Wednesday February 14

WARNING: This is a long blog post because it’s basically your entire lesson today. I will break it up with amusing GIFs.

THE IMPORTANT PART: Your task is to write me a mini essay (and I do mean mini (500 words max) that demonstrates proper MLA formatting and proper use of a quotation, paraphrase, and a summary. The content of your essay is irrelevant. You will not be marked on your ideas. This is what you will be marked on:

Please ensure that your essay contains the following:

  1. Appropriate font size and style;
  2. A properly formatted first page with essay title and course information, and page number;
  3. Double spacing in the body of your essay;
  4. At least three different sources cited in the body of your essay;
  5. A properly formatted Works Cited page ;
  6. At least one paraphrase, one summary, and one direct quotation that effectively support your ideas (Please label your paraphrase and summary) be sure to cite them properly.



So, here are the resources you need to complete this task:

When to Paraphrase (This is a handout you’ll get in class).

When developing a paragraph, I tell students to use the following format: state, illustrate, explain. (Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as necessary to adequately support your point.) State your point, illustrate your point, and explain how that illustration supports your point. But I don’t mean literally illustrate–don’t draw me a picture with a pencil–draw me a picture with words. (See what I did there, with my fancy language?)

You are probably used to that illustration being a quotation, but, it could be a quotation, a paraphrase, or a summary depending on the context. Watch this video or read the handout above to learn about when you should quote, paraphrase, and summarize.


MLA format


Different subject areas use different formats for presenting academic work. In English we use MLA. It’s not important that you have the different formats memorized; it is important that you know how to find out how to apply different formats.

MLA formatting dictates both what your paper should look like, and how you should cite your sources. So…

What does it mean to “cite” a source?

When you cite a source, you are giving credit to the person who created that source. Ideally, you want to make sure that the person reading your work can find the exact same source you used. In fact, sometimes the reader may want to know more, and actually find the source to read more about the area of research. This requires you to provide quite a bit of detailed information in a standardized format so that whenever anyone reads your work, or when you read theirs, there is a clear way of recognizing when others’ work is cited. Now, you don’t want that information to distract your reader from the points you’re trying to make so you usually cite your source in two ways:

  1. In the body of your paper, immediately after the quotation or idea you borrowed, using a shorter form of a citation. In English, you will usually use a parenthetical citation.
  2. At the end of your paper on a new page, using a longer, more detailed citation. In English, this is usually in a Works Cited page

When should you cite a source?

Any time you are using a quotation, fact, idea, or phrase that you didn’t come up with yourself, and that isn’t common knowledge, cite it.

Here is a great guide telling you how to cite anything in MLA.

You can use

  1. Bibme
  2. Citation Machine
  3. EasyBib

to help you cite your work, but don’t rely on these tools to pull all the information you need for a complete citation.

And finally, this is what a properly formatted essay in MLA should look like.

Your essay is due Friday but this is the only time you’ll have to work on it in class.