8 Tips For Writing A Paper (From an English Major)

Spring break is coming up, and it’s not secret that midterms can be almost as dreading as finals. However, I’m going to share my top tips for perfecting the paper to secure the A before you spend a week on the beach!

  1. Research, brainstorm, plan:

    This should be the first step, always. A paper doesn’t just appear from hopeful thinking, it takes actual thinking to formulate a structure and a direction. If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic, pick something you want to spend hours researching and writing about, for goodness sake.

 

  1. Find the sources:

    Odds are, you’ll have to do a little background research for the topic, and this doesn’t have to be the traditional online scholarly article - think outside the box! Interviews, podcasts, documentaries, newspapers, magazines, museums, etc are all good examples of research that will impress your professor - they’re tired of the scholarly articles too!

 

  1. Make an outline and organize:

    There are so many examples of good outlines, and this can make or break your plan. I recommend actually checking Pinterest for inspiration of paper organization - but try not to get distracted (or just a limited amount of distraction).

 

  1. Email your professors with any question:

    Yes, even the smallest thing will make the difference in the paper - a little secret too, even if I can’t think of a question I actually have, I’ll make one up. Emailing the professor shows you care, and are spending time on their assignment. They’ll keep this in mind later on.

  1. Give yourself time:

    I know, I know, even I am guilty of cramming a paper - but it’s important to give yourself enough time so you can write a worthy, and sensible paper that meets the requirements. \

 

  1. Edit and proofread:

    This is the worst part of writing, in poetry, nonfiction, fiction, screenwriting, research writing, you name it. Nobody likes to edit their work, and spellcheck covers everything, right? Sometimes this isn’t the case, and even if you’re turning in a fifteen-pager, plan out enough time to re-read.

 

  1. Put page numbers:

    This is a small tip, but an important one. Some professors will take off points for a lack of page numbers.

 

  1. Perfect the Bibliography and Works Cited:

    This is the last and final part of the paper, and one of the things a professor may look at first. If it’s obvious that you haven’t spent time on Works Cited or it’s inaccurate, then your teacher might not even read the rest of the essay. Be sure that this part is perfect.

Overall, follow these steps and you should be just fine, and on the plane before you know it!