Category Archives: Citation

Seven Bible style tips

by Katie Hynd

Learning about Bible grammar threw me for a loop. Even though I am a trained writing tutor, I had no idea how many tricks of the trade there were for religion classes until I served as a writing tutor for an Old Testament class. The more questions students asked, the deeper I delved into the SBL* Handbook of Style.

Here are a few key tips that will help you toward a good grade in your Bible class.

  1. The word “Bible” is always capitalized.
  2. The word “biblical” is not capitalized (except when it begins a sentence…).
  3. Capitalization is a bit more complicated when it comes to eras and events. Ask your professor if you are unsure whether something you will reference frequently needs to be capitalized, such as Babylonian Exile. (Note: you may find each professor has a different preference.)
  4. Abbreviations are important!
    1. Books of the Bible should be abbreviated, but don’t guess how to abbreviate the book title! On the last page of the Biblical Studies Citation Guide, Barry Huff, one of the Principia religion professors, has listed how each book should be abbreviated.
    2. WARNING: Exceptions to the rule! If the book of the Bible is the first word in the sentence, or if you don’t include a chapter number, write out the whole book title.
  5. The words “chapter” and “verse” should not appear in your paper unless one of these rules applies.
    1. If you are referencing a chapter, first write the abbreviated book of the Bible and then the chapter number (use the Arabic numeral system). Examples: Exod 4:5, Luke 3.
    2. If you are referencing a verse, include the abbreviated book of the Bible and then the chapter you are referencing. Examples: Gen 1:1, Matt 4:2.
  6. The word “God” is capitalized if you are discussing the Hebrew deity. If you want to use the Hebrew word for God, it is also capitalized and can be spelled as either Yahweh or YHWH.
  7. Use quotation marks to emphasize words you are researching, such as “angel” or “temple.” Quotation marks will bring attention to the word and explain to your reader why you are repeating one word in your paper. Conversely, use italics when you are analyzing a word in a foreign language, such as mal’ak (Hebrew for angel) or heykal (Hebrew for temple). This helps the flow of your paper and your reader.

And if you have further questions, please ask a writing tutor (or your professor) for help!

*SBL stands for Society of Biblical Literature

Katie Hynd is the post-graduate intern in writing for the Principia College Center for Teaching and Learning. Last year she interned for the Religion Department.

Quotation alteration

by Shamus Jarvis

As a follow-up to my recent post describing how to integrate quotations effectively, I would like to explain how to modify quotations in order to further help you achieve a seamlessly integrated quotation.

There are two tools (or punctuation marks) used to modify a quote:

  1. Ellipses
  2. Square brackets [ ]

An ellipsis (…) signifies an omission from a quotation. This punctuation mark is especially useful if you are quoting a particularly lengthy passage and want to limit the amount of quoted material that appears in your essay. For example, assume I wanted to integrate the following quote from Sense and Sensibility into my paper: “‘I felt myself,’ she added, ‘to be as solemnly engaged to him, as if the strictest legal covenant had bound us to each other’” (Austen 133).

By omitting a couple of words from the passage, I can call my reader’s attention to specific phrases that are significant to whatever claim I am making, thereby increasing the strength of the quotation: Marianne’s decision to correspond with Willoughby through written letters reflects her misconstrued notions concerning the state of her relationship with him, causing her to later admit that “[she] felt [herself] … to be as solemnly engaged to [Willoughby], as if the strictest legal covenant had bound [them] together” (Austen 133).

You will notice that this integrated quotation combines both methods of quote modification. The square brackets indicate pronouns that I have substituted in order to clarify the subject of the quotation. It is important to recognize that as a result of these substitutions, I have not altered the meaning of the original quotation. Square brackets are useful in altering certain words so that your quotation is grammatically correct within the context of the sentence that appears in your paper.

As a result of utilizing these two punctuation marks in altering quotations, you should be able to produce an effective integrated quote that fluidly transitions between your own words and the quotation.

 

Shamus is about to begin his final year of study at Principia College and looks forward to spending part of his upcoming fall semester studying abroad in England.

A quote sandwich to remember

by Shamus Jarvis

When writing any research paper, there is a common temptation to incorporate numerous quotations into the paper with the expectation that a lot of external quotes, lacking interpretation, will lend authority to your argument. Unfortunately, an overabundance of quotes actually detracts from a writer’s thesis because the writer’s own voice becomes overshadowed by the various scholars that he or she is quoting in the paper. Although there is no specific rule regarding a maximum or minimum number of quotations a writer should include in each paragraph of a research paper, writers should endeavor to include original thought as much as possible and use quotations sparingly and judiciously.

In order to use quotations effectively to support your thesis, ensure that the following three elements accompany every source that you cite in your paper:

  1. a signal phrase to introduce the quote,
  2. the actual quotation, and
  3. explication that describes the significance of the quote.

Signal phrases allow you to transition smoothly from your own words to those of the person being quoted. These phrases set up the reader for the quotation by indicating who is being quoted and including any needed context for the quote. For example, if a writer wanted to include a quote from a particular speech, he or she might use the following signal phrase: In his 2014 State of the Union Address, United States President Barack Obama stated, “Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”

Immediately following the quotation, the writer must include careful explication that illustrates the significance of the quote. Explication goes beyond mere summary and instead helps the reader understand how the quote relates to the writer’s thesis. Depending upon how important a quote is in the context of a paper, writers should devote at least one sentence to explication so that the reader understands how the quotation relates to the writer’s argument.

It might be helpful to think of integrated quotations as a sandwich, with the quotation nestled between a signal phrase and explication. The following is an example of an effective integrated quotation “sandwich”:  As Caryl Phillips acknowledges in his introduction to Heart of Darkness[Signal Phrase] “One of the great paradoxes of the novel is that while Marlow dislikes Kurtz for having abandoned all decent standards, he also admires this ivory trader for having had the courage to fearlessly explore his ‘dark’ side” (xiii). [Quote] Through the paradoxical nature of Marlow’s feelings toward Kurtz, Joseph Conrad effectively establishes Kurtz as an enigmatic figure whose ultimate submission to the forces of darkness accentuates the moral conflict between barbarism and civilization throughout the novella. [Explication]

Remember, all quotations should relate to the writer’s central claim and must be followed with explication so as not to distract from a writer’s own words. Signal phrase + Quotation + Explication = an effective integrated quotation.

 

Shamus is in his third year studying Theatre and English at Principia and looks forward to studying abroad in England for the fall semester. He will appear in the production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale upon returning to campus in October.

Citation starters

by Shannon Naylor

Let’s meet Annie, a freshman at Imaginary University. She has just been assigned her first college paper and has listened to the list of all the possible punishments for plagiarism, intentional or not. She learned one citation style in high school, but now she’s expected to know three different ones for three different classes and she has started to panic. What on earth is she supposed to do?

If, like Annie, you are panicking over citations, stop, take a deep breath, and relax. Here are some easy steps towards citing sources with confidence.

Which way do I cite? Find out what writing style you need for the paper in question. Most college papers will be written in MLA, APA, or Chicago styles, but sometimes you’ll need something different. Consult the assignment or ask your professor.

How do I cite? Check with the library for the proper style manual or ask a TA or writing tutor how to format the citations properly. The library website is helpful too: http://library.principiacollege.edu/citation-help. These will give you the specifics for whatever style you are required to use.

When and what do I cite? You cite whenever you include specific data, exact quotes or paraphrases. You will most likely use in-text citations, although the style will determine whether you use parenthetical citations, footnotes, or endnotes. All of your sources should be collected in a works cited, bibliography, or references page.

What makes something “common knowledge”? Sometimes it’s easy to tell. Let’s visit Annie again. Say she is writing a paper on the geology of Hawaii. So far, she knows that Hawaii is an island in the Pacific Ocean. This is common knowledge—she knew this before starting her research. In her research, she learns that there are three kinds of lava: pillow, aa, and pahoehoe. She never knew this before, but all of the articles in which she has encountered this fact treat it like common knowledge. It is. This is an example of field-specific common knowledge: the average Joe (or Annie) might not be familiar with it, but it is old news to geologists. Annie continues her research and finds measurements for how far lava has spread on Hawaii per annum. This data is not common knowledge and should be cited.

Why do I cite? At first, citing sources may seem like a chore, but it’s really just a written form of politeness. One day in class, Annie has a group discussion and shares an original, insightful thought about the readings. When their group shares with the class, Bob shares her idea without mentioning that Annie came up with it. She is frustrated. Published articles, essays, and studies are all part of a larger academic conversation and, like Annie, the authors deserve to be credited for their ideas. This is why we cite our sources.

Shannon Naylor is a junior studying creative writing and theatre. She is currently enjoying a break from school—but not from writing!