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Paragraphs should be about 1/2 page typed.
Don't end a paragraph with a quotation.
Don't start a paragraph with a quotation, either.
Work outward from a quotation, don't sprinkle them in afterward.
Do not ever address the reader as "you."
Stay in present tense.
Don't ever use bold.
Short story and poem titles go in quotation marks, novel and play titles are italicized.
Don't mess with your margins.
Don't skip lines between paragraphs.
No underlining or quotation marks on the title of your essay.
Commas and periods go inside quotation marks.
Watch out for openings with broad clichés, such as "In today's society" or "Since the beginning of time" (or, even worse, "Since the beginning of time, Americans have always...")
Don't ask rhetorical questions, especially if you know the answer. This is a waste of precious space in your essay.
Avoid passive voice.
Don't be unnecessarily wordy: long sentences aren't more impressive.
Give your essay a title besides the name of the work you're writing about. Use the title as a way to tell your reader what your argument is.