Section 1: Getting Started


  • Grab the reader's attention in the first paragraph.


  • Your paper "proves" a thesis, a one-sentence or two-sentence statement of your central idea. The thesis is usually placed at the end of the first paragraph, immediately after you introduce the topic.
  • Although the thesis appears early in paper, it is usually written late in the writing process, after you form your ideas and gather your supporting evidence.


  • The body of your paper contains the evidence (specific examples and application) to support your thesis.
  • State viewpoints that oppose yours as effectively as you state your own. Remember HEAP - honest evaluation of alternate positions.


  • The conclusion is your last chance to connect with the reader. A conclusion summarizes the paper’s main points with a sense of closure and completeness.
  • Do not introduce new material. Include a “killer” statement in the conclusion that leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that you prove your thesis. Summarize the main ideas of the specific thesis and apply the main ideas of the body to the “bigger picture.”
  • Help the reader by demonstrating to her or him that you have done what you said you would do in your purpose statement.
  • Make it memorable.
  • Ask yourself "So what?" then make sure you have answered the question!


  • Good writing entails several drafts and numerous revisions.
  • "Three before me." When you are satisfied with your paper, run spell and grammar checks, check formatting and MLA style, and give it to at least three other people to read and edit.
  • Joe Average should understand your paper. On the one hand, do not insult his intelligence. On the other hand, do not lead him to doubt your intelligence.
  • Always write with respect for the reader.