Quotes or Italics? - Marking Notes & Symbols

Quotes or italics?

Many students lose marks for the simplest of errors. Because there’s no coherent use of italics or quote marks on the Net, students often think they’re interchangeable — or unnecessary. Thinking this way can have negative effects on your mark, since academic writing insists on the established academic format. Since students are often confused about when to use italics and when to use quotes (and since it is quite easy to fix these errors) I’ll supply a brief run-down.

Put in single quotes: quotes-within-quotes, an uncommon use of a word or phrase, ironic or doubtful statements, inexact quotations, approximations, and idioms which might otherwise cause confusion. The following are correct: She told him, “You mispronounced ‘to be or not to be,’ but you acted very well.” She wasn’t exactly what communists call a ‘fellow traveller.’ I suspect he is ‘around the bend.’

Put in double quotes: direct quotations, short texts, articles, chapters, short poems, lyrics, short stories, and TV episodes. The following are correct: He said, “the poor need to pay more tax because they are all lazy.” The short story “Under the Volcano” was expanded into the novel Under the Volcano, which was made into the 1984 film Under the Volcano. The song “Paranoid Android” is from the 1997 Radiohead album OK Computer.

Put in italics (or underline if writing): long texts, movies, documentaries, journals, books, novels, TV shows or series, TV seasons, long poems, and novellas. The following are correct: Bowling for Columbine is a film about gun violence (handwritten); Bowling for Columbine is a film about gun violence (typed). The episode “My Maserati Does 185” from Entourage is very funny. Also use italics to highlight a word or oppose it to another — as in the following: assertiveness is different from aggression.

— It’s often easier to use they than he or she; avoid he/she or s/he. — Use italics and exclamations marks for emphasis, but not too often. — Use / to show the end of a poetry line, as in “across the water / With his galleons and guns.” — Don’t directly address your audience, and avoid commenting on your own writing. — You may use contractions, but not slang. Avoid big words when small words will do.



Most Common Errors

pmc  proofread more carefully

pmc throughout (plus downward arrow)  proofread more carefully for the remainder

   of the essay (grammar errors won’t all be marked from here on in)

th st argthesis statement is not an argument, but is an observation or statement

ts arg  topic sentence is not an argument, but is an observation or statement

th st <-> ts  topic sentence is not clearly linked to thesis statement

Marking Symbols

// or //ism  parallelism: Error: She came, she saw, and she is eating doughnuts. Correction: She came, she saw, and she ate the doughnuts.

¶   paragraph.   

^   insert.

(  )  omit, usually to avoid awkward or redundant wording, as in “the (big) huge cat.”

 Circling means that there is something wrong; try to fix it.

✓ check mark = good   ✓✓ = very good   ✓✓✓ = excellent  

agr  agreement, usually subject-verb or singular-plural: Error: They loves TV dinners. Correction: They love TV dinners.

awk  awkward: Error: Then she saw that when he was very happy she thought she’d leave. Correction: When she saw that he was very happy, she decided to leave.

cap  capitalization: Error: the Myth of white picket fences. Correction: the myth of ‘white picket fences.’ Note: Use capital letters for ultimate or unique versions of Heaven, Hell, God or Devil, but small letters for metaphorical usage or for cases in which there are more than one heaven, hell, god or devil.

coh  coherence; confused syntax or ideas: Error: It begins once not every single time in separate ways. Correction: Sometimes the show begins in a different way.

conj  conjunction: Errors: She hated him, while she never told him this. It was a nice day, although the sun was shining. Corrections: She hated him, but she never told him this. It was a nice day, and the sun was shining. 

cs  comma splice; two independent clauses with only a comma between them: Error: They like it, they want to buy it. Correction: “They like it, and they want to buy it.” You need to show the relation between the two clauses. Often, you need to use a conjunction, a semi-colon, a full colon, or a new sentence.

diction  too elevated or not elevated enough; improper, slang, colloquial: Errors: She wanted to eat the burger, but she was afraid that she couldn't masticate it very well.  She was pissed off when she fell ass over heels. Corrections: She wanted to eat the hamburger, but she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to chew it very well. She was angry when she fell head over heels. Note: It is OK to use swear words when these are part of a quotation.

fc  full colon should be used before a list or an idea which follows or completes what comes before. The pattern is A: B, as in "He wants the following: cash, car, and endless credit." 

format  usually this is incorrect use of italics or quotes; see the section above, “Italics or Quotes?”

frag  sentence fragment; a sentence missing a subject or predicate: Errors: What he liked about it. Moved like a rat into his apartment. Corrections: What he liked about it was its colour. He moved like a rat into his apartment.

fs  fused sentence: two independent clauses lacking conjunction: Error: He drew she wrote. Correction: "He drew while she wrote" or "He drew and she wrote."

id  idiom or expression; this is a specific type of expression error, one which isn't necessarily illogical, but isn't common or acceptable. Error: He’ll make it to the top dog. I couldn’t fuse into the next lane. She’ll reach it to the top one day. I can’t stand on this weather! Correction: He’ll be top dog one day. I couldn’t change into the next lane. She’ll make it to the top one day. I can’t stand this weather!

integ  integration of quotation into your text or syntax: Error: “I love you!” This showed his passion. Correction: When he said, “I love you,” this showed his passion.

md  mixed discourse; confusion of direct and indirect discourse: Error: I said Hi, how are you? Correction: I said "Hi, how are you?” or I asked how you were.

mc  mixed construction; clashing syntax: Error: Although he saw it, then he knew. Correction: When he saw it, he knew. Note: mc often leads to errors in coherence or logic.

mm  misplaced modifier: Error: Grabbing the gun, it went off. Correction: When Jerry grabbed the gun, it went off.

mod modifier: either dangling, misplaced, or otherwise faulty. Dangling modifier errors: The best actor in the movie was John, lasting at least three hours. She said that she liked him, purring along the highway. Correction: The best actor in the movie was John, who acted brilliantly throughout the three-hour film. She said that she liked him, as the car purred along the highway.

pass  passive voice; unnecessary use of to be infinitive + past participle: it was believed. Note: sometimes you want to use pass, as when you want to indicate that something happened, but you don’t want to be specific about who did it. In most cases, however, you want to be specific. Ask yourself if you want your reader to know who the subject is.  Remember that if you are avoiding naming a subject, I’ll probably wonder why. When you write, “It is believed that three out of four men don’t understand women,” I’ll want to know who believes this.

poss  possessive: Error: She likes it’s texture. Correction: She likes its texture.

rep  repetitive

ref  reference: Error: The place was smoky and full. This seemed odd! To fix this, clarify what “this” refers to. “The place was smoky and full. It was odd that the room was full.”

sc  semi colon should be used for listing long items in a sequence (category A: item 1 in A; item 2 in A; item 3 in A, etc.) or for reworking (A; A): Error: He couldn’t stand it any longer; his brain exploding. Correct: He couldn’t stand it any longer; he felt like his brain was going to explode. Both sides of the sc must be complete sentences — that is, they must contain a subject and a predicate; otherwise, what you have is a fragment.

sp  spelling error

trans  transition, usually between paragraphs, but also between sentences

w ch  word choice error

ww wrong word


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SCHEDULE: Week 1-7 - Week 8-14

Readings PDF: 2-4 - 5-6 - 8-10 - 11-13