Writing Resources

This page links to various college and university websites that provide information about core writing issues.

Three of the sites most commonly used on this page are:

I find the Grammar Bytes website very helpful, with short, entertaining explanations and interactive exercises on a bunch of grammar topics.

It is worth spending some time reading around in all of these sites.

  1. Sentence Boundaries
  2. Paragraph Structure
  3. Thesis Statements
  4. Transitions, including Introductions and Conclusions
  5. Concision
  6. Sentence Variety
  7. Quotations
  8. Research
    1. Topics, Questions, and Finding Sources
    2. Taking Notes
    3. Avoiding Plagiarism and Documenting Sources
  9. Outlines
  10. Argument

Sentence Boundaries

Sentence boundary error refers to any of the different errors that are caused by not correctly marking the beginnings and ends of sentences—their boundaries. These are some of the most common errors in college level writing. They include three main types:

The readings below will help you understand what these errors are, why they are errors, how to spot them and how to fix them.

Capital Community College: Sentence Fragments
Defines fragments, discusses the different types and explains what is wrong with each.

Capital Community College: Run-on Sentences, Comma Splices
Defines these common errors and shows how to fix them.

Capital Community College: Things that can happen between two independent clauses.
Discusses permissible ways to connect independent.clauses-in other words, how to prevent fragments, run-ons and comma splices.

Grammar Bytes:

Paragraph Structure

Paragraph structure is key to good writing. A paragraph is like a mini-essay, with its own thesis, and everything in the paragraph relates to that thesis-its controlling idea. The links below provide some good basic information on how to construct a coherent, unified paragraph.

My handout on the PIE method for composing a paragraph(Point, Information, Explanation).

Capital Community College: Paragraph Development and Topic Sentences
This page discusses focus, topic sentences and transitions (by way of topic sentences).

Purdue OWL: On Paragraphs
This page defines the paragraph, presents the basic rule of paragraphs, and discusses the qualities of a good paragraph, how to develop a paragraph that is short or underdeveloped, when to start a new paragraph, and transitions within and between paragraphs.

Purdue OWL: Body Paragraphs
This page discusses body paragraphs: structure, four elements of a good paragraph, and types of evidence (this is in fact a detailed discussion of induction and deduction, so lots of good tips on evidence, logic and argument here!).

Thesis Statements

Kansas University Writing Center: Thesis Statements

Capital Community College: The Thesis Statement

Transitions

I include introductions and conclusions under transitions because they both help the reader make very important transitions: into and out of your paper.

Introductions

Capital Community College: Introductory Paragraphs

Purdue OWL: Introductions

Eleven Ways to Begin (PDF) This is an old handout I got from a writing instructor at the UW years ago. It has a lot of useful suggestions, with good examples.

Conclusions

Capital Community College: Concluding Paragraphs

Purdue OWL: Conclusions

Internal Transitions

This refers to transitions within the paper, both between paragraphs and within individual paragraphs.

Capital Community College Coherence: Transitions between ideas

Concision

Purdue OWL (Four related handouts)

  1. Conciseness
  2. Eliminating Words
  3. Changing Phrases
  4. Things to Avoid

Sentence Variety

Capital Community College: Sentence Variety

Quotations

Quotations present several different challenges:

Writing Tip: Quotations, from The Writers Workshop, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
This page focuses on punctuation, but also has good advice on the purpose and function of quotations at the start and some good pointers on style and incorporating the quotation correctly at the bottom of the page.

Incorporating References, from the Kansas University Writing Center:
Good advice on incorporating quotations, mixed with other material on writing research.

Quotation Mechanics, from Davis Oldham at Shoreline Community College:
A brief explanation of some basic grammar and punctuation rules related to quotations.

Research

The readings in this section relate to different aspects of research, including finding topics and documenting sources (avoiding plagiarism).

Topics, Questions and Finding Sources

Taking Notes

Doing research requires recording lots of information in a concise, organized way. These links give suggestions for how to make your note taking work for you.

Avoiding Plagiarism and Documenting Sources

Outlines

Argument

“Argument” is used here in the academic sense. It includes claims, evidence, counter-argument, audience and critical reading.