Paper Writing Tips by theslasher

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									                                   Paper Writing Tips

•   All essays must be typed, double-spaced, with standard one-inch margins and twelve-
    point font. All block quotations should be double-spaced as well.

•   Drafts: Most excellent papers are written in drafts. I am happy to read and critique drafts
    of papers at any stage, anytime before the paper is due.

•   Late papers will be graded down by one third of a letter grade for each day late.
    Exceptions will be made only in the case of actual emergency, or for those students who
    have arranged extensions in advance. I am always available to discuss the need for
    extensions anytime before the paper is due.

•   Plagiarism: an automatic F for the entire course. Please see course web page, and/or see
    me about this important topic.

                   A powerful essay includes the following elements:

•   Thesis: the paper has a main thesis or argument, and a series of related points. The paper
    is thesis driven.

•   Title: Every paper needs one. It may be an accurate description of your argument
    (“Whitman‟s Debt to Emerson”), or it may reflect straightforwardly or ironically on your
    argument (“A Romantic‟s Romantic: Whitman and Emerson Revisited”).

•   Organization: the paper has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Arguments are
    clearly explained, developed, and supported. Paper has focus, unity, and can be
    understood with relative ease.

•   Paragraphs: each paragraph is a mini-paper, with a thesis (the topic sentence), and a
    body (the supporting material). As a general rule, each paragraph should have at least
    one quote as its focus.

•   Quotes: use well-chosen quotations to support your argument. Be sure to include a clear
    explication or gloss of the quotes you use, so that you explain the significance of the
    quotes. Always include the page number for the quote (or the line number for poetry).

•   Transitions: smooth and clear transitions from one idea to the next between sentences
    and paragraphs. Quotes need to be logically and smoothly incorporated into your
    writing.

•   Style: sentences are varied and complex, but not verbose. Word choice is accurate.
    Phrasing is graceful. Complex ideas are clearly articulated. Paragraphs are an
    appropriate length for the ideas they present.
                                       Other Tips:

•   When describing a text, ALWAYS BEGIN WITH THE PRESENT TENSE: e.g. “In the
    end, Roderick kills his sister,” “Whenever Delano voices his misperceptions, Cereno
    replies „doubtless.””

•   Avoid over quoting: it is almost never appropriate to quote the same passage twice. Also,
    be prepared to comment fully on any long quotes—or cut the quotes down accordingly.

•   Avoid under quoting: as a general rule, each paragraph should have at least one quote, no
    matter how brief, at its center.

•   Avoid plot summary; rather, substitute interpretation, analysis, and argument. Write as if
    you‟re writing to an audience of highly respected scholars in the field.

•   If a quote takes up more than four full lines, format as a block quotation (indented 10
    spaces. Please continue to double space).

•   Quote text EXACTLY as it appears.

•   Make sure that quotes flow smoothly and logically into your writing; sentences must
    always be complete.

•   Don‟t invent paraphrases that you frame in quotation marks. I call these “false
    quotations”—they have no place in a college paper. Neither do clichés; if you‟re tempted
    to put a cliché in quotation marks, please consider dropping the cliché entirely.

•   Avoid grand generalizations; rather, stick to your arguments about the text(s) at hand.
    Sentences that start with “Throughout history” or “Since the dawn of time” or “Humans
    have always” are probably grand generalizations.

•   Always indicate line breaks when quoting poetry (use a “/” or write out exactly as it
    appears, line breaks included).

•   Italicize or underline the titles of book-length works. Use quotation marks for shorter
    works such as poems, essays, short stories. Example: The Scarlet Letter, “The Fall of the
    House of Usher.”

•   You are not always required to use a comma to introduce a quote. Punctuate as you
    would to make a grammatical, smooth flowing sentence.

•   NEVER attribute written work to an IT (unless the speaker happens to be a robot or a
    machine). All other text is produced by humans: authors, editors, narrators, speakers,
    characters. “IT” almost never “says” anything.
• Examples of correct punctuation with quotations, but no page numbers:
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake,”
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake.”
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake”:
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake”;
      --if a ! or a ? is part of the original quote, it goes inside the quotation marks
      --if a ! or a ? is part of the your sentence, and not in the original quote, it goes outside the
      quotation marks.



• Examples of correct punctuation with quotations and with page numbers:
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake” (217),
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake” (217).
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake” (217);
      --“a great combat between a mouse and a snake” (217):
      --if a ! or a ? is part of the original quote, it goes inside the quotation marks, not
      after the page number;
      --if a ! or a ? is part of the your sentence, and not in the original quote, it goes after the
      page number, or at the end of your sentence when your sentence ends.

								
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