How to write a good paper

Once you hit a certain point in the education system, writing papers becomes a regular event. Interpretations of books, summaries of current event, oral reports, history reports, science projects, application essays, and so many more different types of essays and reports that need to be done.

Follow these guidelines to give your papers and essays the edge, photo by  See-ming Lee

Follow these guidelines to give your papers and essays the edge, photo by See-ming Lee

There are certain constants to all of these, basic foundation rules to writing a good paper, no matter what specific type it is, no matter what level of education you are in (junior high through post graduate), no matter if you go to a classroom or go to school on line.

The Proper Format – Learn the rules for the kind of paper you are writing, and follow them to the letter. Sounds easy right? It is, so there’s no excuse not to do it. Never hand write anything, always type. Always double space. What’s the word limit? Make sure you meet that limit. Spell everything correctly – something that’s especially easy these days, with a spellchecker in every kind of word processing program.

When you follow the proper format, your final result will be neat, proper, and easy on the eyes. Even if the paper itself it an incomprehensible mess, it will look good, and that will get you some points.

What is it that you’re saying exactly? – Every paper has a theme or thesis. The thesis is usually no more than a single sentence, it’s the core idea of your entire essay, summing up your underlying principle. If you don’t have a thesis, you don’t have a paper or report, you just have a bunch of sentences strung together.

Make your theme or thesis concise and easy to defend. It doesn’t have to be right, or good, just for heaven’s sake select something concrete so you have a foundation to build upon. If you don’t know the thesis, your paper will be a mess, so know your argument before you start the paper.

Use your references (and cite them) – Very few papers are opinion based. Every other kind of essay needs references: where did you get your information? Quotes, ideas, statistics, make sure to keep a bibliography of all the books, articles, and websites you used to gather your information.

And feel free to use these references frequently, and to assign proper citation. A paper with many cited references looks good, polished, and well researched, and a paper with no cited references looks suspicious. The great thing about academia is that it feeds on itself – it isn’t stealing ideas, it’s using other people ideas to back up your own arguments. Don’t shy from it, embrace it. References are your friend.

Keep it simple – A paper is no different from any other assignment, but the creative aspect of it makes it seem different. It isn’t. Follow your assignment, and don’t try and get too fancy with it. Your teacher will have a lot of papers to grade and review, so pick your theme, stick to it, follow the proper format, cite your references, and get it in on time. Do all of that, and your paper will turn out just fine.

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