Paper Writing Panic
By Making it Count
April 21, 2009
Don't panic with these easy-to-follow tips.
Outline and Thesis
After you have gathered your information, it’s then time to think about actually writing your paper. A great way to start is to create an outline and a thesis.
A thesis is a clear, specific statement of the main idea or argument of your paper. It should express the point you are trying to make about your topic. It should not be a simple statement of accepted fact. Here are examples of good and bad thesis statements:
GOOD: Toni Morrison’s novels combine poetic language with emotional impact to become powerful studies of the African-American experience.
BAD: Toni Morrison is a well-known writer who has published many novels.
An outline takes the main ideas in your thesis and organizes them. Think of it as a skeleton for the fleshed-out final paper. An outline also gives you a guide to follow to keep your thoughts organized as you write. After the main ideas are highlighted, your paper should be a detailed explanation of all the ideas you wrote in your outline.
Revise Your Paper
So, you finally have your paper written. You’ve reached the required number of pages and you’ve already let out a huge sign of relief. Now you are ready for the final stage of your paper: The Revision Process.
Revision is essential. It is like putting icing on the cake. Here are some great tips for revising your paper:
- Read the paper out loud to yourself and to other people. You’ll be surprised at how useful this is.
- Use your school. If it has a writing center, then it can help you with the paper, and find any grammatical errors you might have missed.
- Re-evaluate your paper’s organization, and check to see if it matches the original setup of your outline.
- See if there is anything that you would need to add or take out of your paper. Maybe something is not explained enough or maybe you explained something too much. Be alert for unclear or incomplete thoughts.
Has your teacher emphasized the nasty consequences of plagiarism yet? Plagiarism is a serious offense which can lead to expulsion from school. It is representing someone else’s words and work as your own. To avoid plagiarism, be sure to appropriately credit all your sources. There are several things to keep in mind when citing sources:
- Use the right style. There are many different ways to cite your sources. MLA and APA are the most popular, but there are several others. Your teacher will let you know what form to use.
- Double check the punctuation and spacing in your notes and bibliography or works cited list – getting this wrong could mean points off!
- Be sure to include all the sources from your notes or parenthetical references in your bibliography or works cited.
- Use your own words when you write – when you use someone else’s, put it in quotation marks and cite the source.
- Cite the source for all factual information in your paper, except for commonly known facts (like George Washington’s birthday).
This article originally appeared on Making It Count.
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