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Writing Skills - Writing Lab Tips and Strategies: Home


One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read!  One reason is that reading builds your vocabulary in ways nothing else does.  The more you read, the more natural it is for you to have a sophisticated writing style.  If you are reading good writing, you are likely to practice good writing.  Also, reading will help you with spelling and grammar.  Instead of memorizing lists of words, improve your spelling and vocabulary by reading enjoyable books.  Reading also helps improve your critical thinking skills, memory, ability to analyze, problem solving skills, and much more.

Academic Writing

Use the Third Person

That means use he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its, they, them, theirs.  Do not use I, me, mine, we, us, our, ours, you, yours, y'all, all y'all, all y'all's.

Do NOT Use Clichés

Avoid them like the plague. If you use them, I will get so angry I will turn beet red and you will see smoke coming out of my ears.

Do NOT Tell the Reader What You Are Going To Do

Just do it.  For example, don't say: "In this paper I am going to explain why the government needs to stop putting flouride in the water."  Instead say something like: "The government should stop putting flouride in the water due to the numerous health risks associated with flouride consumption."  The reader then expects that you will explain these numerous health risks.

Writing Skills

Writing reveals the way you think.  Writing well is more than simply using a supplied format to get good grades; it requires organization and improved thinking skills.

The O-No's of Writing


Having an opinion is not bad, but it's not the purpose of most papers.  Avoid passive summary and agree/disagree responses.


Without a thesis, or focus, your paper becomes confusing and loses cohesion.


In order to gain your reader's attention and respect, you must acknowledge that there is an opposing argument.


Being repetitive, wordy, or unorganized makes your writing difficult to understand.  If your paper needs to be longer, add information, not just words.

The 5 C's of Composition


What does your professor want you to do?  Is it a very specific assignment, or can you choose your topic?  Define your topic, state your purpose, and analyze how and by whom your text will be read or used.


   Explicate:  Avoid vague statements and assumptions; explain what you mean.

   Examine:  What is significant?  How do the ideas relate to each other?  What is the opposing view?

   Expound:  What details are significant and what might they mean?  What might be important to consider from the opposite viewpoint?


Connect ideas, patterns, and details into meaningful and organized information.


Make an outline first.  This will help you see your ideas and connections on paper and reorganize where needed.  Use your outline to make a rough draft.


The purpose of drafting is to get ideas flowing, but after the ideas come, they need to be molded and defined.  You may understand your ideas, but if they are not written well, your reader will have difficulty comprehending them.  If you want your reader to think well of your paper, make sure your meaning is clear.

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Writing Lab Consultants
Morgan Library Learning Center
574-372-5100 ext. 6427




Writing Style Handbooks

The Writing Lab



Join Us in the Learning Center!


The Learning Center Is Open:

Monday - Friday: 9:00 - 4:30

Writing Lab Walk-In Hours:

Monday             10am-6pm

Tuesday            10am-6pm

Wednesday       12pm-8pm

Thursday           12pm-6pm

Friday                12pm-4pm

Writing Lab Email:

Email us your paper along with the specific description of the assignment.  We will comment on the paper in regards to purpose, organizational structure, internal organization, format, and patterns of grammatical error.

Writing Lab Purpose

The goal of the Writing Lab is to equip students with the communication tools necessary to develop stronger academic writing.  Tutors do not correct, revise or edit student writing.  They aim to guide and empower students toward becoming better independent writers.  The Writing Lab is a student-to-student help available to all students desiring help with writing, including ESL tutoring.  All services are offered at no cost to students.

The Writing Lab is available to students from any discipline for help with any stage of the writing process.

Tutors focus on assignment fulfillment, content, organization, and areas for which suggestions on improvement can be made.

The Writing Lab does not proofread papers; tutors help students learn how to recognize problems or errors and self-edit.  Help is available with MLA, APA and other formatting as well as with grammar skills.

Writing resources (style/formatting manuals) and skills software are available for student use as well.