History 440 Tips for Better Writing: Technical Aspects
Download 221.47 Kb.Pdf ko'rish
- Bu sahifa navigatsiya:
- Editing Marks
Tips for Better Writing: Technical Aspects
In this class, all written work will be expected to have been fully proofread before
submission and to be as technically flawless as possible (grammar, spelling, etc.). Here are some
basic tips on how to improve some of the technical aspects of your writing.
In most academic writing, you should avoid the first person (“I”), expressing personal
sentiments, or setting out a position as in a position paper. Avoid a conversational tone. Your papers
should be historical in orientation, using analysis based on evidence. Quotes are the most frequently
used forms of historical evidence. Interpret your quotes—don’t assume that they speak for
themselves, or that a sequence of them inherently reveals an argument. Introduce your quotes—
don’t just drop them in a paragraph.
Avoid overstatement: “Since the dawn of time, humans have…” or “Americans love to…”
Be specific to the case in hand.
Papers should have arguments (a thesis). They are not “about” something or “exploring”
something, nor do they simply reproduce facts—they argue something. If you don’t know what
your paper is arguing, you’re not done writing. The best thesis statement is direct, clear, and
indicates the path the paper will take in succeeding paragraphs.
Distinguish frequently confused terms:
affect/effect (affect is most often used as a verb, effect as a noun)
amount/number (amount = unquantifiable; number = quantifiable)
than/then (than = used for comparison, degree; then = time, space, order; in that case).
less/fewer (less with collective nouns; fewer with nouns that can be enumerated, or with
time, money, or distance). In short, the grocery store signs are wrong: it should be ten items
subject, one is an object. Use accordingly. (Also, be sure to use who for people, not that.)
Match your verb tenses. Sentences with parallel components should have parallel structure.
Historical papers are generally written entirely in the past tense.
The English language has a mood called the subjunctive, used for conditional, doubtful, or
possible statements. As the old commercial jingle went: “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…”
The verb here is “were,” not “was.” (This is one of the most common errors in spoken American
Plurals do not use apostrophes—“the Romans lived in ancient times”—unless they are
possessive: “the Romans’ republican system of government.”
Contractions are not to be used in formal writing. (Use “are not” instead of “aren’t.”)
A hyphen joins two words together—two dashes or a long dash (called an “em-dash”
because it is as wide as the letter m) separate them. Do not use a hyphen where you need to use a
dash or dashes.
An ellipsis (…) at the beginning of a quote is generally unnecessary; the lower-case letter
beginning the quote tells us that the quoted passage is beginning in the middle of something. A
quote that continues on past the part you are quoting is sometimes but not always ended with an
ellipsis. If you need to change the capitalization of a letter in a quote (because of where the quote
falls in your sentence, for example), make the change but indicate this by putting the letter in
If there is a typo in the original source, do not correct it; reproduce the error and write
“[sic]” after the word or at the end of the passage. “Sic” is Latin for “thus” or “so,” informing your
reader that this is how you found the quote.
must be made. First, try to alter the grammar of your sentence to match the grammar of the quote. If
this is not possible, make as few alterations as possible to the quote (changing tense, adding a word
here or there) but always indicate these alterations by using [brackets] around inserted words or
when removing intervening words […].
Use a comma between the ultimate and penultimate items in a list (this is called the
“Oxford” or “Harvard” or “serial” comma). Always.
Short pieces or articles are referred to with their titles in quotes (“Oration on the Dignity of
Man”); books, journals, and magazines have their titles italicized (Cervantes’ Don Quixote).
The first time you use a source, introduce it. Often, the author’s full name is used the first
time, and only their surname in later instances. If you have already introduced your source in the
sentence or paragraph before the parenthetical citation, you do not need to repeat the name of the
source in the citation.
quotation marks. A block quote is any quote that is longer than four lines.
In general, unless referring to a webpage with a resource that does not exist in some other
form, you would cite the traditional source rather than include the URL. (For instance, if citing a
New York Times article, you would cite this as coming from the newspaper, New York Times, and
give the author, title, and date, and not cite it as coming from http://www.nytimes.com). On the few
occasions when you do cite a source that requires including a URL, remove the hyperlink so it is not
blue and underlined in your text (it should look like normal text).
When using electronic scholarly sources available through the UNM library, cite them by
journal or database name and traditional methods. Do not copy and paste the proxy URL address
from your web browser. This temporary URL is not a stable referent and exists only for your
research session. (The point of bibliographic information is to aid other researchers in locating the
information, so we cite by other established methods.)
All periods and commas are included before the quotation marks even if they are not a part of the
George said, “uncle,” and Heather stopped pinching him.
According to a student in the class, “The history of science is fascinating.”
The only exception to this is when you cite after the quote. In this case, the period is placed after
the page number and parenthesis.
Results consistently show that “students enjoy studying the history of science” (Rogers 62).
Semi-colons and colons are placed outside of the quote.
She said, “social and natural orders are co-produced”; this saying made her famous.
Question marks and exclamation marks are placed either inside or outside of the quotation marks
depending on whether or not they are part of quote.
She asked, “Are you going to eat that?”
What do you think of the poem, “Blue”?
Punctuation with parentheticals follows a similar pattern; if the entire sentence begins and end in a
parenthetical, the punctuation stays inside the final parenthesis. If the parenthetical aside began in
the middle of a sentence, then the punctuation for the sentence remains outside the final
A comma is not needed after “that” in introducing or transitioning to a quote.
A circle means that there is something wrong here—check your spelling, word choice, tense,
remove an unnecessary space, etc. [A printed version of this document demonstrates some of these
marks on the errors in the following sentences.]
He said, “We shall over come.” The brackets here mean to remove the space
A transposition makr means to switch the places of the items on either side.
three lines under a letter mean to capitalize it.
“Awk” = means awkward phrasing; rephrase.
Arrows are suggestions for how to move things around for an improved sense.
An ongoing squiggle under some words means that something is not clear here or that there
is an error to be addressed.
Always, always, proofread your papers. Read them outloud to catch grammatical errors,
missing verbs, and run-on or incomplete sentences.
[from Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation]
Pay attention to punctuation. There is a world of difference between the panda whose diet is
described (“eats shoots and leaves”) and the one who has gone on a killing rampage after a meal
(“eats, shoots, and leaves”).
Read the following three passages. The first passage is offered without punctuation; the
second and third passages differ only in the placement of punctuation, and yet the meaning that is
conveyed is entirely different! Proper punctuation matters.
Dear Jack I want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind thoughtful people
who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men I yearn
for you I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart I can be forever happy will you let me be
I want a man who knows what love is all about.
You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart.
I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is.
All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless
and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we're apart I can be forever happy.
Will you let me be?
Download 221.47 Kb.
Do'stlaringiz bilan baham:
ma'muriyatiga murojaat qiling