How and Why to Become a Better Writer
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Geography
Revised: January 19, 2007
Good writing is the best
evidence of clear thinking.
Good writing is also hard work!
ZITS BY JIM BORGMAN
Good writing can lead to better speaking.
enables one to take ideas floating in the brain and give them a
~~Anonymous student in Dr. Crawford's EN102-H1 Class
who do not
read are no better off than those who cannot read."
~~Abigail "Dear Abby" Van Buren
| "The more that you read,
more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
~~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut
In studies of what causes people to fail to obtain jobs, poor writing is always cited as a leading reason. In my own experience, excellent writing is a prized skill in the workplace. The purpose of this document is to help students in my courses to use the writing assignments to improve their writing. For more comprehensive help than I provide here, I encourage you to explore the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University.
I also highly recommend
Chocolate Cake for Dinner Rules, by Bridgewater Professor Cynthia
in which she explains why and how to make writing
Over the course of a semester, the exchange of assignments and
feedback enables students to improve their writing. The "Examples " page is a guide to many of the
common problems with student
writing that we address through this process. Some problems are more
than others, and I want to eliminate them from the outset. Papers
not be accepted if they involve any of the following:
- It's: This is not a word. See the it's example for an explanation. Professors actually talk about this at parties, so peeved are we!
- My paper is going to be about ...: Apparently this is a common way to introduce papers in high school, but it is not acceptable in professional or academic writing. Besides using the first person, it creates a very weak opening. It is better simply to introduce the topic directly. Variations such as "The article I chose is about ..." or "The topic I chose is ..." are also not acceptable.
- Folded corners. Papers need to be stapled in the corner, as indicated on the format page. Folded corners or paper clips are not acceptable.
- Lack of citation. Failure to cite sources fully is plagiarism. A citation -- whether of an article, a book, or a web site -- must be complete enough to lead the reader back to the source. A domain name or web site address is not the same as an URL. For example, webhost.bridgew.edu is not the URL of this page. The complete URL is http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/NOT13TH/writing.htm.
- Misidentified titles. Articles and books are not cited the same way. Learn the difference at the titles example .
Return to my Not-the-13th-Grade page.
Any questions? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Bridgewater State College