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SparkNotes Help


Using SparkNotes

Account Information

Ordering SparkNotes Products

No Fear Shakespeare iPhone™ App

Printable PDF SparkNotes and SparkCharts

Technical Questions

SparkLife

Using SparkNotes

Are SparkNotes cheat sheets?
Reading a SparkNote instead of reading a book is misusing a SparkNote. Those of us who write SparkNotes love the books that we write about, and we want you to read them as well! We think that SparkNotes are an excellent way to supplement your understanding of great works of literature, which can often be extremely confusing. Teachers tell us that they use SparkNotes in their classrooms for this purpose, as well as in conjunction with longer books that they do not have time to teach in their entirety.

We believe that the content of SparkNotes reflects this philosophy—our analysis sections are detailed and longer than our summaries, and the supplementary sections, such as "Character Analysis" and "Themes, Motifs, and Symbols" are scholarly secondary material that can be invaluable when developing paper ideas or writing papers. SparkNotes are there to help you understand literature—not as a substitute for it.

Can I use your site for my class? For my children? In a paper?
Yes, but you must cite your references to SparkNotes in the same way that you would cite your references to any books. SparkNotes are all copyrighted, and using them without crediting their source is plagiarism and is illegal. Learn more about what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Who writes SparkNotes? How do I cite a SparkNote?
The writers of SparkNotes are top students or recent graduates who specialize in the subjects they cover. SparkNotes writers approach literature with a passion and an enthusiasm that inspires students and has won over parents and teachers worldwide. The name of the author of any SparkNote appears at the bottom of the title page of the printed SparkNote, and at the bottom of the page in a gray bar on Table of Contents online.

Screenshot with arrow pointing to 'How do I cite it?'

You should cite SparkNotes according to the following example:

Douthat, Ross. SparkNotes on To Kill A Mockingbird.

20 March 2003. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/mocking.>

Remember to indent a citation if it occupies more than one line. If you are citing a particular page of a study guide or classic book online, adjust the URL in your citation accordingly

Why don't you put page numbers with quotations in SparkNotes?
Many of our SparkNotes are about books that exist in several different editions, each of which have different ways of numbering pages. What may be on page 27 of your book would be on page 34 of someone else's! We do cite passages from works of drama with act and scene numbers, however.

Can I link to SparkNotes pages?
You may link to any HTML page on SparkNotes.com as long as you attribute SparkNotes and do not use our content on your pages.

Can I use the content on a SparkNotes page on my site?
You cannot copy content directly onto a page, but you are welcome to link to the appropriate SparkNotes page.

Why can't I print SparkNotes for free?
The short answer is that we can't work for free! One of the ways that we make money is by selling printable versions of SparkNotes, which we think are a great deal. They're convenient, portable, and accessible from anywhere.

I want a SparkNote on _______. Please write it by noon today!
We're only human! We can't write SparkNotes on demand. Writing a SparkNote is a labor of love that takes weeks or months. But do let us know which books you'd most like to see future SparkNotes on by emailing us.

When will new notes or charts be available? Why don't you have a printable version of the note or chart I need?
We will soon sell Printable SparkNotes for all of our Literature, Shakespeare, Drama, Philosophy, and Poetry study guides. If you want us to include other notes in our collection, tell us!

I have a suggestion to make your site even better! Whom can I talk to?
Please tell us about it! You can write to us directly.

I want to write a news story on SparkNotes. Whom do I contact?
We love attention. Email media@sparknotes.com.

Account Information

Do I have to sign up to use SparkNotes?
SparkNotes study guides, classic books, and many other features are free to use online without establishing an account. If you wish to purchase a downloadable PDF, take SparkTests or post messages on the message boards, you will have to create a SparkNotes account. You can sign up here.

How do I pick a nickname?
Try to pick a nickname that is unusual, or uses a combination of letters and numbers. You may want to try the beginning of your email address, or your initials followed by your favorite number or your birth date.

Can I change my nickname?
We're sorry, at this time there is no way to change your nickname.

How do I create a valid password?
Your password must be:

  • between 6 and 15 characters
  • alphanumeric characters (0-9,a-z,A-Z) only
  • with at least one letter
  • at least one number
  • and no spaces
Our recommendation for entering a valid password is to take a term you won't forget, and simply replace some of the letters with similar looking numbers:
    1='l'
    2='Z'
    3='E'
    4='A'
    5='s'
    6='b'
    7='T'
    8='B'
    9='g'
    0='O'
For example: Street = STR33T, 5TREET, S7REE7. In addition, we have provided a useful tool on the right hand side of the account creation page, which will verify that your password is properly formed.

How do I change my password or email address?
In order to change either your email address or password, we recommend doing the following:

  1. Log into SparkNotes at https://www.sparknotes.com/login
  2. Once you're logged in, click on the "Preferences" link in the right column, or if you're already logged in, follow this link: .
  3. This will open a page that will show you all of your user Preferences
  4. To change your email/password, click on the "Change Your Email Address" or "Change Your Password" link in the "Account Settings" area.
  5. Now simply change your email/password. Please note that you will still need to enter your old password in both cases.
  6. Hit the Save button, and all will be saved.

I forgot my password.
You can reset your password by clicking here.

Please take my profile off of SparkNotes.
If you want to cancel your SparkNotes account altogether, click here. If you merely wish to remove your personal information, click here to selectively remove the personal information from your profile.

Ordering SparkNotes Products

Where can I buy your books?
SparkNotes products are sold exclusively at Barnes & Noble. You can see our Barnes & Noble boutique here.

I contacted Customer Service, when can I expect a response?
We manage Customer Service through an automated, online system that routes and tracks your problems to the correct person to handle your situation. You can expect an email response from us within 5 business days. We will do everything we can to resolve your issue. We do not offer Customer Service by telephone.

No Fear Shakespeare iPhone™ App

How can I get help with the No Fear Shakespeare iPhone app?
If you are having trouble with the No Fear Shakespeare iPhone app, please contact customer support here.

Printable PDF SparkNotes and SparkCharts

What is a PDF?
Each Printable SparkNote is stored as a PDF (Portable Document Format), which can be viewed and printed by anyone, anywhere across a broad range of hardware and software.

What is the difference between a Printable SparkNotes and the same SparkNote freely available on your site?
The Printable SparkNote contains the same content as the online SparkNote—but its portable format is infinitely more convenient. You can download it to your computer and read it offline. You can easily print it and bring it with you to review before a big test. You can search it to find key information about the book you're reading.

What is the difference between a Printable SparkNote or SparkChart and the SparkNote books or laminated SparkCharts you sell in Barnes & Noble booksellers across the country?
The content and the price of both versions are the same. Printable PDFs simply offer another way for you to get printed SparkNotes. Go to Barnes & Noble or download them over the web—the choice is yours.

How much do printable PDF SparkNotes and SparkCharts cost?
Both SparkNotes and SparkCharts printable PDFs are $4.95 each.

Why can I download only certain SparkNotes and SparkCharts as PDFs?
We'd like to offer PDFs of every note we have on the web, but converting the notes into a format that you can download is a big project for our editors, designers, and programmers. We're in the process of making as many of them available as possible.

How big is a PDF file?
Each PDF file is approximately 150-350K and should take around 1 minute to download on a 56K modem. The SparkCharts PDFs are a bit larger, ranging in size from 300K-5M.

I've never used a PDF before. What do I need to do?
You need the Adobe Acrobat Reader (Version 4 or higher), which can be downloaded for free. Download it here.

I can't figure out how to use Adobe Acrobat.
Adobe Acrobat reader has a great help section built into its software. In the Acrobat Reader window, pull down the "Help" menu and click on "Reader Guide."

My web browser opened the PDF in the browser window. How can I save it to my computer?
In the Adobe Acrobat tool bar, click the disk icon.

Technical Questions

Do I need cookies to use this site? What is a cookie?
A cookie is a small text file put on your hard drive by a web page and stored there for future use. It helps to customize your experience on the web site. A cookie can only be used by the server that put it on your computer and cannot give your computer a virus. You must allow your computer to accept cookies to use the SparkNotes site.

How do I set cookies to use SparkNotes.com?
To set cookies on your computer, please follow these instructions according to the type of web browser you are using:

    Internet Explorer 6 for Windows:
  • Open the Tools menu and choose Internet Options
  • On the Privacy tab, click on the Default button
  • Default setting is medium. Click on Apply and OK
    Internet Explorer 5 and 5.5 for Windows:
  • Open the Tools menu and choose Internet Options
  • On the Security tab make sure that Internet is selected
  • Click on the Custom Level button
  • Scroll down to see the Cookies category and select "Enable" next to "Allow per-session"
  • Click on OK and then OK again
    Internet Explorer 5 for Macintosh:
  • Open the Explorer menu and choose Preferences
  • Under the Receiving Files category, select Cookies
  • Next to "When receiving cookies" choose "Never ask"
  • Click on OK.
    Netscape 6 or 7 or Mozilla for Windows and Macintosh:
  • Open the Edit menu and choose Preferences
    (OS X users will find this under the Netscape or Mozilla menu)
  • Under the Privacy & Security categories, click Cookies
    (If no subcategories are visible, double-click Privacy & Security to expand the list)
  • Under the Privacy & Security categories, click Cookies
    (If no subcategories are visible, double-click Privacy & Security to expand the list)
  • Click on OK
    Netscape 4.X for Windows and Macintosh:
  • Open the Edit menu and choose Preferences
  • In the Preferences window that appears, click once on the word Advanced
  • Enable cookies and click on OK

Your pages freeze, crash my computer, or don't load.
We test our website on the most popular browser and operating system combinations to make sure errors like these don't occur. If you're experiencing a persistent problem, please send us an email and tell us what web browser and operating system you're using, as well as what you were trying to do when the problem occurred.

When I try to sign up or log in, the page reloads without any of my information entered.
Please make sure you have cookies properly set on your browser. If you still have this problem, the best thing to do is close your browser and start over. If you return to the login page you should be able to log in using your email address and password. Should you no longer remember your password, you may reset your password here.

SparkLife

Where are all the old SparkTests? Where are my old scores?
If you arrived here from TheSpark, welcome—TheSpark is now SparkLife. We've revamped some old SparkTests and removed others. If you're looking for an old favorite that's not here, we're sorry to say it doesn't exist elsewhere on the web. We're not keeping any old tests in hiding, but we're adding new ones all the time. Change is good! Have an idea for a test? Tell us!

You will need to create a SparkNotes account to take SparkTests at this site.

How do I compare SparkTest scores with my friends?
To compare SparkTest scores with your friends, or invite new friends, click on the "Preferences" link in the upper right side of this page or follow this link to the Compare Scores page.

How do I create or update my SparkNotes profile?
To create or update a SparkNotes profile, click on the "Preferences" link in the upper right side of the page or follow this link to the Preferences page.

I’m an advertiser and I want to sponsor one of your tests. How can I do that?
For sponsorship information, advertising opportunities and business proposals, please contact adsales@sparknotes.com.