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College Writing Guide

A guide to help you find books and journal articles to help you write research papers, as well as citation help and useful websites.


In college, students are expected to write at a higher level than in high school or every day life. This guide will provide you with information on how to successfully write any type of college level paper you are assigned.

Use this guide to

  • Understand the process of writing a research paper
  • Learn about MLA and APA
  • Find resources for your paper


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.