As we ready ourselves for the upcoming fall semester, I thought I’d share some writing hacks for English Composition courses that use the MLA format of documentation styles.

These six hacks were put together mostly because a former student thought it was cool when I mentioned one of the techniques for lengthening a paper was a writing hack.

Students like the word, hack. So here goes:

6 Writing Hacks for Freshman Composition

1. Setting your Default Font and Size to Times New Roman, 12 pt takes up more room than the current default Calibri 11 pt. Times New Roman, size 12 simply takes up more space.

2. Using an MLA format takes up space on the very first page. Type: Student name ENTER; Professor name ENTER; Course Number ENG 101-1019 ENTER; Due Date written in Military Style 22 October 2017 ENTER; Set up the Title of the paper (Centered) ENTER. That’s five (5) lines already if you’ve Double-spaced your page.

3. Take up more real estate by introducing the quoted material you want to use by first 1) Summarize it, 2) add the quote, and 3) Discuss what the quote means for your paper in a couple of sentences. Be sure to use the correct in-text citation or parenthetical reference to avoid plagiarism.

4. Use a blocked quote of 40+ words for a longer quote to analyze in your paper. Be sure to use Hack #3. Don’t go over 50 words. Your analysis of the quote should be twice as long as the quoted material. Since these are limited in a paper, be sure to find something that needs a longer explanation for your paper.

5. Use the Ellipse to take out text in a quote you don’t want to use to keep your blocked quote to a minimum. Use the Hard Bracket when you do […]. The hard brackets indicate that this is Super Imposed Content and was not originally in the text you are quoting. When you see this sic in a text, understand this word means Super Imposed Content, not something that’s trying to psych you out. You can also use the hard brackets to make a sentence make sense. Ex: [S]he aspires to find the truth.

6. Add a bit of background information in your introduction paragraph to include information your reader might need to understand where your stance is coming from. It’s not a History or Biography, ever – unless, of course, you are writing a biography or history overview.

I hope these help add length to your college papers. Perhaps you can share these with a student you know.

Joy,

Cheryl

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