How to Schedule an Appointment on Starfish

Good afternoon, students and faculty of Millersville University! Recently, the Writing Center has switched the software for making appointments to Starfish. Some of you may have heard of Starfish before—most likely from the kudos emails in your Outlook inbox. It’s a new platform that helps connect MU students, professors, advisors, and more.

But since Starfish hasn’t been around very long, there are a lot of students who may not know how to use it, let alone how to use it for the Writing Center. So today’s post is going to be some straightforward instructions:

  1. Go to MU Logins  and Select Starfish:
  2. On Starfish, in the upper left-hand corner, click on the three lines, scroll down, and select “My Success Network.”  
  3. Scroll down to the box that says “The Writing Center,” click the “Schedule” button in the bottom left-hand corner, and follow the instructions. 

And that’s how you use Starfish to make an appointment for the Writing Center! You should get a confirmation email soon afterward. If you’ve gone through these instructions and are still confused, that’s okay. You can also set up an appointment by emailing us at, calling us at 717-871-7389, or visiting us at McNairy 106 between 1 and 9 PM every Monday through Thursday and 1 to 4 PM on Fridays. Good luck, and see you at the Center!

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources

Picture this: Your professor has just assigned a research project. They’re going through the guidelines: must be a certain number of pages, has to be double-spaced and in 12-point Times New Roman font, has to have a bibliography, etc. But then they say something you haven’t heard before: the project must have at least three-to-five primary sources.

So, what exactly is a primary source? Well, let’s back up a little. While doing research, it’s important to use sources to support the claims that you’re making and explain the evidence behind what you’re saying. A strong research project will always have sources. It lends the project credibility and gives you a better understanding of your subject (not to mention, it helps you avoid plagiarism charges).

With all that in mind, let’s get back to primary sources. In the broadest term possible, a primary source is something directly written about the subject of your research. They were created at the same time as the subject and were written about people who were there to see the subject take place. Think of them as “the raw materials of history” (Wesson). Primary sources can come in any kind of format, such as government reports, journals and autobiographies. Even other research papers (specifically those published in scholarly journals) can be primary sources!

But sometimes, you may find a source that was written about a primary source—things like textbooks, newspaper articles, and biographies. Those are called secondary sources. Although secondary sources don’t have the same type of “lived experience” as a primary source, they’re still quite valuable for contextualizing primary sources against new evidence, as well as helping you contextualize your own opinions on the subject (Streefkerk). Sometimes there can be an overlap between primary and secondary sources. For example: while news articles are considered secondary sources, the quotes in them can be primary sources if they were taken from people who witnessed or were involved with the subject. It mostly depends on your research question (“Primary Sources: A Research Guide”). Either way, no great research project is complete without either of them.

So now that we know what a primary source is, that leaves us with one question: Why are they so important? Well, primary sources allow a more in-depth look at a subject because it was written by someone who had tangible experience with it. Not to mention, there are less chances of bias or other people’s interpretation of the subject affecting them. You may not be able to find the full, unvarnished truth about a subject, but primary sources are often the closest thing to it.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Works Cited

“Primary Sources: A Research Guide.” Healey Library, Accessed 7 April 2023.

Streefkerk, Raimo. “Primary vs. Secondary Sources | Difference & Examples.” Scribbr, 20 June 2018, Accessed 7 April 2023.

Wesson, Stephen. “What Makes a Primary Source a Primary Source?” Library of Congress Blogs, 4 October 2011, Accessed 7 April 2023.

In-Text Citations: MLA and APA

Picture this: you’re writing something for a class and you need to look at outside sources for it. Finding the sources was easy, but your teacher wants you to cite those sources—not just in a bibliography or reference page, but in an in-text citation. You might be wondering, How do I do that? Well, that’s why for this week’s post, we’re going to talk about the in-text citations and how they work for two common citation styles. Let’s get into it!

First, a definition: an in-text citation is when you use an outside source to directly support a claim in your essay. They lead readers to sources that’ll help them understand whatever is being talked about in the text. In-text citations are less tricky than most people think, but the hard part is figuring out how to format them for a specific citation style.

The two citation styles that use in-text citations the most are MLA and APA format. MLA format is popular in English and other humanities courses. When you have an in-text citation for MLA, you want to cite your source by listing the name of the author in parentheses after the claim or quote, and then following it with a page number. Of course, that’s assuming you haven’t mentioned the author already. Here are a couple of examples of this in action:

And if you’re doing a quote that is four lines or longer, you want to give it its own paragraph:

APA format, on the other hand, is used for courses in the social sciences like psychology and social work (which makes sense, because it was created by the American Psychological Association). APA format works similarly to MLA format, except instead of listing the page number after the author/title, you want add a comma and list the date of publication:

Of course, that’s only if you’re not directly quoting the source. If you are, you also need to include the page number. Also, the date needs to go after the person who said it:

And just like last time, if you’re doing a quote that is four lines or longer, it gets its own paragraph:

And that’s how you do an in-text citation! Including them will only make your project stronger and your research more credible. Not to mention, it automatically makes you the coolest person in the classroom (Vitti 5). 

Joking aside—good luck, and happy writing!

How to Write an Outline

For this week’s blog post, we’re going to take a look at how to create an outline. An outline is a rough idea for any written subject. Outlines are an easy and time-efficient way to understand complex subjects, and they can help you learn about what you want to write about in a paper and why. And if you follow these tips, you’ll have yours done in no time. Let’s get into it!

Before you start, it’s important to know what you’re going to write about. Your professor probably gave you a general topic, but what are you specifically going to write about? What do you want to write about? For situations like these, it might be best to have a brainstorming section first. Brainstorming is a chance to get all of your ideas down without having to worry about what you’re going to do with them. Think of it as a chance to let your mind wander until you find a topic/aspect of your topic that interests you.

For example, let’s say your Digital Marketing professor wants you to write about one of the forms of online promotion and why it is beneficial. A good way to brainstorm for this would be to write down everything you know about the forms online promotion and see if there’s anything that interests you:

Once you have a better understanding of what you want to write about, you have to find your thesis statement. A thesis statement is essentially the main idea of your paper. It’s the specific viewpoint/opinion of your topic that you want to develop and explain to your audience. 

To continue the example: let’s say you’ve decided to write about blogs. Ideally, you’d try and craft a statement talking about what a blog is and how someone can use it for self-promotion:

When all that’s done, you want to organize your ideas through a bulleted list. You should have sections for your introduction, your main ideas, and your conclusion. In each of those sections, you should add what you want to talk about in them. Your introduction should include any relevant background information the audience needs to understand the subject. Your main points will include evidence to support them. And your conclusion will feature a restatement of your thesis and a review of your main points, and a potential call to action at the end of the post. At the end of everything, your outline should look something like this:

And that’s how you create an outline!  Remember, this is a great way to figure out what you want to do for an assignment before you even start writing. It may not be mandatory, but every little bit helps. Good luck and happy writing!

About Us

Hello, Millersville students and staff! Welcome to the Writing Center’s blog!

For those of you that don’t know what we’re all about, the Writing Center is a place where you can get help with, well, writing. Our mission statement comes down to five words: “Every Writer Needs a Reader”. So if you need help figuring out grammar or citation styles for a term paper, or if you want tips on how to create the perfect resume or cover letter, our staff of trained tutors can guide you through it. We help at any stage of the writing process, whether it’s brainstorming or implementing a professor’s feedback. And the best part is that we’re all students, just like you. We know what it’s like to need a second pair of eyes on something before you submit it. Whether it’s written up or typed down, we are more than happy to help.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, whether it’s in-person or over Zoom, you can email us at or call us at (717) 871-7389. We also accept walk-ins! You can find us at McNairy 106 (right across from the Starbucks) every Monday through Thursday from 1-9 PM, and on Sundays from 6-9 PM. Either way, we hope to see you around!