Guide to writing history essays


Spelling, Punctuation and Capitals



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2. Spelling, Punctuation and Capitals
2.1 Spelling. As a general guideline, spelling should follow the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (4th edn., Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2004). Use Australian/British forms of spelling in preference to American forms (e.g. use ‘-ise’ not ‘-ize’ and ‘-our’ not ‘-or’.) By all means, use a computer spelling checker on your essay, but always carefully proofread your essay for spelling mistakes. (Your spell checker would have no problem with the following sentence: ‘Width the attack on Poland, the wad had begun.’)
2.2 Punctuation. Always proofread your essay for punctuation errors. The most common errors include the misuse of apostrophes (e.g. be sure you know the difference between Nazi’s, Nazis’ and Nazis) and semi-colons (e.g. ‘The semi-colon is simple to use; it separates two main clauses’).
2.3 Capitalisation. Be sparing in your use of capitals. Other than for proper names, use capitals generally only where lower case would create ambiguity. You should be consistent in your use of capitalization for the titles of works in your footnotes and bibliography.
2.4 Acronyms. The names of government agencies, associations, unions and other such organisations are often abbreviated. In general, these acronyms should be in full capitals with no periods between the letters. For example: UN, YMCA, USSR.


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