"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."


Here's some "tongue in cheek" Grammar Advice and Dangling Modifiers

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How to write about music







Writing Hints


First of all, Turn on your Spell Check and Grammar Check!


Word 2010: 

Click the "File" tab

Click "Options" on the menu at the left

Click "Proofing" on the menu at the left of the window that opens

Under "When correcting spelling and grammar in Word," check all boxes

Click "Settings" beside Writing style and check all boxes.



Word 2007: 

Click the round Window symbol at the top left of your screen

Click "Word options" at the bottom of that drop-down menu

Click "Proofing" on the menu at the left

Under "When correcting spelling and grammar in Word," check all boxes

Click "Settings" beside Writing style and check all boxes.


Now that you have Grammar Check enabled, be sure to right click on EVERY green line and make the necessary changes.



Using the "References" Tab in Word 2007



  1. Choose the "References" tab at the top of your Word document

  2. In the drop down menu beside “Style,” choose “Chicago.”

  3. When you are ready to include a citation, choose “Insert Citation.”

  4. Click on “Add new source” – if you use that source again, it will appear as a selection.

  5. The “Create Source” menu will appear.  Check the box that says “Show all bibliography fields.”

  6. Choose your type of source from the first drop-down menu.  The default is “books.”

  7. Fill in the blanks needed for your bibliography entry. 

  8. When you click “OK,” the citation will appear in your paper.

  9. At the end of your paper, click on “Bibliography” and then “Insert Bibliography” and your sources will appear, formatted, at the end of your paper.

  10. The entries should use hanging indent, however, and do not appear that way.  To remedy this, select all of the entries, right click, select “Paragraph,” and under “Special,” choose “Hanging.”  This should indent the second line of each source entry.  The example below is the bibliography entry for a textbook.



Campbell, Patricia Shehan and Carol Scott-Kassner. Music in Childhood. 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Schirmer, 2006.





Scholarly Writing

APA Guidelines
Guide to grammar and writing
Avoid casual writing, such as using first person, contractions, expressions ("slow as Christmas"), unsupported opinions, biased statements.
Use quotations and italics properly when referring to titles  Use this chart.
Use explicit language.  Be clear.  Avoid general terms, such as "good," "bad," and "ugly."  State specifically what you mean so the reader does not need to interpret.


Information Information


How do you know when you need information?
How do you know where to find information?
How do you know how to use the information?



Final Draft Checklist


____  included a bibliography?

____  read the paper aloud to hear any mistakes?

____  ran spell checker?

____  avoided contractions and abbreviations?

____  avoided action verbs as inanimate objects: “This article tells us little.”

____  used shortened references for 2nds, 3rd appearances of a source?

____  used ibid.?

____  inserted page numbers?

____  used:  “however;”  in the middle of a sentence?

____  numbered and titled all examples and illustrations?

____  referred to all examples and illustrations in your text?

____  inserted quotation marks outside periods and commas?

____  used italics for complete works and quotes for parts of works?

____  used italics for foreign expressions not in standard use?

____  fixed hanging “this” by adding a noun?

____  tightened up (combined sentences) and fleshed out (dates, examples)?

____  provided dates wherever possible?

____  kept “I” (first person) to a minimum?

____  formatted long quotations (3 or more lines) as block quotes

Order of Parts of the Paper

(applies to undergraduate research papers only)

A scholarly manuscript falls into three main parts of division: the preliminary pages, the text, and the reference materials.

Parts of some of these sections are optional, and you are not required to use all of these sections for every paper.  See assignment requirements.

The order, regardless of what parts may be left out, is as follows:

  1. Title page

  2. Copyright page (optional)

  3. Dedication, Acknowledgments, Preface or Foreword (if appropriate)

  4. Table of Contents

  5. List of Tables (if appropriate)

  6. List of Figures, Maps, Charts, Diagrams, and Schemes (if appropriate)

  7. Text, including the introduction and all chapters

  8. Appendix (if appropriate)

  9. Bibliography or References

  10. Abstract

  11. Autobiographical Statement



"Where I Spend Most of My Red Ink"



Use Wikipedia as a starting point for general information.  There is often a good bibliography included at the end of the article.  However, DO NOT cite Wikipedia as a reliable source because ANYONE can write ANYTHING in the Wikipedia format and you cannot count on its reliability.
Inconsistent use of verb tense - don't mix past tense with present tense, etc.  Pick one and stick to it.

Incorrect use of verb tense; for example, when verb tense agrees with a noun in a prepositional phrase, but not with the subject of the sentence

Example:  Neither of the two compositions is a symphony. ('compositions' is part of a prepositional phrase)

Faulty parallelism:  each idea in a series must match
Unclear pronoun reference:  be clear to what or to whom you are referring when using pronouns Example:  Because Senator Martin is less interested in the environment than in economic development, he sometimes neglects it. (What exactly is he neglecting??)
Contractions - don't use them in a formal paper ;-)
Commas - use them!!! (another reason to check those green lines!)
Who vs. whom - if you can replace it with "he" or "she," then it should be "who"; "him" or "her" substitutes for "whom"
"Should" and "must" - If it is your opinion, back it up.  If it is someone else's idea, cite it.
"Some say" or "It is said" phrases - who says??  In a formal paper, do not make such vague statements.




Who Cares About Those Picky Details?



"The Orff method is founded on four principals."

A "principal" is an administrator at a school.  The correct spelling should have been "principle."  Now read that sentence from the point of view of a person judging your level of education and knowing what a "principal" is.  Oops!










Although not all commas make such a crucial difference in meaning, here is an illustration of the necessity of the humble comma.  The following sentence is interpreted by means of punctuation in two very different ways.


Woman without her man is nothing




1.  Woman; without her, man is nothing.


2.  Woman, without her man, is nothing.



Then there's this one

Come on, people - punctuation saves lives!!








Come on, people - punctuation saves lives!!

"Let's eat Grandma!"

"Let's eat, Grandma!"