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ENGL 215: Critical Thinking About Research Writing

Organizing Your Writing

Basic Structure of Your Paper

Your paper should include an introductory paragraph(s), a body expressing your main points and a concluding paragraph(s) that summarizes your point.

  • Develop your first paragraph(s) so that your introduction ends with your thesis statement.
  • Clearly introduce and explain the main points from your outline. Insert information from your sources, being careful to cite each source
    whether the information is a direct quotation or a summary. Use direct quotes, set off in quotation marks, sparingly.
  • Restate your thesis in your concluding paragraph. Expand your ideas, and make connections for larger ideas or trends.

Consult a citation style manual or online guide for specific instructions on how to cite your sources. It is common practice to insert a parenthetical note. For example, if you are referring to an article written by Tim Johnson written in 1999, then insert (Johnson, 1999) after the text that refers to the article. The parenthetical citation should come at the end of the sentence in which you have included the quote or summary. Remember to include complete information on this source in your Bibliography or Works Cited list.

Polishing Your Final Draft

Run a spell check and grammar check - either the options built into Microsoft Word, or a website like Grammarly. Consider each of the suggested replacements carefully.

Read your paper out loud to catch errors you've missed.

For help with Microsoft Word, especially for formatting page numbers, margins, or other details, try video tutorials from Lynda.

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