Tips to Writing a College Term Paper

Let’s face it. If you really do not like to write in your own spare time, you probably will not care for writing papers for college classes. But just because writing a term paper, opinion paper, or research report can be as imposing a thought as scaling a mountain, does not mean it has to be extremely difficult—challenging, yes, but too difficult, no.

If you search through Google or Bing, there are many resources for writing a good, solid paper for any class, and any type of paper. There are basic principles behind good writing, and as such, when followed will result in well-worded and strong writing.

“Finishing My Paper” photo by Twaize on flickr.com

Some helpful tips for writing a good term paper, research report, essay, etc.:

  • Begin by finding out what, exactly, your instructor wants. This information will most usually be found in a syllabus, assignment description, etc. If the instructions and requirements are not completely clear to you, you should take the time to discuss the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ with your professor.
  • Pick a topic that will be appropriate for the given writing assignment. While the topic should definitely be appropriate and relevant to the assignment, it should be something that you have interest in and can easily be researched. If you do not have interest in the topic, then the writing assignment will be that much more difficult and awful to write! The topic also needs to be unique, so it will stand out and result in acquiring the reader’s attention and interest. Visit this site for tips on picking a good topic.
  • Write an outline…do not play around with this one, just do it! Writing outlines can be tricky, but they help to organize your thoughts about the topic once you pick one. Outlines can give you a general order of points to be made throughout the paper. You can always edit or revise, reword, or reorder the points on the outline if you want. The bottom line is this: outlines are commonly required or advised to be written by the instructor, and they serve to organize main points and details of a paper. It can be daunting, but when you write a good outline, your paper will follow suit.
  • If you decide to use facts and make claims and statements pertaining to the facts, make sure you include evidence to back those statements. For example, let’s say you claim that shampoo has chemicals in it that can be cancer-causing. You will need to include any studies, statistics, and actual evidence to back this claim. If you are unsure about something you have included in the paper, research it, and if you cannot find sufficient evidence to back your statement, then for the love of God! please omit it from the paper altogether!
  • Write a very clear and precise thesis statement. A thesis statement is the beginning topic sentence that tells what you are going to be proving, discussing, etc. in your paper. If you make a list of things (that you will cover in your paper) then the order in which you state them in your thesis should be the order you cover them in your paper. Thesis statements can be a little tricky, mostly because they are only one, simply stated sentence. Check out this page for more help.
  • Choose reliable sources for you paper. Choosing sources can be time consuming, but if you want a good strong and well-written and well-presented paper, you need to find them. Choose sources that are reliable, fact-based and unbiased, and where the author knows the topic of which they are writing about. Do not list sources on your ‘works cited’ page if you do not actually use any information in your paper from them.
  • No matter how tricky it can be, or how lazy you may get, NEVER EVER EVER plagiarize! This is a no-no and a ‘never’ situation. No explanation necessary, just avoid it at all costs! And if your words are looking eerily similar to those of the source you are using, change your writing or start again.

These are just a few examples of helpful hints to get things moving when writing a college paper. For formatting issues and advice, please see this article. For information on how to find reliable resources for your paper, look here.

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