So far in my ordination training, the vast majority of assessed work has been via a written essay, usually of 2,500 words.

UPDATE: By the look of this year’s handbook, the citation rules have changed, and we are allowed to use the altogether more sensible Harvard referencing system. The styling also seems a lot more relaxed, with wording like “usually” and “normally”. The only hard requirements seem to be regarding the title page, and what it must show. The point about not doing it manually still stands though.

These need to be academic, with – frankly – some very odd style and reference guidelines. They approximate the Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide, which in turn broadly approximates the Oxford referencing style.

The citation style and bibliography are horrible to do manually, and you shouldn’t even consider it. At the very least you should be using the referencing system in Word, with some sort of bibliography that you can re-use in subsequent assignments. I’m afraid I don’t know how to do this though! My colleagues on the course have managed to submit essays which met the required style, so it must be possible to set up Word in this way.

I personally use LaTeX, which is a typesetting system designed for publication of scientific documents, and is absolutely fantastic. It does all the styling, referencing, bibliography, page breaks, and creates beautiful documents. All I have to do is type in the actual content (which is where I want to be spending my time, not fighting against Word). It has three significant drawbacks though:

  • It has a very steep learning curve,
  • It is targeted at the scientific community, so there are hoops to jump through for humanities, and
  • In this context, it only makes PDFs

The last one is the only serious one – on the Yorkshire Ministry Course (and therefore maybe Common Awards) there is a very strong preference for Word documents. I have so far been allowed to submit PDFs, but I fear the day may come when I’m not allowed to.

I guess another drawback is the fact that its name makes one think of rubber!! (Although it’s pronounced “lay tek” – and you’ll have noticed my careful capitalisation.)

Fortunately, in recent years it has become far easier to run LaTeX on Windows. I use proTeXt, which comes with the very good TeXStudio editor for writing documents. It’s even possible to get it running on Android, but I haven’t had too much joy.

Anyway, I have jotted down some notes on how to set up LaTeX to speak Common Awards over on the page called, funnily enough, using LaTeX for common awards.