Make Scholarly Essay

1. Thesis:  your main insight or idea about a text or topic, and the main proposition that your essay demonstrates.  It should be true but arguable (not obviously or patently true, but one alternative among several), limited enough in scope to be argued in a short composition and with available evidence, and central to the topic you are discussing(not peripheral).  The entire essay should be relevant to it.  Note: some explanatory or descriptive essays or papers may not require a thesis as described here.  In some kinds of writing, the thesis always comes at the beginning of the essay.  In some, it can appear elsewhere.  If the thesis does not appear at the beginning of the essay, or if the essay is not argumentative, agenda (see next element) becomes especially important as a way of rendering the essay coherent.  Make sure you know what kind of essay you are expected to write, and how much leeway you have, before you begin work. 

2.  Agendawhat you are accomplishing for your readers with your analysis, description, or argument—not so much what you are saying as what you are doing, in your essay, by saying it. From the start of the essay, and throughout, a clear demonstration of agenda provides a compelling motive for a particular kind of reader (you must determine what kind of reader this is) to read. Your agenda thus won't necessarily emphasize your own interest in a topic--your own idiosyncratic motivation or desire, which could just be completing an assignment.   Your articulation of agenda is what you say to show that your essay accomplishes something worthwhile for others interested in your topic.

In the case of an argumentative essay (an essay with a thesis), agenda often involves the word "but" or equivalent, since, in articulating an agenda for such an essay, you will probably be showing why your argument isn't obvious but requires demonstration or elaboration; how it is useful insofar as it reveals something different from what others might know, expect, or say; how it speaks to a puzzle or conflict that others might experience; or how it has a larger implication that others might not immediately see. Especially in the case of an argumentative essay, these "others"—imagined or actual—shouldn't be dummies; you need to make clear that their misapprehension or rival claim can be argued for. In other words, there is a plausible counter-argument to your argument, which you must answer, and not just a flimsy counter-claim. Or there is the likelihood of puzzlement or uncertainty on the part of your intelligent readers, who might overlook what you have discovered.  

In the case of an essay in which you are not advancing a particular thesis, your agenda may simply involve providing your readers with a clear sense of what you are doing--a sense of direction--from the beginning of the essay to the end.  Perhaps what you are explaining is especially difficult to understand, and your work is designed to make it accessible. Perhaps you are describing how something works or providing a description of an event or process from a certain point of view that will be of interest to your readers.

3. Evidence:  the data—facts, examples, or details—that cite, discuss, quote, or summarize to support your thesis. There needs to be enough evidence to be persuasive; it needs to be the right kind of evidence to support the thesis (with no pertinent, important evidence overlooked, especially if such evidence tends to counter your argument); it needs to be sufficiently concrete for the reader to trust it (e.g. in textual analysis, it often helps to find one or two key or representative passages to quote and focus on); and if summarized, it needs to be summarized  accurately and fairly.  

4. Analysis:  the work of breaking down, interpreting, and commenting upon the data, of saying what can be inferred from the data such that it supports a thesis (is evidence for something).   Analysis is what you do with data when you go beyond observing or summarizing it:  you show how its parts contribute to a whole or how causes contribute to an effect; you draw out the significance or implication not apparent to a superficial view.  Analysis is what makes the writer feel present, as a reasoning individual; so your essay should do more analyzing than summarizing or quoting.  

5. Key termsthe recurring terms or basic conceptual oppositions upon which your argument rests, usually literal but sometimes metaphorical. An essay’s key terms should be clear in meaning (defined if necessary) and appear throughout (not be abandoned half-way); they should be appropriate for the subject at hand (not unfair or too simple, e.g. implying a false or constraining opposition); and they should not be inert clichés or abstractions (e.g. “the evils of society”).

6. Assumptionsthe underlying beliefs about life, people, history, reasoning, etc. that are implied by the key terms or by the logic of an argument. As a writer, you will inevitably make assumptions.  Some of these you can take for granted and assume that your reader will too (e.g. the belief that valid evidence for a claim makes it more likely to be true), but wherever your assumptions are arguable or unclear (e.g. whether a certain piece of evidence validly counts as evidence in a particular case) they should be brought out and acknowledged.  Note that insofar as assumptions are are broadly held cultural beliefs, writers and readers may often fail to notice that they are making them, so writing well often requires attention to others' assumptions, as well as one's own.  Where such assumptions are debatable, exploring them can lead to effective analysis, as well as a thesis with a compelling agenda.

7.  Structure:  the sequence of main sections or sub-topics, and the turning points between them.  The sections should follow a logical order, and the links in that order should be apparent to the reader (see “stitching”).  But it should also be a progressive order—there should have a direction of development or complication, not be simply a list or a series of restatements of the thesis (“Macbeth is ambitious:  he’s ambitious here; and he’s ambitious here; and he’s ambitions here, too; thus, Macbeth is ambitious”) [or even, “Cancer clusters are misleading: they are misleading here; they are misleading here, and they are misleading here, too; thus, cancer clusters are misleading.”]  And the order should be supple enough to allow the writer to explore the topic, not just hammer home a thesis.  (If the essay is complex or long, its structure may be briefly announced or hinted at after the thesis, in a road-map or plan sentence.)

8. Transitions:  language that ties together the parts of an argument, most commonly (a) by using linking or turning words as signposts to indicate how a new section, paragraph, or sentence follows from the one immediately previous; but also (b) by recollection of an earlier idea or part of the essay, referring to it either by explicit statement or by echoing key terms or resonant phrases quoted or stated earlier.  The repeating of key or thesis concepts, or the clarification of or emphasis on agenda, is especially helpful at points of transition from one section to another, to show how the new section fits in.

9. Sources:  persons or documents, referred to, summarized, or quoted, that help a writer demonstrate the truth of his or her argument.  They are typically sources of (a) factual information or data, (b) opinions or interpretation on your topic, (c) comparable versions of the thing you are discussing, or (d) applicable general concepts.  Your sources need to be efficiently integrated and fairly acknowledged by citation.

10. Orienting:  bits of information, explanation, and summary that orient the reader who isn’t expert in the subject, enabling such a reader to follow the argument.  The orienting question is, what does my reader need here?  The answer can take many forms:  necessary information about the text, author, or event (e.g. given in your introduction); a summary of a text or passage about to be analyzed; pieces of information given along the way about passages, people, or events mentioned (including announcing or “set-up” phrases for quotations and sources).  The trick is to orient briefly and gracefully.

11. Stance:  the implied relationship of you, the writer, to your readers and subject:  how and where you implicitly position yourself as an analyst.  Stance is defined by such features as style and tone (e.g. familiar or formal); the presence or absence of specialized language and knowledge; the amount of time spent orienting a general, non-expert reader; the use of scholarly conventions of form and style. Your stance should be established within the first few paragraphs of your essay, and it should remain consistent.  

12. Style: the choices you make of words and sentence structure.  In scholarly writing designed to speak to a wide variety of educated readers (as opposed to specialize readers well-versed in the vocabulary of a particular discipline),  style should be exact and clear (should bring out main idea and action of each sentence, not bury it) and plain without being flat (should be graceful and perhaps, at moments, interesting, without being stuffy overdone).  Your style must depend on the kind of writing you are being asked to do, so, as with thesis, make sure you understand what kind of writing this is as you begin your project. 

*Adopted and modified, with the author's permission, by James Berg, with help from FYS instructors, from Gordon Harvey's "Elements of the Academic Essay."Harvey's elements emphasize argumentation, though most of them apply to essays that purport to be purely descriptive or analytical as well, and they are modified here so as to realize that potential. As stated, these elements probably do not apply to fiction-writing or poetry.

NOTE: If you find any or all of these elements helpful, you should feel free to use them in your classes and modify them for your own purposes, but please be cognizant that they are copyrighted, and do not reproduce them, except on your class websites and syllabi.

Writing for College

How It Differs From Writing in High School

One of the first things you'll discover as a college student is that writing in college is different from writing in high school. Certainly a lot of what your high school writing teachers taught you will be useful to you as you approach writing in college: you will want to write clearly, to have an interesting and arguable thesis, to construct paragraphs that are coherent and focused, and so on.

Still, many students enter college relying on writing strategies that served them well in high school but that won't serve them well here. Old formulae, such as the five-paragraph theme, aren't sophisticated or flexible enough to provide a sound structure for a college paper. And many of the old tricks - such as using elevated language or repeating yourself so that you might meet a ten-page requirement - will fail you now.

So how does a student make a successful transition from high school to college?

The first thing that you'll need to understand is that writing in college is for the most part a particular kind of writing, called "academic writing." While academic writing might be defined in many ways, there are three concepts that you need to understand before you write your first academic paper.

1. Academic writing is writing done by scholars for other scholars. Writing done by scholars for scholars? Doesn't that leave you out? Actually, it doesn't. Now that you are in college you are part of a community of scholars. As a college student, you will be engaged in activities that scholars have been engaged in for centuries: you will read about, think about, argue about, and write about great ideas. Of course, being a scholar requires that you read, think, argue, and write in certain ways. Your education will help you to understand the expectations, conventions, and requirements of scholarship. If you read on, so will this Web site.

2. Academic writing is devoted to topics and questions that are of interest to the academic community. When you write an academic paper, you must first try to find a topic or a question that is relevant and appropriate - not only to you, but to the academic community of which you are now a part. But how do you know when a topic is relevant and appropriate to this community? First of all, pay attention to what your professor is saying. She will certainly be giving you a context into which you can place your questions and observations. Second, understand that your paper should be of interest to other students and scholars. Remember that academic writing must be more than personal response. You must write something that your readers will find useful. In other words, you will want to write something that helps your reader to better understand your topic, or to see it in a new way.

3. This brings us to our final point: Academic writing should present the reader with an informed argument. To construct an informed argument, you must first try to sort out what you know about a subject from what you think about a subject. Or, to put it another way, you will want to consider what is known about a subject and then to determine what you think about it. If your paper fails to inform, or if it fails to argue, then it will fail to meet the expectations of the academic reader.

Constructing An Informed Argument

What You Know

When you sit down to write an academic paper, you'll first want to consider what you know about your topic. Different writing assignments require different degrees of knowing. A short paper written in response to a viewing of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, for example, may not require you to be familiar with Hitchcock's other works. It may not even require you to have mastered the terms important to film criticism - though clearly any knowledge you bring to the film might help you to make a thoughtful response to it.

However, if you are asked to write an academic paper on the film, then you will want to know more. You will want to have certain terms in hand so that you can explain what Hitchcock is doing in key moments. You will want to be familiar with Hitchcock's other films so that you can understand what themes are important to him and his work. Moreover, if you are watching this film in an upper-level film class, you will want to be aware of different critical perspectives on Hitchcock's films and on films in general, so that you can "place" your argument within the larger ongoing conversation.

When you sit down to write an academic paper, ask yourself these questions:

What do I know about my topic?

  • Can I answer the questions who, what, when, where, why, how?
  • What do I know about the context of my topic?
  • What historical or cultural influences do I know about that might be important to my topic?
  • Does my topic belong to any particular genre or category of topics?
  • What do I know about this genre?

What seems important to me about this topic?

  • If I were to summarize what I know about this topic, what points would I focus on?
  • What points seem less important?
  • Why do I think so?

How does this topic relate to other things that I know?

  • What do I know about the topic that might help my reader to understand it in new ways?

What DON'T I know about my topic?

  • What do I need to know?
  • How can I find out more?

What You Think

You'll discover as you consider the questions listed above that you are moving beyond what you know about a topic and are beginning to consider what you think. In the process of really thinking about your topic, your aim is to come up with a fresh observation. After all, it's not enough to summarize in a paper what is already known and talked about. You must also add something of your own to the conversation.

Understand, however, that "adding something of your own" is not an invitation simply to bring your own personal associations, reactions, or experiences to the reading of a text. To create an informed argument, you must first recognize that your writing should be analytical rather than personal. In other words, your writing must show that your associations, reactions, and experiences of a text have been framed in a critical, rather than a personal, way.

How does one move from personal response to analytical writing?

Summarize.

First, summarize what the primary text is saying. You'll notice that you can construct several different summaries, depending on your agenda. Returning to the example of Hitchcock's film, you might make a plot summary, a summary of its themes, a summary of its editing, and so on. You can also summarize what you know about the film in context. In other words, you might write a summary of the difficulties Hitchcock experienced in the film's production, or you might write a summary of how this particular movie complements or challenges other films in the Hitchcock canon. You can also summarize what others have said about the film. Film critics have written much about Hitchcock, his films, and their genre. Try to summarize all that you know.

Evaluate.

The process of evaluation is an ongoing one. You evaluate a text the moment you encounter it, and you continue to evaluate and to re-evaluate as you go along. Evaluating a text is different from simply reacting to a text. When you evaluate for an academic purpose, it is important to be able to clearly articulate and to support your own personal response. What in the text is leading you to respond a certain way? What's not in the text that might be contributing to your response? Watching Hitchcock's film, you are likely to have found yourself feeling anxious, caught up in the film's suspense. What in the film is making you feel this way? The editing? The acting? Can you point to a moment in the film that is particularly successful in creating suspense? In asking these questions, you are straddling two intellectual processes: experiencing your own personal response, and analyzing the text.

Analyze. 

Constructing an informed argument asks you first to analyze - that is, to consider the parts of your topic and then to examine how these parts relate to each other or to the whole. To analyze Hitchcock's film, you may want to break the film down by examining particular scenes, point of view, camera movements, and so on. In short, you'll want to ask: What are the components of Hitchcock's film, and how do these components contribute to the film's theme? How do they contribute to Hitchcock's work as a whole? When you analyze, you break the whole into parts so that you might see the whole differently. In the process of analysis, you find things that you might say.

Synthesize.

When you analyze, you break down a text into its parts. When you synthesize, you look for connections between ideas. Consider once again the Hitchcock film. In analyzing this film, you might come up with elements that seem initially disparate. You may have some observations that at first don't seem to gel. Or you may have read various critical perspectives on the film, all of them in disagreement with one another. Now would be the time to consider whether these disparate elements or observations might be reconciled, or synthesized. This intellectual exercise requires that you create an umbrella argument - some larger argument under which several observations and perspectives might stand.

Choosing An Appropriate Topic

Many students writing in college have trouble figuring out what constitutes an appropriate topic. Sometimes the professor will provide you with a prompt. She will give you a question to explore, or a problem to resolve. When you are given a prompt by your professor, be sure to read it carefully. Your professor is setting the parameters of the assignment for you. She is telling you what sort of paper will be appropriate.

In many cases, however, the professor won't provide you with a prompt. She might not even give you a topic. For example, in a psychology course you might be asked to write a paper on any theory or theories of self. Your professor has given you a subject, but she has not given you a topic. Nor has she told you what the paper should look like. Should it summarize one of the theories of self? Should it compare two or more theories? Should it place these theories into some historical context? Should it take issue with these theories, pointing out their limitations?

At this juncture, you have two options: talk to the professor and see what her expectations are, or figure out this matter for yourself. It's always a good idea to talk with the professor. At the very least, you'll want to find out if the professor wants a report or a paper. In other words, is your professor looking for information or argument?

Chances are she'll want you to make an argument. It will be up to you to narrow your topic and to make sure that it's appropriately academic. As you think about a topic, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you formed an intellectual question? In other words, have you constructed a question that will require a complex, thoughtful answer?
  • Is the question provocative? Startling? Controversial? Fresh?
  • Will you be able to answer this question adequately in a few pages? Or is the question impossibly broad?
  • If the question seems broad, how might you narrow it?
  • Does your question address both text and context? In other words, have you considered the historical and cultural circumstances that influenced this text? Have you considered what other scholars have said about it?
  • Will your reader care about this question? Or will she say, "So what?"

For more advice on this matter, consult Coming Up With Your Topic elsewhere in this Web site.

Finding a Rhetorical Stance

When writing an academic paper, you must not only consider what you want to say, you must also consider to whom you are saying it. In other words, it's important to determine not only what you think about a topic, but also what your audience is likely to think. What are your audience's biases? Values? Expectations? Knowledge? To whom are you writing, and for what purpose?

When you begin to answer all of these questions, you have started to reckon with what has been called "the rhetorical stance." "Rhetorical stance" refers to the position you take as a writer in terms of the subject and the reader of your paper.

Consider Your Position

Let's first consider your relationship to your topic. When you write a paper, you take a stand on a topic. You determine whether you are for or against, passionate or cool-headed. You determine whether you are going to view this topic through a particular perspective (feminist, for example), or whether you are going to make a more general response. You also determine whether you are going to analyze your topic through the lens of a particular discipline - history, for example. Your stance on the topic depends on the many decisions you have made in the reading and thinking processes.

In order to make sure that your stance on a topic is appropriately analytical, you might want to ask yourself some questions. Begin by asking why you've taken this particular stance. Why did you find some elements of the text more important than others? Does this prioritizing reflect some bias or preconception on your part? If you dismissed part of a text as boring or unimportant, why did you do so? Do you have personal issues or experiences that lead you to be impatient with certain claims? Is there any part of your response to the text that might cause your reader to discount your paper as biased or un-critical? If so, you might want to reconsider your position on your topic.

Consider Your Audience

Your position on a topic does not by itself determine your rhetorical stance. You must also consider your reader. In the college classroom, the audience is usually the professor or your classmates - although occasionally your professor will instruct you to write for a more particular or more general audience. No matter who your reader is, you will want to consider him carefully before you start to write.

What do you know about your reader and his stance towards your topic? What is he likely to know about the topic? What biases is he likely to have? Moreover, what effect do you hope to have on the reader? Is your aim to be controversial? Informative? Entertaining? Will the reader appreciate or resent your intention?

Once you have determined who your reader is, you will want to consider how you might best reach him. If, for example, you are an authority on a subject and you are writing to readers who know little or nothing about it, then you'll want to take an informative stance. If you aren't yet confident about a topic, and you have more questions than answers, you might want to take an inquisitive stance.

In any case, when you are deciding on a rhetorical stance, choose one that allows you to be sincere. You don't want to take an authoritative stance on a subject if you aren't confident about what you are saying. On the other hand, you can't avoid taking a position on a subject: nothing is worse than reading a paper in which the writer has refused to take a stance. What if you are of two minds on a subject? Declare that to the reader. Make ambivalence your clear rhetorical stance.

Finally, don't write simply to please your professor. Though some professors find it flattering to discover that all of their students share their positions on a subject, most of us are hoping that your argument will engage us by telling us something new about your topic - even if that "something new" is simply a fresh emphasis on a minor detail. Moreover, it is impossible for you to replicate the "ideal paper" that exists in your professor's head. When you try, you risk having your analysis compared to your professor's. Do you really want that to happen?

Considering Structure

In high school you might have been taught various strategies for structuring your papers. Some of you might have been raised on the five paragraph theme, in which you introduce your topic, come up with three supporting points, and then conclude by repeating what you've already said. Others of you might have been told that the best structure for a paper is the hour-glass model, in which you begin with a general statement, make observations that are increasingly specific, and then conclude with a statement that is once again general.

When you are writing papers in college, you will require structures that will support ideas that are more complex than the ones you considered in high school. Your professors might offer you several models for structuring your paper. They might tell you to order your information chronologically or spatially, depending on whether you are writing a paper for a history class or a course in art history. Or they may provide you with different models for argument: compare and contrast, cause and effect, and so on. But remember: the structure for your argument will in the end be determined by the content itself. No prefab model exists that will provide adequate structure for the academic argument. (For more detailed advice on various ways to structure your paper, see Writing: Considering Structure and Organization.)

When creating an informed argument, you will want to rely on several organizational strategies, but you will want to keep some general advice in mind.

Introductions:

Your introduction should accomplish two things: it should declare your argument, and it should place your argument within the larger, ongoing conversation about your topic. Often writers will do the latter before they do the former. That is, they will begin by summarizing what other scholars have said about their topic, and then they will declare what they are adding to the conversation. Even when your paper is not a research paper you will be expected to introduce your argument as if into a larger conversation. "Place" your argument for your reader by naming the text, the author, the issues it raises, and your take on these issues. (For more specific advice on writing a good introduction, see Introductions and Conclusions.)

Thesis Sentence:

Probably you were taught in high school that every paper must have a declared thesis, and that this sentence should appear at the end of the introduction. While this advice is sound, a thesis is sometimes implied rather than declared in a text, and it can appear almost anywhere - if the writer is skillful.

Whether your thesis appears at the end of the introduction or the end of your paper, it must make an arguable claim -  that is, it should declare something that is interesting and debatable. Because your thesis is arguably the most important sentence in your paper, you will want to read more about it in Developing Your Thesis.

The Other Side(s):

Because every thesis presents an arguable point, you as a writer are obligated to acknowledge in your paper the other side(s) of an argument. Consider what your opponents might say against your argument. Then determine where and how you want to deal with the opposition. Do you want to dismiss the opposition in the first paragraph? Do you want to list each opposing argument and rebut them one by one? Your decisions will determine how you structure your paper.

Supporting Paragraphs:

Every convincing argument must have support. Your argument's support will be organized in your paper's paragraphs. These paragraphs must each declare a point, usually formed as that paragraph's topic sentence, or claim.

A topic sentence or claim is like a thesis sentence - except that instead of announcing the argument of the entire paper, it announces the argument of that particular paragraph. In this way, the topic sentence controls the paper's evidence. The topic sentence is more flexible than the thesis in that it can more readily appear in different places within the paragraph. Most often, however, it appears at or near the beginning. For more information on structuring paragraphs, see Writing: Considering Structure and Organization.

Conclusions:

Writing a good conclusion is difficult. You will want to sum up, but you will want to do more than say what you have already said. You will want to leave the reader with something to think about, but you will want to avoid preaching. You might want to point to a new idea or question, but you risk confusing the reader by introducing something that he finds irrelevant. Writing conclusions is, in part, a matter of finding the proper balance. For more instruction on how to write a good conclusion, see Introductions and Conclusions.

Using Appropriate Tone and Style

OK: you think you understand what's required of you in an academic paper. You need to be analytical. Critical. You need to create an informed argument. You need to consider your relationship to your topic and to your reader. But what about the matter of finding an appropriate academic tone and style?

The tone and style of academic writing might at first seem intimidating. But they needn't be. Professors want students to write clearly and intelligently on matters that they, the students, care about. What professors DON'T want is imitation scholarship - that is, exalted gibberish that no one cares about. If the student didn't care to write the paper, the professor probably won't care to read it. The tone of an academic paper, then, must be inviting to the reader, even while it maintains an appropriate academic style.

Remember: professors are human beings, capable of boredom, laughter, irritation, and awe. Understand that you are writing to a person who is delighted when you make your point clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Understand, too, that she is less delighted when you have inflated your prose, pumped up your page count, or tried to impress her by using terms that you didn't take the time to understand.

In short, then, good academic writing follows the rules of good writing. If you'd like to know more about how to improve your academic style, please see Attending to Style, elsewhere in this Web site. But before you do, consider some of the following tips, designed to make the process of writing an academic paper go more smoothly:

  • Rely on evidence over feeling. You may be very passionate about a subject, but that's no excuse to allow rhetoric alone to carry the ball. Even if you have constructed some very pretty phrases to argue against genetic engineering, they won't mean much to your professor unless you back those pretty phrases with facts.
  • Watch your personal pronouns. Students often wonder if it's OK to use the pronouns "I" and "you" in a paper. In fact, it is OK - provided you use them understanding their effect.  For example, overusing the "I" might make the reader feel that your paper is overly subjective. In fact, when a writer too often invokes himself in the first person, he may be doing so to avoid offering proof: "It's my own personal opinion, and I have a right to it. I don't have to defend it." But of course, he does. As to using the pronoun "you": Do you really want to aim a remark directly at the reader? Doing so draws the reader closer to the text and invites a more subjective (and sometimes more intensely critical) response. If this kind of response is what you want, then by all means employ the "you."  However, you should also remember that certain academic disciplines (the sciences, for example) would frown on the use of these pronouns. When in doubt, ask.
  • Watch your gendered pronouns. When you write, you'll want to make sure that you don't do anything to make your readers feel excluded. If you use "he" and "him" all the time, you are excluding half of your potential readership. We'll acknowledge that the he/she solution is a bit cumbersome in writing. However, you might solve the problem as we have done in this document: by alternating "he" and "she" throughout. Other writers advocate always using "she" instead of "he" as a way of acknowledging a long-standing exclusion of women from texts. Whatever decision you make in the end, be sensitive to its effect on your readers.
  • Be aware of discipline-specific differences. Each of the academic disciplines has its own way of constructing knowledge, of organizing that knowledge, of using evidence, and of communicating within the field.  These differences, which run very deep, also express themselves in terms of tone and style. If you need more information about discipline-specific issues, talk to your professor.  Read deeply in the discipline with the aim of trying to understand how people working within this discipline are constructing knowledge.  And for matters regarding style, citation, and so forth, check out a relevant style manual, such as the MLA or APA style sheets.
  • Avoid mechanical errors. No matter what audience you're writing for, you'll want to produce text that is error-free. Errors in grammar and style slow your reader down. Sometimes they even obscure your meaning. Always proofread your text before passing it on to your reader. If you find that you are making a lot of errors and want help with grammar and style, consult a handbook or see Attending to Grammar and Attending to Style elsewhere in this Web site. You might also contact RWIT for help.
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