The purpose of this web page is to draw your attention to and aid you protect against the the majority of prevalent formatting and also stylistic errors I view in literary essays. Note that various style layouts will differ slightly, but they should all agree on the points listed below. You are urged to usage the advice on this page for your other classes. Please e-mail me at if you have a question around essay formatting or style, and I"ll try and also put up an answer right here. Chances are, if you don"t recognize it, somebody else does not either....

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Note: This is not a finish guide to essay style and also format. Consult your MLA Handbook or Chicback Manual of Style (the 2 style guides many typically offered in the Humanities) for complete details.

Reference to the Author

Many students start their esstates through some reference to what Author X does in Text Y. The reference typically takes the create of one of the sentences below:

In The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, he presents a diverse team of world...

In Geoffrey Chaucer"s poem The Canterbury Tales, he presents a diverse team of world...

These options of phrasing are not specifically elegant. Try eliminating the pronoun:

In The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer presents a diverse team of civilization...

Much nicer, isn"t it?

Reference to the Text

The titles of publications, plays, and longer (especially narrative) poems need to be put in italics or underlined. The titles of brief poems should be placed between quotation marks.

In publiburned, published messages titles are placed in italics. The MLA Style Guide advises the use of underlining as an indistinguishable to italics for the submission of messages before printing, grading, or editing. This is an acceptable different, especially if you are utilizing an older tool (handcomposing or typewriter) which cannot create italics. However before, with the introduction of the word processor, this consumption appears rather old-fashioned. It is preferable to use italics to offer your essay the appearance of a finished, poliburned product.

Spelling and also Punctuation

Unless you declare yourself to have a discovering disability, bad spelling and also punctuation sfinish a signal to the reader that you are sloppy and raise questions around your attention to information. In the service civilization, this could shed you a pay climb or, worse, a project possibility. Undoubtedly, many company supervisors currently comsimple that the university graduates they are interviewing are "badepend literate" (their words). In the organization civilization English majors are meant to have exactly these skills, and also, if you are an English major who does not have them -- or doesn"t pay attention to them -- you are most likely to be viewed as particularly unworthy of employment or promotion. That makes your professors look poor as well.

Here in the ivory tower, you must train yourself to pay attention to such points. In English, you are meant to examine literary texts in some degree of depth. I assume that anyone that has actually not learnt the correct spellings of the names of personalities in that text and of the literary and also cultural terms essential to interpreting that text might not have check out the message or studied its conmessage in excellent information. Misspellings of the names of personalities, authors, and technological terms, show that you are not mastering the material. Note that these, together with even more basic spelling errors, make esclaims much harder for professors to read. In basic, the much better the spelling and punctuation, the much faster we deserve to get essays earlier to you. Idealists may insurance claim that we are grading you on your thoughts, however, just as the service world is not so indulgent, I am progressively inclined to be less so. It is in everybody"s interest that you make excellent spelling and also punctuation a high priority.

Accent marks in words in foreign langueras deserve to be left off of resources letters. If you leave an accent off of a lower situation letter in words in foreign languages, this is a spelling mistake. In Microsoft Word accents can be added by choosing Symbol in the Insert food selection. Other word processors will certainly have equivalent steps. If you perform not understand just how to insert a certain accent, compose it in by hand also after printing out your essay.

Older English characters favor æ (ash), ð (eth), and also þ (thorn) are additionally accessible by selecting Symbol in the Insert food selection. Note that some of these characters are not available on the Macintosh platcreate and also may likewise not display up properly on the internet if you are utilizing a Macintosh. If you have any kind of trouble, simply leave a blank space and also create these letters in by hand also after printing out your essay.

Reference to Names in Medieval Texts

Middle ages messages typically usage multiple spellings of the names of personalities and also places. Except when quoting straight from the message, you need to choose one form (mostly the the majority of typically arising one) and use it repeatedly.

Many Middle English messages otherwise refer to the names of characters in English, French, and also Latin forms. When referring to names in Middle English, constantly usage the English create of the name, unless you are quoting straight from the message (so usage "May", not "Mayus"). Be consistent through your spelling. If you are not directly quoting the message, use Modern English spellings of names ("Athens", not "Athenes", "Wife of Bath", not "Wyf of Bathe").


Literary criticism is conventionally written in the present tense, unmuch less you are referring to an historical occasion. So "Chaucer composed The Canterbury Tales", however "In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer writes around a team of pilgrims on their means to Canterbury". Tbelow is nothing theoretically wrong about placing "wrote" in the second example; it"s just that it"s untraditional. Hence we professors aren"t used to it and also uncover it odd. More importantly, we react very badly to esclaims that narrate occasions in literary works in the previous tense, as in the adhering to example:

When Theseus broke up the fight in between Palamon and also Arpoint out, he decided to make himself the referee.

Here the use of the present tense makes much more sense. Theseus" intervention isn"t a one-off; it happens every time you open up the book and also read the passage in question. No matter how a lot we professors attempt to ignore the result of the unconventional usage of the previous tense in conmessages prefer the quote over, it still provides us think that the student has actually check out the Knight"s Tale, damelted off an essay, and also gone off to watch Sex in the City, never to have actually one more thought around Theseus, Palamon, and Armention aacquire. How depressing!

There are, of course, some instances when the previous tense is proper. Consider the following example:

Theseus indulges the two young knights considering that, prefer them, he was when a servant of love.

Here the "was" refers to an occasion that took area before the occasion being defined. You"ll notification that the actual occasion being described -- Theseus" indulgence -- is still described in the current tense.


Different style sheets (MLA, Chicago, and so on.) have actually different conventions for quoting in literary esclaims. Normally I am tolerant of variations, however many kind of students perform not seem aware of some features common by all for quoting poetry. Please follow the guidelines listed below (and also your other professors will certainly appreciate it if you execute this in other classes).

Cite page numbers for pincreased and line numbers for poetry. If you are quoting a poem interpreted into pincreased, mention line numbers if possible; otherwise mention web page numbers.

If you are citing The Canterbury Tales from The Riverside Chaucer, you might relocation the name of the tale via the fragment number. Hence you might mention line 1 of the Knight"s Tale as "(Knight"s Tale, 1)" or as "(I.859)" (that is, line 859 of Fragment I).

When citing poeattempt show the line breaks you discover in the edition you are quoting from. Do not cite the text as constant prose.

Short Quotations

If you are quoting three lines or fewer, show the line breaks via "/". Here is an instance from an essay on Chaucer:

images are straightforward and direct. They are for the the majority of component presented through nothing more than a "like to", or "as", and cover all phases of human task, and make their effect by their homely and instant appeal. The bells on the Monk"s bridle ring "in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, / And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle" (General Prologue, 170-171).

Remember to sepaprice the "/" from any type of other message or punctuation with spaces on either side.

Longer Quotations

If your quotation is composed of 4 or even more lines or prose or poetry, follow the guidelines below:

Separate the quotation from the major message of your essay by indenting it. You may single room the quotation, yet perform not centre the message and also carry out not readjust the font. The indentation shows that the text is a quotation; you perform not require quotations marks. However, if the quotation consists of yet does not consist completely of dialogue, use quotation marks for the dialogue parts of the quotation.

Here are two examples:

The arming scene calls our attention to the obstacles of judging Gawain"s actions. Hollis nicely claims the problem:

The poem itself prompts us to ask concerns around the process connected in Gawain"s activity. The arming scene, in its interpretation of the pentangle symbol, presents us via an supposedly perfect hero, one whose virtues are so preeminent and also so tightly integrated that it shows up impossible for evil to discover entry (619-65, esp. 656-61). How, then, does it take place that, much as Gawain and also the Green Knight differ in their judgement, Gawain acts in such a method that both agree he has actually fallen brief of perfection? (1)

It is hence necessary to take into consideration in what methods Gawain considers himself to have failed. Gawain renders four attempts to define his failing, each quite distinct in sort. His initial reaction to the Eco-friendly Knight"s revelation is to regard his action in regards to certain vices causing the devastation of virtue:

"Corsed worth cowarddyse and also couetyse bothe! In yow is vylany and vyse that vertue disstryez." Thenne he ka3t to the knot, and the kest lawsez, Brayde brothely the belt to the burne seluen" "Lo! ther the falssyng, foule mot his falle!" (2374-84)

Gawain"s account of his behaviour below is reminiscent of the action of a principles play.

Here is an example without any kind of dialogue:

First we might take his job-related in rhyme royal and also look at a passage in which a sense of considerable emovement hregarding be conveyed:

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne, Th"assay so tough, so sharp the conquerynge, The dredful joye, alwey that slit so yerne: Al this mene I by Love, that my felynge Astonyeth through his wonderful werkynge So sore iwis, that whan I on hym thynke, Nat wot I wel wbelow that I flete or synke. (The Parliament of Fowls, ll. 1-7)

Now while it is true, as Professor Manly points out that his passage in an example of the rhetorical strategy of start a poem with a sententia, it is even more vital to observe exactly how Chaucer has actually provided the bare idea a life and also emotion of his very own.

Parenthetic Citations

When quoting texts, provide the name of the text followed by the page or line numbers, as proper. Always cite line numbers for poetry if they are offered in the edition from which you are citing.

If you finish a sentence via a quote that does not need a parenthetic citation, the sentence-finishing punctuation mark (".", "!", or "?") goes inside the quotation note. For example:

In response to the Environment-friendly Knight"s words, Arthur jumps up, as if to say, "I"m prepared for a fight."

When a parenthetic citation is necessary, one might be tempted to place the parenthetic recommendation inside the quotation marks:

The bells on the Monk"s bridle ring "in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, / And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle (General Prologue, 170-171)".

This implies that Chaucer wrote "(General Prologue, 170-171)"; obviously, he didn"t. So make sure you put the parenthetic referral outside the quotation marks. However before, it is standard to put the duration after the quotation, so the correct format is as follows:

The bells on the Monk"s bridle ring "in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, / And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle" (General Prologue, 170-171).

This is likewise true for the end of a clause. Notice the place of the comma in the complying with instance.

The bells on the Monk"s bridle ring "in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, / And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle" (General Prologue, 170-171), and we might conclude that he wants to be noticed.

ALWAYS put a space between the quotation note and the parenthetic citation. Compare the following examples.

a. The Environment-friendly Knight asks, "What, is this Arthures hous?"(309). b. The Environment-friendly Knight asks, "What, is this Arthures hous?" (309).

Sentences prefer sentence (a) make me REALLY grumpy. Spend an added ten minutes eliminating them entirely from your essay.

Commas before Quotations

Comma placement before a quotation likewise causes civilization trouble. Notice that in "The bells on the Monk"s bridle ring "in a whistlynge wynd als cleere…"" tright here is no comma after "ring" and before the start of the quote? This is because the quotation functions grammatically in the sentence. In this instance, the first letter of the quotation should be reduced case (unmuch less the initially word is a correct noun). With shorter quotations you have to attempt to execute this wherever possible on stylistic grounds. Here are some examples of quotations included right into the grammar of the sentence.

The following step is his alliance via covetousness -- he identifies himself through a vice, forsaking his true nature to become "fawty and falce" (2382).

Gawain has exceptionally excellent factors besides modesty to decline the Lady"s market to "take the toruayle to myself to trwluf expoun" (1540).

The Lady of the Castle appeals to Gawain"s "manhod" as soon as she reminds him that he is "stif innoghe to constrayne wyth strenkthe" (1497).

Putter says that "the poet"s commitment to ideals of courtoisie, the high standards of refinement and delicacy imperative at court, inevitably involves emphasis on coarseness and locus to which it is intrinsic" (47-48).

Both versions present Tom Bombadil without further explacountry as "a merry fellow" (646). Both also provide Tom four adventures, or encounters through malignant powers.

Eomer states that "wanderers in the Riddermark would certainly be wise to be less haughty in these days of doubt" (645-55).

Shippey suggests that "Tolkien knew (none better) that dwarf-names he had offered in The Hoblittle bit came from Old Norse" (55).

If you are quoting dialogue, or a statement made by an writer, and also you are illustration attention to it as a statement, a comma usually comes before the quote. This almost constantly comes after a verb favor "says", "asks", "responds", "states", "screams", etc. In these instances, the quotation starts with a capital letter. Consider the adhering to examples:

At the finish of the initially part of the Knight"s Tale, Chaucer asks, "Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamoun?" (Knight"s Tale, 1348).

The narrator"s very own summing up is, indeed, a slightly tempered view of the absolute perfection put forward in 632-35. Hearing the Green Knight"s challenge, Arthur responds, "Sir cortays knyght, / If thou crave batayl bare, / Here faylez thou not to fyght" (276-78).

He says, "This pure fyue / Were harder happed on that hathel then on any type of other" (645-55).

According to Putter, "The great Ricardian poets bequeathed to contemporary criticism a suspicion around the literary seriousness of Arthurian romance" (1).

Both versions present Tom Bombadil without further explanation: "Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow; / bright blue his jacket was, and his boots were yellow" (646). Both additionally provide Tom 4 adendeavors, or encounters through malignant powers.

Eomer says, "Wanderers in the Riddermark would be wise to be less haughty in these days of doubt" (645-55).

According to Shippey, "Tolkien knew (none better) that dwarf-names he had actually used in The Hoblittle bit came from Old Norse" (55).


Wherever before possible, footnotes have to be placed after the last punctuation mark of a sentence. You must typically usage parenthetic recommendations for line number citations. Use footnotes (or endnotes) only to cite the edition of the text you are utilizing or additional sources.

Integrating Quotations

When you include a quotation to show a point you have actually made, the quotation should be followed by an explacountry of exactly how the product in the quotation illustrates your allude.


For the objectives of writing literary criticism, it is generally standard to assume that your readers will certainly be acquainted through the plot of the texts you are mentioning, unmuch less they are obscure. Normally, no plot summary is required; you have to just describe the plot as soon as directing your reader’s attention to an individual incident which you will certainly then discuss. For instance:

When Nicholas attempts to seduce Aliboy, he claims that he will certainly die for “derne love” of her. This reduces the courtly love tradition to the absurd.

For the purposes of creating esstates for classes, you need to additionally take into consideration the relatively short length of most assignments; descriptions of the plot take up important area which should be given over in the direction of interpretation of the text. Since you are creating for a professor that you recognize to be very familiar through the message, to include such plot summary is likely to be viewed as mere filler.

You can additionally assume that well-known technical concepts and historic conmessages for the literary works you are stating will certainly be construed by interested readers. In general, you must just dwell on these points at size if they are more obscure or if you are going to be commenting on them or utilizing them as a major basis for your interpretation. That said, in esstates for classes you have to assume a slightly “stupider” reader. Since your professor hregarding evaluate you knowledge for the purposes of grading the essay. You need to display that you have actually learnt and also understand these ideas and contexts. So you should more than likely add a couple of added sentences if crucial to show this. How much space you usage have to be well balanced against the length of the essay.

Finally, an essay that is not nearly entirely free of mechanical errors would certainly never before be publiburned. Whilst you might not be composing for publication, it is your professor’s project to help train you to compose for the public. This includes world whose partnership with you might be expert, starting through your professor. Be advised that it is impolite and also offensive to ask your professor to review esstates in which you have not phelp enough information to mechanics (spelling, grammar) and format (traditional techniques of presentation). Reading such esstates takes much longer, and the result is that your professor takes much longer to rerotate your classmates’ esclaims and has much less time to percreate other duties such as course preparation, administrative occupational, and also study. In some situations, this may involve composing references for students using for work and graduate colleges or applications for grants. If you don’t proofread adequately, you are not just affecting your grade, you are affecting people’s bank balances. Eexceptionally essay need to be approached as a experienced task. I review eextremely essay as if I am assessing a candiday for a job interview.


Citing exterior resources in an essay is a method to indicate your knowledge of concepts which have been discussed by others and also which you don’t have actually space to duplicate in your essay. You may have to perform some research study amongst these outside sources to clarify your knowledge of principles you may not have actually completely grasped from course conversation. It is important to realise that, also if you have taken away a clear expertise of the product from class, the material questioned in class is almost always a simplification, considering that class time is limited (and we are unable to survey all the possible evidence). Doing study can help you gain a deeper and more advanced expertise of the product.

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Web sites have actually the exact same disadvantages as course discussion, but even the finest ones are regularly also more simplified accounts of the material because you are not able to ask concerns. As such, the internet is virtually always usemuch less as a research medium. By and large citing a internet website in your essay is not much much better than not citing anypoint. Tbelow are some notable exceptions, and I suppose the instance to readjust gradually for the better in the following decade, however for the minute you have to pick published esstates and also books over the internet if you want to do quality study. Keep in mind that, although this takes longer, the knowledge you gain from reading a complete discussion is almost constantly better. This does not expect that you should never before revolve to the internet. Net sites often give you great founding points for what forms of books and posts to review. This is the way you should usage them, if at all feasible. As a final note, it must be said that, bereason printed works mainly have fuller discussions than web sites, citing printed functions is mostly perceived by readers as more impressive. I try to take account of this in my assessments of esclaims for the objectives of grading.