While everyone’s heard of a period, question mark, and interrogation point, a lot fewer people have heard of their newest member: the interrobang. The interrobang is defined as “a punctuation mark designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question” (Merriam-Webster). The interrobang is officially symbolized by ‽. However, since most keyboards do not have this specific key, it is also unofficially represented as ?! Or !?.
The interrobang was invented by Martin K. Speckter, an advertising executive, in 1962. He thought of it as “the typographical equivalent of a grimace or a shrug of the shoulders…when a writer wished to convey incredulity” (qtd in Martin K. Speckter). However, the meaning of this punctuation evolved over time. Rather than just a grimace or shrug, it is now used to show surprise and question. Quite literally, it became a mix of an exclamation point and a question mark. Sentences where an author may write ?! or !? can end with ‽. Some sentence examples are:
You did what ‽
Are you sure ‽
Why did the interrobang fall out of public use?
It is not an officially recognized punctuation mark- so use at your own discretion. A big point to consider is its relationship with modern keyboards and typewriters when thinking about its history. Was it not included because it was not widely used or was it not widely used because it was not included? The world may never know. Given the limited space available, it was more economical to include the exclamation point and question mark due to their prominence and simply use both of them when the situation calls for it instead of including a third key that was not as popular. Thus, the interrobang was lost and largely forgotten by the world.
Come join Colin for a brief kick-off to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Whether you’re trying to finish your novel this month or just force yourself to work on it, come learn about the NaNoWriMo events, set up a NaNoWriMo account, and grab some snacks.
MLA Style Workshop
Do you need to use MLA style for an essay or other assignment? Come to this workshop to learn more about MLA style as well as have a chance to improve the MLA style in your own work. Bring a current assignment to practice on!
Location: Hoover Library Board Room
Writing as a Studying Technique
At face value, memorizing facts about a topic can be a daunting, even frustrating, task. Even worse, much of this information remains in our minds for only just about as long as the duration of the exam we’re cramming for.
Tired of the monotony of flashcards or simply rewriting notes? Why not try writing about the topics instead.
Although this can be a challenge when undertaking topics that don’t ignite much enthusiasm, the work that one must do with content in order to write a short article, or even a full essay, helps one transform into a practical expert on the topic.
Writing begins with a research stage, which requires us to review everything we’ve previously learned about a topic, or variety of topics, then build on it. In essence, this is much like review before a test, but we can even learn some new factoids or gain additional perspectives that we haven’t previously considered during this stage.
Next, we must begin to organize the information from our research. This again compels us to review the content. Gradually, we will start to take note that we are memorizing quite a bit of the content. At this step, we gain understanding of how different aspects of the topic relate to each other by grouping them into subtopics. This creates a roadmap that makes sense to our minds regarding the various pieces of information we are memorizing.
The connections we’re forming are again reinforced through the creation of outlines. By creating a guide of ideas, we see bite-sized pieces of information rather than a stack of notecards or several pages of notes – much less overwhelming than before. By this stage, we’ve had to go through the information several times, but since we create something each time our boredom is minimized.
Now that we have an outline, we’re ready to write. As this is only being used as a studying technique, we have absolute freedom in terms of how we want to write. This creates less pressure than many other academic situations. This is the fourth time we have made our way through our info in this process alone. By now, we have learned quite a bit. In proofreading this essay, we are able to repeat this process yet again.
Now, we have studied AND we’ve gotten valuable practice writing with less academic pressure. A win-win.
Kyle, Peer Tutor
How to Write a Science Paper
A lot of people think of the Writing Center as a place to take papers from your English class. But, as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, we can help with al kinds of assignments! Not only can we help you with your English essay, we have expertise in History papers, presentations, visual texts such as fliers, making videos, and much more.
We can even help you with writing a report for your biology, chemistry, or other science course. Check out Bryn’s Tips for Writing a Science Report and make an appointment with us today!
Use separate section headers!
Introduction or background
State the need for your project
Explain the past research and findings
State the objectives of the project
State and explain hypothesis (if one exists)
Explain, in detail, the experiment so that another may recreate it the same way
Explain which materials and apparatus were used
Explain what you measured and how, etc.
Explicitly state the results of the experiment
Explain why results are important and what they mean
Explain whether or not the results support any hypothesis presented in the introduction
Explain error with error analysis and how it affected results
Where to go from here
Next steps in experiment or next experiments to follow the previous one
Check your tone!
Be sure to use a professional and factual voice
Be as concise as possible
Refrain from “First… second…” listings and “story-like” or directional language
Use past tense about findings and methods
Use present tense for generalizations and future research/conclusion
Share your equations!
Separate line from text
Numbered for reference
Only post the relevant, final graphs
Be sure to title the graph and label its axes
10 Tips for Successful Powerpoint Presentations
PowerPoints are the bane of many a student’s existence. They’re irritating, difficult to work with, and easy to tweak into an unreadable mess. The following ten tips should help, however, when approaching these sticky assignments.
Go for a crisp, clean, professional look, not an artistic or messy one. This includes not having unnecessary pictures, ‘cute’ fonts, words in strange colors, and ‘fun’ elements such as incessant visual and audio effects. Go ahead and pick a nice-looking theme, but don’t overdo it.
Don’t be this person. Use an appropriate font and images with transparent backgrounds—avoid the white box around images!
Make everything possible to read. This means using easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, or Georgia, making sure text has a strong contrast with the background, and using organizational tools like bullet points and numbered lists judiciously. Text needs to be large enough to read easily and pictures need to be relevant and easy to understand.
Never do…basically any of this. Don’t use ‘cute’ fonts, yellow text, or even more than one font in your PowerPoint. Use contrast: cool colors in the background, like blue or gradient gray, go better with a little bit of text in a warm color, like red or plum.
Limit text displayed on-screen. Try using the 7-7 rule: only 7 words on each line of each slide, and only 7 lines per slide. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but it does help to practice being concise and saving detailed information for the presenter to present vocally.
Holy walls of text, Batman!
Use pictures—carefully. Pictures are a great addition to your PowerPoint, and some successful presentations only have text in the titles of their slides, but if you over-saturate your presentation with them they will soon lose their effectiveness. Only use relevant pictures, and be careful to ensure that they are either of good quality or are justified in not being so.
This would be a bad image to use in a PowerPoint about non-Euclidean geometries, for example.
Don’t make it too long or short. Practice your PowerPoint at least twice and time it. Try to aim for the average of the minimum and maximum presentation times–if you asked to have a 10-15 minute presentation, shoot for 12.5 minutes; if you are assigned a 30-45 minute presentation, try for 37.5 minutes. A presentation that is too short makes you look lazy, and a presentation that is too long bores the listener.
You almost certainly don’t ever need to see this. Too many slides!
Don’t rush. Leave appropriate pauses between bullet points and slides, giving time for students to take notes and the audience to absorb, process, and respond to new information. Rushing through a presentation gives the impression that you hate presenting, and professors are sharks that feast on your discomfort.
Not a good life OR writing motto.
Delude yourself into displaying confidence. It is perfectly normal and fine to feel impeding doom at the very idea of having to make and give a presentation. However, acting confident by smiling, gesticulating, answering questions, and projecting your voice all give a good false impression that you are secure and confident in your PowerPoint, and thus help your audience enjoy and pay attention to your work.
Imagine yourself as Wonder Woman. Do her stance before every slide if you need to.
Have a cheat sheet and practice off of it. Make a ‘cheat sheet’ of some sort, out of index cards or a typed outline, and practice giving the presentation by speaking from the sheet. This will help the presentation flow together better and alert you to changes you need to make to your PowerPoint.
A creative way to use a cheat sheet. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spicker_trinkflasche.jpg
Present as if you are not a robot. This means that you cannot simply sit or awkwardly stand in front of the computer or class and read off of the slides. Instead, gesture, walk back and forth in front of the room, and elaborate on your points. Smile and nod at people, and address the audience as if they exist. Make your presentation pop with props and embedded videos and audio files. Please note that if you are, in fact, a robot, this is a great opportunity to infiltrate human society.
Don’t be this adorable robot. Be better than this adorable robot. Crush its adorable robot dreams into dust.
Go to the Writing Center or otherwise get feedback on your PowerPoint. Go ahead and book an appointment with us today, here! We’re willing, able, and happy to help you with any kind of writing, including multimedia writing.