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Centerville: Writing Tips

Website for Fortis College, Centerville Library & Resource Center

Beginning Writing Tips.

 Understand which type of paper you are writing. Analytical? Persuasive? Informative? Creative/Descriptive/Narrative? Critical? Argumentative? Knowing this will help you understand the type of writing style you will need to approach.

 If you are writing an analytical, informative, or critical paper, you should avoid inserting your own opinion.

 If you present one point of view in a paper, you must represent all other points of view as well.

 Understand which point of view to write in. Only write in first person point of view if you are writing a narrative/personal paper.

 Never use ‘I’ in a paper unless you are instructed to write a personal response or narrative about your life. Otherwise, use third person point of view (using he/she/it/they/one) when writing an essay.

 Never use second person point of view in an essay (using ‘you’) unless it is required by an instructor.

Do not switch your points of view. (E.g. I love chocolate chip cookies. One could say they are the best type of cookie).

  Read your paper and make sure you aren’t switching your tenses! Imagine reading a novel set in the past and which consistently used the past tense, but then in one sentence, it switched to present tense. It would be confusing! E.g. John watched the dog. He walks to the park.

Librarian's Writing Tips

Avoid ‘really’ or ‘very’ or other intensifiers that are used to add to the significance of a certain word. Instead, find a better descriptive word. E.g. ‘Difficult’ instead of ‘very hard’ or ‘idiotic’ instead of ‘really dumb’.

 Pick a topic that you love! When you have your own choice, pick a topic that you would enjoy writing about.

Talking and writing are different things. Avoid words that you would use while talking such as ‘gonna’ or ‘wanna’ and substitute it with ‘going to’ or ‘want to.’ Avoid slang or text speak. Do not do this: “And I was like lmao, idk wtf you are talking about tho.”

 When creating thesis statements, pay attention to the order of your subtopics. If you write a paper that states you will be talking about theater prices and you mention that you will cover the pricing of tickets, food, and beverages, then your paper should follow that order. Your first      body paragraph should cover ticket prices, your second body paragraph should cover food prices, and your third body paragraph should cover beverage prices.

 Use spell check to catch any mistakes.

  When using numbers in a paper, with 1-9, write out the spelling of the word, so 9 becomes nine. For numbers 10 and up, write them only as numbers.

 Is it possessive or plural? Understand the use of apostrophes. Never use apostrophes to make a plural noun.

  Avoiding use questions in a paper. If you do write questions in a paper, you should not be using more than two in a row. E.g. What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose as human beings? Should we dwell on this question as human beings? How many questions will be presented in this paper before an answer is given?

  Cite any information that is received from an outside source. If it did not come from your head, it needs to be cited to avoid plagiarism.

Ending Writing Tips

  Look at your sentences. Are they long? If you read them out loud would you lose your breath? Think about how you could break down longer sentences to make them shorter.

  Have someone else read over your paper! (Hint: the Librarian)

 Avoid the use of flowery language in an academic paper. You are not writing the next Nora Roberts book. Do not do this: The nurse’s white shoes tapped on the linoleum floors of the tattered hospital in Greendale. Her favorite patient would die today; the beeping of his EKG monitor echoed in her ears as she tried to picture a different outcome.

 Avoid contractions. Instead of writing ‘isn’t’, write ‘is not.’ (Bonus: It adds to your word count!)

 You don’t need to write ‘in conclusion’ before your conclusion paragraph. It can be assumed that your last paragraph will be the conclusion, just make sure you wrap up your paper and restate your main points.



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