MYS Style and Form Guide for Written Assignments

All MYS students must ensure that their written assignments conform to the current edition of the MYS ‘Style and Form Guide for Written Assignments.’ Students whose work does not conform to the guide may have the work returned to them to be redone or have their grade reduced.

Paper Format

The title page should include the following information centered on the page:

  • The title you have chosen for your writing
  • Your name
  • The name of the assignment (if any)
  • The name and number of the course
  • MYS College of Theological Studies
  • The date you submitted the assignment

Your paper title should specify the paper’s topic and your particular perspective, focus, or theoretical framework.

Paper type, margins, and page numbers

Papers should be formatted on A4 paper with 2.5 cm margins on all sides and with font size 12, Times New Roman. Use double space to allow easy reading and space for the instructor’s comments. The right margin may be either “justified” (straight) or “unjustified.”1 A page number should be included at the bottom of every page except the title page. Include your name, your paper topic and the date in the page heading.

Declarations Page

Though it may not necessary for some shorter assignments, your thesis should include a page of declarations. This is a statement in which you declare that the thesis represents your own work and that the thesis does not exceed the word limit established for the thesis.

Word Count: If your assignment has a maximum number of words, your word count will include footnotes but exclude bibliography, abstract and the title page. Appendices should only be used in exceptional cases with the approval of your supervisor or instructor. Approved appendices will be excluded from your word count and will not directly contribute towards the mark awarded to the paper.


The first step in completing any written assignment is to create an outline. It is almost always appropriate to include this outline as the first page in the assignment. For longer assignments, this outline can serve as the table of contents. This outline should contain the main topics within the assignments and perhaps further levels of sub[1]headings within the body of the text. Do not begin the assignment proper on the same page as the outline.

Outline Format: Use the following format for your outline: I, A, 1, a) (1) (a) (i). The relevant outline number should precede headings and sub-headings in the text. Major section headings including TITLE or CHAPTER TITLE (on the first page of the main body of your paper), OUTLINE, BIBLIOGRAPHY should be typed in capital letters 5 cm (2 inches) from the top of page.

In-text references to Scripture

References to Scripture should be simple and concise. For example, write: “In Romans 5:1 Paul asserts that...” rather than: “In Paul’s letter to the Romans, the fifth chapter and first verse…” Bible references should be included in the text rather than in the footnotes, usually placed at the end of the sentence in parentheses (e.g., Rom 5:1). Note which Bible translation you are using either with the first reference (Rom 5:1 NIV) or in a footnote.2 In academic writing the norm is to write “Bible” rather than “the Holy Bible.” The word “Bible” is always capitalized, but the adjective “biblical” is not capitalized.

When you use abbreviations of biblical books, the following are acceptable. Note that no punctuation follows the abbreviation of biblical books:

Gen. Exod. Lev. Num. Deut. Josh. Judg. Ruth. 1-2 Sam. 1-2 Kgs. 1-2 Chr. Esth. Job. Ps. (Pss: when referring to the book or a number of Psalms). Prov. Eccl. Cant (for Canticles, the academic name of Song of Solomon). Isa.

Jer. Lam. Ezek. Dan. Hos. Joel. Amos. Obad. Jonah. Mic. Nah. Hab. Zeph. Hag. Zech. Mal Matt. Luke. John. Acts. Rom. 1-2 Cor. Gal. Eph. Phil. Col. 1-2 Thess. 1-2 Tim. Titus. Phm. Heb. Jam. 1-2 Pet. 1-2-3 John. Jude. Rev.

Multiple scripture references in the same chapter should be separated by commas: multiple references to different chapters or books should be separated by a semi-colon:

1 Kgs. 12:1-3, 7-10; 17:7; 2 Kgs. 3:1-14 Note that there are no spaces after colons or hyphens in scripture references but that spaces follow comas or semicolons that separate references.


Reference notes are used when you have referred to or quoted from someone else’s work and need to cite your source. Note that the footnote number is placed after the punctuation in the text. When quoting an author, “the quotation is placed in quotation marks and the footnote reference is placed outside of all punctuation.” 3 Double-check that the quotation is exactly correct in every detail.

If your quotation is three lines or longer, you should place it in a “block quotation,” with single spacing and side margins of 2.5 cm shorter than that of the regular text, seen here. No extra space is needed before or after the quotation, as it constitutes part of the paragraph.

Both before and after your block quotation you should write at least one sentence of your own to clarify what conclusion you draw from the quotation. Never include a quotation without critically reflecting on its contribution to your research question Remember that your paper may not contain more than 20% quotations.

Every quotation and use of another author’s ideas must be footnoted. If you borrow more than three words in a row from another author, the words must be placed in quotation marks and properly referenced. If you use somebody’s words or sentence structure without quotation marks, even if you include a footnote, your work will be guilty of plagiarism, since you insinuate that the language is yours when, in fact, it is not. Any attempt to pass off another author’s work as your own is viewed as deceitful and unacceptable conduct for which the punishment is suspension or expulsion from MYS. See elsewhere in the MYS handbook for details.

Quotation marks

All quotations of more than three consecutive words must be enclosed in quotation marks, also called inverted commas. Do not put quotations in italics merely because they are quotations. You may use either ‘single’ or “double” inverted commas to signify quotations. Quotations within quotations should be shown by using the opposite convention. For example

  • She answered, “I’m not a farmer,” even though she owns a farm.
  • As her neighbor pointed out, “I suspect she did not know what the English word ‘farmer’ meant.”

Computer backup copy

Make it a habit to create a backup copy of your document every time you work on it. Before submitting a paper, ensure that you have saved both a printed copy and a computer backup copy. Computer crashes can happen to anyone, and with some forethought you need never lose your work.

Footnotes and Bibliography

Footnotes can be of two varieties: (1) ‘Reference’ notes are the most common, and give information regarding source citation (see detailed discussion of citations below) (2) ‘Text’ notes may or may not include a reference but also contain some discussion related to the argument in the main text. Text notes add information to the discussion in the main body of the text, which might otherwise clutter the main flow of the argument. Text notes should be rare in short assignments. Be careful not to place important points of your discussion in a text note.

MYS requires footnotes at the bottom of the page (not endnotes) for all written assignments.

Footnotes at the bottom of each page are much easier for the reader to follow. Footnotes on a page should be clearly separated from the text of the page, either by sufficient space or a line.

The following table presents proper formatting for references to different types of source material. Your first reference to a source should have full bibliographical information, whilst subsequent references to the same source are abbreviated to just the author’s name, a shortened form of the title and page number.

Your bibliography will list all sources in alphabetical order, formatted in “hanging” style, so that the first line is flush with the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented 1.5 cm. Each item should be single spaced, but with a double space between individual items. This is not difficult, once you create a format for it on your computer.

Always cite the most recent edition of a work and the first printing of that edition.

In keeping with Ethiopian convention, Ethiopian authors are listed in the bibliography alphabetically by their given or first name, while Western authors are listed alphabetically by their family name, e.g.: Beasley-Murray, George R. Baptism in the New Testament etc.… Bruk Ayele. 1 Enoch as Christian Scripture etc.… Note in this example that middle initials always stay with the given name, not the family name, and that hyphenated family names are treated as one word: Beasley-Murray. Omit the author’s title, such as ‘Professor’. Bible translations are not listed.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top