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Metalanguage

On this page, you can read about how to use good and clear metalanguage in your assignment. 

Metalanguage is what ties your text together to make up a whole. Metalanguage is a series of markers, either linguistic or in terms of layout, that tell your readers where they are, or where they are going, in your text. Communicating with your reader is a part of academic writing. 

Read more about the conventions for academic work 

The word meta originates from Greek and means ‘after’ or ‘beyond’. Metalanguage is thus defined as text about the text. 

Metalanguage guides the reader and: 

  • shows that you have made conscious choices in your assignment – and want to make these clear to your reader. 

  • makes your assignment clear and easy to navigate. 

  • links chapters and sections. 

  • guides the reader on what he or she is reading. 

  • must be brief and to the point. 

Metalanguage is used at different levels: 

  • a new section or chapter indicates, by means of layout and formatting, that there is a change in content. 

  • different punctuation marks (e.g. a colon or exclamation mark) indicate that information is to be perceived in a certain way. 

  • a meta-statement such as: “In the following, I will...” shows through language the progression of your text. 

Metalanguage can also be larger blocks of text, e.g. the introduction and the conclusion with explicit descriptions of the structure, links and results of the assignment.

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The information about formalities is general guidelines. They do not replace the provisions in your academic regulations, your lecturers ' guidance or information on your course's website. First, please contact the above-mentioned locations. If in doubt, ask your supervisor.