Whereas the first set of guidelines, on The Elements of an English Paper, are not meant to be prescriptive but instead to offer techniques that will help you become a better writer, these guidelines, on Mechanics, are necessarily pretty prescriptive. A quick word about that fact.
These conventions are nothing more than that, BUT they serve two very important purposes. They help your readers navigate your essay, and they prevent your readers from getting distracted.
- If you don't follow proper citation practices, for example, your readers will struggle to find your sources.
- If you don't integrate your quotations properly, for example, your readers will be distracted from the whole point of the quotation -- the close reading that follows!
- If you don't consistently follow the conventions for the presentations of titles, for example, your readers will notice and pause to wonder what is going on.
Follow these conventions and your readers will have the tools they need to focus on you and your ideas.