Tips on Paper Writing


  1. Have an opening paragraph that introduces the question you are going to address. The final sentence of this paragraph would normally state the thesis of your paper — i.e. it tells the reader the conclusion that you will be arguing toward.
  2. Make sure that the ideas in each paragraph are closely related to each other. You should be able to sum up in a single sentence or phrase what each paragraph is about.
  3. Make sure that each paragraph is related to the paragraph that comes before it and the paragraph that follows it. It should normally be apparent to the reader how your paper is moving toward the thesis you have stated in your opening paragraph.
  4. In summarizing an author's position, be sure to cite material from the text to support what you say. This may either be by means of judiciously chosen quotations that reinforce your account of the author, or by simply citing the place in the text where the author says what you claim that he or she says. In most cases, the latter is preferable because it is more concise.
  5. There are several ways in which you might criticize what an author says:
  6. When ascribing a particular position or view to an author, make sure that it is the author's own view, and not a view that the author is describing that he or she will later go on to criticize and/or reject.
  7. In putting forward your own position, you should as much as possible make arguments in support of your views.
  8. In arguing for your own position, try thinking of it, at least initially, as a logical syllogism. The classic example of a syllogism is:
  9. Personal stories can be used to lend rhetorical force to your arguments, but normally they are no substitute for argumentation.