- Make it brief: If you can say it with one word, don’t write a whole sentence.
- Avoid jargon and slang: If you are learning new vocabulary or nomenclature in the class for which you are writing a paper, by all means use it. However, using complex terminology from your Bio or Chem class to impress a humanities instructor may backfire, and probably won’t earn you an “A.”
- Consider your audience: Who will be reading your paper? Tailor your writing style to your audience (see #2).
- Outline or plan what you want to say: It’s not always necessary to create a formal outline. Mind maps and informal outlines work well as a guide for your composition. Just remember–it’s important to keep your paper coherent, and an outline will enhance that process.
- Avoid using the dreaded “passive voice”: Make the actor the subject of your sentence. Whenever possible, avoid using the “to be” verbs: is, are, was and were. Incorporate action verbs instead.
- Narrow your topic: Don’t try to fit everything into your paper. If you have a large topic, pick one aspect to cover and explore it in detail, rather than trying to write a little bit about everything.
- Don’t repeat yourself: Write it well, write it once. If you find that you’ve run out of steam, either end the paper or expand your examples. Don’t merely reword points you’ve already made; this tactic will not fool instructors.
Developed by LLCC Center For Academic Success, Springfield, Illinois.