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Centerville: Grammar Guides & Writing Tips

Website for Fortis College, Centerville Library & Resource Center

Librarian's Writing Tips

Beginning a Paper

  • Understand which type of paper you are writing. Analytical, Persuasive, Informative, Creative/Narrative, Critical, or Argumentative?
  • 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.
  • Read your paper and make sure you aren’t switching your tenses! 


  • Avoid writing your opinion in an analytical, informative, or critical paper
  • Never use first person  (I, me, my, or our) in a paper unless it is a paper about your life.
  • Never use second person in an essay (you or your).
  • Never switch your point of view (first, second, or third person).

Throughout Your Paper

  • When creating thesis statements, pay attention to the order of your subtopics.
  •  Use spell check to catch any mistakes (a lot of students do not).
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Never use apostrophes to make a plural noun.
  • Avoiding use questions in a paper.
  • 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.
  • 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’.

Ending Your Paper

  • 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. 
  • 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, or any other signal phrase like it.
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