Most teachers and professors want their students to use either the Arial or Times New Roman 12 point font. Set the line spacing at two, so they have space to write comments between the lines. Use the Tab key to indent the beginning of a paragraph. Writing a paper is really quite simple if you follow a basic template. Here is a model that I have used to get good grades throughout the years…
NAME OF PAPER
Use this sentence to give the basic topic of your paper. Every other sentence in this paragraph should be one supporting fact to back up your topic, so this second sentence should have your first point, preferably the strongest. Second fact to back up topic. Third fact to back up topic. And so on. This paragraph can have as many sentences as you have facts, but make sure to avoid being repetitive. If two of your facts are very similar, it is better to combine them. Keep in mind that less is more. Do not fall into the trap of feeling as if you need to fill up space and word count by replicating the same fact in different words; you will not be fooling your teacher. You should have at least three facts, but four or five is probably best. Keep this paragraph very basic and avoid going into any of your reasons. You will have the rest of your paper to back up your facts.
Take sentence number two (your first fact), change the words around a little, and put it here. The rest of the sentences in this paragraph are used for all of the information that you have about fact number one. If you feel a certain way about the subject, you can get your point across, but avoid using words like “I, you,” or “we.” Instead use words like “many people,” or “one might think.” Try to keep things impersonal.
Sentence number three (second fact) goes here. Now you will take all of your ideas about fact number two and put it in this paragraph. The best papers give insights from both sides of the debate. If your paper is about the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, add facts and quotes to back up your way of thinking, but also add facts and quotes about the benefits of eating meat. Try to be as impartial as you can, even if the subject is something that you feel strongly about. This serves two purposes. First, your reader will take you more seriously because you have offered them an “impartial” view. Second, your paper will be longer and packed with more information.
Fact number three goes here. Use a thesaurus to avoid using the same words over and over again. You don’t want to simply take your sentences from the first paragraph and repeat them word for word, but don’t be afraid if they sound somewhat similar. For those using Word 2007, the thesaurus under the review tab is an invaluable tool.
Continue to dedicate a paragraph for every sentence from your opening paragraph. Remember that paragraphs don’t have to be a whole bunch of lines long. Two or three sentences can make up a perfectly respectable paragraph.
Your closing paragraph should look and sound an awful lot like your opener. You are simply reminding your reader of the points that have been made. You do not need to repeat your reasons, only the basic facts. If your paper is done correctly, your reader will remember all of your supporting facts from previous paragraphs.
ADDED TIPS FOR WORD 2007 USERS
Most school computers are using Word 2007, which is jam-packed with all kinds of items that can make life easier.
BACKSPACING- Is the backspace moving painfully slow? If you click on the HOME tab in the top left corner, your backspace will move at a more respectable pace.
CITATIONS- Citations can be the biggest headache of all, but Vista has solved the problem. Click on the REFERENCES tab on the top and you will find the Citations & Bibliography section. Most schools follow MLA, which is available in the drop-down next to Style. When in doubt-cite. Schools take plagiarism very seriously. Always cite when using a direct quote, but you should also cite any place that you got your information.
COVER- Covers can be an unnecessary waste of a lot of ink, and many professors do not want them, but if they do, there is a handy tool under the INSERT tab. Just click on the Cover Page section and the program will allow you to choose a cover style and fill in the spaces with your information.
EXPONENTS- It took me two science papers to realize that the tab for exponents was right in front of my face. It is under the HOME tab in the font section in the same line as the Bold and Underline box.
SYMBOLS- I was using 2007 for over a year before I discovered this nifty item. If you happen to need to use a º, make sure that the curser is in the spot where you want to insert the symbol and click on the INSERT tab, then on the Symbol section in the upper right corner. The Equation section is for advanced math, and all of the basic math symbols will be in the Symbol section.
WORD COUNT- Always visible on the bottom left corner along with the page count.
When you have finished your paper read it to make sure that it is all correct. Doing a spell check (under the REVIEW tab) is great, but many times a word like “though” instead of “thought” will slip through the spell check because it is spelled correctly. Sometimes whole sentences will be underlined in green because it has some sort of a usage error. Use this as a guideline, not a law. If you read the sentence over and it sounds OK to you, leave it alone. The green won’t show up in the final draft, and sometimes, no matter how many times you change the words around, there is just no way to make your sentence conform to Word’s guidelines on what is proper.
PS-A handy trick for cutting and pasting. Bring up document. Hit CONTROL/A-this will highlight the entire document. Hit CONTROL/C. Then I put the cursor where I want to paste.
PPS- No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get the finished article to indent at the beginning of every paragraph as I had done on my original document. When writing your paper , make sure to center the title, and use the TAB key to indent at the beginning of every paragraph.
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