Are you exhausted from the amount of time you’ve put into your college papers? Stressed out about not meeting deadlines? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with the productivity aspect of writing, and it can be overwhelming at times. To help give some advice on avoiding these pressures, we compiled a list of ways to produce better essays while spending less time in the process.
Things you SHOULD NOT DO when writing a paper
- DO NOT use non-scholarly sources and websites. Wikipedia and other web pages like it are great places to get a starting point for your topic, but you shouldn’t rely on their information alone. Use a wide variety of journals, books, and scholarly articles to find support for the arguments you make in your paper.
- DO NOT forget to give credit where it’s due. There is nothing worse than reading a paper that blatantly says, “I found this information on Wikipedia, so I don’t have to cite it.”
- DO NOT write a summary of the purpose of your paper before actually writing it. Writing the introduction can be challenging enough without having to worry about saying what you’re going to say. That’s why most people start with a summary, which breaks up the research, thinking, and writing process. But it’s counterproductive because it confuses what you are trying to say.
- AVOID the formatting madness. There are numerous tricks to use, such as double-spacing and changing your paper’s fonts, but they confuse. Stick with a basic font, font size, and line spacing. Reread your paper before submitting it to make sure it doesn’t look too cluttered or hard to read.
- AVOID filler words. Don’t waste your time trying to make sentences sound more interesting or different because the reader will just skim over them and not care. Keep your sentences simple and clear.
- DO NOT use an overly complicated, confusing, or misleading title. You should be as clear with the title of your paper as you are with its content, if not more so. Keep it short and informative.
- DO NOT make claims you can’t support in the body of your paper. There will be a ton of debate and discussion about some topics you write about, so make sure you can back up your claims.
- DO NOT plagiarize, even if it’s only a little bit. You can easily find websites that will help you turn your work into something new, but don’t take the easy road and just copy/paste together. Learn to paraphrase and summarize, so you don’t have to deal with needing to cite everything.
- DO NOT let your writing get sloppy at the end of your paper. The last paragraph is crucial for wrapping up everything you’ve just said. Make sure it’s cohesive with your previous ideas, and don’t forget to give credit where it’s due!
- DO NOT be so self-important. A paper is not about you; it’s about the topic you are writing about. You should direct the focus to that and not to yourself. The phrases “I” and “me” are commonly used in papers, which will cause confusion. No matter what you feel about the subject matter, make sure your paper is clear and concise.
- DO NOT neglect the rubrics and outlines. You spent all that time writing a paper for a reason, so make sure you use all the tools given to you. If you are writing on a topic you know well, make use of an outline. If not, make sure you use the rubrics to ensure all your points are covered.
- DON’T get sidetracked by your thoughts and ideas. Let your paper guide you, not the other way around! Remember what you are trying to say, as detailed in your outline/rubrics/introduction, and don’t let yourself get carried away by thoughts of how things should be done.
- DO NOT rely on spell-checking tools to fix everything. Spell-checking tools are helpful, but you should spend time proofreading your work carefully to make sure there are no grammatical errors.
These writing tips aren’t very complicated, but it’s surprising how many college students neglect to use them. Just think about your goal when you write a paper and remember that it’s important to get a good grade and learn and understand the information you’ve learned. With this in mind, you shouldn’t have any problem writing a paper that will earn you better grades.