Author Topic: Looking closely at details in formatting  (Read 14999 times)

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Offline Kierski

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Looking closely at details in formatting
« on: May 07, 2015, 01:21:54 AM »

With academic writing, there's no way around references / bibliography and in-text citations. When I taught a writing class, I gave my students resources so they could look up how to probably write a reference for various kinds of sources (e.g., book, article in an edited book, article in a journal, etc.) But I found that my students continued to make lots of mistakes with the formatting of the reference page and in-text citations.

I expected that they would be able to look at something like below (from Purdue OWL) and be able to apply the formatting rules to their own sources.

Article or Chapter in an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year of publication). Title of chapter. In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title
of book(pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.

O'Neil, J. M., & Egan, J. (1992). Men's and women's gender role journeys: A metaphor for healing, transition, and
transformation. In B. R. Wainrib (Ed.), Gender issues across the life cycle (pp. 107-123). New York, NY: Springer.

But I was wrong! I think that the students lacked attention to detail and so they got all the little details (comma or period? capitalize or not?) wrong. Small differences in punctuation marks makes a big difference in formatting, and some of them look similar. Details like not capitalizing all the words in a title of a book but capitalizing all the words in a title of a journal (at least for APA style) can be missed easily.

Instead of only giving students the rules for formatting, you can do the following:

- Start with a "Spot the differences" activity. Students work with a partner to find as many differences as they can between two very similar pictures. (See links below.)
- Then, students work individually to find as many differences as they can between two references pages. (The sources listed on the pages will be identical, but there will be subtle differences in formatting such as inserting two spaces, not including a space, capitalization, punctuation marks, etc. One page should be properly formatted and the other one should not.)
- Students compare with a partner what they found.
- Then introduce formatting rules and exemplars such as the above from Purdue OWL.

How to find "Spot the Difference" images:

You can do a Google image search for "Spot the difference". Some good ones I found are linked below. These are all higher resolution. There's a mixture of color and black and white (in case you need to print these out on a b/w printer.)


Black and white:
living room
manga style

« Last Edit: May 07, 2015, 01:31:10 AM by Kierski »