Departmental Style Sheet
Writing Skills Center
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Haifa
Director: Dr. Jennifer Lewin
Where: Room 1601 Eshkol Tower
When: Semester B 2022: Sundays and Tuesdays 10-12 and by appointment
Table of Contents
- Page Margins: use default margins on Microsoft Word.
- Text Direction: Left to right — ¶ (Home→Paragraph) shortcut: control + arrow.
- Align Text: Left to right (under Paragraph section on Home tab of Microsoft Word document).
- Font: Times New Roman or Garamond 12 pt.
- Color: Black
- Use 2.0 (double) space between lines, including quotations.
- Put your own name on the essay.
- Paginate your paper.
- Indent new paragraphs.
- Do not place an extra space between paragraphs.
- Title your essay. Here is an example: Female Mischief in The Crucible.
- When you first mention an author’s name, always use their first and last name, including any initials or middle names (such as Bjorn A. Payne Diaz). After the first reference, the author’s last name is enough (such as Diaz).
- If the assignment specifies a word limit, adhere to it.
- Here is a standard MLA title page.
For more information on essay formatting, please look over the Purdue Online Writing Lab site: Purdue OWL // Purdue Writing Lab
Essay Structure and Argument
Introduction – Body Paragraphs – Conclusion
See this file for more on essay structure.
Also, visit OWL Purdue here for even more information on essay structure.
Thesis statements should be interpretations of a text that are contestable, literary, and supportable by textual evidence. They do not merely describe or summarize a text; they should advance, in brief, a larger argument about what makes some aspect of the text significant.
The thesis and the essay need to match; that is, the essay’s argument and structure must follow from the thesis statement. If they do not, then either change the thesis to be consistent with the essay (the path of least resistance) or change the essay to match the thesis.
Topic sentences must appear at the beginning of every body paragraph, following the introduction with the thesis statement. Do not start paragraphs with quotations or plot summary.
Avoid generalities (sweeping statements). Your discussion, the development of ideas, must be grounded in the text being analyzed.
- Comma [,]: separates words, ideas, phrases, or pauses within a sentence. For more helpful information: Commas: Quick Rules // Purdue Writing Lab
- Oxford comma: the final comma in a list of things. Please use them. Example: Please bring me apples, plums, and figs.
- Comma splice: when two main (or independent) clauses are incorrectly combined using only a comma between them. This is a common grammatical mistake. Example: The girl, bought pears near the mountain. For guidance and exercises: Run On Sentences // Purdue Writing Lab
- Semicolon [;]: links two independent clauses with no connecting words. This form of punctuation indicates that the second clause expands, explains, or otherwise has a close relationship with the first. Example: I am going home; I hope that my parents are welcoming.
- Double hyphens [—]: do not use them in essays instead of commas or full stop periods. Use them sparingly. Example: We loved the beach—its soft sand was divine—and tried to swim there as often as possible.
- Dangling modifiers are common errors. They occur when a word or a phrase’s placement in a sentence gives it an unclear role.
Driving to work, the building was far away.
See: Dangling Modifiers and How To Correct Them // Purdue Writing Lab
- Keep words or phrases that are meant to be parallel structures as such.
- Watch for sentence fragments (incomplete sentences with no main verb and/or subject). They are grammatical mistakes.
- Watch for run-on sentences, comma splices, and fused sentences. These are very common errors in sentence construction. They are grammatical mistakes.
- Subject/verb agreement.
- Verb tenses need to be consistent throughout the essay (and certainly within an individual sentence). Use the present tense in your essays. Finally, refrain from passive verbs. Keep your writing dynamic with active verbs.
The best American regional writing tends to be less about a place than of it, with a writer’s central nervous system immersed in the local ecology, subcultures, hidden history, and spoken idioms of a given location (Kowalewski 7).
Morrison integrates folktales alongside the traumatic events that happen along the river in Sula, shifting our focus from the dangerous uncertainty of the landscape to something more predictable and familiar (Gooch 94).
See the tables below for an explanation on the “Proper Use of Prepositions”:
Lower than / covered by something
It is under the table. / The engine is under the car’s hood.
Lower than (but above ground)
Below our offices on the fourth floor is a legal firm.
Higher than (but not necessarily directly over)
This light fixture would look wonderful above the table.
‘To the other side’ (=over)
We couldn’t go across / over the bridge because…
‘From one side to the other and inside’
There was a delay before we went through the tunnel.
Enter a room / building
He went into the kitchen / office and…
‘In the direction of’
Go about three miles towards the center, then turn left.
Movement to the top of something
I got onto the horse / bicycle / table.
‘Source / origin’
We received it from a friend. / It comes from Germany.
By / Next to / Beside
Left or right of a person / thing
Do you see the person by / next to / beside Peter / the coffee machine?
Days of the week
On May 17
On my birthday / on my wedding anniversary
Months / Seasons
in January / in winter
Year / Decade
In 2012 / in the 1980s
Period of the day
In the morning / afternoon / evening
After a certain period (‘when’)
In two hours / in a few minutes (literally – two hours / a few minutes from now)
At night, we… (not ‘in the night’)
At weekends, I normally… (‘on weekends’ is also correct)
A precise time
The staff meeting is at 9:30.
Marking a period of time
From Monday to Wednesday
Telling the time
Twenty (minutes) to five
Telling the time
Half past eight
Marking a period of time
From Monday until Wednesday
Marking How long
We are working on this until June.
‘At the latest’
I will finish it by Monday.
‘Up to this point’
By December 2011, we had completed half…
‘From then to now’
I’ve been working here since 2004. (= for six years)
‘Over this period of time’
The project was for four years.
‘At this past point’
It started three years ago. (= in 2009)
Before / Prior to
‘Earlier than this point’
Before / prior to this policy, no such mechanism existed.
OWL Purdue is an invaluable resource: To, On (to), In (to) // Purdue Writing Lab
- No contractions.
- Avoid wordiness. Limit sentence length to 10-15 words.
- No slang.
- No clichés.
- Avoid language that assumes the gender of a narrator, speaker, or author.
- “They” as a singular subject is permissible and preferable to “he/she.”
- Avoid sexist language and generalizations.
- Proofread your essay multiple times for typos, spelling and grammar mistakes, awkward language, correct citation practices, etc.
- Give yourself enough time—to pre-write, write a first draft, revise at least 2 or 3 times, proofread 2 or 3 times—before sending the paper in.
Citation and Quotation
Our department uses the latest edition (currently the 9th) of the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) guidelines. There are other guidelines within the discipline of literature and other systems used in other disciplines as well.
Titles: Italicize book title, play, epic poem, film, academic journal, and/or newspaper titles.
Use quotation marks for essay, short poem, and/or short story titles. Place punctuation inside the quotation marks.
Example: In “Morning Song,” the speaker’s mood is grim.
Quotations: Use quotation marks when quoting exact language written by someone else.
Prose (click to view)
Drama (click to view)
Poetry (click to view)
Works Cited List
Alphabetize by author’s last name (if there is no name, then alphabetize by first letter of title).
Double-space between lines.
Author last name justified left to starting margin and indent second and subsequent lines of each entry.