How to Write Anything with 2009 MLA Update: A Guide and Reference / Edition 1

How to Write Anything with 2009 MLA Update: A Guide and Reference / Edition 1

by John J. Ruszkiewicz

ISBN-10: 031260274X

ISBN-13: 9780312602741

Pub. Date: 06/19/2009

Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

Click here to find out about the 2009 MLA Updates and the 2010 APA Updates.
Designed to be clear and simple, How to Write Anything re-imagines how texts work, with support for students wherever they are in their writing process. The Guide, in Parts 1 and 2, lays out focused advice for writing common genres, while the Reference, in Parts 3


Click here to find out about the 2009 MLA Updates and the 2010 APA Updates.
Designed to be clear and simple, How to Write Anything re-imagines how texts work, with support for students wherever they are in their writing process. The Guide, in Parts 1 and 2, lays out focused advice for writing common genres, while the Reference, in Parts 3 through 9, covers the range of writing and research skills that students need as they work across genres and disciplines. Intuitive cross-referencing and a modular chapter organization that’s simple to follow make it easy for students to work back and forth between the chapters and still stay focused on their own writing. Now also available in a version with 50 fresh, additional readings from a wide range of sources, organized by the genres covered in the guide. The result is everything you need to teach composition in a flexible, highly visual guide, reference, and reader.
Introducing Author Talk: Watch our video interview with Jay Dolmage.

Product Details

Bedford/St. Martin's
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

I. Genres

1. Narrative
Understanding personal narratives

Tell a story.

Make a point – usually.

Observe details closely.
Reflection: Peggy Noonan , from "We Need to Talk"
Exploring purpose and topic

Brainstorm, freewrite, build lists, and use memory prompts

to find a topic for a personal narrative.

Choose a manageable subject.
Understanding your audience

Select events that will keep readers engaged.

Pace the story effectively.

Tailor your writing to your intended readers.
Finding and developing your materials

Consult documents.

Consult images.

Trust your experiences.
Creating a structure

Consider a simple sequence.

Build toward a climax.

Use images to tell a story.
Choosing a style and design

Don’t hesitate to use first person – I.

Use figures of speech such as similies, metaphors, and analogies

to make memorable comparisons.

In choosing verbs, favor active rather than passive voice.

Use powerful and precise modifiers.

Use dialogue to propel the narrative and to give life to your characters.

Develop major characters through language and action.

Develop the setting to set the context and mood.
Examining models

Literacy narrative: Strange Tools, Richard Rodriguez

Memoir: Check. Mate? Miles Pequeno (student)
Graphic Novel excerpt: Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

2. Reports
Understanding reports

Present information.

Find reliable sources.

Aim for objectivity.

Present information clearly.
Informative Report: "Uranus’ second ring-moon system,"
Exploring purpose and topic

Answer questions.

Review what is already known about a subject.

Report new knowledge.
Understanding your audience

Suppose you are the expert.

Suppose you are the novice.

Suppose you are the peer.
Finding and developing your materials.

Base reports on the best available sources.

Base reports on multiple sources.

Fact check your report.
Creating a structure

Organize by date, time, or sequence.

Organize by magnitude or order of importance.

Organize by division.

Organize by classification

Organize by position, location, or space.

Organize by definitional structure.

Organize by comparison/ contrast.

Organize by thesis statement.
Choosing a style and design

Present the facts cleanly.
Keep out of it.

Avoid connotative language.

Cover differing views fairly, especially those you don’t like.

Pay attention to page design.
Examining models

Informative Report: Gene Altered Foods: A Case Against Panic, Jane Brody

Academic Report: Inner and Outer Beauty, Annie Winsett (student)

Visual Report: Blood Cells for Sale, Emily Harrison

3. Argument
Understanding arguments

Offer levelheaded and disputable claims.

Offer good reasons to support a claim.

Respond to opposing claims and points of view.

Use language strategically-and not words only.
Argument for Change: "College Rankings or Junk Science?" Robert Kuttner
Exploring purpose and topic

Learn much more about your subject.

State a preliminary claim, if only for yourself.

Qualify your claim to make it reasonable.

Examine your core assumptions.
Understanding your audience

Consider and control your ethos.

Consider your own limits.

Consider race or ethnicity.

Consider income or class.

Consider gender or sexual orientation.

Consider religion or belief.

Consider age.
Finding and developing your materials
List your reasons.

Assemble your hard evidence.

Cull the best quotations.

Find counter arguments.

Consider emotional appeals.
Creating a structure

Spell out what’s at stake.

Make a point or build toward one.

Address counterpoints when necessary, not in a

separate section.

Hold your best arguments for the end.
Choosing a style and design

Invite readers with a strong opening.

Write vibrant sentences.

Ask rhetorical questions.

Use images and design to make a point.
Examining models

Argument from Personal Experience: "Protecting What Really Matters,"

Shane McNamee (student)

Argument about a Public Issue: Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha,

Anna Quindlen

Visual Argument: Vampire Energy, from Good magazine

4. Evaluation
Understanding evaluations

Make value judgments.

Establish and defend criteria.

Offer convincing evidence.

Offer useful advice.
Product Review: "2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid," Erik B. Johnson
Exploring purpose and topic

Evaluate a subject you know well.

Evaluate a subject you need to investigate.

Evaluate a subject you’d like to know more about.

Keep an open mind.
Understanding your audience

Write for experts.

Write for a knowledgeable general audience.

Write for novices.
Finding and developing your materials.

Decide on your criteria.

Look for hard criteria.

Argue for criteria that can’t be measured.

Stand by your values.

Gather your evidence.
Creating a structure

Choose a simple structure when your criteria and

categories are predictable.

Choose a focal point.

Examine differences.
Choosing a style and design

Use a high or formal style.

Use a middle style.

Use a low style.

Present evaluations visually.
Examining models

Music Review: Green Day, American Idiot, by Rob Sheffield

Cultural Evaluation: A Public Service Campaign: Rock the Vote:

Useful Harm? Scott Standley (student)

Cultural Evaluation: Movie Poster Art: Zorro Posters

5. Causal analysis
Understanding causal analysis

Don’t jump to conclusions.

Appreciate the limits of causal analysis.

Offer sufficient evidence for claims.
Cause and Effect Analysis: "Unplugging ads, Not Conversations,"
Tobias Salinger (student)
Exploring purpose and topic

Look for a subject you know well.

Look for an issue new to you.

Examine a local issue.

Look for a subject with many dimensions.

Tackle an issue that seems settled.
Understanding your audience

Create an audience.

Write to an existing audience.
Finding and developing your materials

Understand necessary cause.

Understand sufficient cause.

Understand precipitating cause.

Understand proximate cause.

Understand remote cause.

Understand reciprocal cause.

Understand contributing factor.

Come to conclusions thoughtfully.

Don’t simplify situations or manipulate facts.
Creating a structure

Explain why something happened.

Explain the consequences of a phenomenon.

Suggest an alternative view of cause and effect.

Explain a chain of causes.
Choosing a style and design

Consider a middle style.

Adapt the style to the subject matter.

Use appropriate supporting media.
Examining models

Cause and Effect Analysis: "Safe at Any Speed,"

editors of the Wall Street Journals

Exploratory Causal Essay: "What's Really Behind the

Plunge in Teen Pregnancy?" Liza Mundy

Causal Analysis of Culture: Politics of Pants, Charles Paul Freund

6. Proposal
Understanding proposals

Define a problem.

Target the proposal.

Consider reasonable options.

Make specific recommendations.

Make realistic recommendations.
Proposal for Change: "How Binging Became the New College

Sport and Why It Would Stop If We Lowered the Drinking Age," Barrett Seaman
Exploring purpose and topic

Look for a genuine issue.

Look for a challenging problem.
Look for a soluble problem.

Look for a local issue.
Understanding your audience

Write to people who can make a difference.

Rally people who represent public opinion.
Finding and developing your materials
Define the problem.

Examine prior solutions.

Make a proposal.

Defend the proposal.

Figure out how to implement the proposal.
Creating a structure
Choosing a style and design

Use a formal style.

Use a middle style, when appropriate.
Pay attention to elements of design.
Examining models

Proposal Defining a Problem: "Disappearing Act," Michael Gurian
Academic Proposal: "Mandatory HIV Testing," Ricky Patel (student)

Visual Proposal: Carchitecture, Tyler Brett and Tony Romano

7. Literary analysis
Understanding literary analysis

Begin with a close reading.

Make a claim or observation.

Present works in context.

Draw on previous research.

Use texts for evidence.

Follow conventions.
Literary Analysis: Distinguishing the Other in Two Works

by Tolstoy," Melissa Miller (student)
Exploring purpose and topic

Choose a text you connect with.

Choose a text you want to learn more about.

Choose a text that you don’t understand.
Understanding your audience

Clearly identify the author and works you are analyzing.

Define key terms.

Don’t aim to please professional critics.
Finding and developing materials

Examine the text closely.

Focus on the text itself.

Focus on its meanings, themes, and interpretations.

Focus on its authorship and history.

Focus on its genre.

Focus on its influence.

Focus on its social connections.

Find good sources.
Creating a structure
Focus on a particular observation, claim, or point.

Imagine a structure.

Work on your opening.
Choosing a style and design

Describe action in the present tense.

Provide dates for authors and literary works.

Use appropriate abbreviations.
Follow conventions for quotations.

Cite plays correctly.
Examining models

Literary analysis of theme: "Insanity: Two Women," Kanaka Sathasivan (student)

Comparison of two genres: "Size Doesn’t Matter: Brokeback Mountain," Liz Miller

Photographs as Literary Texts: "Jobless on the Edge of Peafield, Imperial Valley,

California," Dorothea Lange

"Burrough Family Cabin, Hale County, Alabama," Walker Evans,

"American Gothic," Gordon Parks

8. Rhetorical analysis
Understanding rhetorical analysis

Take words seriously.

Make strong claims about texts.

Mine texts for evidence.
Make a difference.
Rhetorical Analysis: "Ad Report Card," Seth Stevenson
Exploring purpose and topic

Choose a text you can work with.

Choose a text you can learn more about.

Choose a text with handles.

Choose a text you know how to analyze.
Understanding your audience
Finding and developing your materials

Consider the topic or subject matter of the text.

Consider the audiences of the text.

Consider its author.

Consider its medium or language.

Consider its occasion.

Consider its contexts.

Consider its use of rhetorical appeals



Creating a structure

Develop a structure.
Choosing a style and design
Consider a high style.

Consider a middle style.

Make the text available to readers.

Annotate the text.
Examining models

Rhetorical Analysis of an Argument: "A Mockery of

Justice," Matthew Nance

Rhetorical Analysis of Two Film Trailers: "The Die Hard Trailer:

American Version Vs. International Version," Ryan Hailey (student)

Rhetorical Analysis of a Cultural Trend: "They’re Soft and Cuddly, So

Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck?" Andy Newman

II. Special Assignments

9. Essay examination
Understanding essay exams

Anticipate the types of questions you might be asked.

Read exam questions carefully.

Sketch out a plan for your essay(s).

Organize your answer strategically.

Offer strong evidence for your claims.

Come to a conclusion.

Keep your tone serious.

Don’t panic.
Model: Wade Lamb [student]
Getting the details right
Use transition words and phrases.
Do a quick check of grammar, mechanics, and spelling.
Write legibly or print.

10. Position paper
Understanding a position paper

Read the assignment carefully.

Review assigned material carefully.

Mine the texts for evidence.

Organize the paper sensibly.

Edit the final version.
Model: Triumph of the Lens, Heidi Rogers [student]
Getting the details right
Identify key terms and concepts and use them correctly and often.

Treat your sources appropriately.

Spell names and concepts correctly.

11. Email
Understanding email

Explain your purpose clearly and logically.

Tell readers what you want them to do.

Write for intended and unintended audiences.

Arrange your text clearly.

Minimize the clutter.

Keep your messages brief.

Distribute your messages sensibly.
Model: Informal Email Example
Getting the details right.

Choose a sensible subject line.

Don’t hit send with without checking who will receive the message.

Include an appropriate signature.

Use standard grammar.

Have a sensible email address.

Don’t be a pain in the butt.

12. Business letter
Understanding business letters
Explain your purpose clearly and logically.

Tell your readers what you want them to do.

Write for an audience.

Keep your letter focused and brief.

Use a conventional form.

Distribute copies of your letter sensibly.
: Model: Rita Weeks (student )
Getting the details right.

Use consistent margins and spacing.

Finesse the greeting.

Spell everything right.

Photocopy the letter as a record.

Don’t forget the promised enclosures.

Fold the letter correctly and send it in a suitable envelope.

13. Résumé
Understanding résumés

Gather the necessary information.

Decide on appropriate categories. Arrange the information within categories chronologically.

Design the pages that are easy to read.

Proofread every line in the résumé several times.

: Résumé: Marissa Dahlstrom (student)
Getting the details right

Don’t leave unexplained gaps in your educational /work career.

Be consistent.

Protect your personal data.

Think twice about posting your résumé on a job board.

Consider having your résumés designed and printed professionally.

14. Personal Statement
Understanding personal statements

Read the essay prompt carefully.

Be realistic about your audience.

Gather your material.

Decide on a focus or theme.

Organize the piece conventionally.

Try a high or middle style.
Model: Internship Application, Michael Villaverde, (student)
Getting the details right

Don’t get too artsy.

Cut the crap.
Use common sense.

Write the essay yourself.

15. Lab Report
Understanding a lab report

Follow instructions to the letter.

Look at model reports.

Respect the conventions of lab reports.

Be efficient.

Edit the final version.
Model: "Synthesis of Luminol," Sandra Ramos (Student)
Getting the details right

Keep the lab report impersonal.

Keep the style clear.

Follow the conventions.

Label charts, tables and graphs carefully.

Document the report correctly.

16. Oral Report
Understanding oral reports
Know your stuff.

Organize your presentation.

Adapt your material to the time available.

Practice your presentation.
Model: Terri Sagatsume
Getting the details right

Use your voice.

Use your body.

Use humor.

Use appropriate props.

III. Ideas

17. Brainstorming
Find routines that support thinking.

Build lists.
Map your ideas.

Try freewriting.

Use memory prompts.

Google your ideas.
Visual Tutorial: How to Browse for Ideas

18. Brainstorming with others

Choose a leader.

Begin with a goal and set an agenda.

Set time limits.

Encourage everyone to participate.

Avoid premature criticism.

Test all ideas.

Keep good records.

Agree on an end product.

19. Smart Reading

Read to deepen what you already know.

Read above your level of knowledge.

Don’t get in a rut.

Be curious.

Read important texts very closely.

Read to expose logical fallacies.

Look for appeals to false authority.

Look for dogmatism.

Look for ad hominem attacks.

Look for scare tactics.

Look for either/or choices.

Look for sentimental appeals.

Look for bandwagon appeals.

Look for hasty generalizations.

Look for faulty causality.

Look for equivocations and evasions.

Look for straw men.

Look for slippery slope arguments.

Look for faulty analogies.

20. Experts

Talk with your instructor.

Take your ideas to the Writing Center.
Visual Tutorial: How to Use the Writing Center

Find local experts.

Check with librarians.

Chat with peers.

21. Writer’s Block

Break the project into parts.

Set manageable goals.

Create a calendar.

Limit distractions.

Do the parts you like first.

Write a zero draft.

Reward yourself.

IV. Shaping and Drafting

22. Thesis

Write a complete sentence.

Make a significant claim or assertion.

Write a declarative sentence, not a question.

Expect your thesis to mature.

Introduce your thesis early in a project.

Or state a thesis late in a project.

Write a thesis to fit your audience and purpose.

23. Organization

Sketch out a plan or sequence.

Provide clear steps or signals.

Divide items in a sequence consistently.

Deliver on your promises.

24. Outlines

Begin with scratch outlines.

List key ideas.

Look for relationships.

Subordinate ideas.
Decide on a sequence.

Move up to an informal/topic outline.

Prepare a formal outline.

25. Paragraphs

Make sure paragraphs lead somewhere.

Develop ideas adequately.

Organize paragraphs logically.

Design paragraphs for readability.

Use paragraphs to manage transitions.

26. Transitions

Use appropriate transitional words and phrases.

Use sentence structure to connect ideas.

Pay attention to nouns and pronouns.
Use synonyms.

Use physical devices for transitions.

Read a draft aloud to locate trouble spots.

27. Introductions

Announce your project

Preview your project

Provide background information

Catch the attention of readers

Set a tone

Follow formulas when they are required

Write an introduction when it’s ready

28. Conclusions

Summarize your points

Confirm your thesis and suggest implications

Lead up to a point

Finish dramatically

29. Titles

Use titles to focus documents.

Create titles that are searchable.

Avoid whimsical or suggestive titles in academic and professional work.

Capitalize and punctuate title carefully.

V. Style

30. High, middle, and low style

High Style

Middle Style

Low style

31. Inclusive and culturally sensitive style

Pay attention to expressions that stereotype genders.

Pay attention to expressions that stereotype races, ethnic groups,

or religious groups.

Treat all subjects with respect.

Avoid sensational language.

32. Vigorous, Clear, Economical style

Use strong, concrete subjects and objects.

Avoid clumsy noun phrases.

Avoid sentences with long wind-ups.
Use action verbs when possible.

Avoid strings of prepositional phrases.

Don’t repeat key words close together.

Avoid doublings.

Turn clauses into more direct modifiers.

Cut introductory expressions such as it is and there are when you can.

Vary your sentence lengths and structures.

Listen to what you have written.

Cut a first draft by 25%—or more.

VI. Revising and editing

33. Revising Your Own Work

Revise to see the big picture.

Does the project meet the assignment?

Does the project reach its intended audience?

Does the project do justice to its subject?

Edit to make the paper flow.

Does the organization work for the reader?
Does the paper have smooth and frequent transitions?
Is the paper readable?

Edit to get the details right.

Is the format correct right down to the details?

Are the grammar and mechanics right?

Is the spelling correct?

34. Peer Editing

Peer edit the same way you revise your own work

Be specific in identifying problems or opportunities.

Offer suggestions for improvement.

Praise what is genuinely good in the paper.

Keep your comments tactful.

Use proofreading symbols.

VII. Research and Sources

35. Beginning Your Research

Know your assignment.

Find a challenging topic.

Appraise your research resources.

Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.

Seek professional help.

Come up with a plan.

Resolve to keep a record of every source you examine.

Prepare a topic proposal.

36. Finding Sources

Don’t be intimidated by research tools.

Learn to navigate the library catalog.

Locate research guides.

Identify the best database for your subject.

Identify the best reference tools for your needs.

Use online sources intelligently.

37. Doing Field Research

Interview people who know something about your subject.

Make careful and verifiable observations.

38. Evaluating Sources

Preview source materials for their key features and strategies.

Check who published or produced the source.

Check who wrote the work.

Consider the market for a source.

Establish the currency of a source.

Check the sources and documentation.

39. Reviewing and Annotating Sources

Read to identify and distinguish claims, assumptions, and evidence.

Annotate a source to be sure you understand it.

40. Summarizing Sources

Prepare a summary to provide a useful record of a source.

Use a summary to recap what a writer has said.

Use a summary to record your take on a source.

Be sure your summary is accurate and complete.

Use summaries to prepare an annotated bibliography.

41. Paraphrasing Sources

Identify the claims and structure of the source.

Track the source faithfully.

Record key pieces of evidence.

Be certain your notes are entirely in your own words.
Avoid misleading or inaccurate paraphrasing.

42. Integrating Sources into Your Work

Frame all borrowed material, whether quoted directly or paraphrased.

Select an appropriate "verb of attribution" to frame borrowed material.

Use ellipsis marks [ . . . ] to shorten a lengthy quotation.

Use brackets [ ] to insert explanatory material into a quotation.

Use ellipsis marks, brackets, and other devices to make quoted materials

suit the grammar of your sentences.

Use [sic] to signal an obvious error in quoted material.

43. Documenting Sources

Understand the point of documentation.

Understand what you accomplish through documentation.

44. MLA Documentation
Visual Tutorial: How to Cite Material from a Book (MLA)
Visual Tutorial: How to Cite Material from a Magazine (MLA)
Visual Tutorial: How to Cite Material from a Database (MLA)
Visual Tutorial: How to Cite Material from a Web site (MLA)

45. APA Documentation
Visual Tutorial: How to Cite Material from a Database (APA)

VIII. Media and Design

46. Understanding Images
Design an image to show a sequence.

Design an image to display differences.

Design an image to demonstrate a process.

Design an image to present data hierarchically.

Design an image to display three dimensions.

Design an image to convey ideas metaphorically.

47. Using Images

Have a good reason for using every image.

Use digital images of an appropriate size.

Use tools to improve an image.

Crop a photo to get the image you want.

Caption an image correctly.

Respect copyrights.
Visual Tutorial: How to Insert an Image in a Document

48. Presentation software

Be certain you need presentation software.

Use slides to introduce points, not cover them.

Make slides consistent in design.

Choose fonts, highlights, and colors strategically.

Keep transitions between slides simple.

Edit your slides ruthlessly.

Use the help menus.

49. Charts, Tables and Graphs

Use tables to present statistical data.

Use graphs to show plot relationships in data.

Use pie charts to display proportions.

Use maps to depict varying types of information.

Label all charts and graphs.

50. Designing Print and Online Documents

Keep page designs simple and uncluttered.

Keep a design logical and consistent.

Keep a design balanced.

Coordinate your colors.

Use templates sensibly.

Format academic documents correctly.

IX. Common Errors

51. Capitalization

Capitalize ethnic, racial, religious, and political groups.

Capitalize modifiers formed from proper nouns.

Capitalize all words in titles except prepositions, articles, or conjunctions.

Take care with compass points and directions.

Understand academic conventions.

Don’t capitalize seasons.

52. Apostrophes

Don’t forget the apostrophes in possessives.

Don’t forget the apostrophes in contractions.

Don’t use apostrophes with possessive pronouns.

53. Commas

Use two commas, not one, to set off a word or phrase within a sentence.

Put commas around non-restrictive (that is, non-essential) modifiers.

Don’t put a comma between subject and verb or verb and object.

Don’t separate compound subjects, predicates, or objects with commas.

54. Comma Splice, Run-ons, and Fragments

Avoid comma splices in academic and professional writing.

Avoid run-ons in academic and professional writing.

Use deliberate fragments only in appropriate situations.

Edit any accidental fragments.

55. Subject/Verb Agreement

Be sure the verb agrees with its subject, not with intervening phrases or modifiers.

Don’t be fooled by complicated subjects.

Use a dictionary to confirm whether an indefinite pronoun is singular, plural or variable.

Be consistent with collective nouns.

56. Irregular Verbs

57. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

Check the number of indefinite pronouns.

Treat collective nouns consistently

58. Pronoun References

Clarify any confusing pronoun antecedent.

Make sure a pronoun has a plausible antecedent.

Don’t leave the antecedent of this or that deliberately vague.

59. Pronoun Case

Use the objective case after prepositions.

Use the subjective case for pronouns that are subjects, objective case for

pronouns that are objects.

Don’t be misled by an appositive.

60. Modifiers

Don’t allow a modifier to dangle.

Place adverbs such as only, almost, especially, and even carefully.

61. Parallelism

Keep headings and lists parallel.

When possible, make compound items parallel.

Keep items in series parallel.

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