraph can be used to categorise things, ideas, or concepts[arranging] some-
fix reference page thing in groups according to features that they have in common (Hornby, 2010, p. xx):

Charles Babbage, an English mathematician, reflecting in 1830 on what he saw as the

decline of science at the time, distinguished among three major kinds of scientific fraud.
He called the first forging, by which he meant complete fabricationthe recording of

CEFR: Coherence and Argument

observations that were never made. The second category he called trimming; this con-
sists of manipulating the data to make them look better, or, as Babbage wrote, clipping
off little bits here and there from those observations which differ most in excess from
the mean and in sticking them on to those which are too small. His third category was
data selection, which he called cookingthe choosing of those data that fitted the re-
searchers hypothesis and the discarding of those that did not. To this day, the serious
discussion of scientific fraud has not improved on Babbages typology.
(Morton Hunt, New York Times Magazine, cited in Kirszner & Mandell, 2011, p. 90)

As a final example, logically structured paragraphs may also simply offer a definition of a conceptin this
case, it shows clear overlap with some of the abovementioned types of paragraph:

Dj vu is a French phrase meaning already seen, but it is also commonly used in

other languages as a noun or adjective describing a feeling or experience that one has
seen or done something before. For example, someone is waiting in line to check out at
the grocery store and the lady behind him asks him to hand her a pack of gum. Sud-
denly, he gets an overwhelming feeling that he has been there in that exact same spot,
talking to the same lady, even buying the same brand of gum. Although everything
seems so familiar, the person in question knows there is no way that could have hap-
pened before. There are many theories as to why and how this phenomenon happens.
One theory is that dj vu is connected with temporal-lobe epilepsy, but people without
a history of epilepsy have also experienced dj vu. Psychiatrists believe it is something
in your brain that confuses an event that happened in the past with an event happening
in the present. Another theory, from the controversial field of parapsychology, is that the
phenomenon is connected with past life experiences. Whether dj vu is an experience of
the paranormal or simply some confusion in the brain, it is a perplexing feeling of having
already seen.
(qtd. and adp. from English120, 2005)

These are only some ways in which paragraphs may be structured spatially, logically, or chronologically;
variations of these structures (or combinationssee also the final example) may also be found. Absolute
key is that the student consciously and carefully compose each paragraph rather than throw some phrases and
sentences together willy-nilly.

4.3.3 Linking words and phrases

Properly and effectively placed linking words and phrasesalso known as transition signalshelp to in-
crease the coherence of a text. A table of the most popular linking words and their function, can be found
in appendix D. One must pay attention to the grammatical function of different linking words, as well as
their effect on punctuation. Linking sentences can be used to connect paragraphs, and linking paragraphs
can be used to connect sections of a text.

5 Standards for Referencing
In the course of any academic degree programme, the student will undoubtedly have to make use of many
different secondary sources: articles, books, research reports, online databases, and other types of docu-
ments that contain information meant to complement essays, reports, or theses. This is information that
may range from literally copied text, tables, graphs, or financial figures, to pictures, photographs, codes,
drawings, equations, and ideas. The main idea of referencingproviding citations to the readeris that
the author supplies the reader with (a) the nature and specifics of each source, and (b) where the source is
or was located. This is done by means of citations in the form of in-text references, in combination with a
clear and complete list of references in the backmatter of the written product (report, thesis, etc.).

This chapter will cover the academic ethics underlying sourcing and referencing, including some elabo-
ration on the concepts of plagiarism, plagiarism software, and avoiding plagiarism; an overview of which
situations require referencing; and an introduction to the principles of APA referencing, looking at paren-
thetical in-text referencing as well as the creation of reference lists. The majority of this chapter is based
on principles as laid out in the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
(APA, 2010).

5.1 Avoiding Plagiarism: When and Why to Cite

It is absolutely vital to clearly separate original ideas or thoughts (i.e. as thought up by the student author)
from information taken from external sources. There are a number of theoretical, ethical, yet also practical
reasons for providing references. In short, sources should be referenced in order to:

persuade (provide evidence to support arguments),

give credit to the original source/author,
enable other people to find the same sources,
avoid plagiarism (and, in the process, avoid incurring the teachers or exam boards wrath. . . ), and
be professional.

These five reasons are inextricably linked, and a failure to do so, as indicated by point 4, will lead to pla-
giarism, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the action or practice of taking someone elses
work, idea, etc., and passing it off as ones own; literary theft (Plagiarism, 2006). Generally, plagiarism
is considered an ethical breach of proper conduct in the world of universities and professional writing. In
fact, it is considered intellectual property theft.

Now, it is important that the student writer is aware thatfrom a practical viewpointthere is no differ-
ence between deliberate (i.e. planned) or accidental plagiarism, regardless of whether the latter is due to
a lack of awareness or a lack of skills. In other words, I didnt know any better and I didnt mean to are
unacceptable excuses.

Standards for Referencing

It should not be forgotten, however, that plagiarism is the opposite of something positive, namely aca-
demic integrity (see also Bretag, 2016), which is a beneficial trait for anyone striving for professionalism.
It is therefore encouraged to pursue, develop, and foster this academic integrity as a useful, valuable, and
even lucrative investment. In the context of professional development, an active investment in ones aca-
demic integrity will definitely yield a return in the form of soundness, trustworthiness, and respect.

5.2 Anti-plagiarism tools

In order to counteror at the very least, detectinstances of plagiarism, Hanze UAS makes use of pla-
giarism detection software such as Ephorus. This is, however, merely a tool applied at the gate; in other
words, once handed in, it is out of the students hands. In that sense, it functions mostly as a filter for
teaching staff and as a deterrent for students. In order to minimise in advance the risk of having (acci-
dentally) plagiarised, though, the student writer may also resort to having it checked by online plagiarism
software prior to submitting it to teacher or supervisor. A search for online plagiarism checker for stu-
dents in Google already gives a fair selection of online plagiarism detection software. Some of these may
be worth trying out, such as or Grammarly,1 both of which require a paid subscrip-
tion, but are allegedly quite accurate. According to its website ( the latter also
gives detailed feedback on spelling, grammar and word use.

5.3 Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarising

Copying ideas and other information from external sources can basically be done in three different ways:
through quoting, through paraphrasing, and through summarising. In all three instances, the student
writer will have to create a reference (also known as citation) to the source used.

5.3.1 Quotations
A quotation (plural quotations, verb to quote) is a group of words or a short piece of writing taken from
a book, play, speech, etc. and repeated because it is interesting or useful (Hornby, 2010, p. 1246). The
wording, structure, length, and content of a quotation are identical to the original, except when a less
relevant chunk is left out on purpose, in which case ellipsis (i.e. . . . ) is used to clearly indicate from where
text was removed. Informally, quotations may be referred to as quotes, but in formal writing (in case
there is a need to use the word at all) such usage would be incorrect.

There are a number ofpartially overlappingreasons for quoting source material:

Precise definitions must be provided (e.g. from dictionaries or other reference works).
Very specific evidence must be provided (e.g. evidence that someone or some document said some-
thing in a particular way)
Arguments need stronger support
Exact words are important (e.g. legal documentation)
1N.B. The authors of this document have not tested these sites themselves, but base these suggestions entirely on online reviews and
intend it to be mere cursory advice.

Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarising

Most students have a tendency to use too many quotations in their academic writing. In fact, the inclu-
sion of literally copied text is in many cases not a necessity and relevant information can very often be
paraphrased or summarised effectively instead.

5.3.2 Paraphrases
A paraphrase (plural paraphrases, verb to paraphrase) is a statement that expresses something that somebody
has written or said using different words, especially in order to make it easier to understand (Hornby,
2010, p. 1103). In paraphrasing, only the length and content are mostly identical to the original, but the
paraphrasing authors choice of words and sentence structure is original.

Generally, authors paraphrase information when:

definitions must be provided,

sources must be shown to be understood, and/or
exact words are not important.

In the following example from Purdue OWL, a student has incorrectly paraphrased a text from a website
by only replacing certain words here and there but maintaining much of the original vocabulary as well as
Original: (from: Lester, J. D. (1976). Writ- Incorrect paraphrase (formatting of quoted mate-
ing Research Papers (2nd ed.). Glenview, Ill.: rial added):
Scott, Foresman & Co. pp. 4647.)
Students frequently overuse direct quotation in Students often use too many direct quotations
taking notes, and as a result they overuse quota- when they take notes, resulting in too
tions in the final [research] paper. Probably only many of them in the final research paper. In
about 10% of your final manuscript should appear fact, probably only about 10% of the final
as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should copy should consist of directly quoted mate-
strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of rial. So it is important to limit the amount of
source materials while taking notes. source material copied while taking notes.
When assessed, the student text will be found wanting as far as academic integrity is concerned, and it
will very likely be considered a case of plagiarism.

A proper paraphrase of the original, clearly characterised by the use of alternative phrasing and structur-
ing, could have been:

In research papers, students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted ma-
terial down to a desirable level (i.e. around 10%). Since the problem usually
originates during note taking, it is essential to minimise the material recorded
verbatim (Lester, 1976, pp. 4647).

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, paraphrasing is also useful because it helps the student es-
cape from the general tendency to overuse quotations, especially where it concerns unexceptional text
fragments. The educational benefit lies in the fact that it gives language learning processes (e.g. vocabu-
lary acquisition and sentence construction skills) a boost and that it heightens the kind of brain activity
required to fully and correctly interpret the original text (Purdue OWL, 2016).

Standards for Referencing

5.3.3 Summaries
A summary (plural summaries, verb to summarise) is a short statement that gives only the main points of
something, not the details (Hornby, 2010, p. 1549). In giving the main points of the original text, the
writer will use his or her own wording and structure, which makes it similar to paraphrasing in terms of
form but different as far as length is concerned.

Authors summarise their sources when

evidence must be provided,

sources must be shown to be understood, and
details/examples are not needed

A possible summary of the text on research-paper writing is given in the right-hand column:

Original: (from: Lester, J. D. (1976). Writing Research Summary:

Papers (2nd ed.). Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman &
Co. pp. 4647.)
Students frequently overuse direct quotation in tak- Students should take just a few notes
ing notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in in direct quotation from sources to help
the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% minimize the amount of quoted material
of your final manuscript should appear as directly in a research paper (Lester, 1976, pp. 46
quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit 47).
the amount of exact transcribing of source materials
while taking notes.

5.4 Author-year referencing APA-style

There are two sides to APA referencing: (1) each adopted quotation, paraphrase, or summary will include
a parenthetical reference in the running text (also called an in-text citation), such as (Ferguson, 2004),
of which (2) the full bibliographical information can then be found in the report section or chapter called
References. The full bibliographical reference list entry to the in-text reference in the previous sentence,
for instance, would be:

Ferguson, N. (2004). Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World. London:
Penguin Books Ltd.

Together, the in-text citations and the reference list entries work to assist the reader in finding the origins
of the sources. The subsections below will explain this in more detail.

5.4.1 Step 1: In-text parenthetical referencing

The APA referencing stylewhich has a lot in common with the style known as Harvard referencing
has a structure also known as the author-year format, where the in-text reference is by default placed
between parentheses (i.e. round brackets). It is for that reason also known as parenthetical referencing.

Author-year referencing APA-style

The text refers the reader to sources used by the authorbe that printed, online, or other, and whether
quoted, paraphrased, or summarisedby using in-text parenthetical references (i.e. citations between round
brackets or parentheses).

The in-text citation means to give the reader a signpost to where in the reference list (found at the end of
the main matter of the report) they may find more elaborate bibliographical information about the source
in question. So, the in-text reference (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2015) in this document will tell
the reader that the reference list will contain full bibliographical details of this source under the letter S.
The alphabetical ordering of the list will help the reader quickly find the reference list entry Saunders, M.,
Lewis, P., and Thornhill, A. (2015). Research Methods for Business Students (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson.

Students often find the citations to be the trickiest part of parenthetical referencing, especially in regards
to their placement. Citations can be placed in or at the end of the sentence. If placed at the end of a
sentence, they precede the full stop. Students frequently fail to include citations at all, perhaps assuming
their audience is able to make the link between the source they have incorporated and the bibliographic
material in the references. In addition to meeting one of the definitions of plagiarism, this would also
be similar to providing a scrambled table of contents without page numbersentirely useless. Another
frequent error that students make is to include the citation(s) only at the end of the paragraph, again
making it needlessly difficult for the reader to trace the incorporated source material.

The exact citation format depends on a number of factors. The standard format is: ([authors surname],
[year of publication]), like in (Philips, 1923). There are, however, a number of variations on this pattern
possible, as outlined and illustrated in table 5.1 below.

In-text reference variation: Example:

- author + year of publication (Philips, 1923)
- only a part of the source is referred to (es- (Philips, 1923, pp. 3436) or (Philips, 1923,
pecially in the case of quoting or para- Chapter 4)
- the author is already mentioned in the text . . . as Philips has argued quite extensively
just before the in-text reference (1923).
- two authors (Soltanifar & Smith, 2003)
- the number of authors is three or more e.g. (Liefers, Wabike, & Coughlan, 1945) in
the first reference and (Liefers et al., 1945) for
every subsequent reference.
- the date of publication is unknown (McDonald, n.d.)
- the author is unknown (Behind the Wall, 2013)
- the source has a corporate author (i.e. a (Ikea, 2014)
company, group, body, committee, organ-
isation, etc.)
- if it concerns a quotation within a quota- (as cited in Philips, 1923)
tion (a second-hand quotation)

Table 5.1: In-text citation pattern variations APA style.

More details can be found in the APAs Publication Manual (2010, pp. 170179). Further examples of in-text
referencing can be found throughout this document.

Standards for Referencing

5.4.2 Step 2: The references list

The reference list, simply titled References in APA, is a list of bibliographical entries, the information in
which supplements the information given in the in-text references. They are organised alphabetically by
authors surnames and year of publication. List ordering principles

The list must first of all be alphabetically ordered by authors surname. It is therefore important that the
starting element of each list entry is carefully checked as indeed (a) being the authorbe that a person,
corporate author, or title in the absence of an authorand (b) being in the right place. Too often, it hap-
pens that the order of a reference list has not been checked properly.

Once more, it must be emphasised how important it is that there is a one-on-one relationship between the
parenthetical references in the text on the one hand, and the reference list entries on the other. If there is
an in-text reference (Wabike, 2013), it must be unique in the sense that it must link to a unique reference
list item that starts with Wabike and was published in 2013.

The second important ordering element for the reference list are the initials:

Jansen, J. P. M. (1998). . . .
Jansen, R. (1995). . . .

Clearly, the 1998 publication by J. P. M. Jansen precedes the 1995 publication by R. Jansen merely because
the J precedes the R in the alphabet. The third determining factor for ordering is the year of publication:

Jansen, J. P. M. (1998). . . .
Jansen, J. P. M. (2002). . . .

Fourth, it is important to be able to distinguish publications from the same author in the same year. If a
certain author published two works (regardless of their nature) in 1996, both of which feature in the text
and are referenced, these works should not become mixed up, of course, but should receive additional la-
beling in the form of letters: (Langdon, 1996a) and (Langdon, 1996b). They should then be distinguished
in similar fashion in the reference list:

Langdon, R. (1996a). Numerology and the. . . [etc.]

Langdon, R. (1996b). Aftermath of a. . . [etc.]

For any exceptions to this (which will be rare), such as two different authors with the same surname and
the same initials, we would suggest consulting the Publication Manual of the APA or looking online. Abbreviations
A number of abbreviations may be used in reference list entries, and the APA considers the following ac-
ceptable (APA, 2010, p. 180):

Author-year referencing APA-style

Abbreviation Book or publication part

ed. edition
Rev. ed. Revised edition
2nd ed. second edition
Ed. (Eds.) Editor (Editors)
Trans. Translator(s)
n.d. no date
p. (pp.) page (pages)
Vol. Book/report volume (as in Vol. 4)
Vols. Book/report volumes (as in Vols. 14)
No. Number
Pt. Part
Tech. Rep. Technical Report
Suppl. Supplement

If any numerals are used in the entries, they should be arabic rather than roman (e.g. Vol. 4, not Vol. IV),
unless the title of a publication itself contains a numeral (e.g. Legendary Marketing Myths XIII). The reference list entry: who, when, what, and where
The type of information that is relevant when composing a reference list entry can be divided into a few
main categories, which are generally given in the fixed order who, when, what, where, an approach that gives
a clear and predictable structure to reference list entries, as illustrated in table 5.2.

# Elements Book example Article example Report example

1. author (who?) Scott Adams Stephen Upton Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and
Development (OECD)
2. year of pub- 1997 2012 2015
3. title (what?) Dogberts Top Identifying Effective the section/chapter United
Secret Drivers for Knowledge Kingdom.
Management Exchange in the United
Handbook Kingdom
4. publishing New York: Higher Education Education Policy Outlook 2015:
data (where?) HarperCollins Management and Policy Making Reforms Happen,
volume 24, issue 1, pages pages 303306
299314. /10.1787
/10.1787/hemp-24 /9789264225442-33-en

Table 5.2: The four main segments in APA reference list entries.

The four sample sources from table 5.2 would then culminate in the followingalphabetically ordered
reference list:

Standards for Referencing

Adams, S. (1997). Dogberts top secret management handbook. New York:
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). United
Kingdom. Education policy outlook 2015: Making reforms happen
(pp. 303306).
Upton, S. (2012). Identifying effective drivers for knowledge exchange in the
United Kingdom. Higher Education Management and Policy, 24(1),

The remainder of this subsection will give an overview of the four elements that together make up the
different parts of any reference list entry: who, when, what, and where.

The first element: by whom?

Include the full surnames plus initials of a maximum of seven authors

Separate surname from initials with a comma
In the case of two authors, separate them with an ampersand (&)
If a source has more than two authors, separate them from one another with commas, and use
a comma plus ampersand before the last author (e.g. Cooper, S. L., Hofstadter, L. L., &
Koothrappali, R. R.).
In case of corporate authors (company, government agency, association, corporation, etc.), spell
out the full name rather than abbreviate it (e.g. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development rather than OECD). However, if the name is used repeatedly throughout the text
and full name use becomes cumbersome (such as in the case of the APA in this document), in-text
citations may deviate from this usage for reasons of economy and readability; the reference list en-
tries must be spelled out fully, though.
If the publication has no identifiable author, the title of the publication should be used instead.
If a publication only has an editor, then the editors name should be placed initially, followed by
Ed. or Eds. between brackets after the last editors name. In that case, the full stop should come
after the final bracket.

Wilcox, H. (Ed.). (2013). The English Poems of George Herbert.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

If the chapter of an edited book has its own author(s), do not invert the editors name and place
the word In between the chapter title and the name of the editor.

Veisbergs, A. (1997). The contextual use of idioms, wordplay, and

translation. In D. Delabastita (Ed.), Traductio: Essays on Punning and
Translation (pp. 155159). Namur, Belgium: Presses Universitaires de

In all cases, this element should end in a full stop.

Author-year referencing APA-style

The second element: when?

For books and journal articles, year of publication always goes in brackets.
For magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, both the year and the date of publication (i.e. month,
month and day, or season) are given, separated by a comma, and put between brackets.
If a journal article has not officially been published yet but has been accepted for publication, write
in press between brackets.
If no date is known, write n.d. (i.e. no date) enclosed in brackets.
In all cases, this element is to be followed by a full stop after the closing bracket.

The third element: what? In the case of chapter titles, journal article titles, newspaper article titles, or
magazine article titles, simply capitalise the first letter of the title plus the first letter of any names, and of
any subtitle there may be2 . No italics or quotation marks should be put around it and the whole element
should be closed off with a full stop. For example:

The neverending story: A constructive approach to second language learning.

British inquiry into Iraq War brings scathing critique of Tony Blair.

This is then to be followed directly by the title of the book, journal, newspaper, or magazine. In the case of
a reference to a book as a whole, naturally it will directly follow the year of publication.

Titles of periodicals should be given in full, using title case (i.e. the first letters of nouns, verbs, adjectives,
etc. capitalised) and fully italicised:

Journal of International Business Studies

Mohave Valley Daily News
rhus Stiftstidende
Albina Romneasc
El Pireneo Aragons
Bombay Samachar
De Telegraaf
Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

Titles of books or reports, on the other hand, should use sentence case in the reference list (i.e. only a capital
letter at the beginning, in names, or at the beginning of any subtitle):

Business research methods

The Oxford style manual: The essential handbook for all writers and editors
Dont get too comfortable: The indignities fof coach class, the torments of low
thread count, the never-ending quest for artisanal olive oil, and other First
World problems
The Dilbert principle: A cubicles-eye view of bosses, meetings, management fads
& other workplace afflictions
2 Thisthe capitalisation defaultis called sentence casethe alternative, title case refers to the use of capital letters at the beginning
of all major words (i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) in a phrase or sentence and it should only be used for such titles in the running
text; not in the reference list entries.

Standards for Referencing

N.B. In the running text, however, such titles should use title case; to illustrate:

According to Business Research Methods, the. . .

The Oxford Style Manual: The Essential Handbook for All Writers and Editors
explains quite clearly how. . .
As rather poignantly illustrated by Dont Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of
Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-Ending Quest for
Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems, no human being is . . .
This brings us to The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicles-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings,
Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions, which neatly points out the. . .

Before the full stop is added at the end of the element, additional information about the source such as
edition, report number, or volume number may follow its title, assisting the reader in identifying and
retrieving the publication. The element should end in a full stop.

Development of entry-level tests to select FBI special agents (Publication

No. FR-PRD-94-06).
Survey of the Gaelic dialects of Scotland (Vol. 3).
Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).

In the case of non-standard types of sources (or nonroutine sources (APA, 2010, p. 186)), indicating the
type will help to identify and retrieve the source in question. Such an indication should be provided right
after any parenthetical information that goes with the title, if present at all. The information between
brackets can be one of many indications of type of source:

[Audio file] [mp3 file]

[Audio podcast] [Painting], [Photograph], etc.
[Blog post] or [Blog comment] [Podcast transcript]
[Brochure] [PowerPoint presentation]
[CD] [Press release]
[Data file] [Real Media file]
[Database record] [Supplemental material]
[Demographic map] [Television series episode]
[Facebook note] or [Facebook page] [Television series webisode]
[Lecture notes] [Tweet] or [Twitter update]
[Letter to the editor] [Video file]
[Mobile application software] [YouTube video]
[Motion picture] etc.

As the APA Style Guide to Electronic Referencing indicates, Other phrases than these are possible; choose
wording that is brief, accurate, and descriptive of the source. (APA, 2012, p. 2). As such a notation will end
the title element of non-routine sources, it should be followed by a full stop:

Author-year referencing APA-style

California Board of Psychology. (2005). For your peace of mind: A consumer

guide to psychological services [Brochure]. Retrieved from

The fourth element: where? The fourth element gives the reader clear information about where the
source may foundin other words: publication information.

In the case of periodicalsjournals, newsletters, and magazinesseparate the volume number from the
title with a comma, and set the volume number in italics. If an issue number is available (usually only
when every issue is paginated separately), then the issue number should be set in brackets right after the
volume number. Brackets and issue number should not be italicised. The volume (and issue) number should
be followed by a comma and the page number or page number range that includes the source in question.
End the page numbers with a full stop:

The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 78(2), 200-224. (with issue number)

Social Science Quarterly, 84, 508525. (no issue number)

In the case of newspaper articles, the page number, page numbers (in the case of discontinuous pages),
or page number range should be included after the newspaper title, separated from the title by a comma.
If the newspaper consists of several sections, each with their own pagination, include the section as well
(e.g. pp. B1B3 or p. A13)

Pilling, D. (2016, June 9). Britain risks losing its voice. Financial Times, p. 9.

Location and publisher names should not be included in reference entries for periodicals.

Non-periodical publications should include the location and name of the publishing house. In the case of
unambiguous and/or globally well-known place names (e.g. London, Tokyo, Amsterdam), further speci-
fication should not be necessary. General APA practice in the case of American placenames is to always
include the official two-letter U.S. postal code abbreviation of the state in question. In the case of less
known or ambiguous place names outside the U.S., adding the country name would be advised. If the
publication contains more than one location for the publisher, only include the first one. The place of
publication should be immediately followed by a colon (:).

The last part of the publication element is the name of the publishing company. Names should be as com-
plete as possible (e.g. Oxford University Press rather than OUP), but terms such as Publishers, Co., and Inc.
are not required so they may be left out. Words such as Books or Press should be kept. The element should
end in a full stop.

London: Harpya Press. (one may assume this refers to the capital of the UK)
London, OT: Guillemot Books.
Pretoria, South Africa: Unisa.
Groningen, Netherlands: Groningen University Press.

Standards for Referencing

The location of electronic sources is indicated differently. What still stands is the need for the writer to
indicate elements like author, year (and possibly date) of publication, and title. In addition to that, the
reader should get as much electronic information as is necessary for retrieving the source. The two most
commonly used location indicators in APA are URLs and DOIs.

The DOI (digital object identifier; plural DOIs) is a code that is provided with the sources in most official
and academic databases. Articles, journals, and reports in databases such as OECD iLibrary, Springer-
Link, and ScienceDirect always have a DOI to facilitate easy retrieval. The advantage of a DOI over an
Internet address (or URL; see below) is that it is unaffected by online content disappearing due to restruc-
turing or deletion; a DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and provides a persis-
tent link to its location on the Internet, implemented through registration agencies such as CrossRef
(, which provides citation-linking services for the scientific publishing sector.
(APA, 2012, p. 5) To put it in practical terms: DOIs help to prevent broken (i.e. outdated) Internet links.

A DOI is composed of essentially four elements:

the abbreviation DOI or (lowercase letters),

the number 10 followed by a period,
a prefix (four or more digits designating an organisation) followed by a slash, and
a suffix assigned by the publisher that stands for the journal and individual article.

For example, DOI:10.2307/3587951 stands for Averil Coxheads article A New Academic Word List as pub-
lished in the 34th volume, 2nd issue of TESOL Quarterly in 2000. The DOI number can be quite easily
found on the article page of the database in which the periodical was found, often quite close to the title,
as illustrated by fig. 5.1

The APA has a strong preferenceas do we at IBSfor using a slightly different format when including
the DOI in a reference, a format that essentially turns the DOI into a workable URL. All it takes is replacing
the letters DOI and the colon by In the case of the journal article by Coxhead, this
will give us:

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213238.

Instead of reference entries with standard location URLs (which can be very long and tend to break up the
line at times), journal article entries for databases with DOI-based URLs will end up relatively clean and
concise in the reference list.

In some instances, however, online sources do not have a DOI, in which case the URL will need to be
added to the reference list entry. A URL (uniform resource locator; plural URLs) is essentially an address
for mapping information online. A journal article published online without a DOI could look like this:

Sillick, T. J., & Schutte, N. S. (2006). Emotional intelligence and self-esteem

mediate between perceived early parental love and adult happiness. E-Journal of
Applied Psychology, 2(2), 3848. Retrieved from

Author-year referencing APA-style

Figure 5.1: A screen capture of the online database entry to an academic journal article, clearly illustrating the
inclusion of its accompanying Digital Object Identifier or DOI.

Very importantly, an effective URL should always start with the protocol parti.e. http, https, or ftp
followed by a colon and two forward slashes (e.g. http://). As URLs are supposed to help the reader retrace
and retrieve sources that were used for the report or essay in question, it is always useful to check whether
or not the included URL is indeed a working link; after all, mistakes in copying and pasting are easily made.
In APA style, URLs should be used only if no DOI has been provided. The URL does not end in a full stop.
Another example of an online newspaper article, without DOI:

Phipps, C., Quinn, B., and Johnston, C. (2016, June 25). Brexit: UKs most
senior EU official resigns after leave voteas it happened. The Guardian.
Retrieved from

This example also clearly shows that only the homepage URL is used: it should be easy to find the article
through the index of the website in question. Also, this approach avoids the inclusion of URLs that do not
work anymore.

On the use of retrieval dates... Many other referencing styles as well as older versions of APA made
use of a Date of access or Date of retrieval element in most of their electronic reference entries. The
general rule, however, is that if a source has a DOI no further retrieval information (neither date nor URL)
is necessary. If an online source has a URL but the content is not expected to change, such as an online

Standards for Referencing

newspaper article or a report from a government website published at a certain date, then no further re-
trieval information (i.e. no date of retrieval) is deemed necessary either.

If, however, one takes information from a site that is expected to be adapted every so often, such as text
from a Wiki or a social media site, then the retrieval date must be included:

Dot-com bubble. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 3, 2016, from https://en

For more examples of electronic publication references and a breakdown of many different types, consult
the APA Style Guide to Electronic References (APA, 2012, pp. 1134). For an example of a properly laid out Ref-
erences section, see the references of this document on page 97. Another example is given in the sample
report in Appendix F on page 117. For further assistance, a very decent step-by-step explanation of APA
referencing is provided on the site Academic Coaching & Writing (Coogan, 2012).

6 Conclusion & recommendations
This guide has offered students at IBS a set of useful tools to enhance the quality of their academic and
business writing. In short, it is concerned with a set of standards the importance of which is often un-
derestimated; these standards provide an opportunity to implement what could be termed the three cs:
clarity, coherence, and consistency.

Chapter 2 gave a clear overview of some macrostructural standards for report writing at IBS. Chapter 3
supplied some much needed standards for lay-out, ranging from the likes of title page and table of contents
specifics, via issues such as margins and paragraphing, to low-level layout criteria such as font choice,
punctuation, and the inclusion of tables and figures. Chapter 4 offered a concise explanation of the CEFR
criteria for language assessment as applied at IBS so that this may be taken on board in the composition
and assessment of reports by students and faculty, respectively. Then, towards the end, chapter 5 provided
a concise introduction to APA standards for referencing.

Standards are not things engraved in tablets of stone, however. These standards for report writing will
never be finalised and there will always be room for improvement. In particular, technology and capa-
bilities of word-processing packages advance at a rapid pace, and the standards will be adapted to take
advantage of new developments.

Students may undoubtedly wonder how strictly these rules are to be followed and whether they can simply
be interpreted as mere guidelines. Initially, students should familiarise themselves with these rules of
good practice by simply abiding by them. Once they master them and understand why they exist, they
may consider exceptions to the rules, provided that they know what they are doing and have very good
reasons to do so. In other words, if they deviate from these standards, they have to be able to justify their
choice to their supervisor, teacher, or exam board. In such cases, prior consultation with the teacher or
supervisor in question is strongly recommended.

If, when using these standards, students or staff members have suggestions for improvement, they are
kindly urged to make their ideas known to the authors, be that directly or indirectly. Constructive feedback
will always be welcome.

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Types of business entity Switserland. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved August 31, 2016, from
University of Oxford (2014). University of Oxford Style Guide. Retrieved from
/sites/files/oxford/media_wysiwyg/University of Oxford Style Guide.pdf
Victoria University of Wellington (2012) The Academic Word List. Retrieved from http://www.victoria

A Report Assessment Rubric Template
Structure:1 <5.5 5.57.9 >8
Macrostructure Report sections missing and/or order Report sections complete and in the Report sections complete and in the
is incorrect. proper order. proper order.

Focus & Scope Unclear objective. Failure to answer Objective of the report is reasonably Objective of the report is clear. Re-
research questions. Irrelevant infor- clear. Research questions answered. search questions answered. No irrele-
mation. Unnecessary repetition. Irrelevant information or unnecessary vant information. No unnecessary
repetition is kept to a minimum. repetition.

Microstructure Illogical structure, providing little to Logical structure of ideas, providing Logical structure of ideas, provid-
no support for conclusion. Incorrect adequate support for conclusion. ing excellent support for conclusion.
paragraphing. Lack of coherence. Proper paragraphing. Coherence Proper paragraphing. Extremely co-
between sections. herent throughout.

Layout: <5.5 5.57.9 >8

Style Sloppy or unclear design choices. Basic design with adequate attention Designed with attention to detail,
to details such as font, spacing, giving a professional result.
margins and headings. Use of

Visuals Readability is limited due to poor Size, color and design provide for Size, color and design ensure excellent
design choices. satisfactory readability. readability.

Mechanics Many punctuation, capitalisation, and Standard punctuation, capitalisation, Standard punctuation, capitalisation,
spelling errors. Non-standard usage. and spelling with limited errors. and spelling with virtually no errors.

Language:2 <5.5 5.57.9 >8




APA APA is not used or so badly applied APA is used, but it might be APA is consistent and complete.
that it is unclear where source material inconsistently followed or incomplete
was obtained. No in-text citations, (i.e. citations with URLS, some details
missing reference list entries. of the reference list not in order).

Source material Missing quotation marks. Paraphras- Quotations properly set off with Quotations (and quotation marks) only
ing or summarising is too similar to quotation marks. Paraphrases and used where required and appropri-
original.3 summaries are rephrased and ately so. Paraphrases and summaries
restructured sufficiently. are completely rephrased and restruc-

1 No weighting for the different elements in this rubric has been provided here, as this will likely depend on the type and level of
2 The language level will depend on the level of the assignment in question. One can copy/paste the relevant row from the CEFR table

in Appendix C into this rubric, keeping in mind the level indicators described on page 103.
3 Actually, reports falling in the insufficient category in either the APA or source material rows are technically plagiarism, with the

exception of year 1, period-1 courses (when students should receive a stern warning); they should therefore not even be accepted
by the teacher. Rather than receiving points for this, any student work with improper use of external sources and/or insufficient
referencing should not be assessed and instead submitted to the Exam Board on suspicion of plagiarism.

B Report Checklist
Use this checklist before submitting a report. Not all elements listed will be relevant for all reports.

Report sections:

Front page / title page Check assignment instructions. All required information.
Pleasing design.

Abstract No confidential information

Executive Summary Stands alone; report represented completely
List of illustrations
List of tables
Message header
Introduction Background, objective, preview
Theoretical section / Logical sequence, compare/contrast key literature.
literature review Identification of gaps.

Methodology Research design. Scope and limitations. Population and

sample, variables and measures used. Data analysis

Findings (data Objective, clear, and logically/persuasively organised. In-text

collection / analysis / citations. Visual data clearly labeled.

Conclusion Link to objective. Summary. Thesis statement.

Recommendations Logically flow from conclusion. Specific advice.
Project process Critical reflection.

References Styled according to APA criteria
Appendices Titled and separate

Report Checklist


Style Font size and style. Spacing and margins. Header/footer.

Paragraphing Clear breaks between paragraphs, 1 main idea per paragraph,
topic sentences, length of paragraphs. Introductory and
concluding paragraphs in subsections of longer reports.

Visual material Pleasing design. Font and colors clear. Described in the text.
Mechanics Spelling, punctuation, capitalisation.


Range Appropriate choice of vocabulary (business professional/

academic world list / formal). Tone. Idiom.

Coherence Structure and flow. Logical connections. Linking words,

sentences, and paragraphs.

Accuracy Grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and

capitalisation. Sentence construction.


Citations In-text, author date style. No footnotes for reference

information. Visual material is also cited where necessary.

Reference Complete list of all sources used. Link between citation and
beginning of reference entry. One list, alphabetically ordered.

Source material Quotations marks used when quoting, having quoted source
material only with good reason. Paraphrased and summarised
text is substantially different from the original.

Cross-referencing Clear connections between parts of the report.

C CEFR Descriptors for Writing
For the sake of having a reference point to the lower levels, level A2 (the higher beginner proficiency level)
has been included in the table as well. The table as presented here is an amalgamation of two sources: ... Add source of ta-
Level Accuracy Range Coherence Argument

C2 Maintains consistent Shows great flexibility Can create coherent and Can produce clear, smoothly
and highly accurate in formulating ideas in cohesive texts making flowing, complex reports, arti-
grammatical control of differing linguistic forms full and appropriate cles and essays which present a
even the most complex to convey finer shades use of a variety of case or give critical appreciation
language forms. Errors of meaning precisely, organisational patterns of proposals or literary works.
are rare and concern to give emphasis and to and a wide range of Can provide an appropriate
rarely used forms. eliminate ambiguity. Also connectors and other and effective logical structure
has a good command of cohesive devices. which helps the reader to find
idiomatic expressions and significant points

C1 Consistently maintains Has a good command of a Can produce clear, Can write clear, well-structured
a high degree of gram- broad range of language smoothly flowing, expositions of complex subjects,
matical accuracy; occa- allowing him/her to select well-structured text, underlining the relevant salient
sional errors in gram- a formulation to express showing controlled issues. Can expand and support
mar, collocations and him/herself clearly in an use of organisational point of view with some sub-
idioms. appropriate style on a patterns, connectors, sidiary points, reasons, and ex-
wide range of general, and cohesive devices. amples.
academic, professional
or leisure topics without
having to restrict what
he/she wants to say. The
flexibility in style and tone
is somewhat limited.

B2+ Shows mostly con- Has a sufficient range Can use a sufficient Can write an essay or report
sistent and accurate of language to give de- number of linking that develops an argument
control of spelling, scriptions and express words efficiently to systematically with appropriate
punctuation, gram- viewpoints, mostly avoid- create texts which are highlighting of some significant
mar, and task-specific ing ambiguity. Shows mostly coherent on both points and relevant supporting
features. Occasional a sufficient command sentence and paragraph detail. Can evaluate different
errors do not cause of appropriate and id- level, and which mostly ideas or solutions to a problem.
misunderstandings. iomatic language, with avoid any jumpiness or
only occasional lapses break-ups in reading.
into awkwardness. Shows
limited flexibility in tone
and style.

CEFR Descriptors for Writing

B2 Shows a relatively high Has a sufficient range of Can use a number of Can write an essay or report
degree of grammatical language to be able to give cohesive devices to link which develops an argument,
control. Does not make clear descriptions, express his/her sentences into giving some reasons in support
errors which cause viewpoints on most gen- clear, coherent text, of or against a particular point of
misunderstandings. eral topics, using some though there may be view and explaining the advan-
complex sentence forms some jumpiness in a tages and disadvantages of vari-
to do so. Language lacks, longer text. ous options. Can synthesise in-
however, expressiveness formation and arguments from
and idiomaticity and use a number of sources.
of more complex forms is
still stereotypic.

B1+ Communicates with Can link a series of Can write short, simple essays
reasonable accuracy shorter, discrete simple on topics of interest. Can sum-
in familiar contexts; elements into a con- marise, report and give his/her
generally good control nected, linear sequence opinion about accumulated fac-
though with noticeable of points. tual information on a familiar
mother tongue influ- routine and non-routine mat-
ence. Errors occur, but ters, within his field with some
it is clear what he/she confidence.
is trying to express.
B1 Uses reasonably ac- Has enough language to Can link a series of Can write very brief reports to
curately a repertoire get by, with sufficient shorter discrete ele- a standard conventionalised for-
of frequently used vocabulary to express ments into a connected, mat, which pass on routine fac-
routines and patterns him/herself with some linear text. tual information and state rea-
associated with more circumlocutions on topics sons for actions.
common situations. such as family, hobbies
Occasionally makes and interests, work, travel,
errors that the reader and current events.
usually can interpret
correctly on the basis
of the context.

A2 Uses some simple Has sufficient vocabulary Can write a series of No descriptor available.
structures corrrectly, of basic communication simple phrases and
but still systemat- needs, and to conduct sentences linked with
ically makes basic routine, everyday transa- simple connectors
mistakesfor example tions involving familiar like and, but, and
tends to mix tenses situations and topics. because.
and forgets to mark
agreement; neverthe-
less, it is usually clear
what he/she is trying
to say.

D Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases
The following pages contain an overview in tabular form of the most commonly used signposting words
and phrases in written academic English. They are also known as linkers, linking words and phrases, or
transitional words and phrases.

The linking words in the table are organised along two dimension: the rows represent 17 different
functions, which are then subdivided along three columns, representing various grammatical categories.
The functions are the following:

1. to list (in order of time or importance) 8. to give a possibility (p. 109)

(p. 106) 9. to explain or restate (p. 109)
2. to add information, to add similar points 10. to give an example (p. 109)
(p. 106) 11. to indicate place (p. 110)
3. to show a condition (p. 107) 12. to indicate manner and extent (of distance
4. to give extra information on people, or frequency) (p. 110)
animals, things, time, or place (p. 107) 13. to give a reason or purpose (p. 111)
5. to introduce that clauses, if/whether clauses, 14. to give a result or consequence (p. 112)
and question clauses (p. 107) 15. to refer to source material or personal
6. to show opposites/contrasts (I): X but Y perspective (p. 112)
(p. 108) 16. to emphasise a point (p. 113)
7. to show opposites/contrasts (II): X is not 17. to conclude (p. 113)
true; Y is true (p. 108)

The various grammatical categories are adverbials, which include adverbs (single words; e.g.
meanwhile) as well as adverb phrases (e.g. in the meantime); coordinating conjunctions (e.g. and,
but, etc.), which link main clauses to one another, and subordinating conjunctions (e.g. while, because,
etc.), which link subclauses to main clauses; and a final miscellaneous category, which includes signposts
in the form of other word types such as nouns (e.g. example, result, etc.), verbs (e.g. to affect, to
conclude, etc.), and adjectives (e.g. first, another, etc.).

Every category cell gives a set of linking words and phrases that match that particular type of meaning
and that work in the same grammatical context. Each set of linkers is complemented by one or two
example sentences.

N.B. As the meaning of each individual linking word or phrase is not given, the student is advised to
cross-reference the word or phrase with its corresponding entry in a learners dictionary in order to
ensure it is used appropriately. For example, because of cannot always be replaced by due tothese
two prepositional phrases have rather different meanings and are far from interchangeable.


Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

Adverbs and adverb phrases are placed before, after, or in Coordinating conjunctions connect main (independent) Other word types (adjectives, prepositions, verbs) follow
the middle of sentencesusually followed by a comma clauses. They are officially preceded by a comma, but it the rules of the word category in questioncheck a
when placed at the beginning of a sentence (sometimes may be left out in short and balanced sentences. learners dictionary for specifics on usage.
following a semi-colon to create a stronger link to the Subordinating conjunctions introduce subclauses (de-
previous sentence), and often preceded by a comma if pendent clauses) so that they may be connected (at the
used at the end of a sentence. beginning, middle, or end) to main clausesgenerally,
they do not take a comma if the subclause follows the
main clause.

Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases

To list (in order afterward, afterwards; finally; first (of all), sec- Subordinators: after; as, just as; as long as; as the first, the second, the third, . . . ; another; the
of time or impor- ond, third, . . . ; first and foremost; in the mean- soon as; before; since; until; when; whenever; last; before; after; during; the next; the final
tance) time, meanwhile; next; subsequently; then; after while
that; last, last of all; more/most importantly;
Exx. - The last hurdle to be overcome is the. . .
more/most significantly; above all; most of all
- After the plans have been approved, the - Subsequent plans will be drawn up during
Exx. head of HRM will. . . the autumn break.
- First, we need to consider the financial - Working conditions have improved since
side. the plant in Lancashire has been. . .
- In the meantime, further production will
be stopped.

To add informa- also; besides; furthermore; in addition/addition- Coordinators: alike, like, just likewise; as, just as; as well; as
tion, add similar ally; likewise; moreover; similarly and; both . . . and . . . ; neither . . . nor . . . ; not only well as; compared with or to; in comparison with
points . . . but also . . . ; or or to; to be similar (to); too; another X; an addi-
tional X; a second X; as well as X; a similar X; a
- Additionally, supplies have dwindled dras- Exx.
final X
tically. - All buses will be confiscated, and the
- The finance department has also consid- problem that will then need to be tackled Exx.
ered. . . is. . . - The plan is similar to last years market-
- Not only have they contributed signifi- ing proposal.
cantly, but they are also continuously. . . - It is progressive as well as economical.
Continued on the next page. . .
Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To show a condi- Subordinators:

tion if; unless

- We should only proceed if the circum-
stances are right.
- We should proceed unless too many fac-
tors are uncertain.

To give extra Subordinators:

information on who; whom; whose; that; which; when; where
people, animals, Exx.
things, time, or - The committee first interviewed the em-
place ployee who was responsible.
- Mr Philips, whose letters had been pub-
lished earlier, decided not to attend.

To introduce Subordinators:
that clauses, that; whether (or not); if (. . . or not); who, who-
if/whether ever, whom; which, what, where; when, why,
clauses, and how; how much/many; how long, how often, etc.

question clauses Exx.

- The majority of the respondents said that
they would not buy the product.
- Mr Smith will determine whether or not a
raise is justified.
- R&D will investigate how this could have
Continued on the next page. . .

Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To show oppo- in contrast; however; nevertheless; nonetheless; Coordinators: despite X; in spite of X; instead of; rather than
sites/contrast (I): on the other hand; still but; yet (more contrast)
X but Y Exx. Exx. - Despite its shortcomings, the guide offered
- It may be doable; however, certain precau- - It was brief but it was informative. a considerable amount of useful informa-
tions will have to be. . . - It was useful, but more in-depth practical tion.
- Most community colleges do not have dor- information could have been provided. - It should be maintained and developed

Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases

mitories; in contrast, most four-year col- - The team has met nine times in the past rather than sold to the first bidder.
leges do. three weeks, yet no minutes have been pro- - It was decided that the department needs
duced for any of the meetings. a new head instead of a new structure.

although; even though; though; despite the fact
that; while; whereas

- Production went according to plan de-
spite the fact that the lack of funds had
not been resolved yet.
- Whereas a majority of staff members have
shown interest, the project will be shelved

To show oppo- instead; on the contrary; rather; instead (as a

sites/contrasts substitute)
(II): X is not Exx.
true; Y is true - The changes were not for the better; on
the contrary, an industrial psychologist had
to be reeled in.
- They had planned an economy drive; in-
stead, the budget was exceeded even more.
Continued on the next page. . .
Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:
To give a possi- alternatively; on the other hand; otherwise Coordinators:
bility or; either . . . or; whether . . . or
- Offenders will be barred; alternatively, Exx.
they may be reported to the local authori- - Question is whether the customers will be
ties. most interested in quality or service.
- Lego had to withdraw its latest kit; other- - The company will either remain in Lon-
wise, they would have been sued for negli- don or move to Amsterdam.

To explain or in other words; that is

restate Exx.
- The average level among the employees
was C1.1; in other words, more than suffi-
cient to handle the incoming complaints.
- Item 30256 proved unpopular; that is, less
than 15 percent of the items had been sold.

To give an exam- for example; to exemplify; for instance; to illus- such as X; an example of X; exemplify, illustrate
ple trate,
Exx. - The following recent developments and
- . . . an assessment for any possible environ- projects exemplify this strategy.
mental impact from your operations; for - financial products such as savings ac-
instance, the presence of noxious, possibly counts and fixed-income life insurance.
hazardous waste chemicals. . .
- To illustrate, this report will show a de-
tailed cost-benefit analysis.
Continued on the next page. . .

Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To indicate place Subordinators:

where; wherever; anywhere; everywhere

- They marched to Wickham, where they
halted a few days.
- Passers-by will encounter the brand any-

Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases

where they look.

To indicate man- Subordinators:

ner and extent (just) as; as if, as though; as [adjective] as; as
(distance or fre- [adverb] as
quency) Exx.
- They love the attention, as most members
of the species do.
- They looked as if they had been called.
- The respondents had to mention as many
different brands as they could think of.
Continued on the next page. . .
Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To give a reason for this reason Coordinators: as a result of X; because of X; due to X

or purpose for
Ex. Exx.
- For this reason, each cell contains only Ex. - As a result of this outcome, Cameron re-
three examples. - No gas should be wasted, for it is very signed as prime minister.
expensive these days. - The lordship collapsed due to to a mix-
Subordinators: ture of internal disunity and external pres-
as; because; since; so that; in order that sure.

- Lundia furniture is quite popular because
of the durability of its material.
- The fences were updated and improved
so that/in order that no more sheep would
Continued on the next page. . .

Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To give a result as a result; consequently; therefore; thus; hence Coordinators: the cause of X; the reason of X; to have an effect
or consequence so on X; to affect X
- The material had been strongly underes- Ex. Exx.
timated by all; as a result, fail rates were - Natural water resources are running low, - It may have an effect on customer satis-
through the roof. so water use in the entertainment industry faction rates.
- Most bus drivers thus faced a rather bleak should be curbed. - It may affect customer satisfaction rates.

Table of Common Linking Words and Phrases

Christmas. Subordinators:
so [adjective] that; so [adverb] that; such a(n)
[noun] that; so much/many/little/few [noun] that

- Passengers will be so careful that the
industry may experience a drop in ticket
- It is experienced as such a convenience
that alternatives are generally not consid-
ered anymore.

To refer to source according to X; as X explains; in my opinion to believe (that); to feel (that); to think (that); to
material (inf.); in my view (inf.) consider (that); to be of the opinion that

Exx. Exx.
- According to Fraser, none of the existing - Most respondents considered the first
models can explain the deviations (2008, flavour to be too sweet.
p. 35). - Smith & Jones (2002) believed that the
- As the article clearly explains, theoreti- Chebyshev linkage construction was prob-
cally it should simply not have occurred. lematic in this case.
Continued on the next page. . .
Type: Adverbials: Coordinators & Subordinators: Miscellaneous:

To emphasise a indeed; in fact

point Ex.
- The importance of text structuring is
underestimated; indeed, most first-year-
student writing is more akin to freewriting
than to professional writing.

To conclude all in all; in brief; in short; to conclude; to sum- The conclusion can be drawn that. . . ; It can/may
marise; in conclusion; to summarise; in summar; be concluded that. . .
for these reasons,
Exx. - It may be concluded that deviant work-
- In short, the argument of frequent fraud place behaviour may lead to higher
in parapsychology seems more politically turnover rates.
than evidentially founded. - One can conclude that an open-office
- For these reasons, Knuth designed the workspace is not always conducive to a
language more than four decades ago. productive work environment.

(Adapted from Oshima & Hogue, 2006, pp. 291299)

E Referencing Samples APA Style
This (upcoming) section offers a systematic overview of the most frequently occurring formats for
referencing in accordance with the standards of the APA. It tackles the default format(s) for in-text
referencing as well as for the reference list entries that the in-text references are linked to. Its content
and structure are based on the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association (APA, 2010, pp. 169215), its supplement the APA Style Guide to Electronic References (APA, 2012),
as well as a number of posts on the APA Style Blog on

For any question regarding details of APA referencing, one should consult the abovementioned sources.

F Sample Student Report

30 February 2016 The Home Depot:

Failure in China

John Smith (student nr. xxxxxx),
Jane Doe (student nr. xxxxxx),
Lieschen Mller (student nr. xxxxxx), and
Joe Bloggs (student nr. xxxxxx)

International Business School,

Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen

Ms Joan Cadigan, representative of Home Depot China

Word count: 2,883 words

Date: 30 February 2016

Sample Student Report


Executive Summary

The aim of this report is to analyse the underlying cultural issues that the worlds
largest U.S.-based home improvement retailer Home Depot faced when entering the
Chinese market in 2006. These cultural differences in terms of values, attitudes and
behaviours caused the closure of all twelve Home Depot stores until 2012 and
represent the basis for recommendations by C.E. Consulting.

In order to justify the reliability and validity of the recommendations, primary,

secondary and tertiary research has been conducted: C.E. Consulting conducted face-
to-face interviews with Chinese Home Depot customers to understand their
preferences and buying habits. Furthermore, in order to investigate the market
situation and to perform a competitor analysis, different online data banks from the
Hanze Media Library as well as Google Scholar were of use. Besides, textbooks
concerning the underlying cultural concepts presented a framework.

The results indicate that Home Depot did not sufficiently take the cultural
differences into consideration and therefore did not adjust its business model
accordingly. Firstly, ignoring the concept of guanxi is a main reason for Home
Depots business failure in China. Guanxi stands for a strong relationship-based
mindset with a high emphasis on local partnerships as opposed to the American
transaction-oriented mindset. On this basis, guo qing, another disregarded concept,
arises, which stands for national characteristics that should be considered when
introducing a product to the Chinese market. Secondly, the DIY model known for the
American home improvement market does not match the consumer preferences of
the Chinese customer. A third issue was the location of the stores, and the store
design was unsuitable for the mostly female customers usually in charge of home

Resulting from the findings, it is recommended that Home Depot implement

customer showrooms and therefore deliver a clear home decoration idea. Next, they
are advised to install technical devices that enable customers to digitally create and
order items directly in the store. Furthermore, a joint venture with local
subcontractor companies and handymen should be built to foster the concept of
guanxi. Lastly, C.E. Consulting advises to keep the prices on the same level.

Smith (xxxxxx), Doe (xxxxxx), Mller (xxxxxx), and Bloggs (xxxxxx) i.



1 Introduction ............................................................................................................ 1

2 Methodology ........................................................................................................... 2

3 The Home DepotBackground .............................................................................. 3

4 Problem Analysis .................................................................................................... 4

4.1 Problem One: Assumption of Similarities........................................................ 4

4.1.1 Business model .......................................................................................... 4

4.1.2 Design and location of the stores............................................................... 5

4.2 Problem Two: Consumer Mentality ................................................................. 6

4.2.1 The concept of guanxi................................................................................ 7

4.2.2 The concept of guo qing ............................................................................ 8

5 Conclusion............................................................................................................... 9

6 Recommendations ................................................................................................ 10

6.1 The New Store Concept and Introducing Technical Devices ......................... 10

6.2 Building Joint Ventures ................................................................................... 11

References (new) .......................................................................................................... 13

Appendix A: Home Depot Interview ............................................................................ 15

Appendix B: Home Depot Showroom .......................................................................... 18

Appendix C: QR Code on WeChat ................................................................................ 19

Appendix D: Handyman companies in Shanghai ........................................................ 23

Disclaimer..................................................................................................................... 24

Smith (xxxxxx), Doe (xxxxxx), Mller (xxxxxx), and Bloggs (xxxxxx) ii.

Sample Student Report


1 Introduction

Before expanding a business operation into a new country, companies should

conduct a thorough cultural analysis and consider the adjustment of their business
models and strategies to ensure that local customer needs and preferences are met.
Therefore, it is highly advisable that companies that decide to venture abroad
appreciate and recognize cultural differences to prevent the failure of their business
expansions in foreign markets and to understand the cultural determinant. Thus,
underlying cultural concepts, values, and attitudes are important components of a
companys business model, and they affect their business success (Gao, 2013).

The worlds largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot, founded in 1978, had
started their business expansion into China in 2006, inspired by forecasts that it
would become the largest economy by 2030 and by the favourable economic
situation as the worlds largest building-material market (Gao, 2013, p. 176). After six
years of business operation, however, Home Depot announced the closure of all its
stores in China. The following report will analyse the main problems which
determined the business failure of Home Depot in China.

Chapter 2 will briefly outline and explain the method used in the analysis of recent
developments, followed by a concise overview of the companys history in chapter 3.
Chapter 4 will perform a post-mortem on the basis of two potential problems, rooted
in the cultural concepts of guanxi and guo qing, after which the report will conclude
that Home Depot failed to implement these concepts properly and that it assumed
too many similarities among the U.S. and China, having misunderstood Chinese
consumer mentality and the importance of its store design and locations in China. In
the final chapter, C. E. Consulting offers a number of recommendations on how
Home Depot could improve its approach on the Chinese market.

Smith (xxxxxx), Doe (xxxxxx), Mller (xxxxxx), and Bloggs (xxxxxx) 1.


2 Methodology

In 2009, three years after Home Depot had begun to expand to China, the company
approached C.E. Consulting because of its unfavourable market position and the low
profit rates. It was decided to conduct a profound market analysis in China through
both primary and secondary research.

Primary research has been executed in terms of quantitative research by carrying out
face-to-face interviews with Chinese Home Depot customers. This gave C.E.
Consulting insights into the consumer preferences, insights into the reasons and
frequency of visits, as well as data on the average amount of money spent on home-
improvement items in the Chinese Home Depot stores. The interview questions can
be found in Appendix A.

Secondary research has been conducted in the form of a market trend and
competitor analysis in order to study the outlook in the retail industry as well as to
determine the market position of Home Depot. In order to ensure the reliability of
the presented data, tertiary sources from the online data banks of Hanze UAS and
quality newspapers such as The Week and journals such as Business Source Premier
have been used.

The market trend analysis assisted C.E. Consulting in recognising continuing trends
among Chinese home-improvement consumers and in evaluating the success of
Home Depots current business strategy in China. Moreover, the competitor analysis
has been conducted while focusing on Home Depots major foreign competitor,
IKEA, and by comparing the success of both companies business strategies and their
product adjustments to Chinese consumer preferences. To justify the reliability of the
stated problems, underlying cultural concepts as presented by Adler and Gundersen
(2008), Barna (1994), Gesteland (2012), Osland (1998), and Verluyten (2013) have
been taken into account.

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3 The Home DepotBackground

In order to change the way people would care about and improve their homes,
Bernie, Marcus and Arthur Blank founded Home Depot back in 1978 (The Home
Depot, 2016). With global sales of over 83 billion USD, the company is known as the
worlds largest home improvement specialty retailer. In its more than 2,200 retail
stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, Home Depot supplies its customers with up to
40,000 different building materials, home improvement supplies, lawn, and garden
products. Home Depots economic success is also reflected in the Fortune 500 list,
where it was ranked No. 33 in 2015 (Times Inc., 2016).

Growing income levels and purchasing power in conjunction with mortgage

incentives and property investment potentials caused an immense increase in the
private home ownership in China. This trend has been strengthened in 2007, when
the National Peoples Congress facilitated the first law to protect private property. As
a result, this trend made China the worlds largest building material market
(Flanagan, 2011).

Seeking further growth opportunities, Home Depot expanded to the booming

Chinese market in 2006 by acquiring 12 big-box stores from its Chinese counterpart
Home Way. Home Way was founded in 1996 and it was the first big-box home
improvement retail chain in China. The concept of big-box stores focuses on big floor
space (>4,500 m) with a high number of items that are available for purchase (Big-
box store, 2016). The rapid expansion of 12 stores within 11 years led to the situation
that Home Way needed to sell their stores to Home Depot in 2006 (Kwok, 2006).

Besides the Tianjin headquarter, the stores of Home Depot are spread over the cities
of Beijing, Xian, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, and Shenyang (Home Depot Shuts, 2011).

In 2012, after a period of six years, Home Depot announced the closure of all its
Chinese big-box stores. Moreover, the company recorded an accumulated loss of its
investment of $160 million (Why Home Depot Is, 2012).

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4 Problem Analysis

The following part is going to investigate the two major problems which Home Depot
has faced. Each problem analysis is based on underlying cultural theories and
concepts in order to give profound explanations and justifications. The derived
advices for Home Depot can be found in the subsequent section.

4.1 Problem One: Assumption of Similarities

The first underlying problem which Home Depot faced with its business expansion to
China can be described by Barnas stumbling block of the Assumption of
Similarities. Thus, Home Depot was confident in assuming that similar business
models, consumer preferences and buying behaviours would be present in China as
in the U.S. Based on Barnas theory it can be said that without having the ability and
willingness to acknowledge differences in cultural perceptions, values and attitudes,
misinterpretations and misunderstandings are likely to occur (Barna, 1994).

4.1.1 Business model

According to Osland, one of the main barriers to achieve business success in a foreign
country is created by culture wherefore this determinant has to be taken into account
when developing the business models for international business operations (1998,
2013). This can be seen in the first underlying problem as Home Depot executed the
same business strategy of Do-it-yourself (DIY) that it used in America in the
Chinese market, which led to the closing of the stores. Hence, Home Depot did not
sufficiently recognize that Chinese consumers do not show the same enthusiasm for
DIY as the consumers in America do. This Chinese consumer behaviour is rooted in
the Confucian tradition as manual labour was seen as lower ranked which is also
related to the social status issue. This means that usually poor people would take on
DIY projects since they were not able to hire subcontractors.

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However, poor Chinese people mainly live in rural areas where they buy the
materials from local second hand shops whose products are much cheaper than those
from Home Depot (Gao, 2013). Besides that, for the middle and upper class of
Chinese consumers, manual labour is relatively inexpensive wherefore most people
tend to hire an external handyman or subcontractor to accomplish their home
improvement projects. Instead of adopting the American DIY strategy, Chinese
consumers show their preferences for a Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) approach instead
(Gao, 2013).

Hence, it can be identified that Home Depot should have recognized the need to
reposition itself and to adapt its business model to the Chinese culture and therefore
to incorporate their own corporate culture with the host culture of China (Gao, 2013).

At this point, Home Depots business operations can be compared to the business
success of IKEA in China, Home Depots major foreign competitor. One reason for
IKEAs success is based on the fact that in recent years there has been a shift in the
Chinese consumer lifestyle of home ownership from around 0% in 2000 to 70% in
2012 (Bhasin, 2012). This change brought advantages for IKEA as the Chinese
consumers were willing to learn from the western approach of home improvement.
Furthermore, Western-style show rooms within IKEA in the form of bedrooms,
family rooms and kitchens provide imagination and guidance for the new generation
of Chinese homeowners. Thus, IKEA attempts to educate their consumers and
therefore experience the Western culture while Home Depot did not offer any of this
design service to give advices to its customers (Gao, 2013). Consequently, IKEA
succeeded due to its efforts to adapt their business strategy to the Chinese consumer
needs. Unfortunately, Home Depot failed to acknowledge the cultural differences and
to redevelop their standardized business strategy which led to the closing of their
stores (Delavan, 2013). The derived advice from this analysis can be found in the
subsequent section.

4.1.2 Design and location of the stores

Another important issue that Home Depot overlooked when entering the market in
China is the unsuitable design and location of the stores to the local customer needs.

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It should have been clear that, when entering a new market with a different culture,
certain aspects call for an adjustment and the business model cannot simply be kept.
According to Adler and Gundersen, this issue of cultural blindness, which includes
ignoring or choosing to overlook differences between cultures even though they do
exist, is frequently observed (2008). Therefore, it highly limits working with other
cultures and makes it ineffective.

Firstly, as opposed to the U.S., it is of high importance for the Chinese to live as close
as possible to city centres (Gao, 2013). Therefore, the Chinese middle-class, which
was mainly targeted by Home Depot, tends to live in downtown areas of
metropolitan cities. Using the big-box concept, Home Depot on the other hand
positioned its stores mainly in suburb areas that are not easily accessible for the
targeted homeowners which consequently limited their willingness to buy there
(Gao, 2013).

Secondly, the design of the stores was not tailored enough to the female customers.
Different from the American culture, women are usually given full control over the
decoration of the house (Tulshyan, 2013), which then calls for a completely different
approach of the store design in order to attract them. Developing small showrooms
as seen in the example of IKEA would provide women especially with a visual idea on
how to decorate their homes and therefore offer a different, more appealing shopping
experience. An adapted business strategy, including location, design, and targeting is
essential in this case. The detailed advice on how Home Depot could change the store
design and the selection of the location can be found in the recommendations.

4.2 Problem Two: Consumer Mentality

As stated by Adler (2008), the cultural background determines the interaction of
values, attitudes, and behavior of a society (Adler, 2008, p. 19). Therefore,
companies need to study these closely in order to experience success in a foreign
market. Hence, the following problems concerning the consumer behaviour have
been overlooked by Home Depot when entering the Chinese market.

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4.2.1 The concept of guanxi

One of the underlying problems of Home Depots business failure is based on the fact
that the company did not recognize the significance of the Chinese concept of guanxi.
Within the Chinese Ethnic, guanxi means webs and network and it refers to the
importance in Asian cultures to build up relationships with people you know and
trust (Verluyten, 2013, p. 48; Gesteland, 2012, pp. 2425). Due to the Chinese
relationship-oriented culture, building trust and connections with local partners
could have prevented the business failure of Home Depot. Hence, the American
transaction-oriented culture conflicted with the more relationship based Chinese
culture at this point (Adler & Gundersen, 2008, pp. 4748).

Moreover, it can be identified that local partnerships with their expertise are crucial
and that developing a good guanxi with relevant organizations, authorities, landlords
and suppliers is of significant importance when entering the Chinese retail market.
In China, no business transaction is executed before having gained mutual trust
between the business partners (Gao, 2013). Thus, it can be analysed that the
international retailer Home Depot should have undertaken efforts to develop and
foster local partnerships.

Here it can also be mentioned that China has one of the most profitable and fastest
growing retail markets in the world, which results in an increasing level of
competition for retailers, depending on their sector, and an increasing number of
chain stores. Moreover, only around 5% of Chinas retail enterprises are foreign
invested which is, amongst others, based on the imposed restrictions on foreign
investment in the Chinese retail sector and the strict licensing procedures for
foreign-invested retailers (Lu, 2010).

Consequently, it would have been an advisable strategy for Home Depot to form joint
ventures or mergers with local business partners which could have contributed
valuable resources as knowledge of local market conditions and business contacts
(Lu, 2010).

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4.2.2 The concept of guo qing

Expanded from the previous context, another concept that is of high importance
when coming to the Chinese market is called guo qing, meaning national
characteristics (Yan, 1994). From a Chinese viewpoint, a product or service
implemented in the country should only be adopted if it meets these underlying
values. Hence, in order to attract Chinese consumers, following guo qing is crucial. If
an expanding company does not adopt to this concept, Chinese customers tend to
disregard its products, as the foreign company does not take their culture, more
precisely their history, into account (Yan, 1994). As for instance, in order to be
successful in the Chinese market, a brand requires a positive reputation and the trust
of the Chinese consumers (Sampi Marketing Inc., 2014). Therefore, companies
should focus on official and trustworthy marketing channels, such as trusted
newspapers or radio channels.

The high consciousness towards brands is again reflected in the negative consumer
attitude towards Home Depot as it has not built a trustworthy reputation yet (Gao,
2013) and therefore did not become competitive next to other, more well-known and
trusted stores. Additionally, the Chinese customers are used to finding the demanded
products in a store organized according to brands which is not in accordance with
Home Depots American store concept (Gao, 2013).

Furthermore, in line with the idea of guo qing, parochialism is another concept to
keep in mind. This concept implies only seeing ones own belief system and ignoring
anything else beyond it (Adler & Gundersen, 2008, p. 85). This assumption causes
others to only be a reflection of oneself and not what they really are and therefore lets
one assume similarities despite severe differences. In this particular instance, Home
Depot acted in a parochial manner due to the missing empathy for the Chinese
culture and the missing acknowledgement of differences in values and norms.

Lastly, social status is an important aspect in China so that using rather simple and
inexpensive products from a DIY store is looked upon as poor compared to hiring
others (Gao, 2013). This again reflects the importance for Home Depot to execute the
DIFM approach in order to also attract the higher classes of the Chinese population
in the foreign market.

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5 Conclusion

After having analysed the main underlying problems, it can be said that Home Depot
missed the opportunity to adjust their business strategy and model to the Chinese
market, which consequently led to their business failure in the expanding country.
Reasoning from the assumption that Chinese consumers have the same preferences
for the DIY model as the American consumers, this indicates that Home Depot did
not undertake enough research to recognize cultural differences. Moreover, Home
Depot executed the wrong business strategy when designing the stores and choosing
their location. While using big stores in rural areas that are difficult to reach for the
target group, the possibility to locate them in urban centres was neglected. Besides,
acknowledging the concept of guanxi would have brought benefits for Home Depot
through local partnerships, resources and expertise. Beyond that, the problem
analysis reveals that Home Depot did not consider the concept of guo qing, which
determines the Chinese consumer mentality. This consumer behaviour includes the
importance of the social status, price consciousness, and brand awareness. Taking
the concept of Parochialism into consideration, it can be seen that in all underlying
problems, Home Depot did not appreciate the differences between the Chinese and
American values, attitudes, and behaviours.

Thus, locating their stores in suburbs, implementing the big box concept and
failing to recognize the female target group is a clear indication of Adlers concept of
cultural blindness.

Based on the cultural issues analysed, specific recommendations have been provided
for Home Depot which can be found in the following section.

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6 Recommendations

On the basis of the problem analysis, Home Depot faces two major issues in China.
In the following sections, detailed recommendations to cope with these problems will
be given by C.E. Consulting.

6.1 The New Store Concept and Introducing Technical

Firstly, Home Depot is advised to adapt to the Chinese Do-It-For-Me (DIFM)
approach. The prior mentioned case of IKEA has shown the importance of giving
Chinese customers guidance with their home improvement projects. Thus, Home
Depot should immediately start to implement centrally located showrooms based on
an average Chinese apartment size of 40m in the boroughs of Jing An or Xu Hui,
Shanghai, in order to provide customers with home decoration concepts. C.E.
Consulting provides an example of such a showroom in Appendix B.

Engaging in the booming Chinese e-commerce market, Home Depot should equip
the showrooms with tablets that have user-friendly apps installed. These apps feature
Home Depot products, which are tagged with QR-codes in stores. Customers can
adjust the virtual rooms according to their own desires by scanning QR-codes with
WeChat, the Chinese equivalent to WhatsApp, or by searching for items on the app.
This means, each product will be present only once in the shop itself and design
options can be created via the app. Purchases are then made on the tablet while there
are no limitations of having the entire room design or single furniture items
delivered. Please find a visualization of an app design option, an explanation of its
usage and a QR code to test the WeChat function with in Appendix C.

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Figure 6.1 Home Depot app.

C.E. Consulting recommends the instalment of 1015 tablets per store in order to
provide all customers the opportunity to have the full shopping experience via the
Home Depot App, as shown in figure 6.1.

The items of Home Depot are located in rented warehouses in Shanghai suburb
boroughs like Song Jiang or Bao Shan as they are offering comparable low rental
prices. After the order and payment are processed via the tablet, customers are given
two options that reinforce the DIFM approach: (1) Consumer employ their own
handymen and Home Depot delivers the items on the same day to the customers or
(2) customers can hire the handymen service offered by Home Depot which deliver
and build the furniture in the consumers home for a fee. A detailed explanation of
the second option can be found in the following section.

Since Home Depots current approach to customer service and store outlay appears
to be the most contrary to the Chinese culture, C.E. Consulting strongly advises the
management to start the restructuring immediately and fully implement the new
concept by 2010.

6.2 Building Joint Ventures

In order to operate according to the highly valued concept of guanxi, Home Depot
should become more relationship-oriented and trustworthy in the eye of its Chinese

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consumers. Hence, for a Western company like Home Depot, this should be done
through establishing close partnerships with local subcontractors and handyman
companies. Thus, C.E. Consulting provides a list with highly reputable subcontractor
firms from which Home Depot is advised to choose at least one. The list, which has
been compiled by the C.E. Shanghai office can be found in Appendix C. In order to
establish a valuable contract that addresses all applicable laws between the two
parties, Home Depot should make use of further consultation of a legal expert in the
field of American-Chinese business law. Since C.E. Consulting operates in both
countries, the U.S. as well as in China, a link between the Chinese experts and Home
Depots management can be established. Thus, C.E. Consulting is able to build the
foundation for a trusting relationship between Home Depot and the local partnership
companies. Since hierarchy is highly valued in China, it is recommended for the U.S.
Home Depot CEO, Frank Blake, to make a business trip to China for one to two
weeks in order to facilitate a good business relationship. This action should be
executed within the next two months.

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Adler, N. J. & Gundersen, A. (2008). International dimensions of organizational

behavior (5th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.
Barna, L. M. (1994). Stumbling blocks in intercultural communication. Intercultural
communication: A reader, 6, 345353.
Bhasin, K. (2012, September 14). Why IKEA took China by storm, while Home Depot
failed miserably. Business Insider. Retrieved from
Big-box store. (2016). Retrieved from
Delavan, J. (2013, November 3). Home Depot and Ikea in China. International
Consumer Behavior [weblog]. Retrieved from
Flanagan, E. (2011, February 8). Home Depot fails to convince China to DIY. NBC
News. Retrieved from
Gao, M. H. (2013). Culture determines business models: Analyzing Home Depots
failure case in China for international retailers from a communication
perspective. Thunderbird International Business Review, 55, 173191.
Gesteland, R. R. (2012). Cross-cultural business behavior: A guide for global
management (5th ed.). Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.
The Home Depot. (2016). The home is where our story begins. Retrieved from [21 March 2016]
Home Depot shuts Beijing store due to difficulties. (2011, January 27).
Retrieved from
KPMG. (2007). Luxury brands in China. Retrieved from
Kwok, V. W. (2006, December 13). Home Depot buys China clone. Forbes . Retrieved

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Lu, S. (2010, May 1). Understanding Chinas retail market. China Business Review.
Retrieved from
Osland, G. E. (1990). Doing business in China: A framework for cross-cultural
understanding. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 8(4), 414.
Sampi Marketing Inc. (2014, May 28). Chinese brands and consumer trust issues. Retrieved from
Time Inc. (2016). Fortune 500. Retrieved from
Tulshyan, R. (2013, April 26). Home Depots failure in China: Ignoring women.
Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved from
Verluyten, S. P. M. (2013). Intercultural skills for international business and
international relations: A practical introduction with exercises (3rd ed.).
Leuven/Den Haag: Acco.
Why Home Depot is failing in China: 4 theories. (2012, September 18). The Week.
Retrieved from
Yan, R. (1994, September-October). To reach Chinas consumer, adapt to guo qing.
Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://

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Appendix A: Home Depot Interview

The following survey has been executed by C.E. Consulting in order to analyse the
consumer preferences, the reasons for visit and the frequency of visits as well as the
average amount of money spent on home-improvement items at Home Depot. C.E.
Consulting calculated the active response rate and therefore interviewed 1,500
customers after they had finished their shopping at Home Depot in various locations.

1. What is your gender?


2. How old are you?

Under 18 years
18 to 24 years
25 to 34 years
35 to 44 years
45 to 54 years
55 to 65 years
Older than 65 years

3. What is your marital status?

Single (never married)

4. What is your preference of ordering/ buying your home improvement items?

In the shop with offered service
Order online

5. What is your preferred home improvement approach?

Do-It-for-Me (hiring a handy man who will deliver and build up the
ordered items)

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6. In which home improvement retail stores do you order/buy?

I do not buy at home improvement stores
Home Depot
Best Buy

7. How far away do you live from the Home Depot store?
010 km
1020 km
2050 km
More than 50 km

8. Do you think the current Home Depot store is easily accessible?


9. How did you reach the Home Depot store?

By feet
By bike
By private car
With public transportation

10. How often do you buy at Home Depot?

I do not buy at Home Depot
Less than once per year
Once per year
Twice per year
More than twice per year
Once per month
More than once per month
Once per week

11. What was your purpose of buying at Home Depot?

Private purpose
Commercial purpose (owning a handyman company)

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12. What is your average amount of money spent at Home Depot?

I do not buy at Home Depot
> $500

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Appendix B: Home Depot Showroom

Figure B1 gives an impression of how the new stores of Home Depot could be
designed, located in the different locations around China.

Figure B1. Sample showroom

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Appendix C: QR Code on WeChat

Home Depot should launch the mobile application in 2010 in which customers can
view products and purchase them directly online. Besides, by using this app,
customers can also design their showrooms, which will also give female customers a
more convenient and creative shopping experience. By going through four steps,
customers can easily finish both, designing their room and purchasing the desired
items. The app is designed in the Chinese and English language. More detailed
explanations will be given below together with the concept picture of the application.

As mentioned in the recommendation, customers at Home Depot are able to scan the
QR codes of different products in the showroom to get further information about the
available sizes, colours and corresponding prices.

This QR code can be scanned using WeChat. To test the function, please download
WeChat in the app store and create an account. Then proceed as follows: Choose
Chat on the bottom > click + in the top right corner > choose scan QR code.

By scanning the QR code (see figure C2), the customer will be directly forwarded to
the desired product of the app from Home Depot, can see design options and make
the purchase.

Figure C2. QR-code

Figure C2 below shows the product that is linked to the QR code in figure C1 above.

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The four steps of the ordering and purchasing

process will look as follows. Firstly, customers
can search for the product they needed which
can be selected based on the preferred price
and brand. An impression of this is given in
figure C3. In addition to that, customers can
also read the reviews from other customers.
For any other questions, customers can tap the
CONTACT bottom in order to directly engage
in a chat with the customer service online.

Figure C2. Scanned Item on WeChat

Figure C3. Visualisation of Step 1 on the Home Depot app.

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After choosing the colour and size, customers will enter Step 2 (see figure C3) and set
up their showrooms.

Figure C4. Visualisation of Step 2 in the Home Depot app.

Before starting with the showrooms, customers need to take a picture of the
structural map, which they will get from the builder. The app will directly digitalize
the drawing. After that customers can place their products wherever they want. On
the screen will be shown both, the detailed effect picture and the overall organization
from the top view. If customers have difficulty arranging their products, they can
check other examples provided in the app.

As mentioned in the recommendation part, Home Depot is advised to cooperate with

local subcontractors and handymen. Thus in Step 3 (figure C5), customers can
choose to either hire their own group or forward the process to subcontractors,
offered from Home Depot. If customers choose the later, their draft from Step 2 will
directly be handed to this external company. Followed, the customer and
subcontractor will get in contact to arrange further delivery details and possible

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Figure C5. Visualisation of Step 3 in the Home Depot app

In the last step, Step 4 (figure C6), customers only need to fill in their delivery and
payment details. Subsequently, the purchasing process will be completed.

Figure C6. Visualisation of Step 4 in the Home Depot app

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Appendix D: Handyman companies in Shanghai

1. Lord Decoration

2. GuoXin space design
3. Yi Tang
4. Ju Tong
5. Qian Xiang space design
6. Qi Jia

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Hereby we declare that this report is written by ourselves and not copied from
anyone else. All used sources can be found in the attached reference list.

Groningen, 30 February 2016


[John Smith]

[Jane Doe]

[Lieschen Mller]

[Joe Bloggs]

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