Formatting a PaperIn text CitationsWorks cited pages
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College Writing Guide   Tags: english, poetry, reading, writing  

Welcome to the College Writing LibGuide at Western Oklahoma State College. This guide will help you find books and journal articles to help you write research papers. It will also provide you with citation help and useful websites.
Last Updated: Jun 8, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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How to write a college level paper

This guide will attempt to help you figure out how to write any type of college level paper you may be assigned.

Helpful links:

Writing in College : A Short Guide to College Writing

College Writing : UNC



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In your transition from high school to college, you will probably notice that more is expected from your writing in college.You will not only write in your English/Composition classes, but across the disciplines. You may have not written papers in your science or history classes before, but that could be expected of you now that you've advanced to college courses.

You'll find occasions where you'll succeed by summarizing a reading accurately and showing that you understand it. There may be times when you're invited to use writing to react to a reading, speculate about it. Far more often--like every other week--you will be asked to analyze the reading, to make a worthwhile claim about it that is not obvious (state a thesis means almost the same thing), to support your claim with good reasons, all in four or five pages that are organized to present an argument.

Learning how to write for these different purposes is important to becoming a successful writer in college.


Key Features of College Writing


a set of statements coherently arranged to offer three things that experienced readers expect in essays that they judge to be thoughtful:

• They expect to see a claim that would encourage them to say, "That's interesting. I'd like to know more."

• They expect to see evidence, reasons for your claim, evidence that would encourage them to agree with your claim, or at least to think it plausible.

• They expect to see that you've thought about limits and objections to your claim. Almost by definition, an interesting claim is one that can be reasonably challenged. Readers look for answers to questions like "But what about . . . ?" and "Have you considered . . . ?"


The point of your paper is the sentence that sums up the most important thing you want to say as a result of your reading, thinking, research and writing.

What is a good point?

A good point or claim typically has several key characteristics: it says something significant about what you have read, something that helps you and your readers understand it better; it says something that is not obvious, something that your reader didn't already know; it is at least mildly contestable, something that no one would agree with just by reading it; it asserts something that you can plausibly support in five pages, not something that would require a book.

You should recognize, however, that you will only rarely be able to state good points before you write your first draft. Much more often, you discover good points at the end of the process of drafting.

Writing is a way of thinking through a problem, of discovering what you want to say. So do not feel that you should begin to write only when you have a fully articulated point in mind. Instead, write to discover and to refine it.


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These guides are currently still in progress and subject to change at any time. Also, if this guide contradicts your instructor in any way, please follow your instructor's guidelines.


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