I use LaTeX for writing academic papers – it takes care of the formatting and referencing, so I can concentrate on generating the content. This page is intended to document my experiences with setting up LaTeX for generating PDFs which meet the style guide required for Common Awards (the academic side of the Church of England’s ordination training).

LaTeX is a type-setting suite, which can create typeset documents from a simple marked up text file. It takes care of all the formatting, page breaks, line spaces, margins, and so on, based on the style of document you instruct it to create. There is some ambiguity over which reference formats are allowed – the template below does MHRA, but I think it’s moving to Harvard. It should be straightforward to adapt. The only gotcha is that submissions go through TurnItIn, which can be a bit sniffy about pdflatex, so I had to add \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} to generate PDFs with the correct ligature encoding.

It will assume that you already know how to produce a document in LaTeX (or are willing to learn), and can structure your files and folders sensibly! There are many and varied tutorials on the web for how to use LaTeX, e.g.

If you need convincing, I typed the following text into my template LaTeX File:


An example document, complete with a long citation of Johnson,\cite{Johnson10}
and a shorter (subsequent) one with page numbers.
\citetitle[pp.\@ 1--4]{Johnson10}

Notice also that ``reflection'' is recognised by copy and paste, so it plays nicely with \textit{TurnItIn}.

\textbf{Word Count: xx words}

ran LaTex, and and this is what came out of the other end: Student-A-TMM1234-A2


This is the easy bit –  download and install ProTeXt as per the instructions on the proTeXt project page.

There are a couple of extra packages which are also needed, but I think these arrive by magic once included in a document.


I maintain a single BibTex file that’s broadly categorised (“Old Testament”, “Mission”, etc), and lives in the root (top) folder of my ordination training storage space.
All the books/articles which I have read go in here, so I can easily and consistently cite them in my essays.

This is an extract from my bibliography:

%%    Biblical Studies

  Author = "Luke Timothy Johnson",
  Title = "The Writings of the {N}ew {T}estament",
  Shorttitle="New Testament",
  Publisher="Fortress Press",
  Address = "Minneapolis",

The above entry will create footnote citations that look like this:

1 Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, 3rd edition (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press), p. N.
2 Johnson, New Testament, p.  N.

And then in the bibliography:
Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Writings of the New Testament, 3rd edition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press).

Hopefully you can start to see the advantage of this approach – all I have to do is to \cite{Johnson10} in my essay, and these beauties will magically appear, styled according to the reference guidelines, as per the example at the top of the page.

Notes on BibTex

  1. Lines starting % are comments, and are ignored.
  2. Spaces don’t matter.
  3. The first line (“Johnson10“) is the citation key, and is how you will reference this book in your essays.
  4. You must always include of these fields, except for Edition, which is optional.
  5. The braces force the capital letters of New Testament, as sometimes LaTex changes the case.
  6. There are lots of entry types. I have only shown a @book entry, but you also have articles, collections, web pages, …

LaTeX pragma

I had lots of fun and games getting the styles to work correctly, and have settled on a standard template document which sets me off!

It looks like the following (you can also download it as a LaTeX file via this link: Student-A-TMM1234-A2 — note this will come down as “.txt”, so will need to renamed “.tex”)

The highlighted sections are the bits I have to change when writing a specific essay – everything else just stays the same.


% This fontenc ensures ligature's are compatible with text exports.
\lhead{Prof. Theophilus}
\rhead{Essay on a Theological Topic}
\rfoot{1 January 2000}

titleformat=italic,% Titles in italic title
commabeforerest,% A comma after title
citefull=first,% The first citing in full form
oxford,% The oxford style
super,% Footnotes
see,% An extra optional argument as a prenote idem


\def\PreTrib{} \def\PostTrib{} % We'll do our own parens, thanks!


\def\V#1 {\raisebox{.5ex}{\scriptsize#1}}


TMM1234 --- Theology For Beginners \\
Assignment 1 --- Essay on a Theological Topic
\\ Prof. Theophilus}
\author{Name: A. Student}
\date{Due: Noon, 1 January 2000 }




An example document, complete with a long citation of Johnson,\cite{Johnson10}
and a shorter (subsequent) one with page numbers.
\citetitle[pp.\@ 1--4]{Johnson10}

Notice also that ``reflection'' is recognised by copy and paste, so it plays nicely with \textit{TurnItIn}.

\textbf{Word Count: xx words}


\bibliographystyle{jox} %instead of the normal one, this is jurabib oxford style


Notes on LaTex

  1. % indicates the start of a comment, and everything after it is ignored.
  2. Spaces don’t matter.
  3. The block after \usepackage{fancyhdr} sets up the page headers and footers.
  4. The jurabib bit is setting up the citation format. These are the magic runes that get it close enough to count.
  5. \title{ does the title page.
  6. The ../../../theology reference is to the aforementioned bibliography file. It tells BibTex to look for a file called theology.bib 3 directories up.

Running PdfLaTeX, BibTex, PdfLaTeX, PdfLaTeX produces the delightful PDF above.

Word Counts

Just a quick mention of word counts. I use ProTeXt’s analysis as the basis of my word count. It will count every word which isn’t a LaTeX command or a comment, but will count words inside the command. For instance \textbf{but only if} will add 3 words to the total word count. This of course means that out of the box it isn’t an exact word count of the actual words in the document, because some commands can result in more or fewer words in the output than the command held. It should be noted that no word count system actually counts every word in the document in any case – for instance the page number on each page doesn’t contribute to the page count, and (more significantly) neither does the bibliography normally.

This cuts both ways in my template; for example the bibliography will count as two words “theology” and “jox”, whereas by standard it would count as none. On the other hand references will also only count as a single word. That is to say, \citetitle{Johnson10} will count as a single word by ProTeXt’s reckoning (“Johnson10”), but in terms of words in the PDF at the end there will be an additional 14 words in a footnote the first time, and an additional 3 thereafter. On the other hand, if you were using Harvard, it would only add two words “(Johnson, 2010)”. Likewise, the page headers and footers will count once, not once per page.

How you take this into account depends greatly on your (and your institutions) interpretation of the rules and principles of the word count, and that’s not for me to say! I just wanted to highlight it as something to be aware of, particular if you use custom commands/definitions, which might introduce a significant mismatch.