Social Work Department Writing Standards

  1. Documentation
    • In general, all written work should follow APA guidelines (the most recent revision).
    • All citations should follow APA format in the body of the text.
    • All papers with citations should include a "reference list" in APA format at the end. The basic APA format is essential for referencing books, articles, and all other material. This is the case no matter how the material was located or accessed. The student should refer to APA standards under the Writing Center's web page for additional APA guidelines
    • In addition to always documenting direct quotations, general references to ideas, summarized texts, and quotes from lectures must also be documented using APA standards. In short, any idea, in any form, that is taken from someone else must be documented. Deviations from this standard will be regarded as plagiarism. Plagiarism may result in disciplinary action in accordance with university and departmental standards.
    • Running headers and abstracts are unnecessary for student work unless required by the specific professor.
  2. Grammar
    • Papers should be completely free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors including sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject/verb agreement problems, verb/object agreement problems, missing articles, vague pronoun references, improper or missing punctuation, and so forth.
  3. Organization
    • All written work should be organized into clear, logical sections. Subheadings are encouraged in every paper.
    • Within the sections, ideas should be organized into clear paragraphs. An individual paragraph should be about one idea (generally stated close to the beginning). Subsequent sentences within the paragraph should all be related to that idea. Paragraphs should typically end with a conclusion or summary sentence related to the original idea and/or a transitional sentence introducing the subject of the next paragraph in the text. Students should avoid overly long or very short paragraphs.
  4. Flow of thought
    • Sentences should be organized so that they sustain a consistent flow of thought. Sentences within paragraphs should flow into each other in a way that makes sense and enhances readability.
  5. Economy of language
    • In general, students should strive to write with a minimum of words. Consider combining short sentences in ways that enhance readability and use less space. (At the same time, however, avoid overly long and complex sentences.) Consider dropping whole sentences that may be redundant or unnecessary.
    • Consider word choice very carefully and work toward building a stronger vocabulary.
  6. Individual professors may have requirements in addition to those specified here.


Phone: 573.651.2004
Fax: 573.986.7315

Crisp Hall 201
Department of Social Work
One University Plaza, MS 8400
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701