I'm not asking for any ideas about the content of the essay at all, I'm just looking for advice on citation/style. I haven't written an essay in years so I'm a little rusty.

Essay prompt:

Pick a potential candidate from either the Republican or Democratic party, and describe how they would go about winning the party nomination. This paper should address the material we have covered in the unit on primaries.

In particular you should be able to discuss:

  • The part that momentum plays in the nomination contest. The different rules for primaries and caucuses as well as how these might affect candidate strategy
  • Briefly talk about how the Iowa caucus works and why it is particularly important The role that party actors play in the nomination contest.
  • See if there are any polls that indicate how your candidate is currently perceived.

You should primarily be citing the class readings. Parenthetical citations are fine. If you cite something from outside of class please include an endnote.

  1. The part about parenthetical citations means I should just write (lastname) of the author of the article next to their idea, right? I'm going to have other sources of polling information. How do I make an endnote with that? I read the Pursue OWL page on endnotes. I know I need to put a superscript number next to the idea and then have a separate Notes page, but what do I write next to the number on the Notes page if I'm going to have a Sources Cited page too? Do I need to have a Sources Cited page and will I need to put the class readings on it too?

  2. My only issue right now is how to start the essay. Obviously, I don't want to write "The candidate I will be examining is _____" or use first person at all, but I'm not sure how to write the opening sentence. Can anyone give me an idea there?

  3. The teacher asked for no more than 1600 words. This will be handed in as a hard copy - should I include a word count? Where should I put it in the paper?

  • 3
    I would have to say that the answer to questions 1 and 3 are to ask your teacher.
    – Legion600
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 17:30

3 Answers 3


Be terse, avoid padding.

"The candidate I will be examining is _" is something you would say in a conversation. I doubt that you have to write it that way in your essay.

Note down what you want to write about the candidate using bullet points on a scrap of paper and then concentrate on these points without adding the padding. Go directly to the info.

Mr Miller is a Republican for 40 years. As father of four children he's focused on family policy ...

Whatever. You know better what to write than I do. Approach the matter directly. No fillers.

For the other questions: Ask your teacher!


-I assume that by parenthetical citation, you mean the Harvard referencing system. Yes, in that case you write the last name of the author followed by a comma and then the year in which that article appeared (in case of an article being cited). For example, if the article you need to cite is by John Doe published in 1405, then you would write (Doe, 1405).

-For including external sources, use endnotes like you mentioned. Add a superscripted number next to the idea, and then include a Notes page.

-If you are planning to include a Sources Cited page as well, try considering an alternative. Include a References page that includes all the sources in one go. That way you do not have to include the Notes page. What I mean is, use a citation style throughout your essay (for example, consider writing numbers in square bracket [1], [2] etc.). After that in the References page, give the complete description of the citation. As an example: [1] Doe John, A treatise about blah and blah, Journal of Blah (1405).

-If you are insistent about including a Sources Cited page and wish to work using Endnotes, then you can do the following: in the Notes page elaborate on all the endnotes. After that have two sections in the Sources Cited page, one section having internal citations (i.e. citations from class reading) and the other as external citations (which should essentially be the same as Notes page). This would lead to a repetition though.

-To avoid above repetition, consider changing the Sources Cited page to Class Readings Cited or something similar. In that way, you can have the Notes page in place and also have a page for internal citations. This, in my opinion, should solve the dilemma.

-You can either have a Sources Cited page or a References page. Some of the other method of elaboration of inline citations need to be present. Yes, you need to put class readings in there too. That's what your teacher has asked you to do.

-For starting ideas, I would recommend launching a full attack on the subject by jumping right into it. Do not look for fillers etc. Like John has mentioned above, go directly to the matter.

-You can include a word count as a small footer towards the right side of the end of the main text (before the Sources Cited or References page), though this is not a mandate.

Hope this helps!


Each school, and even each class within a school, will generally have an accepted style. You need to find out your teacher's expectations, which are usually clearly spelled out in the syllabus. As a rough guideline, classes in the sciences, including psychology, use the American Psychological Association (APA) format, which changes slightly every one to two years. Law and other, more language-focussed classes, may use the MLA style, which also changes from time to time. Other classes may have different guidelines or may enforce less strict versions of the aforementioned styles.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.