On Writing Your Paper

Paper Formats

Use white paper, with one inch margins and double spaced type. Instead of a title page, put your name, English 10A section A or B, Lisa L. Spangenberg, the topic you are using, and the date, on five lines in the upper right hand corner of the first page. Please don’t put your name on every page; I use a post-it to cover the names when I read your papers. Center the title of your paper three or four lines down on the first page, and number the pages at the bottom. Please don’t use fancy binders, or a cover sheet, just staple the pages together. Make corrections by neatly applying correction fluid or by crossing out words and inserting new ones nearby. Use 12 point Times, Palatino, Bookman or other standard serif text face, but that is a personal preference, not a requirement.


You should always print an extra copy or photocopy any paper before you hand it in, whether it is for me or another instructor. There are copying machines that use special cards in all of the libraries as well as in the English Reading Room. There are also copiers in LuValle, Kerckhoff, ASUCLA, and various copy centers in Westwood.

Writing your Paper:

The point of this paper is to present your opinion. There are no "right" and "wrong" answers, though there are many unconvincing arguments. Your job is to formulate a thesis which you then argue for. Lead your reader (me, your friendly neighborhood T.A.) through a well organized narrative in which you present your case and attempt to persuade to think as you do.

Don't start with a mindless introduction; introduce your subject, state your thesis, and prepare your reader for the next paragraph.

I will be looking for supporting evidence in the form of specific examples and close analysis of quotations. Remember even if you put someone else's ideas into your own words (paraphrase), you must still give credit to the author by citing your source.

Use short direct quotations (with citations), as your evidence. You must first prepare your reader for the quotation so that your reader knows the context (what source are you quoting, who is speaking, etc.). Then, after presenting the quotation, analyze it. Show how the quotation supports your point, explain how it relates to your point, specifically. Then you must link that point to your next point. Rather than lots of long quotations, try to use short, carefully chosen quotations worked into your own words, so you can draw your reader's attention to the important details. The quotations are merely evidence; most of the paper is about what you think, in your own words.

  1.  Don’t wait until the last minute to start your paper. If you look at an assignment and think “this’ll be easy, I’ll just whip up a few ideas . . . ” your paper will show that you just whipped up a few ideas.
  2.  Think about the text first, and come up with something worth your time. Then talk about it with your friends, your tutor and T.A., Professor Allen, and write a few drafts. Next have a few other people comment on your paper and proof-read it, then revise it. Repeat as necessary.
  3.  This is not a research paper. Use The Norton Anthology of English Literature, a good unabridgeddictionary like the American Heritage Dictionary and the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), and the English Department Style Sheet.

You can email me to ask brief questions, or send me a paragraph to see what I think, or a thesis statement, even an outline. Do not send me your paper unless I have agreed that you may do this. You can make an appointment with me to discuss your draft, or just talk about what you think you’d like to write.

Spangenberg 6/2003