Friday, August 21, 2009

Headings, formats, and style tips

HEADINGS FOR PAPERS—Always head your papers with the following information:

  • Your name,
  • Course and section number (Monsters 2, Time 1, for example)
  • Paper ID number from
  • Word count (your word processing program should perform this last task for you automatically).


  • Use 12-point font
  • Choose a font with serifs (Times New Roman, for example)
  • Set 1 inch margins all round
  • Give your paper a title which indicates its subject; when writing about literature, give more than just the name of the text you are writing about.
  • Double space text
  • Keep quotations brief; for quotations of FIVE lines or longer, block the passage with one and one-half inch margins and single spacing.
  • Remember to put novel and play titles in italics, poem and short story titles in quotation marks, and to give your paper a title different from the literary work it discusses.
  • Use American spelling and usage: double quotation marks, not single; toward, not towards; judgment, not judgement; gray, not grey; honor, not honour, and so on.
  • Avoid "naked" pronouns: this, that, which.
  • Whenever possible, omit who, which, and that--make the relative clause either the main clause or a participial phrase.
  • Simplify your language; use everyday words to express important ideas.
  • Omit unnecessary words from your sentences, unnecessary sentences from your paragraphs, unnecessary paragraphs from your essays. Be studious of brevity.
  • Whenever you face a choice between a general term and a specific word, opt for the latter.
  • Use parenthetical citation for primary texts (the literature from the course)
  • If you looked at any outside sources, be sure to cite them fully and accurately. This responsibility extends both to direct language (in quotation marks) and paraphrased ideas (your own words, not in quotation marks, but clearly cited).