How to Write College Papers

Learn the basics of writing papers in college.

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When it comes to writing college papers, many new students find themselves at a loss.

Writing college papers is much simpler if you are organized and understand the type of paper you are writing.

Essays, research papers and thesis papers are very different from creative writing projects, and it is important to understand each kind of writing.

How to Write College Essays

The college essay may vary in length, but it has a typical three-step format comprising an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

The introduction of your college essay lays the groundwork for the rest of the essay. Within it, you must include a thesis statement as well as the essay topic, points you will discuss in the main text and what your essay will prove.

Nothing hurts a paper's quality like not having enough time to complete that paper.

In the body of your essay, you will provide relevant information for each point you laid out in the introduction. Each point should have its own paragraph.

The conclusion of the essay should be a restatement of your introduction paragraph. It should also include a brief recap of the points discussed in the body.

Most professors will also want you to cite the sources you used to write your essay, including materials from the class and outside sources, either print or electronic. Common citation guides include those set by the Modern Language Association and the Chicago Manual of Style, although citation guides differ by subject and the professor’s preference.

The college essay is probably the most common type of paper you’ll write in the early part of college. The format may vary slightly according to the subject, but it remains basically the same throughout various classes.

How to Write College Research Papers

College research papers follow about the same format as essays, but go into more depth.

Like an essay, begin with a thesis statement that clearly states your argument. Follow with points to prove your argument. In a research paper, it is often constructive to include a counter-argument, which you then disprove, making your argument stronger.

You can also include direct quotes from sources to help bolster the points you’re making.

Research papers, like essays, should include citations. Footnotes and endnotes are often welcome in research papers. Professors should tell you how they would like your sources cited.

Help for Writing College Papers

The transition between writing papers in high school and college can be overwhelming. This is why many schools have writing centers where students can go for help. Tutors at college writing centers are useful for editing and formatting academic papers.

How to Write College Papers: Tips and Tactics

  • Organize before you write. Remember to always outline your thoughts and arguments before you put anything on paper.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Nothing hurts a paper's quality like not having enough time to complete that paper.
  • Edit, revise, rewrite. Your paper is NOT going to be perfect the first time through. Take time to make it better the second and third times around.

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