Santa Clara University

Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries

Writing Guidelines

The following paragraphs review basic elements for writing a research paper. While most of this is well known to you, it is presented here as a review.

I. Elements of Style


A paragraph is a group of sentences unified by a topic sentence and developed in a coherent and emphatic manner. For a paragraph, essay, chapter, or book to be effective it must have these qualities: unity, coherence, emphasis, development. In an essay, chapter, etc., the paragraph is the basic logical unit, the basic unit of thought. Hence,

Topic Sentence

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. Then develop the topic sentence with supporting sentences that provide a coherent body of evidence. The topic sentence must contain a strong subject and a clear controlling idea. A "strong" subject indicates that the logical subject is in the grammatical subject's position.

e.g., The Treaty of Versailles failed for three reasons.

Subject: Treaty of Versailles.

Controlling idea: verb and everything that follows--failed for three reasons.

The topic sentence should tell the reader what you are focusing on (the strong subject) and how you plan to develop it (controlling idea).

The topic sentence serves as a pledge to the reader: this is what he or she can expect. Thus, in the above example, we know the writer will focus on the Treaty of Versailles and develop the idea in terms of cause and effect or examples and illustrations. Furthermore, we know the writer will proceed logically from the first to the second to the third reason. Each reason will support and develop the thesis.

Transitional Clauses

Each paragraph may begin with a transitional clause to link the present paragraph to the preceding one. This transitional clause tells the reader the logical relation between the two paragraphs. For example:

Although the Second Vatican Council introduced many liturgical reforms, many American congregations lacked sufficient preparation to carry them out.

The italicized dependent clause serves as a transitional clause and tells the reader what the previous paragraph stressed, namely, the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. The second part of the sentence, the independent clause, tells us what to expect in this paragraph: details, examples, and maybe cause and effect, or analysis of the insufficient preparations, etc. The word although, placed initially, tells the reader to expect a dependent clause of concession with the important news to follow.

Content Development

In developing an essay it is preferable to use deductive structure. Move from the general to the particular. Thus, the essay should always begin with a thesis or charge paragraph which gives the reader a sense of your whole argument.

Read your finished work carefully. Does it make sense and hold together? If not, there is a lack of clarity or a break in your argument. Go back to the text--often a transitional sentence or a stronger conclusion will make all the difference. Another suggestion might be to have another person read your paper for coherency and also to catch any mechanical errors you may have made.

Distinguish type of development as either illustrative or argumentative. Illustrative development shows how a theme functions, e.g., how Luke develops the theme of "universal mission" in the gospel and Acts. Argumentative writing starts with a position about a subject on which opinion is divided. Various pieces of evidence are offered in support of the author's position and in refutation of an opinion with which the writer disagrees.

Use of Sources

When using quotations from a book, remember you are writing the paper and your prose must be coherent and continuous. This means any words quoted in the form of a phrase, sentence, or number of sentences must be integrated into the text of your paragraph. Thus avoid beginning or ending a paragraph with a quote since the thesis and transitional sentence of the paragraph is best left to you.

Whenever you use the precise words or even the ideas of another, you must give reference to the text you are using either in a footnote or endnote. Be certain that your first reference is complete. Subsequent references are made giving the author's last name and the page number of the work. For example, Miller, 47.

Some Additional Suggestions

II. Elements of Form

Whenever two or more sentences are quoted, running to four or more lines, use the block quotation style, that is, indent the quote, type the text single space, and do not use quotation marks. The block quote is indented beginning on the fifth space.

III. Footnotes, Endnotes and Bibliography

Number all footnotes/endnotes consecutively and place the number slightly above (not below) the line of your text.

The following samples of footnotes or endnote entries (1) and bibliographical entries (2) are taken from A Manual for Writers by Kate Turabian, 5th edition.

Note: Please italicize titles of books or journals and use a hanging indent with bibliographic entries so that the first line is flush left but subsequent lines are indented a ½-inch (this could not be simulated online).








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IV. Inclusive Language

In recent years many in the Church have become aware of the pastoral problems caused by language that discriminates against women. Formerly this form of discrimination commonly was called "sexist" language; lately it is called "exclusive" language.

The problem of exclusive language is more than a linguistic one; it has important theological and sociological implications as well. It must not be thought of as a theoretical problem, or a minor one; it is an immediate, real, and pressing problem for many Christians and therefore for the whole Church.

Here are suggestions for three areas of concern:

1. Language addressing and referring to the community

Terms such as men, sons, brothers, brother, fraternity and brotherhood now are understood to refer exclusively to males, although from the perspective of the history of language these words once had a broader meaning. Terms such as man, mankind, forefathers, family of man once were generic terms which could be used to include both men and women.

The term "man" as it is employed in many biblical and liturgical texts, is used to translate adam, anthropos, or homo, words which actually mean "human" rather than male. These problematic terms can often be replaced with other words which may in fact be more faithful to the original texts. Thus expressions such as the following may be used to designate individuals or groups:

human race
all creation
whole world

2. Language referring to God

Names and descriptions applied to God in biblical, liturgical (and theological) texts have been almost exclusively male in character. Serious work needs to be done in the re-interpretation of the predominantly male images of God. Since God transcends gender distinctions, references to God as male should be avoided wherever possible. For example, "Him" can be replaced by "God" or "The Divine; " "Himself" can be transformed into "Godself" which avoids exclusive language and is theologically more precise and rich in import.

3. Language referring to women

Some texts (biblical and liturgical) imply the inferiority of women and their natural subjection to men. They reflect the culture in which they were composed. These texts require individual study and judgment regarding the approach that is to be taken in interpreting these texts, e.g. Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.

As graduate students preparing for pastoral ministry, it is important for you to communicate in language that is both precise as well as biblically and theologically accurate. Attention to inclusive language is expected of students and faculty as they grapple with the symbols and images that lead to fuller and deeper religious understanding.

See also the November 15, 1990 statement of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Criteria for the Evaluation of Inclusive Language." The statement is intended to assist bishops in evaluating the suitability of inclusive language translations of scriptural texts proposed for liturgical use. Printed in the Bishop's Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter Oct/Nov Vol. XXVI, 1990.

V. Biblical Citations

For biblical citations the abbreviations below may be used. Note that there is no period used after the abbreviation. Biblical citations may be included in the text and not as footnotes. They are included in a sentence of the text e.g., It is recorded that Jesus spoke in parables. One of those parables is The Widow's Mite (Mk 12:41-44).

Citations from church documents and rites may be typed the same way i.e., as part of a sentence in the text.

Gn 1Kgs 1 Mc Is Jon Mk Phil Jas
Ex 2 Kgs 2 Mc Jer Mi Lk Col 1 Pt
Lv 1 Chr Jb Bar Na Jn 1 Thes 2 Pt
Nm 2 Chr Ps(s) Ez Hb Acts 2 Thes 1 Jn
Dt Ezr Prv Dn Zep Rom 1 Tm 2 Jn
Jos Neh Eccl Hos Hg 1 Cor 2 Tm 3 Jn
Jgs Tb Sg Jl Zec 2 Cor Ti Jude
1 Sm Jdt Wis Am Mal Gal Phlm Rv
2 Sm Est Sir Ob Mt Eph Heb

VI. Reference Works

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers. 5th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. In paper.

This small book, first published in 1937, contains all the information on the mechanics of a term paper: capitalization, spelling, punctuation, footnotes, bibliographies, typing, etc. It is the basic reference work for all Pastoral Research papers and we recommend that you use it as a guide for all your research papers or essays.

Strunk, William and White, E. B. The Elements of Style. 3rd ed. New York: Macmillan, 1979. In paper.

This classic work, first written in 1935, contains chapters on elementary rules of usage, principles of composition, formation of style, matters of form, and words and expressions commonly misused in writing.

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