Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. You stare at a blank screen or notebook, waiting… waiting… Or worse, you can’t even figure out what half of the assignment sheet is asking for. Scroll down for tips on interpreting assignments, brainstorming, and beating out procrastination.
Grammar, Style, & Usage
Here’s where we keep all the things you were never taught but are expected to know anyway.
- Attending to Style (Dartmouth)
- Adding Emphasis (Purdue)
- Sentence Variety (Purdue)
- Conciseness (Purdue)
Ever noticed how your stuff is easier to find in a clean room? How less of it gets stepped on? There’s a reason for all that. It’s called organization. When we talk about organizing a paper, we don’t necessarily mean spending three days on one of those annoying outlines with the roman numerals and the letters and the progressive tabs. There are lots of aspects of a paper that can benefit from a little prior planning, and they can actually save you time.
Try this! Reverse outlining is one of our favorite revision strategies to use in the Writing Center. Even if you hate outlining before you write, you may like writing an outline after your first draft.
- Unity, Coherence, and Development
If you want to write something, you need to learn something; and that usually involves research. Research not only helps you find information to test your assumptions and support your theses, but it also helps you find questions worth asking in the first place. The librarians are your gurus on the research process, but here are some resources to help you with questions about finding and citing the ideas and arguments you need.
Tips about maximizing the impact of your writing, as well as on becoming an efficient reader. Especially helpful if you are examining a text in your writing.
English as a Second Language
For Non-Native Speakers of English
Writing is hard. But it can be especially hard when you’re not writing in your native language. Research has shown that learning to write academically in another language happens much more slowly than learning to converse informally in the same language. We know it can be frustrating when you can’t find the English words to put into writing the complex ideas you have in your head. At the Writing Center, our goal is to help you get past the language barriers so your readers can appreciate your knowledge and ideas.
Meanwhile, the resources below may help you develop your English writing skills.
A list of the Purdue OWL’s many resources for students of English as a Second Language.
Please visit the SMCM Career Development Center for samples and guides for different types of career writing, such as compiling a resume, drafting a personal statement, or selecting a writing sample.
Style Guides and Citation Tools
Writing Links At St. Mary’s
Writing Links Beyond Campus
Includes explanations of grammar and punctuation rules as well as 75 computer-graded quizzes. Maintained by Professor Charles Darling as part of the Capital Community Technical College site.