Style Guide: Articles & Essays

General rules

The most important first step is to decide and be clear about whether you are writing an academic essay or an academic article. Scroll down to read more about how to construct and approach writing each. Whichever format you decide upon, keep the following in mind:

  • The language of the journal is English.

  • If you use quotations in other languages, English translations must be included.

  • The paper must have been proofread by a native speaker of English.

  • Paper length: 3500 words (+/- 350 words), excluding photos, graphs and references.

  • Copyright information must be provided for all images used in the paper.

  • The paper must be prepared in MS-Word compatible software.

  • For references you should use parenthetical in-text APA style.

  • Do not include any endnotes or footnotes.

  • Your submission must include all of the necessary elements:

    • Document 1 - basic information (download the template here)

    • Document 2 - the paper including title, abstract, keywords and references

    • Document 3 - Graphs, figures and tables

General writing guidelines

Think about the scope of the journal when you write your paper. Asia in Focus is multi-disciplinary with readers from different academic backgrounds. Thus theoretical stances and arguments should be used carefully. The geographical/cultural focus of your article should always be introduced to the reader.

Any academic text should be:

  • To the point (clear and concise)

  • Easy to read through (coherent)

  • Enthusiastic and well-documented (convincing)

Generally, we look for:

  • A well-structured and original piece (form)

  • A consistent and well-researched argument (contents)

  • An interesting and well-communicated topic

When reading a text, we consider these aspects:

  • What is the author trying to tell me? Can I easily summarise the main point of the piece?

  • How is the author arguing his/her case?

  • What is the supporting evidence for the main point and am I persuaded by it?

  • How well are the main point and the evidence presented?

  • Do I readily understand the points and the evidence, supporting it?

  • Is there a clear connections between the paragraphs?

  • Why should I care? Does the author present the piece in a compelling and interesting manner?

  • Can I relate to the importance that the author attaches to his/her piece?

Writing an academic essay 

An ACADEMIC ESSAY is a short(er) piece on one particular subject. It requires far less referencing than an academic article and gives the author’s own argument to a greater extent. The essay should be clearly divided into an Introduction, Main Body and Conclusion (without using these headings) and also include a short list of references. We give you a few tips here and strongly urge you to see this comprehensive Essay Writing Guide.


Introduces the topic, outlines the question, and how you will answer the question. Tell the reader what you are going to be discussing, and the key arguments that will follow.

Include your key arguments as separate paragraphs. The number of paragraphs will vary based on the length of the essay, the number of arguments you have and the required depth of analysis. For each paragraph, include a clear topic sentence that outlines what the paragraph will say, and how this links to the question.

Draw together your key arguments. Demonstrate how you have sufficiently answered the essay question. Avoid introducing new information or ideas here.

Complete list of references according to APA Style.

Before you submit your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your essay have a clear, logical structure, with an introduction, body and conclusion?

  • Does your essay clearly answer the essay question and align with the criteria?

  • Does your essay use up-to-date and relevant literature and evidence?

  • Is your essay within the word limit?

  • Have you proofread your essay?


Writing an academic article

The main body of an ACADEMIC ARTICLE should consist of the following parts. They do not have to have these titles in your article, but it should be easy for the reader to recognise when they are moving from one part to the next:


Motivations for and context and relevance of your study. This is where you express why your study is important and timely.

Previous research / Theoretical arguments of approach

Summarise the previous research done in this area and highlight where/how your work fits in, and how it enriches the body of existing work. Outline your theoretical approach. Which theories are you working with and why are they useful for your analysis? There can be, and often is, some overlap between the theory and the summary of the previous research. This is fine. It is important to reference the people’s work you are using to construct your arguments.

Methods and data

Give a concise summary of the methods you use in your data collection AND analysis. If you conducted interviews, state for example whether they were semi-structured or open-ended, who they were with, where they took place etc. If you read documents, state how you analysed the content, and so forth.

This is where you analyse YOUR data, making short references to the theory/previous research you outlined before. The point here is to showcase your own UNIQUE AND NEW findings.

Conclusion / discussion

Here you can summarise and discuss the implications of your findings for society and your field of research.

For references you should use parenthetical in-text APA style.

Footnotes & endnotes

Do not include any footnotes or endnotes.

Punctuation, numbers & quotations

When writing your text, please take care to follow these general grammatical rules.

Be wary of overusing the gerund (words ending -ing). They can be used as a noun, to replace a noun, and after prepositions as well as with the continuous verb tense. They are NOT used to replace an active verb.

E.g. “This understanding of commercial surrogacy has repeatedly been challenged by feminist scholars, analysing who analyse the practice rather as commodification and commercialisation of new parts and functions of women’s bodies.”

  • Dates: 7 June 2014

  • Fractions: write in full, e.g. two thirds of the population

  • Decimals, write the whole number in digits, e.g. 34.62; 4.6702​​

Whole numbers

  • less than 10, write in full, e.g. one, two, three …

  • 10 or more, write the digits, e.g. 10, 25, 367,

  • Thousands, millions etc. use a comma, e.g. 3,789; 45,608: 234,563,893​

See the Cambridge Guide for general rules on how to use capital letters, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks, commas, colons, semi-colons.

  • Use single quotation marks with direct speech and double quotation marks for direct speech INSIDE direct speech.

  • Use single quotation marks for direct quotes and a comma to introduce them.

  • In  her  article,  Bektovic  (2005,  p.  3)  maintains,  ‘The decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will harm the Australian 

  • However, do not use commas for quotes introduced by ‘that’ for  ‘integrated’  quotes  where  the  quote  fits  smoothly into the text .

  • INCORRECT: Bektovic (2005,  p.3) believes  that, ‘the  decision [...] will harm the Australian economy’.

  • CORRECT: Bektovic (2005,  p.3) believes  that ‘the decision [...] will harm the Australian economy’.

  • INCORRECT: Brown (1997,   p.84) describes   the   results   as, ‘unreliable and insignificant’.

  • CORRECT: Brown (1997,    p.84) describes  the results as ‘unreliable and insignificant’.