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- Approximately 1,000-1,250 words (i.e. 4-5 pages standard Courier typeface or 3-4 pages proportional font); double-spaced; pages numbered.
- If you use a computer, use left-justification only. No bizarre fonts!
- Staple diagonally at top left corner (no plastic binders to impress your readers).
- Regular paper (no erasable bond); use fresh, dark ribbon or toner.
- Include un-numbered cover page, with title (fancy font o.k. here only), your name, course number, instructor's name, date handed in.
- Full footnotes and bibliography are unnecessary unless you cite from an outside text.
- Example citation:
Richard's speech is typically blunt: "Chop off his head" (R3 3.1.193). ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ 1 2 3 45 6 7
1: Do not introduce citation with a comma unless grammar requires it (it is a mistake to think that commas precede all citations). A colon is probably the most useful (but is certainly not the only) punctuation mark for introducing a quotation.
1-2: Your grammar must harmonize (in tense, number, etc.) with the grammar of the citation; if it does not, either alter your own words, or cite a different portion of the source text.
2-3: Do not use elipses (...) at the beginnings or ends of citations; use elipses to indicate words omitted from within a citation.
3a: Place close-quotes before the line or page reference.
3b: Omit any final punctuation marks from the citation except question mark or exclamation mark. If an exclamation mark appeared in the edition your were citing, then the proper citation would be this:
Richard's speech is typically blunt: "Chop off his head!" (R3 3.1.193).
4: Enclose reference information in parentheses.
5: Use standard abbreviations (italicized or underlined) for literary works; but if your paper is about one work only, omit abbreviations altogether.
6a: For multiple lines, make numbering as short as possible (not 900-912 but 900-12); but include the extra "1" for teens (not 912-4 but 912-14).
6b: For complex texts, use arabic numerals if possible (LLL 1.2.45-50).
7: Place final punctuation after close-parentheses to bring sentence to a close. Longer citations: indent and single-space three or more lines of verse, retaining original lineation.
For unindented verse, place a slash "/" where the line-break occurs in the original.
Since indentation already signals a quotation, do not surround indented quotations with quotation marks unless indented text contains imbedded quotations.
Place line-numbers or other reference information within parentheses after the last line of an indented citation, or, if space is lacking, on a new line with reference information far toward the right margin.
Closing punctuation: In U.S. use, close-quotes follow periods and commas; colons and semi-colons follow close-quotes; question marks and exclamation marks precede or follow close-quotes according to whether they belong to the quotation or to the containing sentence.
Spelling: Use standard U.S. spelling (national variants, e.g. U.K. or Canadian, are acceptable for students educated abroad, if used consistently). You will be admonished and/or docked for misspellings. If, having been warned on your first paper, you continue to misspell, you will be docked severely.
Spell-checkers will not catch or correct words that are correct under some circumstances (their, they're, there) but misused in a particular case. Furthermore, spell-checkers must be used judiciously on texts which include spellings such as British, dialect, archaic, or obsolete (all these may occur in a Shakespeare text).
Proof-read your papers carefully before handing them in (do not trust your computer to do the final proof-reading for you). Hand-correct any final errors (but do not submit a paper that is so heavily corrected as to look messy).
Avoid slang and jargon (including jargon invented by literary critics). Take a hint from the Renaissance writer George Gascoigne: "The most English words are of one syllable: so that the more monosyllables that you use, the truer Englishman you shall seem."
De-gender your papers without sacrificing good style; for example, a passive construction may help you avoid the awkward he/she construction. A student may choose to use "their" as a singular pronoun in place of the generic masculine "his."
High crimes against the English language (resulting in automatic reduction of grade):
it's is the contraction of it is; its is the possessive neuter pronoun; there is no such word as its'.
Distinguish carefully between "principle" and "principal"; "effect" and "affect"; etc. If you are unsure, consult a dictionary.
Be cautious of using a thesaurus, which, unless you are already a good writer, may encourage you to put a word you don't understand in the place of a word which you do understand.Return to calling page.