Essay Format

TITLE -- A title page is optional, but you should definitely give your essay a title. Let your reader know that you know what your essay is about. It doesn't have to be a clever title, but it should indicate the central focus of your paper.

CITING REFERENCES -- Because I'm not looking for research papers, most of the essays shouldn't need footnotes. But every time you cite or refer to a passage from the work you're discussing (and you should quote from the text a lot), you should indicate the page number the passage is from -- that way your reader can look up the passage herself, and see the context it appears in, &c. The simplest way to indicate such a source, and the one I'd recommend using, is to put the page number in parentheses immediately after the quotation, like this -- "quotation" (p. xxx).

BIBLIOGRAPHY? -- If you've used secondary sources (if, for example, you've examined the way Huck Finn has been condemned), then you should provide a formal bibliography. Check with me or your grader about how that should look. But for most essays, all you need is a statement identifying which text you used. You must provide that -- for your reader to be able to check your citations from The Red Badge of Courage, for example, he needs to know exactly which edition you used. But it's easiest just to put a "Work Cited" attribution at the end of your essay -- like this:

James B. Colvert, ed., The Great Short Works of Stephen Crane (New York: Harper & Row, 1965)

If your text came from our webpage, you can cite it by its URL, like this:

Wallace Stevens, "Sunday Morning"

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