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What is the best format/style to employ for writing an undergraduate senior thesis?

Julian Augustus 1 / -  
Mar 31, 2011   #1
Hello everyone,

I am an undergraduate senior and one of the requirements for my major (Classics) is writing a research paper on a topic of my choosing (in my case, the banishment of the Roman poet Ovid in 8 A.D.). What I am unsure of is exactly how I should format my paper. I'm aiming for around 20-30 pages, so I'm wondering if I need to use anything specific (table of contents? parenthetical citations or footnotes? That kind of formatting). I hope I don't come off as stupid, but I haven't had to do any serious paper writing since my Freshman year since I focus mostly on the two Classical languages. This is an independent study type deal, and the professor for whom I am writing is very lax and has no requirements about formatting other than a length of 15 pages minimum. Moreover, I plan to use this paper as a writing sample when I apply to graduate school this coming fall, so I am wondering if that has any affect on how I should put everything together (i.e., should I set up the paper any differently since I know that I will be using it as a writing sample).

Thanks in advance for input!

butterbescotch 6 / 41  
Apr 3, 2011   #2
I don't really know what format you should use since I haven't tried it. But I do know that every school have different preferences. So it is wise to confront your teacher first or since your teacher doesn't require any formatting, contact other teachers that are on the same field, on your school.

Good Luck!
EF_Susan - / 2,364 12  
Apr 3, 2011   #3
I hope I don't come off as stupid

Not stupid! These are great questions.

When writing about lit and philosophy, people often use MLA or Chicago style. Chicago is the style with footnotes.

But footnotes can be problematic if you need to upload your paper anywhere. I guess you should use MLA. When using MLA, you should put the author's name in parentheses at the end of any sentence that tells some info you got from that author (Hacker).

I recommend questia.com, because even though it will cost a little money to get a membership for a month or whatever, it is great because it'll give you hundreds of articles about ovid and then AUTOMATIVALLY generate a reference list for you in MLA style!!

So... good luck with this. Put 1 inch margins all the way around, and add a table of contents if you would like to... Microsoft word has a cool feature for automatically making you a table of contents.

Did I answer all your questions? Be sure to use some "magic word" or phrase as a theme to make your paper memorable! Choose the theme after you have written almost all the body of the essay, because at that point you will be deeply in touch with the subject.

For now, just go get a great article about Ovid and write about what the author's main idea is.


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