At this point in the semester, you may have written a paper or two. If you haven’t you may be preparing to write a final paper for a class. (End of the semester is just six weeks away.) Here are five tips from a past writing major to keep in mind as you work on your papers.
- Pace Yourself
It is too often the case that students wait until the night before to start a paper. They’ll stay up all night, writing right up until the time it’s due. Don’t do that! Start at least a couple weeks in advance. Take your time to formulate your thoughts and find your resources. If you spend an hour a night writing you’ll find that in a couple weeks you will be done with time to spare.
Now that you’ve decided to start sooner than the night before one of the first things you should do is outline. Here are the basics: The intro paragraph, the body, the conclusion. The intro should be no longer than half a page. It should have a topic sentence that introduces the main idea of the paper. The rest of the intro should quickly outline each point you hope to hit in the body. The body will follow the order of the points you outlined in the intro. Finally, the conclusion is not just a summary of your paper. The conclusion should be the place where you explain your findings. It is the culmination of your paper’s viewpoint or argument; it should be the resolution to the problem or topic.
- Don’t know how to start?
Sometimes writing the intro is the toughest part of the paper. If this is the case for you then skip it! Start with the meat of the paper. Once you get the ball rolling on the body you’ll find it will be easier for you to go back to the beginning and write the intro.
- Draft and Edit
Your first draft should never be what you hand in. Make sure to re-read and re-work. Do you need an apostrophe here? Did you use the wrong word there? Always draft and edit!
- Careful Sourcing
Double check your sources. Are they reputable? Or are they some random Tumblr blog? Don’t use Wikipedia as your main source. And DO NOT plagiarize. If you are quoting someone else, make it obvious. If you want to summarize what someone said, make it obvious. The best way to do this is to follow the in-text citing guidelines of the style of writing you are using. Whether it is MLA, APA, or something else there will always be a specific way to cite. Save yourself a headache. Don’t mistakenly plagiarize by not following style rules, and don’t outright plagiarize.
If you need some help with your writing check out the Writing Center in the Francine G. McNairy Library and Learning Forum here at Millersville University. They opened in their new Library location on September 18th, and have many tutors to help with all your writing needs.
The Writing Center in McNairy Library. Photo courtesy Millersville University.
Other Graphics and Photos courtesy of Canva.
Kristi Shorter is an Intern for Millersville University’s Housing and Residential Programs. She is currently pursuing her Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.