Why is it important to arrange the major sections of an APA-style paper in the correct order?

Writing a paper in APA style involves adhering to specific conventions laid out by APA. Readers are inclined to approach a paper with certain expectations about its format and appearance.

Placement

The References page is located at the end of the main body of the paper and begins at the top of a new page. Appendices, footnotes, and additional materials should follow after the References page.

General Format

Like the rest of the paper, the References page should be double-spaced and typed in Times New Roman, 12 pt. The running head should appear flush with the upper left-hand corner of the page, and the page number should appear at the upper right-hand corner of the page.

When should a short quotation be used?

Whether they are used to provide evidence, support for an argument, or to illustrate an idea using another writer’s words, short quotations are valuable tools that can enhance any essay. Because short quotations contain fewer than 40 words, they should be integrated into the surrounding paragraph using introductory phrases that provide some context for the quoted material.

How should a short quotation be formatted?

The formatting of a short quotation contrasts with that of a block quotation in several ways. A short quotation should be surrounded by quotation marks and followed by a parenthetical in-text citation. The final punctuation of the sentence is then typed after the in-text citation, outside of the parentheses. Note the placement order of the quotation marks, parentheses, and period following a short quotation:

Let’s look at an example:

However, as one researcher points out, “science can be seen as an ideal and altruistic activity conducted for the best of mankind, where knowledge is in itself a value” (Simonsen, 2012, p. 46). [1]

An alternate method of formatting a short quotation is to include the author(s) and year of publication in the introductory clause, while the original page number remains in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Consider the placement of the author’s name and year of publication as the quotation is introduced.

Let’s look at two more examples:

As Simonsen (2012) goes on to explain, “science can be seen as an ideal and altruistic activity conducted for the best of mankind, where knowledge is in itself a value” (p. 46). [1]

In a work published in 2012, Simonsen suggested that “science can be seen as an ideal and altruistic activity conducted for the best of mankind, where knowledge is in itself a value” (p. 46). [1] 

For more information about using quotations, see also:


[1] Simonsen, S. (2012). Acceptable risk in biomedical research. New York, NY: Springer.

Learn how to format the References page of your paper in APA style:

How should brackets be used to add words to a direct quotation?

When additional words written by an individual other than the original author are inserted into a quotation, the added words must be surrounded by brackets. The inserted material should present an accurate representation of the author’s message in the original text.

Please click "read more" for full list of resources and video.

Design pages to facilitate scanning by using headings, subheadings, columns; learn special page design considerations for the Web.

You can enhance readability by giving some thought to the design of your documents. By using headers, lists, bullets, and other design elements, you can reveal your organization to the reader and emphasize key points. Below are page design guidelines you should consider when writing print or online documents. Your design can underscore your message. Be sure to consider these guidelines in the context of design principles.

Design Pages to Facilitate Scanning

According to usability research conducted by Sun Microsystems, "Seventy-nine percent of Web users scan pages; they do not read word-by-word." [more]. This finding suggests that you should design documents so they can be scanned by your readers.
You can create more scannable documents by:

  1. Following a deductive organization (i.e., putting purpose, significance, and results in your introduction).
  2. Using page-design principles to emphasize the message and organization (e.g., using bullets, lists, and illustrations to highlight key points).

Use Design Elements to Highlight Your Message

In the example below, notice how your eye is drawn to the blue header and the boxed elements. In these spaces, you can highlight the important part of your message.

Headings

For some genres of documents, headings would be considered too impersonal or too technical. For example, you certainly don't want to see headings and bullets used in a suspense novel. Increasingly, however, headings are used to help readers scan documents.

Even vague headings like Introduction, Results, and Discussion can be useful: They give readers a sense of what is covered within the section. Better yet, descriptive titles cue your readers about your stance on the content of sections. For example, rather than Introduction, Results, and Discussion, you could write "Why Are Headings Important."

As previously discussed, highly skilled readers tend to scan through documents on first reading, noting the content of your headings. This gives them a sense of your overall message. An additional advantage of headings is that they create additional white space.

Word processing programs enable you to highlight text and then define text as a level 1 heading, level 2 heading, and so on. Using style tags you can change the size or color of the heading. The advantage of using style tags is that you can change all level 1 headings with ease rather than going through and changing every level 1 heading. In other words, if you tagged text 15 times as an H1, and then you edited the look of that heading, your changes would ripple through the text, changing all 15 headers. Additionally, Microsoft Word and Corel Word Perfect can use the style tags as hyperlinks.

Results from readability research indicate that readers have difficulties with more than three levels of headings. When you use more than three levels of headings, readers become confused. Also ensure that all of your headings are equal grammatically. For example, headings can all be questions, verb phrases, or noun phrases, yet you cannot mix together questions, verb phrases, and noun phrases.

Level 1 Heading

Level 2 Heading

Level 3 Heading

  • Bullets

Many readers and writers love bullets. Some people even claim they think in bullets. Bullets create emphasis. They focus the reader's eye on the bulleted material and they break up textual space.

Using a word processor, you can easily adjust the look and feel of bullets, making them ornate or simple. Again, it's best to use the bullet style tag so that you transform the look and feel of your bullets with a single key stroke as opposed to needing to reformat each bullet separately.

Below is a humorous translation from Moby Dick to illustrate the "get to the point" technical style of the Web to literary discourse:

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

I go to sea when I:

  • Feel depressed or melancholy
  • Stop in front of coffin warehouses
  • Follow funerals
  • Have a powerful urge to knock people's hats off
Source: Moby Dick by Herman Melville Source: This example is adapted from Kathy Henning's Writing for Readers Who Scan

Lists

Lists share all of the positive attributes of bullets: They create the white space readers love, placing emphasis by drawing the reader's eye to what you want to highlight. Yet lists are appropriate when a series of steps is being presented. Unlike bullets, lists imply you complete item 1 before moving on to item 2.

Using lists and numbering sections of documents is very common in legal and technical genres where more than one person is writing the document or where litigation may follow.Once again, use the style tag for lists in order to have control over your document.

Special Page Design Considerations for the Web

Have you ever wondered why many books and magazines have narrow text columns? Alternatively, why are so many Web pages short, about screen length?

Readability research has found that impatient readers don't want to turn their heads back and forth to read. They want to scan the document, reading straight down the page without any head nodding! Impatient readers don't want to use scroll bars, either.
Of course, readers' interactions with texts are in a state of flux. Some readers may actually prefer long documents because they can be easily printed. However, as a general rule, researchers in the field of usability analysis and interface design suggest that you limit your content to properly fill the screen page of a monitor set to

  • Maximum width = 640 pixels
  • Maximum height = 480 pixels

Of course, modern monitors, powered by computers with video boards, may be set to display many more pixels on a page. The standard, in fact, is probably moving to

  • Maximum width = 1024 pixels
  • Maximum height = 768 pixels

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs.

Interact

Tables and graphs enable you to reach visual learners. When you select information for graphical representation, you are highlighting its significance. In some disciplines, particularly the sciences, readers expect authors to condense complicated information into charts and graphs. Many readers will scan a document's charts, tables, and graphs before reading any text.

Today's modern word processors offer powerful tools for developing attractive charts and graphs.

Use Charts and Graphs to Emphasize Important Information

unitednations

Graphs and tables can be used to emphasize important information. For example, in a report on population growth, you could explain that according to the United Nations, the rate of population growth has decreased since the 1970s. Worried that you are luring your readers into a false sense of security, you could nonetheless report that by 2030 the world population may expand from 6 to 8 billion. In contrast, though, imagine a visual that represents this trend--i.e., declining birth rates in contrast to the percentage increase of the world population:

mp3Organizational Charts

Use charts to clarify complicated points, to emphasize significant results, and to offer a shorthand version of the gist of the information you are reporting. For example, Michael Bain uses the following visual to clarify his purpose and give his readers a visual way to read his text, How MP3 Players Work

Comparison Charts

Charts can be used to illustrate key points. For example, in Fatality Facts: Teenagers as of 2001, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a graph that summarizes the gist of its report:

"Teenagers drive less than all but the oldest people, but their numbers of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high."

Beneath the above graph, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a link to the plot points so that viewers can see exactly what numbers are illustrated in the graph. They also provide a detailed narrative discussion of the results and enable users to select tables that pop open the results presented in table formats.teenagemotor

 


"Charts and Graphs" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida

Add video to enrich or supplant printed texts.

New communication technologies enable authors to incorporate streaming multimedia into their webs. 

Writers may provide video to:

  1. Underscore the content of the print text, illustrating key concepts.  For example, an agency hoping to secure funds for hungry people could show video of their living conditions.
  2. Illustrate the content of the printed text.  A researcher could provide video of people he or she interviewed.  A technical writer could provide a screen-movie to show users how to complete instructions.
  3. Inform or persuade people who respond more positively to an engaging speaker than printed texts.

Video Formats

Currently, three "players" are available for free that can play digital movies on your computer:

  1. Windows Media Player.  This player is a Microsoft tool so it prefers the Microsoft format (.avi), yet it will play movies in a variety of formats, including Quicktime.
  2. Real Player. When you got to Real.Com's site, you may need to hunt around for a while before finding the free Real Player.
  3. Quicktime Player. Although Quicktime was originally designed to play Macintosh-platform movies, it now plays Windows-oriented movies as well.

Examples Online Video

As computers begin to become more entertainment devices, users will increasingly look for good video from their computers. Eventually, video will become more integrated into writing spaces. Below are some videos used for pedagogical purposes.

  1. Taylor's Student Projects. Includes many student-produced documentaries.
  2. Writing Instruction Videos. Watch practices and listen to experts in the field of teaching writing.
  3. House Hippo Movie. Created by Concerned Children's Advertisers, this movie is designed to teach students to be critical of TV advertising and Web sources.
  4. Health Video. See videos on hundreds of health issues.
  5. Microsoft Screen Movies. Screen movies show users how to use software, as illustrated by the samples below.

"Video" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida

Understand design principles that are important for both paper and Web documents.

Font selection matters. Even the font you display your documents in can have powerful consequences. Some fonts can distract readers from your message while others draw in the reader's eye, bringing the reader's focus to your text.

  1. What are the Font Families?
  2. What is the Difference between Serif and Sans Serif Fonts?
  3. How Should You Mix Different Font Families?
  4. Strategies

What are the Font Families?

"Fontophiles" tend to have different names for font families. Below are some of the more commonly defined "font families" (see left column) and a discussion of their uses.

text2

What is the Difference Between Serif and Sans Serif Fonts?

Serif Fonts

Serif fonts have little tails (serifs) at the ends of each letter. Serif fonts include Times New Roman, Courier New, New York, New Century Schoolbook, and Palatino.

Serif fonts provide a more traditional, conservative appearance. Readers prefer Serif fonts when large text blocks are displayed. Times New Roman is one of the most popular Serif fonts because it is very legible on the computer screen and prints very well.

Sans Serif

In French, "sans" means without. Sans Serif fonts lack little tails at the ends of each letter. Sans Serif fonts include Arial, Geneva, Helvetica, and Comic Sans MS.text

Readers find Sans Serif fonts to be less readable than Serif fonts, so writers seldom use them to set long blocks of texts. Used in contrast to Serif fonts, Sans Serif fonts can catch a reader's eye. Knowing this, advertisers use Sans Serif fonts to set headlines and call out text.

How Should You Mix Different Font Families?

Mixing font families can be tricky. If you include too many disparate fonts, the page will appear to lack focus (see example below). Readers may tell you your document reads like a puzzle. It's giving mixed messages:

How Should You Mix Different Font Families?

Mixing font families can be tricky. If you include too many disparate fonts, the page will appear to lack focus (see example below). Readers may tell you your document reads like a puzzle. It's giving mixed messages:

Strategies

Designers typically advise that you should use no more than one Serif and not more than one Sans Serif font for each page. Even when you limit yourself to two fonts, you can create considerable variation by bold face, underlining, italicizing, or adjusting the size of a font.


"Typography" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida

"Pictures and Photographs" was written by Joseph Moxley, University of South Florida

Use pictures and photographs to catch the eye of your audience.

The expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" is more than a truism. Images can convey powerful emotion. Images can illustrate a process or capture a moment with precision (such as a tight end catching the football on the goal line).

People who shun principles of design, who argue words alone should be sufficient, are really not in touch with the expectations of today's readers. Perhaps because today's readers are bombarded with information, they tend to be especially receptive to pictures and photographs.

Select appropriate images

Images are not inherently good. In fact, images can be detracting. You don't want to pour images into a document that are unrelated to your subject. Because readers' focus will be drawn to the images, be sure they are appropriate to your audience and purpose. Consider below two excellent examples of images.

Environmental Web sites, such as The Nature Conservancy or The Sierra Club, use beautiful images from nature to help stimluate action. Consider, for example, the EPA's Draft Report on the Environment. Take a minute to click through this report, while noting how the top banner image changes to provide a visual representation of the topic under discussion (land, water, air, etc.)
It is interesting to note that the U.S. Census Bureau has set the main graphic to change every minute on its default page, Population Estimates, perhaps trying to "humanize" the population explosion.

The following summarizes common graphic formats, distinguishing bitmap images from vector images.

What are bitmap images?

GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) and JPEGs (Joint Photographic Experts Group) are bitmaps; they use pixels to display colors. In other words, bitmaps use a grid ofbites squares, and each square, each pixel, can represent a color.

Different computer monitors have different numbers of bits they can display for each pixel. A bit is the smallest amount of information stored by a computer. For example, a 2-bit monitor can display two colors for each pixel--either black or white. An 8-bit monitor can dedicate 8 bits of memory to each pixel to represent a color, whereas 24-bit images use 24 bits of memory for each pixel to represent a color. While monitors differ, you can typically count on a monitor having between 72 to 100 pixels per inch. As technology evolves, the quality of monitors will expand, and so, too, will the quality of graphics.

When you plan to represent an image on a page that will be printed, you need it saved in at least 300 dpi (dots per inch).

Number of Bits/Pixels Colors Displayed
8-bit image 256 colors
16-bit image 65+ thousand
24-bit image 16+ million colors


When users make a bitmap image larger, the computer guesses where to put new pixels between the old pixels, resulting in a blurry image.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

Developed by Compuserve Information Service in the 1980s, GIFs are the most common format of Web graphics on the Internet. GIFs can present 8 bits or 256 colors, using the Internet color palette. Because they do not display millions of colors, GIFs can download fairly quickly. Conventional GIFs download one pixel at a time, while interlaced GIFs display the overall image fairly early in the download, giving the reader a blurry image of the graphic, and then move from blurry to sharp as the image downloads.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEGs provide a superior image to GIFs because they can display 24-bit, true-color images. While GIFs have 8 bits of memory dedicated to displaying a color for each pixel, JPEGs have 24 bits of memory dedicated to displaying a color for each pixel. Thus, photographs and drawings can be rendered more accurately by JPEGs.

JPEG files are larger than GIF files, yet you can typically choose different compression file sizes in graphic applications. For example, you can make JPEG file sizes 100 times smaller than the original file size. Each time you compress an image, you erase information, so you need to be careful that you do not so overly compress an image that it becomes worthless. JPEG compression tends to degrade computer-generated graphics.

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

According to Web Graphics and Presentations, PNGs were designed for the Internet to have all of the benefits of GIFs, yet to

  • Provide superior compression and interlacing. GIFs can display the outlines of an image once it receives 50% of the information from the file. In contrast, a PNG image is recognizable once 25% of the image is available.
  • Create smaller files. PNG files are 5 to 25% smaller than equivalent GIF files.
  • Allow users more than one color for a transparent background.
  • Compensate for differences in gamma--that is, the level of contrast in an image. PNGs can be displayed equivalently on Macintosh and PC platforms.

At this point, however, PNG files cannot display animated images.

What are vector images?

Vector images use geometrically defined shapes such as lines, arcs, or polygons, which are used to represent images as opposed to pixels. When vector images are enlarged, they do not degrade. The computer doesn't need to guess about where to add additional pixels. Instead, the geometric shapes are simply scaled in larger or smaller formats, without blurriness.

Vector images are useful to display graphs, charts, and diagrams. They allow users to focus in on a part of the diagram, to magnify some part of the image. Vector images are generated by spreadsheet programs, 3D applications like AutoCAD.

What are image maps?

An image map is a map that has embedded links. In other words, as you move your mouse over an image, you can access links. The following is an image map.

Learn NC: An image map of North Carolina, this map is linked to a database on NC educational resources

 

Understand the role of revision in the lives of successful writers.

Our fast-paced, consumer-driven society is geared to offer a remarkable number of choices in nanoseconds. If the fast-food chain doesn't deliver lunch within sixty seconds, it's free. With a push of a button, people who live in large metropolitan areas can run through as many as 100 different channels on cable television.

Clearly, we live in an "information society," an age of smooth, mass-market packaging. We are bombarded with the polished printed word. Newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and interoffice
memos surround us like mosquitoes on a hot summer night, buzzing, "Buy me, read me, believe in me." Americans spend over three months of their lives just opening and discarding all of the junk mail stuffed into their mailboxes, 75 percent of which they don't read. Every minute two scientific papers are published, not to mention articles in the humanities, social sciences, and popular press. Gifted (and not-so-gifted) authors spend months polishing proposals and sales letters and then--with the use of photocopiers, fax machines, and computer modems--they send out copies in mass numbers.

What Are Students' Revising Practices?

The fast pace of our society often seems contrary to the reflective, introspective tone that we must adopt when we are trying to develop and write about ideas. And, perhaps because they are so accustomed to seeing polished final drafts, many students expect to create similar texts with little effort.

Many students are unaware of the crucial role revision plays in many professional writers' work. Kelli Sorrentino, an undergraduate student, writes:

When I first learned about revision in class, it was like some great revelation to me, for some reason. I think I had some sort of mistaken notion about leaving pieces of work "just as they came to me." I believed that there was something magical about inspiration. But now that I've learned to look at my work more critically, I realize that I can improve on all of my so-called "inspired ideas." Revising pieces constantly has taught me to improve on inspiration and when l really got into it, it proved to be a godsend. Now I really enjoy picking my writing apart because I've learned that this allows me to produce better writing than I've ever done before.

Students whose works are receiving low grades or befuddled looks from readers may have unreasonable expectations. Unlike professionals, they may assume they should write an essay in just two or three drafts. In contrast, experienced, professional writers understand that revision is crucial to successful writing.

Rather than viewing revision as a form of punishment or merely as an act of polishing ideas, professional writers consider revision to be an opportunity to develop their thinking—as an opportunity to be creative. When facing tough writing assignments, they rarely expect to produce a final copy after writing just one or two drafts. Comforted by the knowledge that few people express their ideas perfectly without practice, they expect to revise. They understand that revision is an inevitable step in the process of making meaning. For example, James Michener writes:

Getting words on paper is difficult. Nothing I write is good enough in the first draft, not even personal letters. Important work must he written over and over—up to six or seven times.

Perhaps the most pernicious assumption that inexperienced writers make is that polished, A-level essays are the products of an inspired mind, of "a born writer." Just as non-electricians tend to perceive electricity as a form of magic, inexperienced writers tend to be mystified by the creative process. As Lafcadio Hearn argued in his lectures at Tokyo University between 1896 and 1902, many novice writers wrongly assume that they should wait to be inspired before writing:

Nothing has been more productive of injury to young literary students than those stories, or legends, about great writers having written great books in a very short time. They suggest what must be in a million cases impossible, as a common possibility. It is much more valuable to remember that Gray passed fourteen years in correcting and improving a single poem, and that no great poem or book, as we now have the text, represents the first form [of] the text.

Almost everything composed by Tennyson was changed and changed and changed again, to such an extent that in almost every edition the test differed. Above all things do not imagine that any good work can be done without immense pains.

What Are Professional Writers' Revising Practices?

Successful writers look and look again at their manuscripts because they know that this constant reworking is one of the most effective ways to discover what they want to say and to find out what they have learned by writing:

  • "Think before you speak, is criticism's motto; speak before you think is creation's."-E.M. Forster
  • "I start my work by asking a question and then try to answer it." -Mary Lee Settle
  • "To rewrite ten times is not unusual. Oh, bother the mess, mark them as much as you like; what else are they for? Mark everything that strikes you. I may consider a thing forty-nine times; but if you consider it, it will be considered 50 times, and a line 50 times considered is 2 percent better than a line 49 times considered. And it is the final 2 percent that makes the difference between excellence and mediocrity." -George Bernard Shaw
  • "I'm working on something. I don't know exactly what." -Eudora Welty
  • "Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what one is saying." -John Updike
  • "I mean that generally the more you write--the more times you write it--the better the piece is." -Calvin Trillin
  • "We write out what we don't know about what we know." -Grace Paley
  • "There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed." -John Kenneth Galbraith
  • "A young author is tempted to leave anything he has written through fear of not having enough to say if he goes cutting out too freely. But it is easier to be long than short. Think of and look at your work as though it were done by your enemy. If you look at it to admire it you are lost. If we look at it to see where it is wrong, we shall see this and make it righter. If we look at it to see where it is right, we shall see this and not make it righter." -Samuel Butler
  • "lt's always taken me a long time to finish poems. When I was in my twenties I found poems taking six months to a year, maybe fifty drafts or so. Now I am going over two hundred drafts regularly, working on things four or five years and longer; too long! I wish I did not take so long." -Donald Hall
  • "I write out of ignorance. I write about the things I don't have any resolutions for, and when I'm finished, I think I know a little bit more about it. I don't write out of what I know. It's what I don't know that stimulates me."-Toni Morrison

 

 There are times when writers may be asked to take an essay they wrote and turn it into a speech: perhaps they will give a talk at a conference, stand in front of a class for an oral presentation, or be asked to create a YouTube video. The assignment—the task of revising a paper into something that will be performed (read aloud or otherwise “given” live)—does not simply mean using the paper that exists on the computer screen. Altering a paper to a speech challenges the writer to engage with the audience and revise the piece into one that is easy to follow and interesting to listen to. Writers will (hopefully) recognize the value in speaking a paper by learning the performative impact of clarity, concision, ethos, and organization.

There are some things to keep in mind when revising a paper into a piece that will be delivered live. Here are some tips to help in this process.

Explain your purpose and overall organization early.

A speech needs to communicate its purpose and range early-on. Not only will providing this information ensure effective communication with the audience, it will also guide the writer to greater clarity. Establishing the purpose early in the presentation helps the audience identify what they should listen for throughout (remember, unlike reading a paper, an audience cannot return to previous paragraphs). Next, take a moment to outline the remainder of the speech—the purpose here is to demonstrate the validity and strength of the argument. For example, a paper might include a paragraph like this one from a conference presentation on Hannah Cowley’s play A Bold Stroke for a Husband:

I will first draw attention to the portions of the plot that are significant for my argument. After this brief plot summary, I will discuss the critical reception of Victoria’s character from Cowley’s contemporaries and current scholarship because my interest in Victoria seems to differ from what is currently said about her. I will follow this with close readings of three scenes—first, Act Two Scene Two when we first see Victoria and learn about how she constructs her male identity, Florio; second, Act Four Scene One when we encounter Victoria’s ability to maintain all of her various roles; and, third, Act Five Scene Two, the scene in which Laura and Carlos discover Victoria’s cross-dressing.

The paragraph identifies the order in which the writer will present information and helps the audience know what to expect. Similarly, in a live presentation, you will want to provide such verbal cues to the audience in order to allow them to easily follow the overarching argument and significant sub-points.  

Use transitions and sign-posts.

Employ transitions and segues for the listener that explain connections between ideas: use words and phrases that build upon previous arguments, make comparisons, give examples, show the effects of something, highlight, emphasize, and summarize. Some examples include:

  • First/second/third, next, and then
  • In addition, furthermore, similarly
  • To illustrate, for example
  • As a result, consequently, therefore
  • However, in other words, conversely
  • In conclusion, in summary


For a more extensive description of transitions see “Add Appropriate Transitional Language to Connect Ideas.” 

While it is important to include transitional phrases, a presentation that over-uses such terms may cause the delivery to feel too formulaic. Avoid seeming “artificial” by being willing to “think on your feet,” incorporating another speaker’s ideas, or integrating current events that are immediate and relevant to your talk, for use as transitions.

Create various sentence lengths.

Because the audience will be listening to, rather than reading, the presentation must be both clear and engaging. One way to do this is to vary shorter, clearer sentences with longer, more complex sentences. To illustrate the value of varying your sentence lengths, examine this introduction to a paper that compares Susan Bordo’s “Material Girl” and Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”:

Susan Bordo’s critique of post-modernism uses a materialist feminist standpoint to illustrate the problem of celebrating Madonna as “the new postmodern heroine” (352) and examines the ways in which Madonna’s function as a “material girl” provides an interesting perspective on the influence of Madonna in the 1980s. However, examining now (in 2011) the effects Madonna had on feminism in the 1980s seems outdated. I question whether Madonna truly reigns as the postmodern heroine; instead, I contend that Lady Gaga has replaced Madonna and the previous celebration of Madonna as a “subversive culture-figure” no longer applies (352). In this paper I propose that Lady Gaga is the new “Material Girl,” who must be called “The Headless Monster.”

The sentences in this paragraph are varied in length, use a variety of punctuation, and would be easy to follow when spoken by the writer.  

Modify the incorporation of evidence.

Just as the audience may find it difficult to listen to long, complex sentences, they may also struggle to follow along with/distinguish quoted material. A writer needs to modify the incorporation of evidence so that the delivery clearly indicates the material and source used (after all, viewers will not see quotes or in-text citations, right?). Try to paraphrase as much as possible and stick to shorter quotes. Of course, a writer should build ethos into a paper by including evidence from established scholars, but the speaker must make clear which words or phrases come from a particular source. Here is an example from the earlier paper on Bold Stroke for a Husband:

Current scholarship similarly focuses on Victoria’s “bold stroke” to reclaim Carlos as her husband. Jeffrey Cox argues that Cowley’s play is as a comedy of manners that places women “totally in control of the comic action” (367). He claims “Victoria appears as the most staid of Cowley’s women, as she is set on preserving her apparently traditional marriage, but even she adopts the ‘unlady-like’ even if theatrically conventional plan of pretending to be a man” (370). Furthermore, he concludes, “Victoria takes up the role of a man so that she can win back the role of wife she would prefer to play” (374).  

These sentences provide three different ideas from Jeffrey Cox’s article that are set-off by quotation marks. In order to break-up the different quotes from Cox and indicate to the audience what the writer is quoting, the paper incorporates transitional and introductory phrases such as “he claims” and “furthermore, he concludes.” Additionally, you may consider using physical gestures to indicate quotations: simply raise your hands and use the index and third fingers, bending them quickly, making a “bunny ears” motion. This gesture prevents the need to say “quote” and “unquote” which can disrupt the flow and coherence of the ideas.    

Along with revising the presentation so it is concise, easy to follow, and clear, it must be engaging. Speeches should be stimulating and interesting to hear. Most people do not want to listen to a speech that is monotone: Where. Every. Sentence. Sounds. The. Same. Continually engage the audience by making eye contact, creating clear sentences, varying tone of voice, and acting confident. To actively engage the audience, practice the following advice.

Read slowly.

It takes a lot more attention to listen to a paper than to read one, so avoid speaking too quickly. Be calm and slow down. Throughout the paper use a bold font to remind yourself to “Breath,” “Pause,” and “Look at the audience.” Also include specific words in italics or bold font as a way to highlight the argument, vary the tone of voice, and keep the audience engaged (coincidentally, adding emphasis also provides hints to the audience about what is most important).

Look away from the paper and make eye contact with the audience.

Listening to a presentation while the speaker continually looks down at the paper becomes terribly boring. To prevent this, choose and mark sections of the paper to look up at the audience and talk about a particular idea from memory. Memorizing small bits of the paper or providing a handout from which the speaker ad-libs are two methods of putting down the essay and interacting with the audience. Most speakers become most alive when they step away from the printed page.      

Be aware of your time.

Think about the length of the paper and the amount of necessary time to prove the argument. Typically, it takes 20 minutes to read a ten-page paper and ten minutes to read a five-page paper.

 


"Revising a Paper to Deliver" was written by Cassie Childs, University of South Florida

Works Cited

Bordo, Susan. "'‘Material Girl': The Effacements of Postmodern Culture.” The Gender and Sexuality Reader. Ed. Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo. New York: Routledge, 1997. 335–38. Print.   

Cox, Jeffrey N. “Cowley’s Bold Stroke for Comedy.” European Romantic Review 17.3 (2006): 361–75. Web. 16 Oct. 2011.

When we proofread a document, we are looking for small errors such as misspellings or accidental omissions.

Have you ever sent off an email message or submitted a school paper only to later discover that it was full of typographical errors?  How could you have missed all of these errors?

The answer seems to have something to do with how our brains work.  Our brains recognize patterns.  This is part of the reason why people who read frequently tend to read faster than infrequent readers: their brains more speedily recognize and process patterns of words on the page.

Be concise. Once you have written a solid draft, a document that has been well researched, take a step back and question whether or not you can delete half of the words. In a world where billions of instant messages and emails are sent daily, brevity is a virtue. People love conciseness. They respect writers and leaders who can explain difficult matters simply.

Create emphasis and define terms by interrupting the flow of a sentence by using a dash; know when the dash must be used as opposed to the comma.

Some stylists view the dash with great suspicion--the sort of suspicion that a man in the 1990s who wears a plaid leisure suit to work would arouse. Some people erroneously believe that the dash is acceptable only in informal discourse.

However, the dash can provide you with subtle ways to repeat modifiers and dramatic ways to emphasize your point.

Create emphasis and define terms by interrupting the flow of a sentence by using a dash; know when the dash must be used as opposed to the comma.

Some stylists view the dash with great suspicion--the sort of suspicion that a man in the 1990s who wears a plaid leisure suit to work would arouse. Some people erroneously believe that the dash is acceptable only in informal discourse. However, the dash can provide you with subtle ways to repeat modifiers and dramatic ways to emphasize your point.

Use a Dash after a Series or List of Appositives

When you introduce a long series or list of appositives before the subject and verb, you are placing high demands on the reader's short-term memory. Therefore, use this pattern rarely and only for emphasis. This pattern is particularly appropriate in conclusions, when you are bringing together the major threads of your discussion or argument. Finally, you should place a summary word after the dash and preferably before the subject of the sentence, as indicated by the following examples. The most common summary words that writers use are all, those, this, each, what, none, such, these.

  • Jealousy, lust, hate, greed--these are the raw emotions we will explore.
  • Lying, stealing, cheating, committing adultery--which is the greatest sin?
  • To struggle with meaning, to edit, to combine sentences--these activities are well known to the struggling writer.
  • Wining and dining his friends, stroking people's egos, maintaining a good appearance, and spending money--all were part of his scheme to gain influence.

Use Dashes When You Wish to Emphasize a Parenthetical Element

Commas are usually sufficient punctuation to set off parenthetical elements. In some instances, however, you can use a dash instead, especially if you want to make the insertion more noticeable:

  • The building next to ours--the one with the all-cedar exterior--was engulfed in flames.

When you want to whisper rather than shout, you can place the modifiers inside parentheses:

  • The secret I have to tell you (the one I've been hinting about) will surprise you.

Use Dashes to Embed a Series or List of Appositives

A single appositive or modifier can easily be set off from the rest of the sentence in commas, but you must use dashes when you insert a series of appositives or modifiers. After all, how else will the reader know when the series is over?

  • The essential qualities of an effective writer--discipline, effort, inspiration--can be learned by regular writing.
  • With the help of her assistant--a high-speed personal computer--she produced a delightful letter.

Use Dashes to Set off an Emphatic Repetition

You can emphasize an important point by placing a dash or comma at the end of the sentence and then repeating a key word or phrase:

  • Hal is a computer, the ultimate computer.
  • Mrs. Leavitt is a gambler, a compulsive gambler.
  • He was disturbed by the warning--the warning that everyone else ignored.
  • All rapists should be severely punished--punished in a way they will never forget.

Understand conventions for using commas and appreciate the likely effects of particular sentence lengths and patterns on reading comprehension.

Commas are like pawns in chess: They seem relatively insignificant and unobtrusive, yet they are actually very important. If properly placed, the lowly pawn can checkmate the king or, once it has reached the end of the board, become a more powerful piece. Commas play an extremely important role in ensuring that your documents are understandable. In fact, failing to insert a comma in the correct spot can cause considerable misreading (and subsequent embarrassment). Beyond a few special circumstances, there are six basic ways to use commas correctly.

Use Commas to Separate Adjacent Parallel Elements

As demonstrated by the following examples, a series is composed of three or more parallel elements, and the series can appear in the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence:

Stretching, warming up, and cooling down are important to a good exercise program.

All of the necessary qualities of a good assistant -- typing, shorthand, and patience -- she had in abundance.

The three qualities of a good introduction are context, purpose, and organization.

Editors and grammarians are in sharp disagreement about whether a comma should be placed before the last element in a series. The trend in the popular press is not to include the comma if the elements in the series are brief. However, many well-known stylists have persuasively argued that conjunctions connect and commas separate, so it is incorrect in their opinion to judge the comma as redundant punctuation before a conjunction such as "and." In addition, uninformed readers may perceive the last two elements in the series to be a compound if the comma is omitted. For example, placement of the comma before the word "and" in the following example makes it clear that flowering plants are not the same as ornamental bushes:

The landscaping contract includes several exotic plants, ornamental bushes, and flowering plants.

Occasionally, as dictated by your ear and the rhythm you hope to establish, you may want to insert a comma and forgo the and, as in this example:

We have a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

When you want to slow down the rhythm of your sentence and emphasize a point, you can replace all the serial commas with and or or:

He does not like shrimp or crayfish or lobster or anything that turns red when cooked.

If the abuse of the wetlands continues, we will be without waterfowl and fish and wildlife.

When you must present a long array of parallel elements in your documents, you can avoid listing them by grouping them into logical parts and punctuating accordingly, as demonstrated by the following examples:

Writing is painful and exhilarating, tedious and inspiring, chaotic and planned.

Human activities such as coal and oil burning, population growth and increased food demands, clearing and burning forests have caused increases in the release of carbon dioxide and methane.

Finally, note that coequal, consecutive coordinate adjectives that modify the same noun should generally be separated with commas:

Although he appears to have your best interests in mind, he truly is a competitive, combative, cantankerous boss.

However, you should not separate two consecutive adjectives with commas if the first adjective is modifying both the following adjective and noun as a unit, as illustrated below:

The competitive track star runs forty miles a week.

Use Commas to Join Two or More Independent Clauses

In most instances, place a comma between two sentences that are joined with a coordinating conjunction--and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet:

She was not sure if she had the necessary mathematical abilities to be an engineer, so she pursued a graduate degree in history.

He was surrounded by fifty people, yet he felt all alone.

You do not need to place a comma between two independent clauses if they are short and similar in meaning, provided that no misunderstanding will take place, as illustrated in the following example:

Some doctors advertise their services but many doctors find this reprehensible.

The absence of the comma in this sentence is acceptable; it is not necessary to prevent misreading.

Use Commas after Introductory Subordinate Clauses

To avoid confusion, use a comma after an introductory subordinate clause or phrase:

Because the costs of conducting research continue to increase, we need to raise our rates.

As the shrimp boats trawl, sea grass can collect on the trap door, allowing shrimp to escape.

According to the professor, rich women are more likely to have caesarean sections than poor women.

In keeping with the modern trend toward using as little punctuation as possible, some stylists believe that it is not necessary to place a comma after short introductory words (now, thus, hence) and phrases (In 1982 he committed the same crime). However, conservative style manuals still call for the comma, so you are better off playing it safe and placing a comma after introductory words and clauses.

Use a Comma After Conjunctive Adverbs and Transitional Phrases at the Beginnings of Sentences

Although our modern style calls for using as few commas as possible, you should generally place a comma after conjunctive adverbs and transitional words because they modify the entire sentence:

Nevertheless, we must push forward with our plans.

In other words, you're fired. Hey, I'm just kidding.

Because commas cause readers to pause in their reading, you want to use them sparingly. Although logic would suggest that it makes sense to follow coordinating conjunctions with commas, convention does not call for this usage unless the conjunction is followed by an introductory phrase. Thus, it would he inappropriate to write:

Yet, I think we should go ahead as planned.

When a short phrase follows the conjunction at the beginning of the sentence, however, it is appropriate--although not absolutely necessary--to place a comma after the conjunction:

Yet, as I mentioned yesterday, I think we should go ahead as planned.

Use Commas Around Nonrestrictive Parenthetical Elements

You should limit the number of times that you interrupt the flow of a sentence by placing modifying words between the subject and its verb. When you do introduce such appositives, participial phrases, or adjective phrases or clauses, you must determine whether the modifiers are restrictive or nonrestrictive. Essentially, restrictive modifiers add information that is essential to the meaning of the sentence, whereas nonrestrictive modifiers add information that is not essential. The best way to determine whether a modifier is restrictive or nonrestrictive is to see if taking it out changes the meaning of the sentence.

Restrictive: Lawyers who work for McGullity, Anderson, and Swenson need to take a course in copyediting.

In this case the relative clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. If you embedded the clause in commas, then the meaning would change, suggesting that all lawyers need a course in copyediting.

Restrictive: The lawyer who has worked on this case for three years thinks that we have no chance of winning.

In this case the relative clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. In other words, the sentence refers to only the lawyer who has worked on this case. The discussion is restricted to her.

Nonrestrictive: The lawyers, who have an office downtown, think that we have no chance of winning.

Because the location of the lawyer's office is superfluous to the gist of the sentence, it should be set off by commas.

Use Commas Before Nonrestrictive Adverbial Phrases or Clauses at the Ends of Sentences

At the end of your sentence, you need to be especially careful about where you place your commas. In particular, you need to question whether the modifying words are restrictive or nonrestrictive. For instance, suppose you received a memo from your writing instructor that said,

You should revise the essay, as I suggested.

You could assume that you were directed to revise the essay in any way you deem appropriate. However, if the instructor omitted the comma, then you would be receiving an entirely different message: revise the essay exactly as prescribed by the instructor.

Below are some additional sentences to give you a sense of how to determine whether your modifying words are restrictive or nonrestrictive:

Nonrestrictive: Reports indicate that a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) costs from $85 to $400, depending on the model.

Restrictive: Writers can change readers' outlooks on issues provided that they offer sufficient evidence.

In this case, a comma after issues could suggest that writers have numerous ways to change readers' opinions and that one of these methods is providing sufficient evidence. In contrast, the lack of a comma means that providing evidence is the one criterion writers need to follow.

Learn how to use proper punctuation.

Below is a summary of how to punctuate different sentence patterns and how to analyze the likely effect of different syntactical forms on readers' comprehension.

Commas: Understand conventions for using commas and appreciate the likely effects of particular sentence lengths and patterns on reading comprehension.
Dashes: Create emphasis and define terms by interrupting the flow of a sentence using a dash; know when the dash must be used as opposed to the comma.
Colons: Use the colon when the first sentence anticipates the second sentence or phrase, thereby creating an emphatic tone.
Semicolons: Use a semicolon to join two sentences or to punctuate a series or list of appositives that already include commas.

Use a semicolon to join two sentences or to punctuate a series or list of appositives that already includes commas.

The semicolon offers a "higher" form of punctuation than the comma or dash. Unlike commas or dashes, the semicolon can correctly be used to separate sentences. If readers tend to pause for a half-second when they come to a comma, they pause for three-quarters of a second when they reach a semicolon. Writers use semicolons two major ways.

Use a Semicolon to Join Two Sentences

You can show that ideas are closely related by using a semicolon rather than a period between them.

  • The secretary's fingers burned across the typewriter; the financial statements would be picked up by the client in one hour.
  • The question, though, is not economics; it is professional objectivity.
  • Breast cancer used to be the biggest killer for women; now it's lung cancer.

Use a Semicolon to Punctuate a Series or List of Appositives That Already Includes Commas

When elements in a series require internal commas to ensure clarity, then semicolons must be used to separate those elements:

  • A perfect vacation would be long, relaxing, and cheap; include personable, sweet, flexible people; and make everything else seem trivial.
  • The delegates were from Sacramento, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Providence, Rhode Island; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • A good proofreader must have good grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills; must like to read; and must have patience.

Note, however, that you are wise to avoid using unnecessary semicolons. Experienced writers and readers would prefer the second sentence because it avoids self-conscious punctuation.

  • He was dressed in white pants; a white, Mexican wedding shirt; and sandals.
  • He was dressed in a white, Mexican wedding shirt, white pants, and sandals.

Use the colon when the first sentence anticipates the second sentence or phrase, thereby creating an emphatic tone.

The colon provides a dramatic and somewhat underutilized way to bring a little spark to your writing. Beyond normal business correspondence (Dear Sir or Madam:), you can use the colon before quotations, formal statements and explanations. The colon enables you to highlight a semantic relationship--that is, a movement from a general statement to a specific clarification. The colon also provides a dramatic way to tease the reader's curiosity:

  • As a modern ordeal by torture, litigation excels: It is exorbitantly expensive, agonizingly slow, and exquisitely designed to avoid any resemblance to fairness or justice.

Consider a variety of publishing options, including informal sharing, formal publication with publishing companies, self-publishing, and a variety of e-publication formats, including Web pages, wikis, and blogs.

Sharing your work with readers is an exciting and important stage of the writing process. Ultimately, you cannot determine if a document is successful until you share it with your readers and gauge their reactions. Reaching significant readers and helping them understand your thoughts on an issue can be remarkably satisfying. Thanks to the Internet and powerful software tools, you can professionally present your work. Knowing that readers will make opinions regarding your ability to think and communicate, you want to ensure that your published work represents your best effort. Even work published on an Internet site should be carefully crafted. Remember that tools such as the Way Back Machine exist, which can immortalize your words in digital archives. Before publishing a work, always take a moment to reflect on its quality, ensuring the work represents your best effort.

Publishing can be defined as any act that involves making your work public:

  • Publishing may refer to reading your paper out loud to other people
  • Publishing may refer to sharing texts with a group of peers in school via photocopying/distributing a hard copy of your work, or in an electronic format such as an e-mail attachment to friends, as a blog post, etc.
  • Publishing may refer to the traditional author-publishing context, whereby the author submits a text to a publishing company; the text is reviewed and accepted or rejected. Often, authors are encouraged to revise and resubmit. After the text is developed and accepted for publication, the publisher prints the work and markets it. The author then receives royalties based on sales. In this model, a text (such as a journal article or book) may take years to actually arrive in bookstores
  • Publishing may refer to publishing work online. Thanks to the Internet and numerous new online writing forums, (such as blogs or wikis), you can reach hundreds, perhaps thousands (even millions) of readers, even though your work is not supported by an institution or association
  • Publishing may involve an interactive forum where the author and reader exist in a dialectical relationship. Thanks to the Internet and Web publishing tools, our conception of publishing is becoming more dynamic. Authors can publish a version on the Web, readers can immediately respond, using discuss tools, email, online forums, and the writer can then revise