Lecture Topic: Read This Before Turning in Any Work


The purpose of this lecture is to give you a set of simple guidelines for all your written assignments, although the list of “Things to avoid” below does not apply to Personal Writing Papers and the Personal Response Essay. Still, all other guidelines noted in this lecture DO apply to Personal Writing Papers and the Personal Response Essay; only the list of “Things to avoid” does not.



These are the absolute basics, and no one will do well unless they follow these guidelines. I will begin with a short list of things to avoid, and follow with a short list of things you must make certain to do. No matter whether you are writing a Thought Paper, a Reading Response, a Major Project, or anything else, you must follow these guidelines or you will simply not do well.



Things to avoid:




By avoiding the above infractions you will receive higher grades. Understand that my first order of business as your teacher is to rid your prose of anything on the list above. The upshot is that academic writing is not about personal stories, nor is the prose style so relaxed that it includes the other items on the list.


Things to make certain to do:


You must immediately review Example Assignment Page, for you must format all your assignments to look the same as the example. Below I list other noteworthy points that you will be graded on:


  1. Work exclusively in a Times New Roman 12 pt font.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 to you, 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.
  4. Use a two-part title separated by a colon, neither part of which should contain the name of the assignment, nor should it contain part, or all of the name of one of the texts you are writing about. Essentially, create your own title, rather than borrowing one from elsewhere.
  5. The formatting guidelines on the syllabus/class lectures must be observed.
  6. Writing must be free—or predominantly free—of typos, awkward/unclear phrasing, and sentence level errors.
  7. The required software for this course is MS Word. Do not turn in work that is composed using different software. MS Word is free of charge to all students enrolled in this course. Go to https://app.it.okstate.edu/sdc/login.php for a free download. You will need your o-key email address and o-key password. If you do not have this information, or if you experience any difficulty with the login, call the IT helpdesk at 744-HELP (4357), and they will gladly assist you.
  8. Do not write your papers as a single spaced document and then convert them to double spaced documents prior to turn in, for this will cause formatting problems. Trust me on this: if you do not follow these instructions your paper will not be formatted correctly.


Word 2007 Users:


For your document to be formatted properly you must do the following:

1.      Click on the “Page Layout” tab.

2.      Locate “Spacing” and change the “Before” and “After” settings to “0 pt”

3.      Underneath the “After” setting there is a tiny icon on the same line where it says “Paragraph.” Click the icon and a splash box will appear.

4.      Change the “Line spacing” to double.

5.      Click the “Default” button at the bottom of the splash box.

6.      You will be asked if you wish to change the default settings. Click “Yes.”

7.      With these settings you will no longer have formatting problems.

8.      Click on the “Home” tab, then click on font, and change the font to Times New Roman, and the size to 12 pt.

9.      Click the “Default” button at the bottom of the splash box.

10.  You will be asked if you wish to change the default settings. Click “Yes.”




By following the above instructions you will receive higher grades.