Tips for Writing the Perfect Paper
The perfect paper is a true work of art. It’s perfectly organized and has a clear, structured flow from thesis to conclusion. It has a flawless bibliography and citations, with no spelling or grammar mistakes in sight. It has a title that’s both concise and clever; maybe it even has headings. But that perfect paper can be hard to come by—because it takes a whole lot of work to nail down.
If you’re in the pursuit of the perfect paper, here are some tips to help you out.
Use your own words. You may feel the urge to pretty up your sentences with lots of figures of speech and adjectives you dug out of the thesaurus. Don’t. You’d be surprised at how effectively you can get the point across if you just use your own words. Of course, you should be professional and use academic language, but going on in circles just because you want to sound competent will actually make you seem anything but. An embellished paper is not necessarily well written; simpler is better.
Be specific. Provide historical examples, data sets and any information that you feel will best back up your claims. Specificity provides clarity on your subject, as well as credibility that you actually understand the information you are presenting. A good paper can then connect the facts you present to broader themes in the discipline. Vague statements that don’t have evidence to support them will unfortunately fall flat.
Cite well. This is specific to research papers: keep a detailed record of what information you got from what source. Make sure you are keeping up with footnotes/endnotes or in-text citations (depending on the required format), and that they fall in line with what is written in your bibliography. This becomes especially crucial once you enter university, because plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence (even if it’s accidental). Keep track of your information and you’ll be in the clear.
Proofread—repeatedly. No matter how good a writer you are, you should never hand in your first draft as a final copy! Look over your paper not only for spelling and grammar mistakes, but in order to eliminate redundant words, rephrase awkward sentences and overall make your paper flow as seamlessly as possible. You should do this a couple of times until you’re sure what you’ve produced is your best work. Still in doubt? Have a classmate look it over and see if there’s anything you missed.
Take these tips to heart, put pen to paper and get writing!