Posted in Teaching, Writing

ENG 111: Matters of Style

This blog post presents information about last week’s cyber incident at GTCC, but that isn’t the main purpose of the post. Instead, I’ve chosen to return to the news coverage of the event as an opportunity to examine some of the differences between newspaper style, often AP (Associated Press), and MLA (Modern Language Association) style, used in many sections of English 111 and other courses in the humanities.

Capitalization in Titles

Notice that only the first word of the headline is capitalized. Many news publications capitalize only the first word and proper nouns (names) in titles. In MLA style, all of the words in a title are capitalized except articles (aanthe), prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and the to infinitives—unless the word is first or last in the title or subtitle.

Newspaper style: Network incident forces security closure.

MLA: Network Incident Forces Security Closure.

MLA style includes the serial comma (the comma before and in a series), and in MLA style, no space appears before or after a dash.

AP: In addition, these three technologies — WebAdvisor, Navigate and Financial Self-Service — will not be available until further notice.

MLA: In addition, these three technologies—WebAdvisor, Navigate, and Financial Self-Service—will not be available until further notice.

Signal Phrases with Quotations

In MLA style, quotations are introduced with signal phrases. Dialogue in personal essays is an exception to this rule. You do not have to introduce a line of dialogue in a personal essay, such as a literacy narrative.

Newspaper style: “Out of an abundance of caution, the college took all critical systems offline around 4 p.m. Sunday,” GTCC spokesperson Aleasha Kivett said.

MLA: GTCC spokesperson Aleasha Kivett said: “Out of an abundance of caution, the college took all critical systems offline around 4 p.m. Sunday.”

For more on these MLA matters of style, see A Writer’s Reference.

  • capitalization in titles (396)
  • dashes (285)
  • serial commas (260-61)
  • signal phrases with quotations (377-78)