Writing tips and advice as you complete the semester

Final Tips and Advice

Organize Your Paper Well

  • Have a detailed, specific thesis that drives your paper.
  • Make sure each paragraph has a central idea expressed in a topic sentence.
  • Each paragraph should have PEA—point, evidence, and analysis.
  • Quotations are evidence, not points. Introduce; quote; analyze.
  • End with something new to think about that comes from your argument.


Avoid the following. They weigh down your paper, and make it tedious to read. Use strong, vital verbs, and specific, precise examples to bolster your points.

  • Code Words (important, significant, etc.),
  • “Be” verbs (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been),
  • Passive voice (has been noted),
  • Nominalizations (investigation rather than investigate),
  • Fluff—big fluff that tells nothing or the obvious and little fluff that takes ten words to say what could be said in two.


Important Tips to Remember:

  •  Save contractions (can’t, don’t) for informal writing.
  •  Make sure pronouns agree with antecedents in person, number, and gender.
  •  Participles are part adjective, so place them close to the word or phrase they modify.
  •  Join two independent clauses with a comma PLUS a coordinating conjunction (and, or, but, yet, so, nor, for).
  • Use the present tense when writing about literature and film.
  • Make sure that your verb agrees with your subject (especially check if your subject and verb are far apart in the sentence).


To make writing more coherent:

  • <–Place older, more familiar, easier information at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Place newer, more important, more difficult information at the end of the sentence. –>


To move the emphasis to the end of a sentence:

  • Shift new and important information to the right. ->->->->->
  • Trim the end; extract and isolate the main ideas.
  • Remember that all endings are important: end of sentence, end of paragraph, and most important—end of paper. End with a bang.


Check the following:

  • Create a good title for your paper. Your title should give your reader a clue about the main idea of your paper. The name of the book is the author’s title, not yours.
  • Do not forget to have your name on your paper.
  • Learn how to number your pages. Hint: check out the “Insert” menu in MSWord.
  • Cite correctly and accurately. Learn how to do this.
  • Proofread carefully.

And Check out our online writing resources:

Online Writing Resources for Student Writers

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.