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Term Paper and Essay Writing Tips

Term Paper and Essay Writing Tips

There are many approaches to writing the paper itself. In general, given the realities of writing against deadlines, it is impractical to draft a detailed outline as some guides would suggest. Instead, perhaps the most practical method is to begin by writing the body of your paper following the general outline you have already drafted.

The Structure of the Paper

One of the most common criticisms of student writing in essays and term papers is that the writing is disorganized and/or repetitive. However, the general outline already drafted not only gives the student the structure of the essay but also prevents repetition.

Each point noted in the outline can be rewritten in the form of a topic sentence (not to be confused with the general paper topic!) at the beginning of each of the essay's paragraphs or sections (depending upon the length of the paper). In writing the paragraphs or sections, for each topic sentence or main point you should have several supporting points.

For example, continuing with the World War II thesis noted above, you might have a topic sentence reading: "The reparations payments by Germany to the Allies, as mandated by the Treaty of Versailles, played an important role in the process leading to a new world war." Following this, you should have a number of supporting points upon which you will elaborate, such as:

(1) Description of the Reparations;
(2) The Economic Effect of the Reparations on Germany;
(3) How Hitler used the Reparations as a Political Tool and to Foster Hatred.

This pattern - topic sentence followed by supporting points - can be repeated throughout the paper. In essence these form the body of your paper.

Introduction

At first, it may seem odd to have the Introduction (or introductory paragraph) at the end of your paper writing process. However, there is a very good reason for this. Often, in the course of writing your essay, ideas or points may come to you that you have not thought of prior to actually writing. This is a surprisingly common situation in the writing process. Therefore, if one leaves writing the Introduction until last one not only has the thesis statement but also a better idea how to "frame" that statement in the form of an Introduction. There are many ways of writing an Introduction. As a general rule, you should begin with a strong and clear statement of your topic. Your professor or instructor will probably be grading dozens of papers and will have little patience with rambling or confused Introductions. You could begin with an epigraph – a quote from source that illustrates your paper's thesis – or, more simply, with just a statement of your topic. For example: "The debate over the root causes of the Second World War is one of the most controversial questions in the history of the twentieth century." After a sentence or to elaborating on this topic, you will state your thesis sentence.

Conclusion

The Conclusion is perhaps the simplest part of your paper. It should have an introductory sentence stating something to the effect that you have proven your thesis. For example: "As we have seen…" or "As has been shown…" Following this you should note your thesis and two or key supporting points from your paper.

Spell-check and Proofread

It is remarkable that many students, having put so much into researching and writing their papers, are in such a rush to finish them that they forget to run the Spellchecker that comes with word-processing programs such as MS Word or WordPerfect. Similarly, a brief glance through the completed paper often turns up mistakes or typos ("capitol" for "capital", for example) that a spellchecker might miss. Both of these steps take only minutes, and can make the difference between a paper that appears to be a sloppy "rush" job, and one that merits a B+ or an A.

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