History and Literature of Music I
Research Project Style Sheet
Table of Contents
Research Project Style Sheet
This style sheet addresses many of the problems students encounter most
frequently in writing. Please read this through and apply these
suggestions as you polish your paper. In commenting on your paper, your
instructor or your peers may refer to some of these points by number, to
save writing out the same advice repeatedly. Some of the suggestions
below are borrowed from William Strunk, Jr.'s The Elements of
References are to Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers,
Theses, and Dissertations, 8th ed., revised by Wayne C. Booth et al. This
book is available on the Music Library Reference shelves at LB2369 .T921 2013.
Part I of this book is a manual on researching and writing a paper, and it
is well worth your time to skim through it. Part II is on source citation,
and Part III on other aspects of style. You may find it helpful to buy a
copy of this book if you refer to it often.
1. Thesis: In a research paper, make sure that a thesis is
stated clearly near
the beginning. Each part of the paper should support the
thesis in some way, and the relation of each paragraph to the overall
argument for your thesis should be clear.
2. Strive for clarity: Bad word order creates confusion.
Construct your sentences and paragraphs in a manner that conveys the idea
with the greatest clarity. Keep related words together. Keep your style
simple and clear.
3. Use active voice: "Use the active voice. It is usually
more direct and vigorous than the passive." (ES)
4. Use concrete language: "Use definite, specific, concrete
language. Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague,
the concrete to the abstract." (ES)
5. Make positive statements: "Put statements in positive
form. Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating,
noncommittal language." (ES)
6. Omit needless words: "Vigorous writing is concise. A
sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary
sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary
lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the
writer make all his sentences short, or that he or she avoid all detail
and treat his or her subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
7. Titles: Titles of complete pieces are generally
italicized (or underlined) and component parts placed in quotation marks
(e.g., "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah). Use headline-style
capitalization for titles, capitalizing every word except for articles
(a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (of, in at, to,
and the like), unless they appear as the first or last word of a
title or subtitle, in which case they must be capitalized. See Turabian
8. Underlining and italics: Use either italics or underlining, but
not both. They are both signs for the same things, titles and emphasis,
and should not be used together (or even in the same paper).
9. Numbers and dates: When referring to numbered items
(such as musical examples,
stanzas, measures, lines, and so forth), use numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.)
rather than words (one, two, three, etc.). Otherwise, it is better in
most cases to spell out the number ("There are three main reasons"; "In
the sixteenth century") except for dates (1492). On the proper use of numbers
in dates, see Turabian 23.3.
10. Parallelism: All elements in a series should be
parallel. In the sentence "We ate hot dogs, brownies, and played
frisbee," the series begins as if it is going to be a list of foods we
ate, but the third item ("played frisbee") is a different thing entirely:
not a food, and not even a noun, as are hotdogs and brownies, but a verb
phrase, with a new verb and a noun. This third item is not parallel with the
other two. Recast the sentence so parallel construction is observed: "We
ate hot dogs and brownies and played frisbee." Here "hot dogs" and
"brownies" are parallel nouns, sharing the
subject and verb "We ate," and "ate hot dogs and brownies" and "played
frisbee" are parallel verb phrases, sharing the subject "We."
11. Contractions: Do not use contractions (isn't, can't,
etc.) in formal expository prose.
12. "Is that": This construction usually means that the true
subject of the sentence follows "that," and the entire sentence should
accordingly be reversed or restructured.
13. This: The pronoun "this," referring to the complete sense
of a preceding sentence or clause, cannot always carry the load and so
may produce an imprecise statement. Always make sure that what a pronoun
(such as "this") refers to is absolutely clear.
14. Commas: In a series of three or more items, it is
American formal style to use commas to separate them, including a comma
before the "and": red, white, and blue. (Newspapers and the English do
15. Dash: Do not put a space before or after a dash.
If your word processor allows you to make a long
dash called an em-dash—like this—please use it. Otherwise,
make a dash with two hyphens--as here--and not with
one. A single hyphen links two words into a compound word, as in
16. Possessives: "Form the possessive singular of nouns by
adding 's. Follow this rule whatever the final consonant" (e.g.,
Brahms's, Ives's). (ES) See Turabian 20.2 for the very few exceptions.
17. Foreign words: Foreign words are italicized or
underlined (e.g., piacevolezza), unless they have come into common
usage in English (e.g., cafe, etude, cantus firmus). See Turabian
18. Diacritical marks: Diacritical marks (such as the umlaut
in Schütz) in foreign names or words cannot be omitted; they
are as much a part of the spelling as the letters. If the computer
you are using cannot produce them, they must be added by hand.
19. Transliteration: Sometimes several transliterations of
words or names originally in non-Roman alphabets are accepted in English
(e.g., Chaikovsky, Tchaikovsky, and Tschaikowsky). Use any acceptable
transliteration, but be consistent throughout your paper. (Exception: you
cannot change the spelling of a name in a quotation or title; if the writer
you are quoting or whose work you are citing uses a transliteration
different from the one you are using in the paper, you must leave his or
her spelling as is in the quotation or title.)
20. Its vs. it's: "Its" is the possessive form of "it";
"it's" is a contraction meaning "it is." Look through your paper, turn
every "it's" into "it is," and see if it makes sense. (Since you
should not be using contractions in formal prose, never use
21. None: "None" takes a singular verb (e.g., "None of
these rules seems sensible to me").
22. Principle vs. principal: If you want the adjective
meaning "main," as in "principal theme," you want "-al"; if you are
holding to your principles, you want "-le."
23. That vs. which: These are frequently confused. "That" is
used with restrictive clauses, which define or delimit the noun they
modify: "the chicken heart that ate Chicago," as opposed to all other
chicken hearts. "Which" is used with non-restrictive clauses, which
merely add further information: "The Eiffel Tower, which is in Paris, was
erected in 1889." Note that non-restrictive clauses are set off with
commas, while restrictive clauses are not. Sample sentence: "This is a rule
that you can almost always depend upon, which is not true of all rules."
24. Title and binding: Your paper need not have a
title page. The title and your name should be given at the top center of
the first page. Please also list the name of your section instructor.
Please do not bind your paper in a plastic or cardboard cover
or spiral binding. Simply print it out on 8.5"x11" white
paper and staple or paper clip the pages together.
25. Page numbering: Number all pages in one sequence, placing
the number at the top center or upper right-hand corner (omitting page 1).
The first page of text is page 1.
26. First reference to a writer in the text: The first
reference to a writer in the text should include his or her full name and
some sort of reference to the writer's work.
27. Footnotes vs. endnotes: For this class, you may use
either footnotes or endnotes (but not both).
If you use endnotes, place them immediately after the body
of the text and before the bibliography. Start both the endnotes and the
bibliography on a new page, and number the pages
consecutively with the text.
28. Placement of musical examples: For this class, you may
place musical examples either within the body of the paper or on
sheets at the end, unless your section instructor dictates a preference.
If you do the latter, place them after the bibliography, and number the
29. When to discuss music: Everything in your paper should be
included for only one reason: because it helps you prove your case. Do
not feel that you must analyze a piece of music just because you can;
tell us only about the features that are important to your argument.
30. When to present a musical example: There are only three
reasons to present a musical example: (1) to discuss the passage in detail;
(2) to show what cannot be described; or (3) as a favor to the reader, if
the music is unpublished or hard to find. If you can describe the music
well enough to make your point without showing it to us, you do not need to
include an example.
31. Captions: Every example must have a caption. See
Turabian 26.3.2 for the style. In music, we typically use examples (Example 1)
rather than figures (Figure 1), but the style is the same. Figures would
be used for pictures, photographs, or other illustrations. You may
use both Examples (for musical examples) and Figures (for pictures).
32. Neatness and presentation: Musical examples must be
neat and readable. If you copy them by hand or by computer, make
sure they are pleasant-looking and accurate. If you photocopy or scan
them from a
score, make sure that the segment you include contains all necessary
information (such as clefs, key signatures, time signatures, and so on,
added by hand or cut-and-paste if necessary).
Your examples must fit within the usual margins of the paper (i.e., at
least one-inch margins on each side). Reducing the size of the music
through photocopying or scanning may make your examples look
better, but they must remain legible.
33. When to use a quotation: There are only three reasons for
using a quotation: (1) to present a document of some sort for discussion
(as you would present a musical example); (2) to present a writer's
argument for refutation; and (3) to repeat a particular turn of phrase
that is especially felicitous (this should be used sparingly). In all
other cases, it is preferable for you to present the ideas or information
in your own words, making sure that you attribute the ideas to the
original writer and that your paraphrase does not cross the
boundary into plagiarism.
34. Identify the source: The author of any quotation must be named
in the text, and the source given in a note.
35. Block quotation: Quotations of two or more lines of
poetry or five or more lines of prose should be set off as a block
quotation. Block quotations are indented from the main text and
single-spaced and are not enclosed in quotation marks. See Turabian
36. Ellipses: Use ellipses to indicate that text has been
omitted from the middle of a quotation. Do not use ellipses at the
beginning or end of a quotation. Ellipses are typed with spaces on
either side of each dot, like this . . . and never without
spaces. Ellipses between sentences are typed like this. . . . The
first dot functions as a period, the rest as the sign of an ellipsis. See
Turabian 25.3.2, but use the "General Method" on pp. 354-55 (and not the
"Textual Studies Method").
37. When to cite a source in a footnote: All material derived
from secondary sources, whether or not you quote it directly,
must be credited. Cite the source of every quotation in a
footnote. But also cite the source for any information you restate in
your own words. You need not cite a source for well-known facts, such as
a composer's birthdate, but should cite a source for any interpretation
or opinion, even if it is repeated in several of your sources. See the
Writing Tutorial Services webpage "Plagiarism:
What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It" for more information.
See also Turabian 7.9, "Guard Against Indadvertent Plagiarism," on pp. 78-79.
38. Full and short citations: The first time you cite a work
in a footnote or endnote, give a full citation using footnote form; see
the samples labeled "N" in Turabian's chapters 16 and 17 or the
Music Library webpages on
and Endnotes. For all subsequent
citations, use short form author-title notes (Turabian 16.4.1) or, for a work
just cited, "Ibid." (Turabian 16.4.2). In your bibliography, use the "B" form as illustrated in Turabian's chapters 16 and 17
or the Music Library webpages on Bibliographic
39. Textbooks: Do not use textbooks as sources for scholarly
papers. They can be helpful in previewing your topic or listing sources
you should consult, however.
Last updated: 21 August 2017
This page was created by Patrick Warfield and
J. Peter Burkholder,
drawing on material by Thomas J. Mathiesen and others.
Copyright © 1997-2017 by J. Peter Burkholder