Back to Academics Back to Learning and Writing Center
Print Page

Writing Tips



April Tip of the Month:  Tips to Improve Your Proofreading

There are many different ideas on how to proofread writing, and as you practice proofreading you will discover which processes work the best for you.  Here are a few different techniques to help you get started in the proofreading process:

  • Read your paper multiple times, focusing on particular mistakes during each reading.  For example, read it once through for spelling errors.  Then, read it again for punctuation errors.  Next, read it for grammatical errors.  Finally, read it one more time for stylistic choices and sentence clarity.
  • Read your paper aloud very slowly.  Read it aloud as slow as you can including the punctuation marks.  Saying each word aloud will help you pick out sections or sentences that sound incorrect or are not clear.
  • Tape a reading of your essay, and then listen to the recording.  This will help you to really hear any mistakes you have in your essay.  You can more clearly zero in on stylistic problems as well as the clarity of your essay when you hear it. 
  • Share with a a partner.  Use your peer resources and ask for some peer editing help!  Give your paper to a trusted peer to read or you can read it to them for feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your paper.

Then, don't be afraid to make the necessary changes to improve your paper.  No one can write a perfect first draft, not even the most accomplished and published authors, so spend as much time as you can proofreading your paper before you turn it in for a grade. 


March Tip of the Month:  How to Write Better Paragraphs

Here are five steps to writing better paragraphs:

1)  Always begin your paragraphs with a topic sentence.  This will guide your reader as well as your writing.

2)  Use transitional words such as next, then, although, finally, or as a result.  These transitional words help you move more smoothly from one idea to the next in your paragraph.  There are many transitional words to choose from, so consult your grammar textbook for a more complete list.

3)  Vary your sentence structure.  Try to mix simple, compound, and complex sentences within your paragraph.  This adds flair and style to your writing.

4)  Use a formal tone.  Avoid using slang or conversational speech in formal essays.  Such slang will make your writing sound less sophisticated and your reader won't take your ideas as seriously.

5)  Make each paragraph 7-12 sentences long.  This allows you enough space to express your ideas and include examples to support them. 


February Tip of the Month:  Making Your Writing More Sophisticated

Having trouble jump starting your writing this semester?  Are you struggling with how to improve your papers?  Here are three ways to help improve your writing this month:

* Avoid empty words (like nice, very, thing, stuff, fun, good, or bad) and employ words with meaning (like thoughtful, generous, unpleasant, or jovial) in their place.  This will help you to develop use of more sophisticated language in your writing. 

* Avoid flat passive "to be" verbs (such as is, are, has, had, be, being, been) and employ active verbs (like dancing, deciding, disagree, discourage, or complete).  This will make your paper more lively and interesting and will give your ideas action.

* Add as many colorful and descriptive details and examples as you can to create a more vivid picture of your thoughts and ideas.  This will help your reader to "see" what you mean.  Remember to always "show" rather than "tell" your reader whenever you can!