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Academic Writing

Academic writing is a genre unto itself – just like cartoons are a subset of TV shows.

There are expectations, rules both spoken and unspoken.

The good news? Most of them are easy to learn and once you can put them into practice you will be well on your way to academic success (read: better grades!).

Browse Academic Writing Articles:

ANALYZE Evidence to Support Your Thesis

Analyzing evidence is the key to competent high school and college writing. You cannot throw down a quote, or some facts, or a graph, and expect the reader to make all the connections to your main point/thesis. Similarly, you can't spend all your time sharing...

Analyzing Audience to Maximize Your Impact (and Grades)

Okay, so you want to know how to get higher grades on your writing assignments. You want to snag these higher grades as efficiently as possible, without putting disproportionate amounts of time and effort into one particular course or set of assignments. Maybe you’re...

Analyzing Your Audience – the First Rule of Effective Writing

Imagine a friend sends you an email (or a text, or posts to your Facebook page) and starts off by saying, "Hi, my name is John. I was born in New York City, and now live in Chicago on Elm Street. I'm a senior at..." You'd wonder why they were giving you all this...

APA Sample Paper with Comments

APA doesn’t just apply to citations and bibliography; it applies to the way the document is formatted. The document will have four major sections: Title Page Abstract Main Body References Use white, 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Type (print out) your work. Use 1″ margins on...

Avoid Logical GOOFS (Logical Fallacies)

A 'logical fallacy' is an error in reasoning. That is, an argument that might have a pattern that is familiar, but that does not hold up to close scrutiny. Here's a crazy example: My dog likes to chase the postman. Therefore my dog likes the postman. If you know...

Blasting Through Writers’ Block

Writer’s block is usually caused by some form of anxiety, sometimes by an odd mixture of anxiety and boredom. Whether your situation is academic or professional, the blank page can create a mirror of blankness in your mind, and words or ideas just don’t come easily...

Brainstorm a Topic and Finish a First Draft

When you sit down to write, do you immediately think of 23 other things you’d rather be doing? Does your hand itch to grab your phone and start texting, or does Facebook suddenly seem more alluring than ever? Does your mind just seem filled...

CLOSELY Read ‘The Text’ to Squeeze Out All Its Meaning

In any high school or college class where you’re reading texts and writing about them, your writing will be more effective if you know how to perform what teachers call a “close reading.” Similarly, if you’re writing a business report or proposal, you’ll be much more...

Creating IN-TEXT citations MLA Style

MLA in-text citations (vs. the Works Cited page where you list out all the bibliographic information) are parenthetical. So with MLA you don't use footnotes, or endnotes, or superscripts.  You use the author's name and a page number (if available) placed...

Define the KEY WORDS that are Crucial to Your Argument

A cliched ploy of many a student is to start an essay with a definition of a word that is important in the essay. For instance, when writing about Romeo and Juliet a student might start out with, "Dictionary.com defines 'love' as 'a profoundly...

Design a Sentence That Includes a QUOTE

Quoting others' work is crucial to your success as a writer. Students often have difficulty with this skill; growing proficient at quoting will mark you as a sophisticated writer. Not quoting, or quoting awkwardly, is like showing up to a formal wedding dressed in...

Elegantly Include QUOTATIONS In Your Writing

Students know that they are supposed to use quotations from other sources. But it can be difficult to crow-bar in a quote. Sometimes they don't seem to fit grammatically, or including the quote just feels clunky. You have to have faith that quotes are good, and they...

Establish Your CREDIBLITY

If you want to convince someone of something, you need to be perceived as a credible person. There are proven ways to establish credibility, and once you are aware of them you'll notice people using them all the time - from politicians, to community leaders, to sports...

Evaluate Source Quality

How do you know whether a source is a worthwhile one? You can demonstrate your competence and credibility by using impressive sources in your work. Depending on your subject, 'impressive' might include your grandmother, the local newspaper, a...

Examples of Narrative Essays

The following are decent examples of Narrative Essays, designed to help you think about the form more deeply. They aren't "slam dunk" essays that guarantee an "A". In fact, we've given you some perspective on how writing instructors would view these examples. Notice...

Examples of Persuasive and Argumentative Essays

The following are decent examples of Persuasive / Argumentative Essays, designed to help you think about the form more deeply. They aren't "slam dunk" essays that guarantee an "A". In fact, we've given you some perspective on how writing instructors would view these...

Find Sources to Support Your Argument

The Internet is a blessing and a curse. In the old days, students would look up key terms in one of the library's indexes, then find an entry for a particular source in a card catalog, then physically find the source - which might be bound and in a book, stored deep...

Getting Started: Writing the Best Essay Possible

One way to generate useful material in an early draft is to ask yourself a lot of questions about different aspects of your project, from audience to topic to perspectives on the topic. Audience Who is your audience? Is there more than one...

How do I get from the ‘C’ range to a ‘B’ (or Better)?

The following discussion provides practical advice on how to raise your grade. The steps described give you the framework of a focused plan that you can develop by filling in the details relevant to your course and your own writing. These steps have helped many...

How to Move from the ‘B’ Range to an ‘A’

The following discussion provides practical advice on how to raise your grade. The steps described give you the framework of a focused plan that you can develop by filling in the details relevant to your course and your own writing. These steps have helped many...

How to Write a College Admissions Essay

During their peak season, college admissions officers spend upwards of twelve hours a day poring through mountains of applications. Each application contains plenty of objective data: high school transcripts, SAT scores, lists of extracurricular activities. But...

How to Write an ‘A’ Paper

The following discussion provides practical advice on how to raise your grade. The steps described give you the framework of a focused plan that you can develop by filling in the details relevant to your course and your own writing. These steps...

Include COMPETING Evidence into Your Argument

Many beginning writers, especially when trying to write argumentatively, will include only evidence that supports their thesis. This is a beginner's mistake. Any intelligent reader will think up competing (contradictory) evidence on their own. And even if they don't,...

MLA In-Text Citation PLACEMENT

any students cite their work accurately, but don't properly place the citations. This is like answering a question correctly, but by shouting it at the top of your lungs while jumping up and down. It discredits you. Here are three typical mistakes: According to...

MLA In-Text Citations: the Source is a Website

If you retrieved a PDF from a website (most often a library database or a government website) that is formatted like a print source (like hard copy rather than a web page), use the page numbers provided as part of your citation. If your source is a website, then still...

MLA Sample Paper with Comments

MLA doesn’t just apply to citations and bibliography; it applies to the way the document is formatted.  HERE ARE THE BASICS (Know that your instructor’s specific requirements supersede these guidelines) Use white, 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Type (print out) your work. Use...

MLA Works Cited Page – Basic Formatting

A few broad points - that are often overlooked: It's a "Works Cited" page, not a bibliography. A bibliography might include sources that don't appear in your work. "Works Cited" and "References" mean the same thing. The purpose of a Works Cited...

ORGANIZE Your Argument

In his 1959 book The Uses of Argument, philosopher Stephen Toulmin analyzed the components of effective argumentation. Toulmin's analysis yielded one of the most useful formulas for organizing arguments. The first three components of the Toulmin argument are methods...

PARAPHRASE Effectively – Avoid Just Copying

Paraphrasing means taking specific words from a source and rewriting them to appear in your own words. Paraphrasing should always be carefully cited, using the citation format required in the class or academic program. Paraphrasing is an area many students have...

Q&A: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos?

Great question: Can a single example be used as both logos and ethos? Can citing an authority provide both fact-based information while appealing to that person's credibility? We think YES - and doing so comes with a little extra benefit. Of course success depends on...