Line It Up

“A working outline,” says the University of Victoria Department of English, can provide you “with a rough map of where the essay will go, making a diagram of your thoughts to sharpen and define your purpose.” The UVic Writer’s Guide explains how to create one in “The Structure of the Essay Outline:”

The beginning is the introduction containing your thesis statement; the end is the conclusion; and the middle or body of the essay contains the argument, supported by evidence or example and designed to prove your thesis. Read more

Clutter-free Writing

David R. Williams advocates applying the K.I.S.S. principle (“Keep it simple, Stupid.”) to writing. In his book Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000), 9, he explains, ” ‘Simple’ does not have to mean simpleminded. Keeping it simple means avoiding the complexity of too many competing, confusing factors. This applies to choosing a paper topic as well as writing a sentence or running a business.” Read more

Search Engines You Should (But Probably Don’t) Know

“Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: ‘Google,’” says Charles S. Knight, Search Engine Optimizer and editor of AllSearchEngines. “Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100.” Read more

Tools that Build Strong Papers

David R. Williams calls sentences and paragraphs “the tools of the writing trade.” In his book Sin Boldly! Dr Dave’s Guide to Writing the College Paper (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 2000) 31, he says, “The sentence is the hammer you use to drive your points home. Each blow must hit a nail. Each sentence must communicate a thought clearly from your mind to that of your reader. Disorganized jumbles of words and phrases cannot do this. Only when the words are arranged in a logical order with a subject and a verb is a complete thought expressed.” Read more

Culture Club

Online Search Techniques

“The diversity of cultures represented on the Web is an amazing and wonderful thing,” notes Web expert Barbara G. Friedman, who adds, “But online searches are easily thwarted if the user fails to take into account the myriad spellings and meanings that accompany that diversity. Searching for one will not find sites that use the other spelling, or for that matter sites containing misspellings. In addition, the same word can have alternate meanings even within a single language.” Read more

Blast Through Writer’s Block

“Getting started,” say Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman, “may be the most difficult task when you sit down to write.” Luckily for us, their book Yes, You Can! 1,200 Inspiring Ideas for Work, Home, and Happiness (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1996), 101, includes nine ideas to kickstart the process.

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Top Search Tips

Internet Tutorials – Laura B. Cohen’s “basic guide to the Internet” – is a valuable resource for anyone who needs to find information online. Bookmarking her Best Bet Search Tips, for example, means that you’ll always have easy access to proven techniques for effective online research.

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An Essential Tool for Writers

“Use definite, specific, concrete language. Omit needless words.” says William Strunk Jr.  In his extraordinary 71-page book Elements of Style (New York: Macmillan, 1959), he follows his own advice as he steers writers around potential grammatical potholes. And Strunk’s rules – simple directives with examples to illustrate what works and why – apply to research papers, essays, short stories, novels, nonfiction works, business communications, and every other kind of writing. Read more

Right on Time

Much research is geared to people and events which happened at a particular moment in time, whether five minutes or thousands of years ago. NoodleTools.com – which “provides software that teaches students and supports teachers and librarians throughout the research process”  – identifies these search tools to use when timeliness of information is important: Read more

A Different Kind of Writing Process

According to Edward P. Bailey, the writing process you learned probably looks like this:

Prewriting:

Think hard, write an outline.

Writing:

Follow your outline, write quickly without worrying about revisions.

Rewriting:

Make sure you followed your outline, fix any errors.

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