Click on the sections below to find a variety of useful writing resources.
What is a thesis statement? The thesis statement is the position that you are attempting to persuade your reader to accept. It is what you will argue or attempt to prove to the reader.
A good thesis statement should be:
Revising Your Thesis:
As you begin writing your first draft, a provisional thesis gives you focus. Have the thesis visible to you as you write to give yourself direction. You certainly may find that your thesis has changed once you begin writing. As your thesis changes, edit and revise so that the entire paper supports your most current thesis.
University of North Carolina's Writing Center provides guidance in answering, "How do I know if my thesis is strong?" and offers excellent "examples" of a weak thesis, a promising thesis, and a terrific thesis. Scroll down for these headings once you reach the site: UNC Writing Center Thesis Statements
How do I make my argument? Consider the course and the assignment, and ask yourself: Is this an analytical paper? An expository paper? An argumentative paper? Know the requirements for your assignment.
Recommended Site: Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) discusses the differences between these papers at: Purdue University Online Writing Lab: resource/545/1/
The purpose of an introductory paragraph in academic writing: Your introductory paragraph should discuss to your topic (what you will write about) and present your thesis (what you will argue and prove)
Tips for writing a strong introduction:
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) gives further detailed information on writing Introductions at: Purdue University Online Writing Lab Engagement
What is a Topic Sentence? The topic sentence is the sentence at the beginning of each paragraph that clarifies the one coherent argument of that paragraph and provides a clear and explicit transition to that point from the point of the preceding paragraph. Typically the topic sentence is first or second sentence of each body paragraph.
How to write a good Topic Sentence:
The topic sentence should be a "mini-thesis." Everything your thesis does with respect to your paper, your topic sentence should do with respect to your paragraph. Each topic sentence in each paragraph must support the paper's thesis.
Guidelines when revising each Topic Sentence:
University of Ottawa's Writing Centre explains topic sentences very well at: University of Ottawa's Writing Center: Writing Paragraphs.
The Importance of Transitioning: The beginning of each paragraph must transition from the ideas of the previous paragraph in order for your paper to be a coherent argument, rather than a series of disparate ideas. Every topic sentence should contain a transition that explicitly connects the point of the preceding paragraph to the point of the present paragraph.
How to Write a Transition:
Write out the point of the preceding paragraph and then write out the point of the present paragraph; now write out the connection between the two. That connection is your transition! Please take note: You must transition at the beginning of a paragraph, not at the end (no explicit foreshadowing of the paragraph to come).
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides a detailed discussion of transitions and how the present paragraph's topic sentence connects to the topic sentence of the previous paragraph at: Purdue University Online Writing Lab: resource/574/01/
How should each paragraph flow? The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea (i.e. topic sentence) to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph.
After you've written a first draft, go back, look at each paragraph you've written, and ask yourself two questions: "What is my argument in this paragraph?" "Does that argument support my thesis?"
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) explains in detail how to create an organized and coherent paragraph at: Purdue University Online Writing Lab: resource/606/1/
Why is sentence variation important to an academic paper? To create a dynamic experience for the reader, each paragraph needs a variety of sentences.
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) points out that "long sentences work well for incorporating a lot of information, and short sentences can often maximize crucial points." For more information on creating a variety of sentences, see: Purdue University Online Writing Lab: resource/573/01/
Why is voice important to an academic paper? For any paper, you must adopt a suitably academic voice that lends credibility and professionalism to your arguments.
To write in an academic voice, try to avoid:
In addition to adhering to a certain level of formality in your writing, you should also be clear on whether you should adopt an active or passive voice. Active voice is typically expected in non-scientific papers and prevents your writing from becoming too wordy. Often removing "to be" from the action of a sentence will help to turn it from passive to active. For example, "In Mrs. Dalloway, Septimus is being watched by Rezia." (passive) vs. "In Mrs. Dalloway, Rezia watches Septimus." (active)
Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching provides an excellent handout on how to communicate clearly in an academic voice at: Vanderbilt.edu Academic Voice.
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) explains the difference between passive and active voice and shows how to alternate between the two at: Purdue University Online Writing Lab: resource/539/05/
The purpose of the Conclusion in academic writing: Your conclusion should explain how your argument and subject enriches or complicates our understanding of a larger literary, social, historical, or cultural movements. Your conclusion can expand our appreciation of the status of a significant issue in relation to your thesis.
Tips for Writing a Strong Conclusion:
1. Avoid repeating the rest of the paper.
2. Avoid focusing on minor aspects of your paper.
3. Consider larger issues that inform your paper.
University of Richmond's Writing Center has a longer check list of dos and don'ts when writing a conclusion at: University of Richmond's Writing Center: Conclusions
Here are some videos that might clear things up, too!
Here’s a video about semicolons: Part 3
Grammar on the Purdue Owl Purdue University Online Writing Lab section/1/5/
This first video shows you how to use colons.
In this video, semicolon usage is demonstrated.
Commas: Part 1
This video discusses dependent clauses.
Commas: Part 2
This video shows you how to put together independent clauses.
Commas: Part 3
This next video talks about the rest of comma usage.
Finally, we will learn how to use hyphens.
Parts of Speech Introduction
This video goes over the different types of words: nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns, and interjections.
This video discusses verbs. Verbs are words like “discuss,” “run,” and “sneeze.”
This next video talks about conjunctions like “and,” “but,” and “yet.”
In this video, we chat about interjections like “yes,” “indeed,” and “ah.”
A noun names a person, place or thing.
Prepositions are words like “in,” “out,” and “around.”
Adjectives are words like “pretty,” “challenging,” and “funny.” They describe nouns.
Adverbs are adjectives, but with an “ly” at the end. They describe verbs.
This video discussed the distinction between formal and informal logic.
Logic Terms 1
In this video, we distinguish between terms like valid and invalid, sound and unsound, and premise and conclusion.
Logic Terms 2
This is a continuation of the previous video.
Just because something is true for A, B, and C does not mean it is true for D, E, and F.
This video discusses how reactions can be different not based on reason, but instead on how the argument is presented.
A “Red Herring” argument is an irrelevant argument used to detract from what’s really important.
Correlation vs Causation
Just because there is a relationship between two things does not mean that one causes the other.
This is where only two options are presented when, in fact, more options are available.
Broken Window Fallacy
For example, a shop’s window is broken, and, in an effort to console the shop owner, people tell him that this is actually a good thing because then window fixers have jobs. This does not mean breaking windows is good!
An argument is circular when it assumes the thing it is trying to prove.
Just because you fail a paper does not mean you will flunk out of school, and have to live in your parents’ basement for the rest of your life.
Fallacy of Composition
The whole may have properties that are different from each individual part.
Straw Man Fallacy
This is where you distort an argument, refute it, and then claim the original argument has been refuted.
Like the name suggests, it’s appealing to popularity as a reason for it being true.
This is where you attack the person, not the argument.
Active and Passive Voice
We discuss active voice in this video versus passive voice is discussed in this video. See what I did there?
This video shows you how to condense awkward sentences.
Reason is Because
This next video shows you why you should avoid the phrase “the reason is…because…”
In this video, avoiding casual language in an academic paper is discussed.
On the flip side, you don’t want to sound too formal.
Here is how to avoid being redundant even though there is a word minimum.
Writing in Science
This is why writing in science is important.
This video talks about the difference between less and fewer. Less isn’t quantifiable while fewer is. Same for much and many, and amount and number respectively.
This video tells all about reflexive pronouns.
This video discusses when to use who versus when to use whom.
For getting through all these wonderful videos, here’s an extra on zombie literature!
Before we talk about how to cite, first watch a video about plagiarizing!
Next, watch a video about how to paraphrase and summarize properly!
Paraphrasing and Summarization
Perhaps the original text has some errors? Here’s how to fix that!
Citing Text with Errors
Tired of writing? Here’s how you can abbreviate the rest of it.
Ect. and Et Al.
Over 2,000 years ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle argued that there were three basic ways to persuade an audience of your position: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is the writer's character or image -- if we believe that a speaker has good sense, good moral character, and goodwill, we are inclined to believe what that speaker says. Logos are logical arguments -- the clarity of the claim, the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. Pathos is emotional appeal, an appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination.
Click on the sections below to find a variety of useful design resources.
Introduction and The Pathos of Graphic Design
In this video, Dave Underwood discusses contrast, white space, rhythm, creative cropping, sublimation, broken borders, civil palettes, tension, and playfulness in graphic design.
You can achieve contrast by putting things on the page that are different in scale, weight, density, hue, form, or elements that are different thematically.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be white, but something about minimalism is inviting and beckoning. It’s great for PowerPoint slides.
This is also known as repetition. It makes your work appear more harmonious.
Creative cropping creates mystery and intrigue, and encourages the viewer to want to learn more.
It’s a way to brand your PowerPoint slides without interfering with content.
It helps composition if elements on the page interact with one another by overlapping like in this photo. This is also known as overlapping elements.
Working with subdued colors rather than over-saturated colors is more appropriate for the academic and corporate worlds. Colourlovers.com is a great resource for color palette ideas.
Tension, or proximity, can be done by tilting an image, by positioning images closer together, or closer to the edge of the composition.
The Rule of Thirds also comes into play here. When filming something like an interview, always put the subject in the upper right corner.
It is important to make your audience think, and you can do that with playfulness.
The Ethos of Graphic Design
Ethos is the art of making the viewer see you as competent and caring. In this video, Dave Underwood discusses the common evils of graphic design.
This is an example of bad graphic design:
As you can see, nothing is aligned in our example, so the page looks chaotic, messy, and fractured. You should work with a grid and a simple alignment strategy.
Avoid clutter like boxing text that does not need borders.
White space is good because white space has an escape; trapped space does not.
Acronyms are never a good idea if you created them with no purpose. Stacking the letters just makes it harder to read.
Most color in the natural world is from the middle two lines, so it is more visually appealing to stick with those.
You can never go wrong with tried and true typefaces.
Use a serif and san serif for contrasting fonts. Serif fonts have little tails (like Times) while sans serif fonts (like Helvetica) do not.
It looks a little crowded and frantic, so make sure you leave enough space.
Here is the redo without the traps of graphic design!
The Logos of Graphic Design
Always make the target obvious with scale, color, weight, or contrast. Avoid a monotone composition; something has to stand out and something has to recede. Think of baiting a hook, and how you can grab your audience. Flow items clockwise. Know when to stop. Without good ideas, good design is simply decoration.