I expect you to follow these rules while you are my student



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21 Writing Tips/Rules for Papers
These are tips I have learned over the years from writing research and response papers. I learned most of these tips the HARD WAY when I was already in college. Even if you do not wish to use this sheet after our time as teacher and student has passed, I expect you to follow these rules while you are my student. Therefore, if you break any of these rules, you will lose writing points.


  1. Proofread your paper

Proofreading your paper usually results in you earning an extra letter grade on your assignment. You will be able to catch grammatical errors, run-on sentences, and spelling errors before I catch them and deduct points off of your essay score. Make the extra time to print out your rough draft, review it, and make corrections for your final copy. I know it takes extra time, and some of us procrastinate and/or work better under extreme time constraints, but it is a great habit to follow.


  1. Proper TYPED Heading to a Paper…you must follow this format


Left or right indent for this section
Name

Date


Period
Title (centered and underlined)
Indent and start your paper.
Do not hand in papers without a heading or your name HAND-WRITTEN AT THE TOP!!! You will lose points. Teachers will find it fishy anyway. Do not double space the heading to make your paper appear longer either. It just makes me think you are trying to scam your way into lengthening your paper when you could have put more time and effort writing a well-written paper.


  1. Paragraph writing 101

Some of you do not know how to write a paragraph. Usually, the first sentence of the paragraph is the topic sentence. The sentences that follow are supporting sentences that should support the topic sentence…here is an example…
One reason why Germany lost World War II was because of Adolf Hitler’s poor military decisions that reflected his overconfidence and stubbornness. In 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, Hitler refused to listen to the suggestions of numerous military advisors who agreed that Moscow needed to be primary objective during the land invasion of the Soviet Union. Throughout the invasion, Hitler repeatedly discarded his advisors’ ideas, which led to the ultimate failure of the operation. Furthermore, Hitler made egregious errors with his directives to Field Marshall Paulus in the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/43. Hitler repeatedly ordered Paulus to defend Stalingrad with the 6th Army even when defeat to the Red Army appeared certain. As a result, Paulus was forced to surrender with his 6th Army in January 1943 in what became the largest turning point in World War II.
There you have it…One solid paragraph. A topic sentence was written first, and every sentence that followed supported the topic sentence.


  1. Check for RUN-ON Sentences

Commas should not replace Periods. Commas do not allow you combine two separate sentences that should not be together. Review your papers to find run-on sentences. If a sentence carries on too long, you should probably break it up.


  1. Avoid Text-typing

If I read “u” instead of “you,” this says u didn’t review your paper. It is very sloppy and careless.


  1. Make sure your verb tense is consistent throughout your paper

History papers that analyze past events are written in PAST TENSE, not present tense. There are exceptions; some papers will require you to write in present tense, or present and past tense, but if you are writing a paper that primarily analyzes a historic event, you should not be deviating from past tense throughout the paper.


  1. Stick to 3rd person perspective

Scholarly papers can sometimes be written in the 1st person perspective, but the safest way perspective is 3rd person. Try to avoid using the 2nd person perspective.


  1. Contractions

Contractions make your paper look less scholarly. Turn them into two words. Also, for some of you that want to make your papers look longer anyway, they help you in that department! The only time you can use contractions for a history paper is if it is a creative writing assignment.
Can’t = Cannot

Don’t = Do not

Won’t = Will not

Couldn’t = Could not

Didn’t = Did not

Wouldn’t = Would not




  1. Check for mistakes with these words. Screwing these up makes your writing look weak.

Your and You’re

There, Their and They’re

Here and Hear

Its and It’s

To and too

Then and Than

Were and We’re


  1. Numbers

Every number from 0-10 should be SPELLED OUT, and not written as the numeral.
Ex: zero, one, two, three…ten
After the number ten, you should type the numerals. However, big numbers that are not complicated can be SPELLED OUT.
Ex: 13, 2,337, one thousand, ten million, 2,333,990


  1. How to Quote


THIS IS HOW QUOTATIONS SHOULD LOOK where no reference is made

Miller said, “The levels of nationalism in Germany before the war were extremely high.”


DO NOT WRITE THIS…

Miller said, “The levels of nationalism in Germany before the war were extremely high”.


Make sure the punctuation in INSIDE the quote and not on the outside.


  1. Remind the reader of the PROPER NAME

When you write about a person/place/thing, you need to remind the reader, usually in the beginning of a sentence (at least the beginning of the paragraph) of the proper name of the person. Do not write George Washington’s name at the start of a paragraph, but then refer to Washington as “he” for the rest of the paragraph or paper, especially if you mention another male character in the paragraph. IT GETS CONFUSING!


  1. Rules with FIRST and LAST names

When you introduce a character for the first time, write out the FULL NAME (Martin Luther).
When you refer to the person throughout the rest of the paper, always refer to the using their LAST NAME and not their FIRST NAME....
Ex: “Luther formulated his opinions while he was a theology professor.”
DO NOT WRITE: “Martin formulated his opinions while he was a theology professor.”


  1. Check the first word of each sentence in your paragraph.

Here is my paragraph from before…
One reason why Germany lost World War II was because of Adolf Hitler’s poor military decisions that reflected his overconfidence and stubbornness. In 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, Hitler refused to listen to the suggestions of numerous military advisors who agreed that Moscow needed to be primary objective during the land invasion of the Soviet Union. Throughout the invasion, Hitler repeatedly discarded his advisors’ ideas, which led to the ultimate failure of the operation. Furthermore, Hitler made egregious errors with his directives to Field Marshall Paulus in the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/43. Hitler repeatedly ordered Paulus to defend Stalingrad with the 6th Army even when defeat to the Red Army appeared certain. As a result, Paulus was forced to surrender with his 6th Army in January 1943 in what became the largest turning point in World War II.
Notice that the first word in each sentence is different. You can have some of the sentences start with the same word, but don’t have EVERY sentence start with the same word. It just looks weak and elementary, and the reader usually sees it.


  1. Transition words ROCK!!!

For argumentative papers, transition phrases are good to use and make the paper easier to read. They also show the reader that you, the writer, know how to structure your paragraphs and answer questions effectively. An extra handout will be provided to you with transition rules, but here are a few examples.
On the other hand

Nevertheless

Conversely

Furthermore

In addition

…and there are many more…and they are GOOD TO USE (in the right places).




  1. Eliminate the use of the word “GOT”

It is an awful word to use in any paper, creative or scholarly. There are so many better words to use…
Got = received, obtained, gained, acquired

Getting rid of = eliminated, obliterated, removed



  1. Never start a conclusion with, “All in all,” or “In Conclusion.”

You don’t need to tell me that we are at the conclusion. I can see that I am reading the last paragraph.


  1. Stick with adjectives

If you are describing a noun and you are using more than one characteristic, DO NOT combine adjectives and verbs. Going with adjectives usually works best.
Ex: “Luther was very determined and steadfast in his journey to reform the Catholic Church.”
NOT: “Luther was very determined and felt so strongly in his journey to reform the Catholic Church.”


  1. The beauty is in the details

“St. Peters Basilica” shows you know the Martin Luther story better than if you write “the basilica.” Do not stuff your papers with excess facts, but avoid vagaries.


  1. Comparing and Contrasting

When you compare/contrast two nouns (and you will be doing a lot of this for the next few years of your high school and college years), compare/contrast them by topic.
Ex: If you are given a paper where you need to compare the George Washington presidency against the Abraham Lincoln presidency
DO THIS…
George Washington vs Abraham Lincoln TOPIC 1 (usually in one paragraph)

George Washington vs Abraham Lincoln TOPIC 2 (etc)

George Washington vs Abraham Lincoln TOPIC 3 (etc)
NOT THIS…
George Washington TOPIC 1, TOPIC 2, TOPIC 3 (In one to three paragraphs)

Abraham Lincoln TOPIC 1, TOPIC 2, TOPIC 3 (In one to three paragraphs)


If you just list information for one person, and then pages later, list information for the second person, you are making the reader have to go back and forth to find the comparisons FOR YOU. THEY WILL NOT WANT TO DO THAT!!! YOU WILL/SHOULD GET A LOW SCORE FOR IT. If you are writing a comparison essay, each paragraph should focus on one topic, with a comparison of both figures in it.



  1. Lastly, and I don’t want to sound preachy, and I know some of you don’t need to read this, but I’m going to do it. READ MORE!!!! The only way you become a better writer is by actually reading good writing. It can be a newspaper, magazine or book.

Reading will help your vocabulary in writing and conversation, so you can find the right words to make your point across better, without using a 6th grade vocabulary, One of the biggest tragedies you can face is if you have great ideas in your mind, but don’t have the vocabulary to get the ideas across.


You cannot be a good writer if you don’t read. You learn new words, new sentence structures, and new ideas. Take the good vocabulary words and good writing from these good writers. In the U2 song “The Fly,” Bono sings, “Every artist is a cannibal. Every poet is a thief.” It’s true. Read and take other writers’ styles (NOT THEIR IDEAS OR WORDS THOUGH…That constitutes plagiarism) and infuse them in your writing to make yourself a better writer.


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