English Andrew Hoffman
1. Be sure to use regular 8 ½ x 11 white typing paper. Avoid high bond, color, or erasable paper. Do not use scratch paper or type on both sides of the sheet.
2. Use one inch margins on the top, left, right, and bottom margins. If you are using the computer facilities on campus, generally they are already set this way as the default margins and should not need to be changed.
3. Be sure your papers are typewritten and double-spaced. Proofread your paper for typos and obvious grammatical or spelling errors. Don’t be afraid to mark up your final draft after you’ve printed it out if it’s impractical for you to do any additional changes. Instead, mark the paper cleanly with a thin pen or pencil. I’d rather have a slightly marked-up, good essay than a beautiful, clean essay with mistakes.
4. Your name, the instructor’s name, the class number, and the due date of the work should be in the upper-left hand corner of the first page of the assignment.
5. Always give your essay a title. The title should be content-related as it is a way to introduce your reader to what the essay is about. The title of the work should be centered on the page, double spaced down from the due date and double spaced above the start of the actual text. Never underline your own title, enclose it in quotation marks, bold the letters, or change font sizes and types. Do capitalize the first letter of each important word, including the first and last words of the title. Do not use a title page unless specifically requested. They’re just a waste of paper.
6. Number all the pages with your last name and page number, including the first one, even if you’re using only one page. This should appear in the upper right-hand corner of every page of your essay, including the Works Cited page.
7. You are responsible for binding your paper in some manner, either with a paper clip or a staple. I will not accept loose sheets, or sheets whose corners are crimped or folded.
8. Know how to spell all names, terms, and words in your paper. Do not rely blindly on spellcheck programs to catch your errors. Be wary of grammar check programs.
9. Think twice about using first or second person (e.g., “I” or “you”) in your essays, and any other case forms of the pronouns. Use only third person pronouns.
10. Do not use colloquialisms or slang, such as “get it together” or “couldn’t handle it” and such. Avoid clichés – such as “cold as ice” – as well.
11. Avoid the use of contractions.
12. Avoid using parentheses except when required for documentation. Usually a pair of commas will do the same job better.
13. Avoid using gross abstractions such as “the reality of life” or “view of the world.”
14. Avoid sounding certain that your opinion is unquestionably correct: “The only proper interpretation is….” Also, avoid sounding too uncertain as well: “It may be possible under some circumstances that might occur….” Be positive, but not extreme.
15. Avoid using the passive voice. Use the active voice.
16. Avoid using “it,” especially when the antecedent is unclear.
17. Do not tell the reader what you’re going to do. Just do it.
18. Do not ask questions – answer them! You cannot assume the reader will answer the question in the same way that you would.
19. When using outside sources, document the material properly using MLA documentation format. Consult the latest edition of the MLA Handbook to be certain you are correct.
20. Do not write papers consisting of single-sentence paragraphs. On the other hand, do not write overly long paragraphs either.
21. Be sure that you have met all the minimum requirements for the assignment. A paper that fails to meet minimum requirements can be failed for that alone!
22. Include a word count at the end of your essay. Do not include any extra materials such as the Works Cited page in that count. If you fall short of the word requirement, make certain that you have said all that you can say about your topic.
23. Proofread! PROOFREAD!! PROOFREAD!!!!!
FOR LITERATURE STUDENTS
24. Mention the titles and authors of the works you’re writing about in the Introduction (first paragraph) of your essay.
25. Do not tell whether you liked the story unless that is part of the assignment. Do not compliment the author.
26. Do not retell the plot of the story. You can assume your reader has familiarity with the story, but you must analyze the story for the reader (along the assigned question).