Dr. Joanne E. Gates
    Jacksonville State University
    English Department

FAQs: Citation style and paper form

What is proper use of apostrophe?
Possessive needs just an apostrophe if the word ends in s and is longer than one syllable, with this exception: personal pronouns never use an apostrophe. If you can remember his, hers, yours, it should be easy to know that "its" is the possessive pronoun and you will need "it's" only when you mean "it is"; one way to remind yourself of the difference between the two "its" is to write out all contractions. Most instructors expect that for formal writing.

Why is it Robins' in one text and Robins's in another?
Obviously, with the exception of the personal pronoun, the apostrophe plus the s is needed when there is not an s there and when a proper noun of one syllable ends in s. Chicago Manual of Style allows "Robins's, Diary," etc. MLA Style prefers "Robins' Diary." Publishers often have both a house style and then for certain works adopt a convention for a particular problem. In my biography, I used Votes for Women! when I was referring to the ER play and Votes for Women to refer to a periodical later published by the WSPU. The exclamation mark was in the Court Theatre Playbill, which the computer text printout has. Since then, I have dropped the use of the exclamation mark, because most other print references do.

How do I get hanging indent?

And, is there as best way to format the word processing for indent of lines after the first line in a bibliography entry?

In Word or WordPerfect, pull down under the Format menu and select Paragraph. In WP, select Hanging indent. In Word, open up the dialog box labeled "Special." Its default, or automatic setting unless you change it, should be "none." Change to "hanging." Again, defaults should be pre-set at one-half inch, which is the required MLA indent.

It is important to treat each bibliography entry as its own paragraph, word wrapping throughout the entry and inserting a hard return or paragraph break only at the end. If your formatting is filled with returns and tabs and then you modify the page layout or font size, you will have tabs in strange places within your lines. This is why hanging indent is a better way of achieving what might look the same by only tabbing to indent second lines of bibliography.

How do I cite a film?

Begin with the title underlined. You can always substitute italic for underline, but be consistent throughout your document. Include the director. The names of the writer, performers and producers. With works of literature, plays or novels or short stories, it is usual procedure to insert a sentence, Based on the play by [author]. The distributor and year of release. As an alternative format, it is accecptable to begin with the last name, first name of a person whose individual contribution you are writing about. However, I would save this form for two films with the same title, such as identifying one film of Hamlet as Scott, Campbell and another as Branagh, Kenneth. When there is a significant gap in release dates of the film and its videotape, indicate both years. You add a line to your bibliography to indicate how you will refer to it in parenthesis if it is not cited in parenthesis by the beginning of your entry. (In other words, if bibliography starts with "Moby Dick," but you think it is clearer to distinguish the version by the principal performer or director, add "Citied in text as Patrick Stewart." or "Cited in text as Gregory Peck.") Videotape productions used to need minutes, but this is no longer a requirement. You might keep it part of your entry if you are distinguishing between two films that have the same title, but it is not necessary-- unless that is the manner in which you elect to cite the two versions within parenthesis. Just as in a citation for published information, use hanging indent and word wrap the entire entry as its own paragraph.

Tell Me a Riddle. Dir. Lee Grant. Based on the novel by Tillie Olsen.
Tell Me a Riddle. By Tillie Olsen. Dir. Lee Grant. THEN: Perf. Lila Kedrova, Melvin Douglas, Brooke Adams. Screen play by Joyce Eliason and Alev Lytle. Prod. Michael Rosenberg, Tony Wade. Tmar Productions 1980. Videotape. Media Home Entertainment, 1988. Cited in text as Grant.

NOTES: Videocassette might be preferred over videotape.
Prod. = Produced by
Perf. = Performed by
Dir. = Directed by
As of Summer 2001, I have not seen any guidelines for DVD products, but I would think that it would be appropriate to use chapter numbers, time elapsed for precise citations. Use disk number if from a two-disk release and mode of playing if not standard, for instance if you are citing the director's commentary over a certain scene.

Sites for Shakespeare on film include these:

Can/Should I use the "I" voice? And is there a preferred stlye in use of pronouns?

I encourage and expect you to use the "I" voice. You are expected to make claims that are reasoned and scholarly, yet do so from a personal perspective. This may go against all you have been taught. There may be times in your future scholarship and publication where it is necessary to omit or transform the personal voice. For publication, I was asked to alter first person to "this reviewer," for it was the house style of the journal. I regularly teach the "I-Search" paper, a personalized research approach, or opinion based on evidence.

However, please avoid the impersonal you. 

Quotation mark Placement:   Where do I place the end quotation marks in relation to other punctuation in the sentence, before or after period?

MLA rules for this are logical but may seem uncomfortable. The best instruction I got in this was in a teaching workshop where a professor had developed tutorials in punctuation across the diciplines. Rules are different for each discipline. In Journalism and other fields, you will see a final period outside the closing quotation marks. Don't do this for MLA papers.

The MLA rule is that periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the closing quotation marks. Semi-colon and colon always go outside. The question mark and exclamation mark go where appropriate to fit the sense of the original (if the question is part of the quotation, it goes inside). Students usually follow the question mark rule (following whether it is there in the original) for period and comma, and you should not.

Other reminders: When there is a parenthetical clause after a quotation, suspend any punctuation that ends the quotation EVEN IF you have to delete it from the original phrasing. Put it after the closing parenthetical. This rule does not apply to blocked quotations. If a quotation is more than four lines, you should indent only the left margin one inch and reproduce exactly all wording and punctuation. The parenthetical citation should go after the final punctuation of a quotation. Of course the indent on blocked quotations substitutes for the quotation marks around the quoted material. There is no need to put the quotation marks around blocked quotations.

Is there a proper or preferred structure for the paper?

Make sure your paper is thesis-organized. Make claims up front and support as you provide detail. I have sometimes used in class the metaphor of the engine as thesis, your support as the boxcars. Don't load a lot of boxcars before you get the engine on the right track and pointed in the right direction.

For those doing close comparison contrast, I always teach point-by-point comparsion/ contrast. It is not as useful to have all the similarites in one section, differences in another. Within each category of comparison state a contrast. Don't talk about all one work in the first half, the second work in the second half, and leave a brief comment for your conclusion. Instead, make each subsection of a paper its own comparison and contrast.

How do I Turn off Automatic Linking when I insert the URL? According to the MLA web site:

In Word 97 and Word 2000 you can turn off automatic hyperlinking by going to the menu "Tools" and choosing "AutoCorrect." Then click on the tab "AutoFormat As You Type," and remove the check mark next to "Internet and network paths with hyperlinks." Alternatively, you can leave this function on but remove hyperlinking from each URL individually, by clicking with the right mouse button on the URL to bring up a shortcut menu. From this menu in Word 97, choose "Hyperlink" and then "Edit Hyperlink," and click on the button "Remove Link"; in Word 2000, choose "Hyperlink" and then "Remove Hyperlink." In Word 98 for the Macintosh, turn off automatic hyperlinking as described above. To remove hyperlinking from an individual URL in Word 98, highlight the URL, choose "Hyperlink" from the menu "Insert," and click on the button "Remove Link."

EH 102 Students Please note: Check Link Procedures.

For all links to web material in Paper 3, Research Paper, and Paper 4, you are invited to copy / paste the link into an e-mail and send it to me at one of these addresses:
Make sure that your full name is in the subject line if you are not using your GEM JSU e-mail account. It also helps to put the Paper Assignment in the subject line.


All instructional materials © 2001 by Dr. Joanne E. Gates. The materials for these pages are copyrighted by Dr. Joanne E. Gates.  You may not establish links to nor copy, nor re-edit, nor redistribute the information in these pages in any form, electronic or printed, without Dr. Gates's permission. No institutional funds were expended expressly in developing this course. The professor retains the right to her own content as intellectual property.

Where you are: http://www.jsu.edu/depart/english/gates/faqcites.htm
Page editor: Joanne E. Gates at jgates@jsu.edu

Department of English Home Page

Jacksonville State University Home Page