Essay Rules Monty Python Style

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Articles/education/monty python rules

S98/essay rules

Mr. Maltese

I created these rules using Monty Python even though, sadly, only a few of  my students knew about the comedy group.  I issued this document and asked students to take turns reading the rules aloud.  Even if they did not know Monty Python, they had fun.  I used fonts that were circusy or immature.



The Ministry for Unsilly Essays has decreed the following:  That is to say, that Unsilly Essays Designated as such by the Ministry of such has ordered that the following rules should so be followed:  That is to say that the rules that should be followed are following, hence coming immediately after these words that are typed here (actually after the words that come “after these words that are typed here.”)

1)       Formatting the paper.  Margins should be 1” from the top and 1” from the bottom and 1 “ from the right and 1” from the left of the edges of the paper.

This is not good.                                          This is not good, either.

When Arthur first

Met the Knights who

Say “Nee”…






2)       Use an appropriate font size.  Font size should be no larger than 12 (Arial style), and please do not use circus fonts.


Always look on the bright

Side of life, ta da, ta da…

Always look on the bright

Side of life, ta da, ta da…

Always look on the bright

Side of life, ta da, ta da…

None of these are good

3)       In educated circles, we call a sentence, a “sentence.”  As we achieve our advanced degrees, we learn that two sentences on the same topic are called “two sentences.”  In either case we do not call one sentence a “paragraph” or two sentences a “paragraph.”  A paragraph should have a minimum of three (3) sentences devoted to the same topic.  There is that magic number again—three.  “Two is straight out.”  Paragraphs are not born.  They are developed.  Paragraphs may be developed in several ways:  1)  through facts or statistics  2) through examples  3)  through comparison and contrast  and 5) through arguments in a line of reasoning (for example .  “If a wood burns and witches burn, and wood floats, then…”  As the wizard would say, “Answer me these questions three:  1) What is the capital of Eretria?  2)  What is the  air velocity of a swallow (African)?  3)  What is the difference between a fact and an example?”


Document your research and cite your sources on a Works Cited page.  Consult your Abington Style Guide for the proper methods for documentation.  Correct paraphrasing and direct quoting are your responsibility.  If you plagiarize at least five things will happen to you.  1)  you will receive an “F” on your paper.  2) Your reputation as a cheater will find its way into all sorts of official documents.  5) Your dignity will have all the energy of the parrot in “The Dead Parrot Sketch.”

5)       The Spanish Inquisition frowns on the following transgressions:

a)       Sentence fragments.  Avoid them.  Like the plague.

b)      Run on sentences.  Avoid them because they confuse people most writers make it a point to eliminate them and remember that commas do not join sentences.

We interrupt this list of transgressions to inform you that the above two transgressions are exceedingly difficult to spot yourself.  To find these nasty devils, either read your writing out loud, s-l-o-w-l-y, or give your work to some wretched slave to your whims, such as a parent, to read out loud.

c)       Contractions.  Avoid them in a formal essay.  It is better to write “Sir Lancelot could not find the Holy Grail.” rather than  “Sir Lancelot couldn’t find the Holy Grail.” It is a sophistication thing.  In an informal essay, contractions are acceptable.  If you do not know what kind of essay you are supposed to write, consult your instructor.  If you imagine that people in tweed jackets smoking pipes will be reading your essay, it is probably a formal one.

d)       Apostrophes.  Dont avoid them—especially if they are necessary.

e)       Misspellings.  By all means use a spell checker, but many spell checkers do not know if you mean “to” or “too” or “plane” or “plain.”  They are spelled correctly.  Remember that you cannot blame your spell checker for failing you.  You are the author—the creator, the grand poobah!  The work is your responsibility.

f)        Agreement.  If the subject is plural, then the verb must be plural.  Pronouns must also use the correct case.  None of this “Me and him went to the store” stuff.  Okay, okay, that one was easy.  How about this one?  “Between you and me” or “Between you and I”?  So smarty, that wiped the smile off your face.

g)      Parallelism.  Avoid writing sentences like “In the middle ages people enjoyed torturing, witch-burning and to bring out their dead.”  This is not parallel.  Change it to “In the middle ages people enjoyed torturing, witch-burning and bringing out their dead.”

Speaking of bringing out your dead, there are several people outside my door and who apparently want to do me some harm. I will keep writing and note their progress as it happens (or doesn’t happen.  They seem determined.  However, I have a superb lock on that door which cannot be penetrated no matter OH NO THEY HAVE PENETRATED THE DOOR.  NO GET BACK.  OH NO . OH NO. IN THE NAME OF THE HOLY HAND GRENADE, GET BACK. NO NO, DON’T TAKE ME TO THE CASTLE OF ARRGGGGGGGGGG………..




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