Add a HEADING to your essay. For essays formatted according to MLA Style, this includes:
Your Name (first and last)
Your Teacher’s Name
the date of submission
Font Size/Style: Is the entire essay set in font size 12 and in the font style Times New Roman?
Margins: Are the margins no greater and no fewer than 1” on my paper?
Paragraph Spacing: Did I remove extra spaces between my paragraphs?
Title: Did I put a title for my essay between my heading and introduction? The title of my essay is in some way connected to the topic. It is creative and appropriate.
“IT”: Do I use the word “it” anywhere in my essay? Change all of the “it”s to be more specific. What exactly is “it” that I am referring to? A feeling? An event? A result? A concept?
Verb Tense: Writers should be careful to use the exact tense needed to describe or explain. In general, do not switch from one tense to another unless the timing of an action demands that you do. Keep verb tense consistent in sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
Incorrect: Mrs. Mallory sees her son and, in her excitement, twisted her ankle rather badly. Her
sister calls the doctor immediately.
Correct: Mrs. Mallory sees her returning son and, in her excitement, twists her ankle rather badly. Her
sister calls the doctor immediately.
Formatting for Books – Books are italicized
Formatting Numbers: When numbers are used to open a sentence, write out the number in words. Also, write out symbols such as “dollars,” “percent,” and “cents.” Example: Sixty-five percent of people…
Use these phrases to show that you’re analyzing and justifying the importance of your evidence and not just summarizing:
“This means…” or “This shows…”
• use the last name of the author/speaker after the initial introduction
Example: “Anderson writes that…” or “Smith further illustrates…
ELIMINATE (get rid of!):
Contractions: “don’t” “wouldn’t” “isn’t” “should’ve” “can’t” etc.
Replace them with the words “do not” and “would not…,” etc. If these words appear in a direct quote, you do not have to make changes.
Graveyard Words (*Tip: Use Ctrl + F to find these words in your essay)
you, me, I, we, us, my, really, just, seems, appears, basically, very, literally, pretty much
Again, if these words appear in a direct quote, you do not have to make changes.
“This quote shows…” OR “This evidence shows…” (*instead use “This shows…”)
“The author does a great job of explaining…”
“This is how the author shows…” (*instead use “This shows…”)
“This basically just means that…”
Idiomatic Expressions: Eliminate any idiomatic expressions. These are phrases that we use in conversation, but not in formal writing. Some examples of idiomatic expressions include: “spill the beans,” “something smells fishy,” “hands down,” “in the same boat,” “loose cannon,” “cut corners,” “last straw,” and “have a meltdown.”
Works Cited Alphabetizing – This is something you may not have known! If the title of a source begins an article (either “a,” “an,” or “the”), alphabetize by the next word in the title of the source. For instance:
This source would be alphabetized based on the letter “L”, not “A.”
· Make sure you’ve added your Works Cited page.
· Double-space entire paper, make sure that margins are 1” all around the page, 12pt Times New Roman, black ink
· Don’t include words such as “quote,” “this is my hook,” “thesis,” and “introduction,” in your actual paper.
· Do NOT put extra spaces between paragraphs.
· All paragraphs should begin and end with your own words.
· Make sure to include in-text citations for the ideas that aren’t yours.
· Do not use personal pronouns: you, I, we, me, us, our, mine, your, etc.
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