How to structure a good paper

As much as I love writing…

I did NOT like writing academic papers for English class.

I liked picking out a topic I was passionate about and having so many ideas on what to do…

But where do I start?

Luckily, I have some tricks up my sleeve that allow me to write a 5 page paper in less than an hour, but that is for another time. For those who struggle with English papers, I hope you can find some assistance in this post.

1.) The Topic!

Topic is the most essential part of what makes a paper good. It only makes sense, right? Sometimes, though, we get so passionate on opinions and our views on things that we lose track of what we are wanting to say in an academic paper. Staying non-biased is also a good habit to get into when writing for future education and/or work related documents.

So, how do I keep a topic steady throughout a whole paper?

Hopefully, your teacher has given you a guide to help structure your paper, but, if not, I have a short guide below that covers how to keep a topic flowing nicely throughout a paper:

 

The Introduction – This portion of the paper is what draws your readers in. What are you writing about? What problem are you wanting to solve? In the thesis statement (the paper’s main idea), the very end sentence of the intro paragraph, poses the question and how you are wanting to solve it/explain it.

First/Second/Third Paragraphs – This is where each idea is separated about the topic. Be careful not to go too off track about the details of each idea; stick to the main topic focus.

Conclusion – This is where the thesis statement is reiterated and each idea is reviewed. Do NOT bring in new ideas in the conclusion paragraph. It is simply an overview of the entirety of the paper.

 

2.) The 5 W’s 

Since the beginning of writing for classes, the 5 W’s have always been a big part of formulating a topic and ideas.

 

Who – Who is the paper referring to? How does it affect this person/group of people?

What – What is the paper about? What is the point you are trying to get across?

When – What is the relevancy of this paper? Does it matter in modern times?

Where – Where is this topic a big influence?

Why – Why should anyone care what you are writing about?

 

This is how the main idea and sub ideas are created for the paper. Make sure that ALL of these questions are answered in the paper for complete success.

 

3.) Spelling/Punctuation

This seems like a “no-brainer”, but it is ESSENTIAL that you double check spelling and punctuation in your paper. I can’t tell you how many times I have messed up punctuation on a paper, or even spelling someone’s name. It is a big deal. Most writing processors have a built in spelling, grammar, and punctuation check.

 

4.) Did someone read your paper?

I know it can be kind of nerve-wracking to have someone read your paper, but it really does make a difference. Sometimes, when reading your own work, you miss mistakes. You sometimes could miss that something sounds “choppy” and doesn’t flow. Ask someone you trust to read your paper, but make sure that they will tell you what mistakes need to be corrected, not just”good job.”

 

Print off my “Paper Checklist” to have someone (or yourself) use when reviewing your paper!

Paper Checklist

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