Sitting down to write a paper, thesis, or dissertation can be a really intimidating experience. First you have to choose a topic, a thesis, gather information, cite your information and then write the entire thing. It’s not the easiest task, but it doesn’t have to crush your soul either. In fact, there are simple steps you can take to make your writing experience precise, productive, and dare I say, entertaining. At Horizons University, we also have a commitment to producing written works in accordance with the APA style formatting for papers. Here are some tips to get you started with your professional writing endeavors!
For example purposes we’re going to write a paper about coffee.
Step One: Shake It Off, Line It Up
Before getting started jump around, shake your body, do some jumping jacks. Have you done them? Good. Now, sit down. We’re going to talk about how to outline your paper before beginning. A typical paper has an introduction (depending on the length of the paper it can be anywhere from a paragraph to a page or two). The introduction serves to introduce the topic to the reader. What are the main points you want to touch on and what is some background you can provide someone who isn’t well versed on your topic? Always write as if the reader is someone who knows nothing about your subject. Then organize the main points or chapters you’ll have in your paper to line up in a fluid order. Each sub-topic/chapter of your paper so have its own list of bullet points. Finishing with a conclusion (serving as a summary of what you’ve discussed as well as ). Having an outline will help you with structure, as well as where to insert your citations throughout the paper (make your reference/works cited document as you go! It’s a pain to go back and try to make sure you’ve included everyone when the paper is written!!!). Don’t forget to mark where you’ll be adding tables and charts!
Example/ Intro: Coffee
- Coffee is a drink coming from many parts of the world
- popular social culture
- has physical effects on the body
- Thesis: It can be proven that coffee is the greatest drink in the world, with amazing business potential.
History of Coffee:
- origin of coffee
- first ever coffee shops
- coffee in everyday life
Dive deeper into physical effects
- chemical makeup of coffee
- how it works
- caffeine intake/effects
- Addictive tendencies
Ways to make coffee
- grinding the beans
- french press
- filtered coffee
- spanish coffee maker
Top Grossing Coffee Companies* (according to: http://www.therichest.com/business/companies-business/the-five-largest-coffee-shop-chains-on-earth/)
- McCafé (insert table)
- Costa Coffee
- Tim Hortons
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Starbucks (chart of success rate and production, as well as how often chains open)
- Lot of competition in the coffee industry
- reiterate why people like it so much (the benefits)
- While it should be consumed in moderation, it’s still the greatest in the world.
Step Two: Research
It’s important that throughout the writing process you are constantly researching. While researching, it is important that you consistently record where you read information. Whether it be an article online, or from a book it is imperative that with every citation, quote, table, or fact you want to use in your paper that you know exactly where the information came from and “when” for validity purposes of the data. My suggestion is to be keeping a dedicated recording space for all citations (there are plenty of sources online including Zotero, and Noodlebib among others). This will make the final editing easier so you don’t have to go back once you’ve quoted something and try to rediscover where you read it the first time (a good way to do this is by tagging your files, keeping a general document of sources, and the date you accessed them-if they are online.)
Step Three: Just write
There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. In fact, more often than not there are ONLY pretty awful first drafts. But that isn’t a reason to be discouraged! By getting all of your ideas flowing and onto the page you rid yourself of the pressure to be perfect the first time. Anything worth reading has been editted and altered many times. So, follow that timeline and get all of your thoughts out of your head and onto your computer screen! See our previous newsletter on “Writer’s Block” if you’re having trouble getting your creative juices flowing! Here’s a link so you can subscribe at the bottom of the page, if you haven’t done so already!
Step Four: Proofread
Proofread section by section. That will make the overall task of revising your paper less daunting. Be sure look out for any grammar mistakes. Including the use of commas, colons, semi-colons, quotes and parentheses. This is also an excellent opportunity to check to see if your citations are accurate. Do you reference where you’re supposed to? Do your paragraphs flow together with easy-to-follow transitions?
Step Five: APA Format!
- To get you started on the right foot here are a few simple formatting tips
- Font: Times New Roman 12 pt. font (exception made for tables and figures 8pt.-14 pt.)
- Double Space. Not extra space after headings.
- A margin of 1inch (2.54cm)
- ½ inch (5 spaces) indentation at the beginning of paragraphs
- SPACE TWICE AFTER PUNCTUATION MARKS AT THE END OF A SENTENCE!*** Make sure you are doing this as you go along!
- Include Headings for each section/chapter, as well as a running heading that goes across the top of each page. It is a short header, an abbreviated version of the title of your paper.
Hopefully this gets you started with writing your papers! Remember any questions can be referred to me, Danielle, as the Chief Editor of the writing center. I’d be happy to send you any further documents to help you get started!
Chief Editor of the Writing Center