When writing a literary analysis, many students focus heavily on their chosen interpretation of the literary work(s), their unique thesis, and/or finding and using appropriate sources to support their arguments. And that is absolutely what they should be doing.
However, because those are big tasks and students are almost always taking at least one other course and working at the same time (some are even raising children, working full time, running businesses, or dealing with big family or personal health concerns), it’s very easy to overlook the tiny details that professors expect into a college-level literary essay. Here’s a quick list that will help you stay in the grade range your argument deserves rather than lose you points due to the “important small stuff.”
This post provides direction and best practices about properly incorporating MLA paraphrase/summary citation. First there’s an example of how to incorporate a paraphrase/summary citation using proper MLA formatting and Citation Sandwich body paragraph formatting. After that, you’ll find a description of “Paraphrase Best Practice” and a “Strong vs. Weak Examples” of a paraphrase/summary citation.
Example Paraphrase/Summary with Citation Sandwich Steps
Topic sentence of body paragraph. 1-3 sentences that set-up or build the paragraph’s claim. According to an article from The Atlantic, gender expectations can be established as early as toddler years. Researchers have seen children as young as two years choosing gendered toys when given the option. The article also makes the claimthat children brought up in gender neutral environments do not show a marked difference in their choice of toys(“Kids, Gender, and The Complexity of Social Gender Norms”). It is easy to claim that parents are responsible for teaching a young girl to like pink or dolls or a young boy to like blue and trucks; however, the evidence it showing that parents can make all the effort at home to provide a neutral environment with little impact. Until the outside social exposure that children receive via television, grocery stores, day care providers, and the like becomes less gendered, there is little lasting impact parents will have.
Things to note about this example:
The parenthetical documentation formattingof this source tells readers this article does not have a given author. On the Works Cited page, this entry would begin with the “Article Title.”
The use of the introductory signal phrase as well as the continued reference back to the source (while including additional information) helps show readers where the paraphrase begins and where it ends as well as what source provided the info/idea.
The explanation or context provided by you, the student, is nearly as long as the paraphrase citation, making your voice just as strong (or stronger) than the voice of the citation.
NoodleTools citation generator. If you’re accessing this off campus, use your full 14-digit IVCC ID card # and your last name to unlock NoodleTools. 14-digit will be: 24611 + purple student number + 01. Or you can type the entire number (black and purple) at the bottom of your IVCC student ID card.
Both your header and your heading need to be correct to receive full MLA style points, and many instructors will refuse to accept upper-level essays with incorrect MLA style document formatting. Even those using APA or Chicago style can benefit from learning MLA style heading and header formatting as many style use similar expectations and it will instill the instinct to check or double-check your header and heading formatting, especially when switching between MLA and APA course/essay expectations.
appears in the upper right-side of your essay–on all pages, including the first page and the Work Cited page
includes your last name and the page number of your document
How to Add a Header, MS Word Directions:
select the “insert” tab of your Word document–at the top left
hover over the “page number” square (it “feels like” you should select “header” since that is what you’re trying to insert, but then you won’t have a page number)
from the drop-down menu, select the option that shows the number in the top, right side of the document
type in your last name, hit the space bar
double-click below the blue/gray dotted line
you’re done with the header! but if you need to edit the header, double-click on it and it’ll “allow” you to change it. Then double-click below the blue dotted line again to “get back to your document”
How to Add a Header, OpenOffice Directions:
go to “insert” and choose “header”
type your last name in the header and while still in the header
go to “insert” and choose “fields” and then choose “page number”