Today I am giving you a how to on writing great papers! Writing is one of my strong points when it comes to college—which is great because I am not great at:
- Feigning Interest
- Waking up happy
- Not procrastinating
- Being alert
Etc…I could go on a while.
*Picture by Adobe Stock contributor arekmalang
You can think of paper writing as building the layers of a human being. You can have a fully fleshed and working human being—you can have just the bare bones, you can have the bones with some muscle and fat on top. You are fleshing out your paper so that you aren’t turning in just the bare bones. In paper writing bare bones aren’t acceptable.
Read the Directions
The first way to make sure you are writing an excellent paper—is to read the instructions. I know this seems like a simple task, but you’d be surprised how many mistakes could be solved by just reading and understanding the directions. Make sure you know what your teacher expects of you, and if you are still on the fence about it—ask!
Over my years as a student I have seen so many people get confused by the directions and what they are supposed to do. There is confusion when it comes to font, word length, citation style, and a whole lot more. It's better to be safe than sorry--read the directions as soon as you can so you can ask questions as soon as you can!
Make an Outline
What do you want this paper to do? What do you want it to look like? This is your bare bones project. This is what you start to flesh out later. Your outline may change from time to time, but it’s important to start somewhere. The best place to start is by stating what you want each section of your paper to look like.
I don't always outline my papers, sometimes the layout just comes to me. When I am feeling at a loss for what I want to do I definitely take the time to outline my papers so that I get the best papers. Once you have a good and informative outline in place it becomes a million times easier to just fill it in and really work on your paper. Having an outline also makes it easier to jump around in your paper. Not sure quite yet how you plan to write about paragraph 1 and 2, skip to paragraph 3! Having a good outline is pretty awesome!
The best thing you can do after you make your outline is to start on the paper. Write each piece bit by bit, and just write until you finish the paper. This won’t be your final draft—don’t worry. One of the most important things to remember in my opinion when writing a paper or doing any class assignment is that the hardest part is starting. Over my years of being a student I have realized that again and again. Starting your paper will be the best thing that you can do for it.
Add Some Flesh to That Muscle
Right now you have muscle and fat. Now it’s time to add some flesh to that muscle! Go through your paper and elaborate, re-word, and make sure that your paper flows correctly from thought to thought. It’s important that you do this to make sure you are being a thorough as possible.
Trim out that fatty content too. You probably used a contraction or five throughout your paper. You may have stated something twice or misspelled a word. Do a spelling and grammar check and also go throughout the paper with your own two eyes.
One tip that I have been loving lately if you have a Macbook like I do, in Pages there is a setting called speaking. I tell you exactly how to access the feature in the image below, but it is my absolute favorite feature for figuring out what isn't quite right when I have a big paper that I am writing for class. I will let the computer speak to me, it has a pretty natural voice for a computer. When it comes across a word that it has a hard time saying or a sentence that doesn't sound quite right I will go in and fix that word or sentence. I am sure that other platforms also have this feature, but I know for sure that Pages does.
Get a Second Opinion
Once you have looked your paper over with care give the instructions and your draft to someone to look over. Think about the criticism that they gave your paper and see how you can change your paper for the better. You may not use every single suggestion—and that’s okay!
A lot of universities have great writing centers that are there to help you at literally any stage of the writing process. They can really sit down with you and help you make sure that your paper doesn't have any faults or isn't missing any crazy amounts of flesh or muscle. Just make sure that you know exactly what you want them to look for and that you are prepared for the appointment you make with them. Also be sure to make an appointment early. You want to make sure you actually have time to go over the paper and use their suggestions. There is no point in going to the writing center if you don't have time to use the changes they suggest.
Triple Check for Accuracy
Now it’s time to look through your directions one last time and make sure that your paper answers every questions, cites every reference, and does everything that the teacher wants it to do. The best thing about papers is they are highly subjective but you can usually still have a checklist of facts that make your paper a good or bad paper. Just by going through your paper one more time I know that you will have a great paper that your teacher will adore!
I hope these tips were helpful for you all. What are your best paper writing tips?
Check out my post How To Write A Kick Ass Introductory Paragraph to learn how to make a great first paragraph.