Make sure that you start paper in time to put it away and let the information set for a few hours or overnight. I found that I did write better papers under pressure, but you do need time to set it aside and come back to rewrite it. The time away from the paper will prove invaluable to writing a good paper.
Make sure you know what your topic is. Either chosen by yourself or your instructor, you need to decide what it will be about. The topic is very important so that you can get the pertinent information when doing research.
It also is important to know what format you need to write in. This will tell you how to set margins, line spacing and how to notate source information. There are two popular ways of writing papers.
MLA – Modern Language Association format, this is normally used for papers in literature or foreign language.
APA – American Psychological Association format, the most popular method in academic work in the social sciences field. Sometimes the school you attend will decide which format to use. Other times, it will be the teacher or the type of paper you are writing. You can find templates and guidelines for writing papers in both of these formats on the internet.
Start by writing an outline showing what you want to include in the paper. The order of the key points does not matter at the beginning. Just get down the important parts about the topic. You can also add more after researching because you may find more information.
Then brainstorm writing down everything you already know about the subject. If you have read your textbook, you may already have a lot of information. After you have written down everything you know, then begin by looking up information in the textbook. Get any new information that you may not have remembered. Next, research the topic on the internet or in the library. You are looking for new information that you don’t know. I type or copy what I find in a word document. Make sure you keep track of the sources of your information. I copy the links under the information in the word document. You also want to make sure the information is coming from legitimate sources. (Wikipedia is not a good source.) You want text books, legitimate journal articles from legitimate journals on the subject.
Now you can rework the outline making sure information is in order and all new information is included.
Now it is time to write the rough draft. Write your introductory paragraph explaining what the paper will be about. Explain the introductory paragraph expanding on the topics in the following paragraphs. Explain the topic in your own words. You can refer to your notations from the internet, but make sure that you quote important information and notate where you go the information. It is also important not to quote too much. You want to write what you have learned, not just regurgitate the information from books or journals.
Write the conclusion paragraph. This should include the important points of the paper and how it proves your thesis or your findings on the subject. Again, this should show what you learned on the topic.
Reread the paper. Fix the spelling and grammar errors and make sure to use complete sentences. Also check for run on sentences.
Put the paper away for a few hours.
This is important because your brain will work on what you have learned during the down time and when you go back, you will see where changes need to be made. Read the paper. Then rewrite the paper fixing the issues you find. You might also find places where you can expand on the information. Make sure the paper is complete and explains everything.
Last you want to check the formatting and punctuation. Make sure that it meets the requirements for the format of the paper. Make sure that all words are spelled correctly. Large, scientific words may not show up in spell check so make sure all of those are spelled correctly. I add those words to spellcheck because if you write a similar paper later, they will be available.
So, these are the steps to take to write a good paper. They will also make it easier and less overwhelming. Here’s to good paper writing.