Advertising

Advice for students: Getting details right

Advice for students: Getting details right
Advertising
Pen

    According to a survey developed by OfficeTeam, 84% of executives polled consider one or two typos in a résumé sufficient to remove a job-candidate from consideration. One or two typos! Translated into academic terms, one or two typos in a paper would equal a failing grade.

    I’m not sure how much I want to trust this poll: the number of executives polled is small, and “no typos” might be a rule that strictly applies only in some Platonic ideal (or nightmare) of a workplace. Still, this poll offers a cautionary reminder to college students thinking about their futures: the world beyond college is a tough place, with standards that are sometimes far more stringent than those of even the strictest professor. Here are a few details to get right, always, when you are writing for a college class. They might be details that no professor or teaching assistant will ever take time to comment on. But they are things to get right, even if no one seems to be watching:

    Use one space after a period. Two spaces were the norm when everyone produced monospaced text with a typewriter. Using one space is a good way to show that you’re at home in print (where additional space after a period now looks like an unnecessary gap) and in html (where the second tap of the spacebar doesn’t register). If you were brought up with “two spaces” and find it a difficult rule to break, use search-and-replace in your word-processor to find and eliminate extra spaces.

    Advertising

    Two hyphens equal an em dash. If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can get a proper em dash in your text by going to Tools, AutoCorrect Options, AutoFormat As You Type, and checking the box next to “Hyphens (–) with dash (—).” In OpenOffice.org, go to Tools, AutoCorrect, and check both boxes next to “Replace dashes.” In print, the em dash—a really useful mark of punctuation—does its work without additional spaces, as in this sentence. In html, proper dashes (like proper quotation marks) don’t display properly on all systems and sometimes make a mess of line length and word-wrap, so double-hyphens preceded and followed by spaces — like these — seem to be fine.

    Take care with your title. Use the same point-size that you’re using in your essay (a jumbo-sized title looks silly). Type your title without quotation marks (unless the title includes a quotation), and don’t capitalize entire words. Capitalize articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions only if they’re first or last words. Type the words of a quotation just as they appear in the source, adding an initial capital letter if necessary. If you need more than one line, break your title across the lines in a logical way. Not

    “To be or not to be”: Hamlet’s Soliloquy and Modern
    Introspection

    Advertising

    but

    “To be or not to be”:
    Hamlet’s Soliloquy and Modern Introspection

    Take care with the titles of works you’re referencing. Titles of longer works that stand on their own — a long poem, for instance, or any book — should be underlined or italicized; titles of shorter works such as a short poem, a short story, or a song go in quotation marks: Homer’s Odyssey, Proust’s Swann’s Way, Blake’s “The Tyger,” Eudora Welty’s “Why Live at the P.O.,” Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.” For more complicated title questions, consult a standard source (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA Handbook, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). One more small but important point: novel is not a synonym for book. The Chicago Manual of Style, for instance, is not a novel. Swann’s Way is.

    Advertising

    Take care with spelling proper names. If you’re writing about, say, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, add the author’s last name, properly spelled, to your AutoCorrect entries, so that you can have it appear by typing its first few letters. You especially don’t want a misspelling or typo in your professor’s name or your own name. (I’ve seen that happen several dozen times.)

    Get in the habit of turning in work that’s finished by stapling the pages of an essay in the upper-left corner. Or use a paper clip if one is requested. Loose pages or folded-down corners suggest indifference toward your work and a lack of courtesy toward your reader.

    Some professors and teaching assistants will not notice or correct these sorts of details. Others might notice and simply grumble. And some academics seem to enable carelessness in their students, even bringing a stapler to class when an essay is due. So why bother? By doing so, you cultivate a habit of careful attention that will serve you well in the world beyond the classroom.

    Advertising

    Michael Leddy has published widely as a poet and critic. He blogs at Orange Crate Art.

    More by this author

    Advice for Students: 20 Uses for a Post-it Note Granularity for students Advice for students: Getting details right Advice for students: Staple!

    Trending in Lifehack

    1 Lifehack Reviews: 50 Best Life Hacks for Your Life 2 Best Life Hack Sites – 100 Most Useful Websites on The Internet 3 80 How-To Sites Worth Bookmarking 4 20 Unusual Uses for Coca-Cola That You’ve Never Considered 5 A Review of the Book “The Art of Learning”

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 12, 2021

    Lifehack Reviews: 50 Best Life Hacks for Your Life

    Lifehack Reviews: 50 Best Life Hacks for Your Life
    Advertising

    Do you want to be as productive as many of us, but missed a lot of actions at lifehack.org during the year? We’ve selected the best 50 life hacks, based on their popularity and contents in different categories. Invest your time – read them. Bookmark this page and mark reading them as one of your new year resolutions.

    Communication, Writing, Studying

    1. My Best Presentation Tricks
    2. The Business Card Game
    3. Persuasive Writing for Students, Webmasters, Bloggers, and Everyone Else
    4. 7 tips of handling your Emails without feeling overwhelmed
    5. Writing as a Form of Self Healing
    6. Advice for students: Writing by hand
    7. Yes, But Do People Like You?
    8. Writing – Just do it!
    9. A good place to study
    10. Blog your way through Writer’s Block
    11. 14 Tips for Communicating Ideas

    Productivity, Creativity, Motivation

    1. 9 Top Secrets of Naturally Born Organizers
    2. Fight The Flab!
    3. More Fight The Flab!
    4. Limit Creativity, Get Innovation
    5. Precious Moments
    6. 5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity in the Office
    7. A Geek’s Best Lifehack
    8. What Kind of Paranoid Are You?
    9. Being A Creative
    10. There’s No Time!
    11. The Mysteries Behind Motivation and How To Manipulate Them
    12. Time Management: Handling Disruptions in Daily Schedules
    13. Productivity Hack: Write Mini Process Flows
    14. Design an Online Workflow

    Management, Self-Management, Entrepreneurship

    1. Bare Bones Project Hacks
    2. The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers
    3. The Simplest Path to Success
    4. Letting Things Go
    5. Closet Entrepreneur
    6. Time To Discard The Portmanteau
    7. 5 Important Keys to Bootstrap Your Entrepreneurship
    8. The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication
    9. Everyday Performance Reviews
    10. Meetings, @&!!$*@ Meetings!
    11. What Are You Worried About?
    12. How to Ruin Your Career In Five Easy Steps

    Procrastination, Goal Settings, Life

    1. 9 Steps to Define your Goal Destination and Devise a Plan to Get There
    2. Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination
    3. Improve Your Life By Following A Schedule
    4. The Causes of Procrastination And How To Conquer Them
    5. How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep
    6. Literal Life Hack: Cut your window of time in half
    7. New Year’s Resolutions and Deficit Thinking
    8. 6 Sleep Tips
    9. Risks versus Rewards Worksheet
    10. 5 Tips for Getting Out of Debt (and Why)
    11. Deep Breathing: A Great Health Trick
    12. 8 Expenses to Cut and How
    13. Desk-side Fitness

    Are there any lifehacks that you’ve learned over the past year?

    Advertising

    Featured photo credit: Rainier Ridao via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Advertising

    Read Next