15 Ways to Improve Writing Skills for Students And Everyone Else

In some of the classes I teach, we discuss whether texting has hurt how people communicate.  Many students are so used to abbreviating that they sometimes have difficulty when the time comes for them to actually write in complete sentences.  I get a lot of questions from my students about how to format papers.  I think it is helpful to have a few different sites to go to for examples to help learn how to write and format correctly.  Many colleges and universities require that papers are submitted in APA format.  If you have to write something for a class or just need helpful writing tips in general, please check out the following:
  1. For a sample APA paper in 6th edition style, see:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20090212013008_560.pdf
  2. For more APA information check out http://apastyle.apa.org/ and http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/.
  3. The following is a great site for help with grammar:   http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/.
  4. To see how to remove extra spaces between paragraphs check out:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWcouakic5Y .
  5. A good size paragraph is at least 3-4 sentences.  It also should not be so long that it takes up an entire page.  Many students are unaware of how to set up a paragraph correctly.  For help understanding paragraph structure, check out http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/fwalters/para.html. Also check out: How to write an essay – http://lklivingston.tripod.com/essay/.
  6. Always check your spelling! To see commonly misspelled words, check out http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/misspelled.html.
  7. Always submit your documents in the format requested.  I teach for 6 universities and they all require papers in .doc or .docx format.  Do not submit papers in .wps format.  When you save your document, be sure you are picking the save as Word document setting. http://www.mydigitallife.info/2008/11/25/how-to-change-default-file-saving-format-from-docx-to-doc-in-word-2007/.
  8. Many people are unaware of the functionality of the home tab in Word.  If you are in a word document and want to set your paper’s default settings, notice the paragraph part of the tool bar.  On that section, there is a small downward diagonal arrow in the bottom right corner.  If you click on that, you can set your default settings for your present document or for all future documents. If you want it set for all future documents, pick the default button at the bottom when you are finished changing your settings. Be sure your spacing is set at zero before and after paragraphs if you are getting extra spaces between paragraphs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWcouakic5Y .
  9. How to write a business plan – http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/SERV_WRRITINGBUSPLAN.html.
  10. How to write a marketing plan – http://www.infotoday.com/mls/jun99/how-to.htm
  11. How to write an abstract – http://www2.winthrop.edu/english/handbook/AbstractTips.pdf.
  12. If you need some editing help, many schools have a writing center where you can submit your paper to give you suggestions as to how to improve your paper.  I have several editors I can recommend if you want to email me at diane@drdianehamilton.com.
  13. If you need statistical help, I also have an excellent statistician I can recommend if you email me at diane@drdianehamilton.com.
  14. Do not cut and paste things into your paper.  If you are going to quote someone, you can do so if you cite correctly.  Many students make the mistake of thinking they can copy and paste entire pages of information right into their papers without citing.  Do not do this as it is considered plagiarism. For help understanding how to avoid plagiarism see http://library.csusm.edu/plagiarism/howtoavoid/how_avoid_internet.htm.
  15. If you are submitting a paper for class, it is best to submit it to their TurnItIn program to check to be sure you are not plagiarizing.  TurnItIn is a program that many schools offer to be sure your work is legitimately your own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnitin.

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