Writer’s Checklist

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For a more complete guide see the most recent addition of Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Numbers below in bold designate sections in the Turabian manual. See also the most recent addition of The Chicago Manual of Style. 

For a helpful online guide to writing and grammar, including practice exercises, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

Organization of a Paper

  • The introductory paragraph or section introduces the topic in an interesting way and states clearly what you seek to demonstrate in the paper (10.1). For longer papers, the introduction lays out the basic plan of the paper and explains the research method used.
  • The body of the paper develops the argument in orderly steps; each paragraph is unified and contributes to the whole (9.3).
  • The conclusion sums up (without simply repeating) what you have argued and shows why it is significant (10.2).

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original material (material that is not common knowledge) without acknowledging the source (4.2.3, 7.9).

  • All quotations from sources are placed in quotation marks or in block quote format, are reproduced exactly, word for word, and are properly cited in footnotes.
  • No source has been paraphrased too closely (i.e., by matching its words and phrasing). Any paraphrased source is properly cited in footnotes.
  • All ideas taken from sources, even where not directly quoted, are properly cited in footnotes. Class lecture notes do not need to be cited.

Basic Formatting

  • Name, title of paper, class and date are on the first page or a title page (for thesis, title page conforms to SHMS MA Thesis Guidelines or STL Thesis Guidelines).
  • Paper is in 12-point Times or another standard font, double-spaced, with 1.0-inch margins (for thesis, use 1.5-inch inside margins, 1.0-inch outside margins).
  • Page numbers are included on each page.
  • Quotations of five lines or longer are in block quote format, indented and without open and close quote marks (25.2.2).


  • Biblical references are in parentheses in the text, in correct format (Josh 1:8) (19.5.2).
  • References to Church documents are either in footnotes or in parentheses in the text (one or the other format is used consistently), in correct format (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 260).
  • All titles of books, journals, and Church documents are in italics (17.1). 
  • All titles of articles or short papers are in quotation marks (17.2). 
  • All footnotes are formatted correctly (see formatting instructions below) (16.3).
  • Any source cited previously is in short title format, or “ibid.” is used for an immediately previous source (16.4).
  • Bibliography (if required) is at the end of paper in correct format (16.2).
  • If the paper is assigned to discuss a single text such as a patristic work, the text is cited in a footnote on first reference, and thereafter in short parenthetical references.

Spelling and Punctuation

  • Spelling has been checked.
  • Punctuation is placed in correct order (21.11.2):

Commas and periods always go inside quote marks.
Colons and semicolons always go outside quote marks.
Question marks and exclamation points depend on the context.
Punctuation goes after parentheses (unless a whole sentence is within the parentheses).
Footnote reference numbers go after punctuation.

Example: As St. John Paul II stated, “We must not give in to passing crises.”1
Example: Paul wrote, “I hope to see you” (Rom 15:24).2

  • Hyphens and dashes are used correctly—I have not put a hyphen (a short mark used to form a compound word like self-help) where there should be a dash (21.7)
  • Colons, semicolons, and commas are used correctly; I have not put a semicolon (;) where there should be a colon (:) or a comma (,) (21.2-4)

Colons are used to introduce a list or example.There are three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.
Semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses.Bob was sad; his dog had died.


Non-native speakers of English would do well to enlist a native speaker to read through the paper and offer feedback about syntax and word choice.

Formatting of Footnotes and Bibliography

Citing Biblical Books 

When citing the Bible, put the book, chapter, and verse in parentheses, not a footnote, unless you are citing more than four passages. For example, 

At the climax of the hymn to love, Paul says, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). 

The first time you quote the Bible, include an abbreviated reference to the English version of the Bible that you are using. For example, 

At the climax of the hymn to love, Paul says, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13 NRSV). 

Do not include the version after this. However, if you quote from more than one version, the first use of the most frequently cited version should include a footnote that says “Unless otherwise noted, all biblical quotations are from the NRSV.” Then, when other versions are used, include the abbreviated reference. 

The Bible does not need to appear in your bibliography. 

Citing Church Documents 

Citations to Church documents (conciliar, papal, etc.) may be put either in footnotes or in parentheses; however, your usage must be consistent throughout. Include the author, document title, and section number (not page number) not preceded by a comma. Do not include a web site address. The Catechism may be abbreviated CCC. For example, 

All the Christian faithful are called to holiness (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium 11).

Pope Paul VI taught that the Church “exists in order to evangelize” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 14).

“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (CCC 133, quoting St. Jerome). 

Footnote Formatting

Single author of a book (17.1

James D.G. Dunn, A New Perspective on Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 76.

Multiple authors of a book (17.1)

Mikeal Parsons and Richard Pervo, Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993), 75.

Book of collected essays (17.1)

Jerome H. Neyrey, ed., The Social World of Luke-Acts (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991), xi-xii.

Book in a series (17.1.5)

Peter T. O’Brien, Commentary on Philippians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 403.

Translated book

Henri de Lubac, Scripture in the Tradition, trans. Luke O’Neill (New York: Crossroad, 2000), 150.

Article in a journal (17.2)

John S. Kloppenborg, “Tradition and Redaction in the Synoptic Sayings Source,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984), 43.

Text quoted in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture or similar compilation

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.21.1, in Andrew Louth, ed., Genesis 1-11, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2001), 90-91.

Article in a book of collected essays (17.1.8)

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Pauline Theology,” in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 1382.

Theological dictionary or encyclopedia entry

James L. Crenshaw, “Proverbs, Book of,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 519.

Web page (17.7)

Stephen Pimentel, “The Todah Sacrifice as Pattern for the Eucharist,” CatholicCulture.org, http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8368 (accessed July 17, 2013).

Footnote format if a source is used again (16.4.1-2)

If the source in the previous note is cited again: Ibid., page number.

Ibid., 46.

If a previously cited source is cited again: last name, shortened title, page number.

Kloppenborg, “Tradition and Redaction,” 46.

Kloppenborg, Formation of Q, 107.

Bibliography Formatting

The bibliography should begin on a new page at the end of the paper. 

Kloppenborg, John S. The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.

Parsons, Mikeal, and Richard Pervo. Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

Neyrey, Jerome H., ed. The Social World of Luke-Acts: Models for Interpretation. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991.

O’Brien, Peter T. Commentary on Philippians. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.

Kloppenborg, John S. “Tradition and Redaction in the Synoptic Sayings Source.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 46 (1984) 34-62.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer. “Pauline Theology.” In The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, 3-7. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Crenshaw, James L. “Proverbs, Book of.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5, ed. David Noel Freedman, 513-20. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Pimentel, Stephen. “The Todah Sacrifice as Pattern for the Eucharist.” CatholicCulture.org. http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8368 (accessed July 17, 2013).

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