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Writing Tips

College Level Writing

 

College level writing can be challenging even for the best writers. To help you succeed in writing assignments the University Academic Support Office has compiled the following tips to assist you. 

Before You Begin

To achieve the best results with your writing preparing in advance can be helpful. Here are some ideas to try before your first assignment:

Find a Writing "Area": Depending on the type of writer having a specific area could help you to be more productive. It could be a desk in a room, a computer in the library or sitting in the gym on your laptop. The most important part is having the materials that you will need. For a desk you might have paper, post-it notes, a stapler, and other supplies. If your "area" is a travel bag or backpack it might contain the supplies you need and a laptop. The key is having what you need when you need it.

Know Your Campus Resources: To help you with your writing learn what resources are available on campus. Many students overlook the resources offered. At Tiffin University this includes:

  • Writing Tutors: The University Academic Support Office has regular writing assistance provided by peer writing tutors. Tutors are available by appointment or walk-in based on the current schedule for the UAS. 
  • Pfeiffer Library: The Pfeiffer Library can offer research assistance, information on avoiding plagiarism, and a variety of tips for more effective completion of writing assignments. The library also offers regular webinars on a variety of writing and research related topics.
  • Instructor Office Hours: The best resource is your course instructor. Locate their office on campus and note their available hours. When visiting a professor be sure to arrive with specific questions about the writing assignment you are currently working on. 

PLANNING BEFORE YOU WRITE

Completing a writing assignment is a process. Before you begin consider the following:

Carefully Review the Assignment: After receiving the assignment, re-read the instructions to ensure you understand the assignment. If something is unclear or you have questions, reach out ot your instructor.

Think About What You Will Write: Once you understand the assignment consider how you will complete the writing assignment. You may want to think about the following:

  • What is the assignment asking me to write about? 
    • Do I know the topic or will I need to conduct research?
    • Does the assignment ask for personal opinion or is it supposed to be objective?
  • Are there specific requirements in terms of formatting and submission?
    • How will the assignment be submitted? (Print, electronic, email)
    • What are the length requirements?
    • Is a specific format to be used? (APA, MLA, instructor specific)

Create An Outline: An outline can be formal or informal, long or short. By drafting an outline you provide a blueprint for your writing that will be a guide as you complete your writing assignment. To learn more about outlines view the resource guide for Creating Outlines.

Writing Tips

You've thought! You've planned! Now it's time to write! As you look at the blank page or empty computer screen you may feel overwhelmed, underprepared, or many other emotions. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:

Stick to the Plan: If you have an outline, begin there. Turn the brief phrases or the collection of sentences (depending on the outline) into paragraphs. Once you have a few paragraphs you can begin molding an essay.

Don't Know Where to Start: Okay, so you don't have an outline and you need to get started. You are trying to craft the perfect introduction but you can't get words onto the page. Write down the main idea you are focusing on at the top of the page, then skip to your first body paragraph. Sometimes writing the body of the essay is easier. Once that is done, come back write your intro, then your conclusion.

Take Small Breaks: When writing a longer assignment take small breaks. Stand, stretch, get a drink. Changing position and stepping away can allow you just enough time to recharge. After about 10 minutes, return to work.

Budget Your Time: When you have an assignment plan to work on it over a series of days (if possible). Set goals for each day. If you can, try to slightly exceed the goal and get yourself ahead of schedule. As an example, if you have seven days to complete a paper, plan on working on it everyday for four days, then put it away for at least 24 hours. On day five and six you revise and then submit your paper. If you meet or exceed the schedule, reward yourself.

After You Write

You typed the last period and are ready to be done but first there are a few things you should check. Here are a few suggestions for improving your paper.

Have Someone Else Read Over the Draft: If you started early you will have at least a day or more for others to read and offer suggestions. This helps catch errors that you might no see because you are familiar with the writing. Your brain is familiar with what you are trying to say so it may ignore errors that are close to a familiar pattern. An outside reader is more likely to catch these errors and help you fix your paper. To help the process here are a few questions you can ask a reviewer:

  • What do they think is the main idea of the paper?

 Asking this question allows you to find out if they reader of the paper understands/identifies the main idea. If they don't identify the same main idea then you need to determine why. You may need to clarify your main point.

  • Are there sections of the paper that were unclear or that they didn't understand?

If they answer yes to this question it could indicate a section of the paper that needs revision to help the reader understand. 

  • Are there sections of the paper that need further explanation, more detail, etc.?

This can indicate areas where the designated audience for your paper may have trouble. By revising these areas you