Checklist of Paper Mechanics
These are some of the basic mechanics to which you should make sure your
- Title your paper. Give your paper a meaningful, creative title.
If your title is really broad, like "Victorian Marriages," focus your
topic much more. You almost can't be too specific.
- In your paper, underline or italicize titles; Dracula is a
character in Dracula.
- Write about the text in the present tense. For example, "Mary
Shelley writes.... " (not wrote) or "When Victor Frankenstein decides to
flee..." or "Here, the creature represents...."
- Number your pages.
- There are two kinds of quotations: block and in-line.
Inline quotations are quotes that are integrated into your sentences. For
put the page citation directly after the closing quote mark;
the quotation should make sense as part of the sentence:
In her trial, damning circumstantial facts triumph over
Justine's long, heartfelt plea that she is "entirely...innocent"
(78). In this example ellipses (aka three periods) indicate that I have
dropped some words in the original.
block quotations when quoting a passage (more than four lines). Here is
a sample block quotation:
Unless it starts your paper, introduce it with a colon, as above. It
should be single-spaced and indented on both sides. Don't start a new
paragraph after it either! Don't put quotation marks around it, but do
put its page citation. After you have quoted something in a block
quotation, you can quote from it again in sentences following it without
citing the page again. Did you kow there is an html tag "blockquote"?
Be sure to analyze your block quotations after you quote the
passage. Here is where your best ideas may develop, and you can show off
your close-reading skills.
- Put page citations after every quotation, unless you are re-quoting
words you have already quoted in a block quotation.
- Double space all text except block quotations.
- Spellcheck your paper. Spelling errors are unacceptable.
- Avoid casual wording, such as "Dickens really flipped out."
- Try to avoid using the word "important." Specify why something is
- Use non-sexist terms. Anytime your pronoun could also be a "she,"
do not (inaccurately) use "he."
- Cite any outside sources that you use. (Outside sources are not
required unless so specified in class.) If you use an outside
source and do not acknowledge it, then you are plagiarizing. When you
refer to another source, either by quoting it or using ideas that are not
your own, provide a footnote for it. This strengthens, not weakens, your
paper. Either at the bottom of the page or the end of the paper,
indicate the source for the note in the following form.
Bibliographies or works cited are generally not necessary if you
- For a Book:
Author, The Title of the Book, (Place Published: Publisher, Year),
For example: Edgar Rosenberg, From Shylock to Svengali
(Stanford: Stanford UP, 1960), 7.
- For an article:
Author, "Title of Article," Title of Journal, Volume
(Date), page number.
For example: Michael Ragussis, "Representation,
Conversion, and Literary Form: Harrington and the Novel of
Jewish Identity," Critical Inquiry, 16 (Autumn 1989), 115.