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Reports, papers and theses in English

The following general suggestions about reports and theses in English point to a few of the differences between Norwegian and English customs. More detailed documentation of style in your field can be found in «Instructions to Authors» from a well-known journal in your field, or a style book like the one from the Modern Humanities Research Association, now in its 5th edition.

appendix, annex

Appendix (Norw. vedlegg) is the most usual term for this part of a report. The plural form is appendices. The alternative, annex is mostly used in BE.

Appendices are usually numbered A, B, C, D... which makes the referencing simple. Instead of writing «see Section 1.2. in Appendix B», it is enough to write: «see Section B-1.2.». Similarly, «Table 6 in Appendix C» can be referred to as «Table C-6».

Bibliography, References

The Bibliography (Norw. litteratur) is the listing of the literature used in the production of a paper, report or thesis. References is an alternative title. «Literature» is not suitable as a title. As this part of a report or thesis is supplementary, most style guides suggest that it is unnumbered.


Capitalize the following words, if they are followed by a number or letter: Appendix, Chapter, Equation, Figure, Reaction, Section, Table. Although Norwegian uses the lower case in mid sentence, when referring to «figur 2.6» and «tabell 1.5», capitalization to «Figure 2.6» and «Table 1.5» is normal in English reports.

Chapter, section and

Use chapter to refer to the main units in a thesis, «Chapter 3 summarizes the methodology». The abbreviated form is «Ch. 3».

Section (normal abbreviation, Sect.) is used for all the parts of a paper and short reports (equivalent here to Norw. kapittel) and all the sub-units in a thesis (levels 2, 3 and 4). Sections are numbered as Section 1.1., Section 1.1.1. and Section Never use «subchapter» or «subsection».

Paragraph (Norw. avsnitt) is just a few lines of text between double spaces and does not correspond to the Norw. paragraf, which in contracts or agreements would be a «clause» or «article».


Put captions under or on the side of figures. A model to use is: «Fig. 2.1. Schematic representation...».

All non-tabular material (photos, graphs, sketches, maps) is termed a figure. Capitalize the word figure when it is followed by a number. Use «Figure 3.2.» , or «Fig. 3.2.» and be consistent. The plural abbreviation is figs., as in «Figs. 3 and 4». Number figures on a chapter-by-chapter basis in a thesis.

As a figure is visual, useful verbs to refer to them are: «Figure 3.2 shows, ...presents, ...demonstrates, ...illustrates, ...plots, ...reveals».


Put captions over tables. A model to use is: «Table 2.1. Values of...».

Use the term «table» for all tabular presentations. Capitalize when followed by a number and never abbreviate «table» to «tab.». Number tables on a chapter-by-chapter basis in a thesis.

As a table is usually several rows of digits, the verb «show» is most unsuitable for someone like me. Useful verbs to refer to tables are: «Table 2.1 states, ...presents, ...lists,».

Tricky words

Faculty, faculty, fellow

Faculty (capitalized) means the administrative body for a group of related university departments (Norw. fakultet).

faculty in AE means a member of the teaching staff and administration in a university, college or school.

Fellow (often caps. in BE) in the UK is used for members of a prestigious academic body such as «Fellow of the Royal Society» or a senior member of a university or college: «A Fellow of King's». Thus in the UK, a fellow is a fully-qualified academic at postdoctoral level.

In AE, a fellow is a graduate student receiving financial support for further study, and corresponds to the Norw. universitetsstipendiat. Some educational programmes call the participants fellows, as in Fulbright Fellows. This usage has been adopted in the NORAD programme and many NORAD Fellows study at graduate level in Trondheim.

Enlightening English 

Notice outside a tailor's shop on Rhodes: «Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation».

And a breath from the Soviet past: «There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Art by 150,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years».

Less dramatically, a laundry in Rome enticed female tourists with the following advice: «Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time».

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