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Lecture 2: Formatting and Academic Prose: Read This Before Turning in Any Work

The purpose of this lecture is to give you a set of guidelines for all your written assignments, and I truly do mean ALL written assignments. These are the absolute basics, and no one will do well unless they follow these guidelines.

There are two sections below, as follows:
  • Formatting.
  • Academic prose, which is the prose style you must use for every assignment of the semester.
  • It is imperative that you follow these guidelines, no matter whether you are writing a major essay or a minor assignment, or you will simply not do well.

    You must immediately review pp. 116-17 of the MlA Handbook. At the top of p. 117 you will find an example of the top of the first page of a research paper. You must format all your major projects to look the same.

    Next, go to p. 131 and you will find an example of the top of the first page of a works cited page. You must format all your major projects to look the same.

    Although I have cited the pages above, I wish to make clear that it is my expectation that you will STUDY the MLA Handbook and demonstrate other documentation skills on your own. The level at which you demonstrate documentation and formatting skills weigh heavily upon the grades your major projects can receive, and as the semester moves forward, you skill level will have an increasingly weighty bearing upon the grades your papers can receive. The same grading criteria and level of expectation applies to punctuation and grammar.

    Below, I list some noteworthy points that impact the grade a paper can receive:

  • On p. 117 you will see four lines of text that are located in the upper left hand corner of the page. They include your name, my name, and other information as well. These four lines must be included on every assignment that you turn in, but they should be on only page one of your assignments.
  • On p. 117 you will see that a document header is located in the upper right hand corner of the page. A document header is required for all your assignments. If you do not know how to create a document header then see the lecture "How to Create a Document Header." Once you create a document header properly it will automatically recreate itself on every
  • page of your assignment.
  • Also review The Example of Page One of an Assignment
  • .
  • Notice that an MLA paper maintains strict double spacing throughout. In other words, you begin typing on the very first blank line of text that is available, and there is never an instance where it is acceptable to use your enter key an extra time, so that you create extra blank lines. Just maintain strict double spacing throughout your entire document.
  • For all course work use a Times New Roman 12 pt. font, or it will seriously affect your grade. In fact, turn in no course work until you have reviewed the "Formatting of All Course Work" section of the syllabus.

    I will grade all your course work, in part, on how well you apply these requirements to your prose:
  • Do not use contractions.
  • Do not use first-person pronouns such as "I" "me" "my."
  • Do not use second-person pronouns such as "you" "your" "yours."
  • Do not engage in personal stories, meaning stories of your own life experiences, or the experiences of friends, family, and so on.
  • Do not begin sentences with conjunctions: but, and, or, nor, for, so, yet.
  • Do not pose any questions in any assignments. This means, quite literally, not to use questions. Write sentences in the form of statements instead.
  • Avoid any form of direct address to the reader, such as "think about the fact that . . ."
  • Avoid too casual of a prose style, such as sentences that begin with words like "well, sure, now, yes, no."
  • Do not use phrases such as, "a lot," "lots" or "lots of," which can usually be replaced with one of the following words: many, most, much, often.
  • Do not use exclamation points, for they are almost always unnecessary.
  • Periods and commas should be inside of quotation marks, but other forms of punctuation go outside of quotation marks.
  • Do not use the word "okay" when words like "acceptable" could be used instead.
  • Do not use the word "nowdays," "nowadays," or any slight variation thereof.