Introduction These notes are presented for general use to show the formal standards expected in your essays. Some of the comments and advice may seem elementary, but if you do not know basic principles, these notes should help.
1. Spacing, Layout and Title Please use double spacing and leave wide margins (at least 1 1/2 in. or 40 mm.) on the left and right edges of the page and at the top and bottom. A dense page of text prevents us from commenting and correcting. Please also write on only one side of the page; and number each separate page of writing. Put your name, date, course-title and Department on the first sheet. Do remember to give a title to your essay; and make sure it is at the top of the essay itself. (This latter point is important; for you may think it enough to put the title on a course-work cover-sheet.)
2. Word Limits If a word limit is set, please observe it. The purpose of word limits is to accustom you to writing concisely and to the point to an agreed format, and to ensure parity across a course. For assessed work, the word limit should be observed quite strictly: do not overshoot or undershoot by more than 5%.
3. How and when to use quotations Whenever you use a quotation in your essay, ask yourself whether you really need it . Can you say it just as well in your own words? Or does it say something in a particularly useful way? Does it support your point? Avoid posturing and padding by citing what you perceive to be ‘authority’ and ask yourself whether you understand the critic or scholar you are quoting, and whether you think s/he is right or not. If after all this you decide you do need the quotation, then use it, BUT comment on it and analyse it, don’t assume that it speaks for itself but evaluate what the quotation adds to what you want to say in the essay.
Make sure, also, that you give enough context for a quotation, by introducing it with a short sentence or phrase and by mentioning the author's name: ‘Brian Lee suggests with regard to The Great Gatsby for example that ‘...’; or ‘In this section of the novel, Dick is still seen by Rosemary as the ideal man: ‘....’
Avoid the use of very short quotations, such as half a sentence or only a phrase--they are not informative or distinctive enough to help you to make your point.
Make clear which part of your text is quotation by using single inverted commas at the beginning and end of your quotation, ‘like this’, and use double quotation marks “like these” for quotations within quotations, for example: ‘John told me “I really don’t care” and put the phone down.’
Quotations of more than 40 words should be ‘blocked off’, i.e. indented (set in) from both the left-hand and right-hand margins and typed in single spacing, like this:
Such indented quotations should not have quotation-marks; nor should they be embellished with italics. Setting quotations as indented passages makes a writer think whether the original wording needs to be repeated. Again, always ask yourself whether you really need a quotation—quoting too much can be a way of avoiding arguing for yourself.
4. Referencing Everything you quote from a primary or secondary source (books or articles you have read to prepare your essay) should be acknowledged (referenced). You can do this with foot- or endnotes, or simply in brackets at the end of the quotation, or at the end of the sentence in which it occurs. Whichever system you use, footnotes, endnotes, or brackets, stick to it throughout your essay—don’t mix them up.
If you choose the short form of referencing, where you give the source at the end of your sentence or quotation rather than in a foot-or endnote, then you should include author’s name, year of publication (of the edition you have used, which will be in your bibliography at the end) and the page number from which the quotation is taken: (Steinbeck 1995: 28).
If you to use foot-or endnotes, the…