There are plenty of writing guides on the market, and in Sawyer Library. Ask a professor to recommend one to you–or check out some of the guidelines your professors have already compiled to help their classes.
Writing Research Guides for English Majors
- Subject Guide for English Majors (compiled by Lori Dubois)
Guides for the Perplexed
by Members of the Williams English Department, compiled by Robert Bell
- Sound Experience in Poetry & Poetic Terms by Robert Bell
- Some Suggestions on How to Explicate a Poem by Lawrence Raab
- Advice on Writing and Revising Critical Essays by Alison Case
- Guidelines for Essays by Lawrence Raab
- Writing Tips by Sherron Knopp
- Before, During, and After Writing by Robert Bell
- The Write Stuff by Robert Bell
- To Make Good Writers of You All by Robert Bell
- Proper Use of Commas, Periods, and Quotation Marks by Lawrence Raab
- Peer Editing: Analysis/Evaluation Questions by Cassandra Cleghorn
- Shakespeare on Film: An Annotated Bibliography by Robert Bell
- Shakespeare Videography (Sawyer Library Holdings) by Sherron Knopp
- A Brief List of Useful Reference Books by D. L. Smith
Many, if not most, of your English papers will direct you simply to analyze texts assigned in class without consulting secondary sources in the library or on the web. For those papers, you do not need footnotes. In fact, footnotes are pretentious. Simply give the page number (for prose) or the line number (for poetry) in parentheses in your text immediately after your quote or your reference. If you are not sure how to punctuate correctly or how to incorporate a quote into your own text, both the MLA Handbook and Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (which is based on the Chicago Manual of Style) provide plenty of concrete examples in their printed versions. You will find copies in the Reference Section of Sawyer Library–just ask a librarian to point you to them. Or click on the links to buy a copy for yourself at Amazon.com. It’s an investment you will never regret as an English major.
For English papers that do require you to consult secondary sources, and of course for Honors Theses, you can start with the Sawyer Library Citation Guide, but you will almost certainly want your own copy of the MLA Handbook or Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.
Other Resources at Williams
The Writing Workshop is a student-staffed program designed to provide assistance with any stage of the writing process, from initial brainstorming to final drafts. Staffed by sophomores, juniors, and seniors, selected and trained to work with individuals in an informal, non-judgmental context. Writing Tutors can help you solidify an idea, develop a thesis, organize a paper, or tighten and unify an argument. They can also help with sentence structure, style, and grammar. You can bring any type of writing from any field–essay, lab reports, seminar papers–and anything in between. Tutors also work as writing assistants for classes, and offer individualized tutoring programs.