Writing & speaking resources

results display below
  • Academic voice

    Writing assignments at the university level often require an academic voice. There are certain aspects of academic voice that are more formal than every day, conversational speech. Typically, academic voice avoids informal language and utilizes an authoritative tone.

    Declarative statements

    Sometimes when someone speaks their opinion, they use an “I” statement at the beginning of the sentence. This allows the person listening to know that the statement is that person’s belief. In academic writing, omitting the “I” statement and just stating the claim can be an effective approach. (Keep in mind, if a teacher advises you to use “I” or “you,” these rules can be broken.) ...

  • A cell-based guide to writing

    Writing as a science student can seem like the most arduous and boring task on the planet. Whether you don’t understand where to start or just don’t have the motivation, this resource will hopefully make the whole process a little more interesting and clear for those of us who live and breathe science.

    In order to achieve this, we’re going to make comparisons between your science knowledge and writing a paper. A common base of scientific study is the cell, which allows for life to function as we know it. Just like papers, cells have different parts that are necessary to fulfill their purpose and create life...

  • Accounting Standards in APA

    Often, we’re tasked with citing common sources that are nevertheless receive no mention in our chosen style manuals. For UNR College of Business students, accounting standards are one such example. The following resource offers guidance on how to cite these standards in your writing based on Lee’s (2017) APA Style Blog post.

    In-text citations

    Full in-text citations should list the organization, year, and the specific sections referenced. For the PCAOB Auditing Standards, numbers refer to chapter and paragraphs. For the FASB Accounting Standards Codification, the numbers refer to area, topic, subtopic, and section...

  • Accurately citing to avoid plagiarism

    Plagiarism, put simply, is taking credit for someone else’s work. In academics specifically, plagiarizing is when you write what someone else said/wrote but don’t give them credit for it. Giving credit where credit is due is one of the fundamentals of college writing and not doing so will result in a myriad of unpleasant consequences such as: an automatic “F” either on the assignment or in the class, having to appear before the academic integrity board, undergoing disciplinary actions as assigned by the academic integrity board, and potentially being expelled from the university all together. Professors are constantly keeping a look out for plagiarism in papers, especially in lower level courses like Core Humanities, and do not hesitate in handing over plagiarizers to the academic integrity board. So what’s the best way to avoid the unpleasant consequences of plagiarizing? Simple: don’t do it...

  • Active vs. passive voice

    The verb form “was leaving” and the verb form “left” are both past tense, but the difference is that one is passive and one is active.

    Active voice

    Active voice is used when a writer wants the sentence to have more emphasis on the verb action and does not want the subject of the action obscured. This is the preferred type of voice for most writers.

    Jessica walked to the store and ran into Mike on the way there.

    Here, the emphasis is on Jessica walking (active voice), more than on Mike interrupting her while she was walking...

  • Adjectives vs. adverbs


    An adjective modifies only words that are nouns. It can come before the noun, or can come after a verb, but it modifies the noun.


    An adverb modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. It does not modify a noun. Many times, adverbs end in “ly.” ...

  • AMA abbreviations

    Something often overlooked when learning to write in AMA style is that AMA requires the use of abbreviations for common words, phrases, titles and journals, especially in the references list.


    The following resource provides some common abbreviations you may use; however, there are hundreds of AMA abbreviations overall. To find a complete list, refer to pg. 441 of the AMA manual of style (you can find one at the Writing & Speaking Center!).

  • AMA formatting guidelines

    Note: Many of the guidelines concerning document formatting, especially of the title page and subheadings, that have been provided in this resource are subject to change depending on the preference of your instructor. Always check with the rubric, instructor, or teaching assistant before making decisions about subjective formatting.

    Formatting basics

    • Page number, starting at 1 on the title page, in upper right-hand corner
    • Text is double-spaced
    • 12-point Times New Roman or other serif type font
    • 1” margins and ½” paragraph indentations


  • AMA references

    References in AMA are quite similar to those in APA in terms of their structure. This style mainly differs from other common styles, such as APA or MLA, through its in-text citations, which use superscripts, and the order in which references are organized.

    In-text citations

    • References are cited in numerical order through superscript Arabic numerals (“7” instead of “VII”)
    • Superscripts are placed outside periods and commas...
  • APA 6 headings

    In APA format there are five levels of headings that create degrees of importance in relation to each other. Basically they just function like a bulleted list, with each new level meaning you’re writing about a new subtopic. So:

    • Level 1
      • Level 2
        • Level 3
          • Level 4
            • Level 5...
  • APA 7 headings

    In APA format there are five levels of headings that create degrees of importance in relation to each other. Basically they just function like a bulleted list, with each new level meaning you’re writing about a new subtopic. So:

    • Level 1
      • Level 2
        • Level 3
          • Level 4
            • Level 5...
  • Changes to APA Style with 7th Edition

    Here are some important differences between APA 6th edition and APA 7th edition.

    Running head (section 2.8)

    • The running head, when in the context of a classroom, is no longer required by APA but may be requested by individual instructors.
    • The label “running head” is no longer needed in the header on the first page.

    Title Page (section 2.3)

    • For students using the 7th edition, the title page should include the title of the work in bold font, the author, the affiliated institution, the course, the instructor, and the due date.


  • APA 6 in-text citations

    Citing your sources in APA 6 can be tricky. Here's a quick breakdown.

    One work by one author

    Citation in text

    • Lee (2016) investigated the risks inherent in drinking tap water.

    Parenthetical citation

    • There are risks inherent in drinking tap water (Lee, 2016).


  • APA 7 in-text citations

    There are two types of in-text citations in APA 7 format: parenthetical and narrative. Parenthetical citations include the author(s) and the date of publication within parentheses. Narrative citations intertwine the author as part of the sentence with the date of publication (in parentheses) following.

    One work by one author

    Narrative citation

    • Lee (2016) investigated the risks inherent in drinking tap water.

    Parenthetical citation

    • There are risks inherent in drinking tap water (Lee, 2016).


  • APA 7 quick reference

    Quick reference guides for headings, narrative and in-text citations and how to create a reference when information is missing.

  • Applying the rhetorical situation to images

    If you’re in college, chances are you have written a rhetorical analysis of a piece writing before. Analyzing the tools authors use to influence their audience is a common assignment in most English or literature classes. Recently, applying such analysis to images is becoming a common task as well. Similar to analyzing writing, we can use ethos, pathos, and logos to analyze images.

    Take this advertisement from 2006...

  • Appointment policies & procedures

    You can choose to meet with us face-to-face at the Pennington Student Achievement Center Room 350 or online. Face-to-face meetings can be 30 minutes or 60 minutes (1 hour) long and are always held in the Pennington Student Achievement Center Writing & Speaking Center space, Room 350. In order to maintain our commitment to providing support to students, 30- minute appointments will be marked missed after 5 minutes and 60-minute appointments will be marked missed after 10 minutes...

  • Argumentation resources

    Students are often asked to write arguments beginning in their English classes, but don’t realize that argumentation strategies can be used in many different disciplines, such as defending research, creating proposals, writing cover letters, or telling a convincing narrative.

    Using critical thinking from different perspectives is a base strategy that can help prove your point. These techniques can be used not just in argumentative or “take a stand” papers but will also likely apply to all writing assignments as you progress through upper division courses...

  • Basic sentence pattern in English

    In English, our sentences usually operate using a similar pattern: subject, verb, then object. The nice part about this type of structure is that it lets your reader easily know who is doing the action and what the outcome of the action is.

    A subject performs the action in a sentence.

    • For instance, in the sentence, “Matt eats pizza,” Matt is the subject because he is the one eating the pizza.

    A verb is a word that usually indicates some type of action...

  • BIOL 192 general tips

    Biology 192 focuses on writing in the sciences, and creating approachable, readable lab reports, so it’s important to learn some key aspects of what makes a successful piece of science writing.

    Keep it simple

    It’s important to keep details about the experiment in your paper, but be sure to avoid adding in information that isn’t important. By taking out the “fluff” of your lab report, it helps the reader stay focused on what the lab was all about, rather than leading them astray with too many unimportant details.

  • BIOL 395: writing laboratory reports

    The ability to write a clear, concise laboratory report is an important skill that must be learned to succeed in this course. Moreover, report writing is a standard skill for many different fields. To acquire these skills will require time, hard work, and practice. You are encouraged to get help from as many different sources as you can. Here are several strong suggestions:

    Organization of the laboratory report

    You will be obtaining most of the information you need about writing your reports from the assigned textbook. The following are points we want to emphasize and directions related specifically to this course...

  • British vs. American English

    There are many differences between British and American punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Neither version is more correct than the other; which version you should use just depends on who your primary audience is. Here are some of the most common differences between British and American academic English.

    Punctuation Single vs. Double Quotation Marks

    British English uses single quotation marks to indicate quotations or dialogue.

    • The UWSC says, 'This is how British people do it.'


  • Brief guide to APA 6 formatting

    Formatting in different styles can be tricky and dramatically impact how a paper is recieved.

    What is APA?

    APA is short for the American Psychological Association, which produced its first scientific publishing guide (The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association) in 1929. The short guide below is drawn from the Sixth Edition APA manual and provides answers to the University Writing Center’s most common asked APA questions.

  • Brief guide to CSE citation style

    Formatting in different styles can impact how a paper is recieved.

    What is CSE?

    CSE stands for the Council of Science Editors; this citation style was formerly referred to as CBE, after the Council of Biology Editors (prior to their change of name in 1999). CSE formatting is used almost exclusively for scientific papers.

    In-text citations

    CSE privileges the author’s last name and date of publication...

  • Brief guidelines for article usage

    In English, articles (a, an, the) are like adjectives. They come before and modify nouns. However, articles do not have clearly defined meanings, like adjectives. Instead, articles simply provide information about the status of the nouns they modify (Lynch, Brizee, & Angeli, 2011).

    Notice how the meaning of this sentence changes with the article:

    • George said the computer is broken.

    Here, the suggests that George refers to a specific computer, one that the speaker of this sentence, as well as the speaker’s intended audience, recognizes...

  • Capitalization guide

    Sometimes it can be hard to tell when to capitalize words. As this guide shows, the difference between capitalization and lowercase is often whether a specific place or person is referenced.

    Words are capitalized when you are referring to specific, official names of places, people, or organizations (proper nouns):

    • University of Nevada, Reno vs. the university in Reno

    Specific landmarks or locations are capitalized, whereas general types of geography or landmark are lowercase...

  • Checklist: writing a personal statement

    What part of the process are you on?

    I’m just starting

    Things to do…


    Read about each program and related faculty members online. Find personal statement guidelines for each school/program you’re applying to and print out any prompts for quick reference...

  • How to use a concept matrix

    For research papers, literature reviews, or longer essays, a concept matrix can be an effective resource in organizing research. A concept matrix is an organizational tool that presents connections between available research articles and specific aspects of a chosen topic by having articles on one side and the specific parts of a topic on the other side. Each cell in the matrix is a visual representation of potential intersections between different parts of the larger topic.

    For example, a concept matrix for a literature review on sustainability may look something like this...

  • Chicago Manual of Style

    Although Chicago style can appear intimidating, it’s nothing more than a comprehensive guide for writing within the humanities and liberal arts.

    Why footnotes and endnotes?

    1. Footnotes are convenient. Say you’re reading a history paper (where CMS is primarily used) and you encounter a source that you find interesting or want to know more about. Placing the source’s information at the end of the page is convenient to the reader. The author of a paper may also want to remark on a source, idea, or term, but it’s not important enough to put in the text of the paper; in this case, a footnote would be useful...

  • Comma usage

    Comma usage is a skill and an art.

    Before a coordinating conjunction (and, or/nor, but, so, for, yet) that joins independent clauses (a clause or phrase strong enough to be a sentence by itself).

    • Jawas are a great source for droids, but the droids might be stolen.
    • Sand People travel in single file to hide their numbers, and they ride banthas.


  • Drafting a summary table

    A summary table allows you to compare common research methods, findings, limitations, etc. You can order the entries in any way that you find useful; consider ordering your research alphabetically, by timeliness, or even by grouping similar study aims, models, or results.

    Once compiled, you can use this table to compare studies side by side. Such comparison can help you see trends in findings, identify gaps in the research, and rank each study by relative strength. In short, it helps you organize information on a broad topic, which is a crucial first step in synthesizing that information within a research paper...

  • Clauses & sentences

    Sentences can be multiple clauses or just one, depending on the type.

    Dependent clauses

    A dependent clause cannot stand alone, though they often contain both a subject and a verb.

    Where independent clauses express complete thoughts, dependent clauses do not, and left on their own, dependent clauses create fragments.

    Ex: When the dog barked...

  • Common pitfalls of discussion board responses

    Some courses will ask you to post in an online discussion board, and discussion boards are the primary way many web-based courses facilitate class discussions. The idea is to give an insightful, in-depth response to the prompt (something you would raise your hand and say in a face-to-face classroom). Use this resource as a guide to making effective, thorough discussion board responses that add to the conversation.

    Common Pitfalls

    • Underdeveloped responses
      • Statements like “I agree with the author” or “The author makes a good point” are easy, but they don’t demonstrate understanding of the material or add anything to the conversation...

  • How to Approach the Diversity Statement

    What is a diversity statement?

    Diversity statements are becoming common as part of graduate school applications and even for some professional positions. A diversity statement is typically a one-page statement and is similar in structure to a personal statement but focuses on the candidate’s skills, experiences, and/or willingness to engage in diversity and equity initiatives.

    What should I write about?

    If you have experienced obstacles relevant to diversity and equity, tell about your experiences. If you are from a privileged background, you can acknowledge your privilege. Use your experiences of discrimination or privilege to demonstrate your awareness of current conversations, especially academic conversations, related to diversity and equity...

  • Contractions

    While contractions are used in everyday speech, there are certain situations where you can use them effectively and other situations where you may choose not to. For example, using contractions in academic writing, such as a research paper, is usually not encouraged because it can make your writing sound informal. In writing situations that are informal, such as blog posts or personal narratives, using contractions is acceptable, unless your professor states otherwise. Informal pieces also have a more conversational tone to them compared to an academic paper that has an authoritative tone...

  • Core Humanities: a survival guide

    When it comes to essays for Core Humanities, even the most literature-inclined students may struggle to write one of the many papers assigned in CH 201, 202, and 203. The two main issues that students face in Core Humanities classes are writing a thesis and meeting a word count. Here, we will address these issues in depth, and hopefully guide you towards success in Core Humanities.

    Writing a thesis

    When writing a Core Humanities essay, the thesis statement may be overlooked...

  • Counterarguments

    A counterargument involves acknowledging standpoints that go against your argument and then re-affirming your argument. This is typically done by stating the opposing side’s argument, and then ultimately presenting your argument as the most logical solution. The counterargument is a standard academic move that is used in argumentative essays because it shows the reader that you are capable of understanding and respecting multiple sides of an argument.

    Counterargument in two steps

    1. Respectfully acknowledge evidence or standpoints that differ from your argument...

  • Cover letter format

    Your cover letter should accomplish the following:

    1. Clearly route your cover letter and resume to the right person for the right job opening.
    2. Show you can communicate professionally in writing.
    3. Reinforce qualifications presented in your resume and show that you are a good fit for the company by using short narrative examples of how your experience and skills match the needs of the employer.
    4. Reflect your positive attitude, personality, motivation and enthusiasm.


  • Creating a resource

    Creating a resource for students can be somewhat intimidating, whether you have been on staff for one semester or five. Finding that balance between thorough information and accessible format is complicated and may be a source of stress or uncertainty for may UWC staff members. But stress no more; following are some tips and tricks for turning your abundance of knowledge into an effective resource for student use:


    1. Focus on the tips and tricks. Most students don’t want an intensive lesson on the subject. They just want to learn about a topic or strategy quickly.


  • Writing a successful discussion board post

    A discussion board is a “space” where students can further delve into classroom content. It can promote collaboration, and offer individuals room to explore topics, issues, and/or questions. The discussion board is an excellent tool for students who may feel more comfortable expressing their understanding of course content in a written format, as opposed to verbally.

    Discussion boards can also be used to further employ the resources of the Internet by allowing students to include hyperlinks to relevant content. Since discussion boards are asynchronous, they offer an opportunity for conversation that again cannot be found within the classroom environment...

  • Crafting a successful thesis statement

    A thesis must always demonstrate an argument. If you are not trying to prove something and persuade your audience to accept your point of view, you are not writing an academic paper.

    Your thesis is the most concise way of indicating to your audience the intention of your paper.

    For most undergraduate writing, it is sufficient to have a one sentence thesis statement. Your introductory paragraph should build up to your thesis statement and provide your reader with the necessary context.


  • Creating an accessible document

    People with print disabilities often use screen reader software to access documents and webpages. These programs, such as JAWS for Windows and VoiceOver for Apple and iOS, read text out loud to their users. In order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, writers should verify that their documents are compatible with screen readers, especially for resources such as handouts, forms, and reference materials. Tools within Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat can help convert existing documents or create new accessible documents from scratch.

    Microsoft Word 2016

    By default, screen reader technology can read plain text from Word documents. Thus, where practical, writers can opt to make their doc and docx files directly available...

  • Creating listening charts in American Popular Music

    When analyzing a song there are words that, if understood, can help with development of listening charts. The listening charts throughout American Popular Music give examples of what to look for in specific songs, but not an overview of general concepts that can be applied to any song.

    Terms to understand

    Understanding some basic music terminology can be helpful when interpreting a song’s meaning. These terms can also be used in listening charts to identify patterns and composition styles in songs...

  • Creative writing

    Creative writing is unique for a few reasons. This guide addresses things unique to writing fiction.


    There are multiple types of characters. All of which are not necessary or unnecessary in a story. Some of those types of characters include:

    • Protagonist

      • The main character. They are dynamic, because they change with the story arch that you create. However, there is no rule that says the main character has to be beloved, a hero, or the winning character.


  • Writing effective descriptions

    “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

    - Stephen King

    Descriptive writing is a powerful tool that adds life and depth to your writing. Effective descriptions breathe life into your ideas and put the reader in the scene where those ideas live. If I want to write about my experience living in Japan, the best way I can relate that to another person is through description: the smell of the food, the sounds of the city, the beauty of the landscape...

  • Dialogue punctuation

    With dialogue, specific punctuation is needed. Most often, commas and periods go within the quotation marks, but there are some forms of punctuation and examples that go outside of the quotation marks. Utilize these tips to make sure that the punctuation of your dialogue is correct.

    Tag Line

    The tag line is the statement before the dialogue that typically signifies who the speaker is.


  • Differences between statements of purpose and personal statements

    Statement of purpose

    The focus of a Statement of Purpose is typically what you have accomplished academically in the past and what you plan to accomplish academically and professionally in the future.

    This document focuses primarily on the purpose you have for applying to a specific program. It is less about your character and more about your previous experiences, your goals, and the connections to the program to which you are applying.

    The goal of the Statement of Purpose is to demonstrate your understanding and preparation for the academic pursuits and rigors of a graduate program, including the coursework, research, and possibly teaching expectations.

  • Different types of arguments

    As a teaching tool, these arguments are often about students learning to support claims with evidence.

    • Intro: Hook and thesis

    • Point One: First claim & support

    • Point Two: Second claim & support

    • Point Three: Third claim and support

    • Conclusion: Implications or future & restate thesis

    This type of argument is readily adaptable in terms of size, argument, and application, but it is not the only option available...

  • Drafting an argument essay

    An argument paper is one in which the author takes a specific stance on a topic and attempts to sway the reader. Argument papers are not always assigned as such and may include certain types of research assignments or topic specific prompts.


    The introduction should do several things for the reader:


  • Drafting an effective introduction

    Generally, most introductions in academic writing aim to invite readers into a discussion by presenting the necessary context. Additionally, introductions serve to frame the larger conversation/topic of the paper for the reader and to present a “road map” of important points. The strength of an introduction can determine whether your target audience will want to continue reading or if they will set your paper aside in favor of more engaging material and analysis.


  • Drafting an exploratory essay

    Exploratory papers are NOT argument papers. An exploratory assignment is usually given so that students find ways to branch out in a specific topic without taking a stance. Exploratory papers can range from a full research paper to a short essay.


    The introduction should do several things for the reader:

    • Set context – this is where the author can begin to give general background information and set up a “map” of what the paper will discuss.


  • Editing & proofreading techniques

    Editing begins while you are still working on your first draft. It has to do more with revising the logistics of the paper than grammar and surface-level errors.

    Proofreading takes place when editing is finished. Focuses on surface-level errors like misspelling and grammar errors.


  • Making peer review productive

    There are plenty of reasons why instructors encourage peer review, but here are a few that are relevant to you as a writer.

    • It gives you an authentic response from a reader—without judgment.
    • It allows you to “test out” your ideas and ask questions of peers.
    • It allows you to analyze your own writing by looking closely at what others are doing. If you see something that’s working well (or not working at all) in your peer’s paper, look for that same thing in your own and revise accordingly.


  • Email etiquette for students

    Email etiquette is how we maintain a respectful, appropriate, and professional tone in the context of an email. This includes but is not limited to using correct spelling and grammar, addressing the reader with correct titles, and identifying oneself and one’s needs clearly. Email etiquette is especially relevant for students communicating with professors.

    Where to Begin

    • Decide whether or not the question, concern, or comment you have can be answered quickly over an email. If not, consider speaking with them in person after class or during office hours.


  • Evaluating references using the C.R.A.A.P. test

    There comes a time in every author’s life when he must decide whether a source is worthy enough to be included in his masterpiece of an essay. Luckily for us, the students at California’s Chico University took a break from partying and developed an effective way to evaluate a source’s credibility. Appropriately acronymed C.R.A.A.P., this five-step test assesses the reliability of potential sources, and makes it easy to decide whether or not to include a source.


    • If the source is a written text, when was it published? If it is an online resource, when was it originally posted online?
    • Could current events during the time of publishing/posting affect the legitimacy of the source?


  • Examples of citation styles using a book with one author

    All second-line indentations are one-half of an inch. This is known as a hanging indent. 

    APA: American Psychological Association—References

    Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

    MLA: Modern Language Association—Works Cited

    Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2000. Print.


  • Finding your voice in personal statements

    Your personal statement is an opportunity for an admissions or review committee to get to know you, the “you” that cannot be captured in a CV or resume. For that reason, it is important to be confident, be honest, and be yourself. Below are four common writing mistakes that “hide” your individual voice and undermine the effectiveness of your essay.

    Academic Voice

    Excessive academic language can make a personal statement seem overwrought and artificial. Write as though you are speaking with a colleague, rather than publishing in a journal.


  • Got syllabi?

    You’ve survived your first week of college classes and have been inundated with what seems like a million different rules and requirements. You have four, five, maybe six or seven syllabi sitting in front of you. Now what?

    Professors hand out syllabi as an integral part of the class.

    The syllabus will often contain a timetable of assignments, when major projects and papers are due, and when tests will occur, as well as instructions for assignments, grade requirements for the class (e.g., how much of your grade is based in attendance or based on your quiz scores)...

  • Guide to writing research papers

    A research paper IS/DOES:

    • Require many reliable sources to back up your thesis/claim.
    • Take up a position and support it with evidence.
    • Usually about events (historical or current), textual arguments, or personal interests.
    • Contain an introduction with a thesis, and a body with an argument and counterargument, and a conclusion, with a works cited in the very end.

    A research paper is NOT:

    • A regular essay—some essays are exploratory, some are textual analysis, but they do not usually require you to do severe research.


  • Guidelines for clarity & concision

    Many people believe academic writing is confusing and dense, that it suffers from a lack of clarity and concision. Clear and concise writing does not always come easy; it takes practice and plenty of revision. The following guidelines can help you get started.

    Passive and Active Sentences

    Favoring active sentences over passive ones is probably the most repeated advice regarding clarity and concision. An active sentence is one where the subject is the source of the action. Conversely, a passive sentence has a subject that is the receiver of the action...

  • HESI A2: grammar

    The HESI A2 examination stands for Heath Education Systems Incorporated Admissions Assessment and acts as a way to test a student’s potential success in an intense nursing program. The Orvis School of Nursing uses the scores from the exam in their selection process; while your GPA earns you an interview spot, ultimately, the result of your interview and your HESI score determine whether or not you get into the nursing program.

    This resource will explain some of the grammatical concerns that are important for you to know on this English portion of the HESI A2...

  • HESI A2: reading comprehension

    The HESI A2 examination stands for Heath Education Systems Incorporated Admissions Assessment and acts as a way to test a student’s potential success in an intense nursing program. Orvis School of Nursing uses the scores from the exam toward the end of the selection process; while your GPA earns you an interview spot, ultimately, the result of your interview and your HESI score determine whether or not you get into the nursing program. Half of the points in the exam focus on English skills based around your ability to read critically and to correct grammar mistakes. This may seem daunting to STEM students, but the Writing & Speaking Center is here to help...

  • HOC and LOC in revising

    Higher Order Concerns (HOC) should be the priority during revision because they have the greatest impact on successful communication.


    Feedback focuses examination of topic, relevant research, and interpretations, specifically looking for multiple perspectives including counterarguments (if applicable). This HOC will address ways to add to and improve the analysis of subject matter and sources within a paper.

    Assignment Fulfillment

    Feedback focuses on how well the paper addresses the questions or parts of the assignment, making comparisons to the prompt/rubric if it is available...

  • How to use tenses within scientific writing

    One’s tense will vary depending on what one is trying to convey within their paper or section of their paper. For example, the tense may change between the methods section and the discussion section.

    Abstract --> Past tense

    • The abstract is usually in the past tense due to it showing what has already been studied.

    Example: “This study was conducted at the Iyarina Field School, and within the indigenous Waorani community within Yasuni National Park region.”


  • How to write a business report

    A business report is a collection of data and analyses that helps make relevant information easily accessible to a company. There are many different types of business reports, but this guide will show you the basic outline.

    Before You Begin:

    • Think about your audience and their expectations, and plan your report accordingly. For example, are they expecting a formal or informal report? Do they have an understanding of the vocabulary/terms used? Do they require more background information? Do they need to be heavily persuaded?
    • What is the purpose of the report? Make sure this is clear.
    • Gather and organize your supporting information/data/visuals.


  • How to write a concert review

    MUS 121 typically uses concert reviews as a primary medium of writing. Concert reviews are structured as follows.


    Introduce concert title

    • Concert titles are put in quotation marks in MLA
    • Chicago Style— long musical works are italicized (Opera) and shorter pieces are in quotation marks following poem capitalization rules. Concert Titles are in quotation marks.
      • Example: "Voi che sapete cosa è amor" from Le Nozzi di Figaro


  • Hunting down sources

    The research essay can be scary when you are struggling to find resources. Many are frustrated by the search for “high quality” sources. Here are some places that you should consider looking into when researching for your essay.

    Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia

    • the go-to places where students first find information. Some teachers warn: “NO Wikipedia!” and for good reason–there are many contributors, so it isn’t that reliable. However, there usually is a treasure chest of sources listed toward the bottom of articles or Wikipedia pages referencing previously written articles. This is a great place to track down some good sources...
  • Speech: Informative role of the speaker

    As a speaker you are teaching or informing the audience about your topic. Being clear and concise allows the audience to follow along with the information you are presenting. If the topic is difficult or unfamiliar to the audience, you may need to repeat your purpose throughout your speech, ensuring they are keeping up with the evidence you are presenting.

    • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made in a number of ways. Today I will show you a way to keep the jelly remains in the sandwich.


  • Integrating sources

    When writing a college-level paper, you will often be required to reference sources in order to support the main point/purpose of a paper. In order for sources to effectively provide support, you will need to contextualize every textual reference you use and explain why they’re relevant to your paper’s overarching purpose. This might look different depending on whether you’re paraphrasing or directly quoting a source, but you will need to explain the purpose of every reference you make...

  • Introductions & conclusions

    As a speaker you are teaching or informing the audience about your topic. Being clear and concise allows the audience to follow along with the information you are presenting. If the topic is difficult or unfamiliar to the audience, you may need to repeat your purpose throughout your speech, ensuring they are keeping up with the evidence you are presenting.

    • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be made in a number of ways. Today I will show you a way to keep the jelly remains in the sandwich.


  • It's vs. its

    The difference between “its” and “it’s” can be confusing because they are said exactly the same way. However, in writing, it is important to make the distinction.

    Using “its”

    We use “its” when the word “it” is functioning as a pronoun and you want to show possession.

    • The kitchen in the house is its only good quality.
    • The book has its good and badly written parts.

    This can be counterintuitive because, normally, the apostrophe is used to show possession. However, in the case of “its,” no apostrophe actually shows possession...

  • Literature review basics

    A literature review synthesizes and analyzes previous research in a field to inform an audience and establish background knowledge. Literature reviews are most often part of a larger work, like a research article, but may also be written as their own piece to demonstrate a student’s understanding of a concept. In addition to providing the reader with background information relevant to the topic or research question, a literature review may help to identify gaps in the current body of knowledge or criticize previous research practices as a way to present potential for future research...

  • Literature review 101

    According to the Royal Literary Fund, a literature review has four main objectives:

    • Survey the research in a given field
    • Synthesize that information
    • Extract the key components
    • Critically analyze the information presented.

    This is done by: looking at gaps in the research, limitations placed upon the researchers, finding new relationships among the data and discusses areas where further research could be conducted...

  • Logical fallacies

    When considering your argument or the arguments of others, writers and readers need to be aware of logical fallacies. Logical fallacies are found in many places—ads, politics, movies.

    Logical fallacies make an argument weak by using mistaken beliefs/ideas, invalid arguments, illogical arguments, and/or deceptiveness. If you are arguing, avoid fallacies of thought because they create weaknesses in an argument. Here are some of the most common fallacies to be aware of...

  • Mapping a synthesis essay

    When asked to write a synthesis essay, many students question the word “synthesis.” What does it mean to synthesize? Well, the dictionary tells us that synthesis is the combination of ideas to form a theory; the thesaurus provides synonyms such as fusion, blend, and creation. So ultimately, you are creating a combination of what your sources are conversing about (subject X) and how you have rearranged what is being said to create a new direction for that subject. This quick outline should get you well on your way to synthesizing...

  • Why isn't this plural? Mass nouns

    Sometimes a noun looks like it should be plural when it isn’t. Chances are that this noun is called a mass noun. Mass nouns are nouns that, by their very nature, are plural. These are also called uncountable nouns or noncount nouns.


    • She went to get glasses of water for everyone.
    • Sara ate five bowls of rice.
    • Robert enjoys all different types of literature.

    The phrases “water,” “rice,” and “literature” at first seem like they should be plural. If we said “bowls of carrots” or “different types of books” the noun would be pluralized...

  • MLA 8th edition: Citation Basics

    In 2016, MLA updated their guidelines for citing sources. The new model is meant to be simpler and more flexible for writers using sources from a variety of platforms and publication types.

    Works Cited entries are created by consulting the MLA’s list of Core Elements. If your source doesn’t have one of these Core Elements, just omit that element and move on to the next one...

  • MLA 8th Edition: Style & Format

    Note: Always confirm with your instructor about special instructions or exceptions.

    General guidelines

    • Margins should be set to 1 inch on all sides.
    • All text should be double-spaced.
    • Text should be in a legible, 12 pt. font (Times New Roman is preferred by many instructors).
    • Page numbers should be in the upper right-hand corner and should include your last name and the number.


  • MLA quotation punctuation

    The punctuation for integrating academic quotes is a little different than dialogue punctuation. When a quotation ends a sentence and the parenthetical citation is at the end, the period should come after the citation. Additionally, there are separate rules for long quotations.

    Quotes That End a Sentence

    When a quote with citation ends a sentence, the period should go after the citation because the citation belongs to that sentence...

  • Multimodal approaches to learning styles

    Multimodalism is primarily used for genre awareness studies and for flexible teaching methods. Knowing what types of learners there are will help you to understand what types of multimodal text practices you may be able to suggest to your peers.

    When giving consultations to your peers, keep in mind that there are many types of learners. There are many ways to say one thing, in more ways than speaking. Here are the seven types of common learning styles, but remember that no single person belongs to a single learning style category — people typically use a combination of these learning styles...

  • Multimodality's role in academia

    With increasingly different types of communication used today, we must meet the demand of our society’s diverse communication styles. Mass education systems were founded on a factory model of education, which gives individuals a consistent education for basic factory job functions. Now that society is moving away from factory-based jobs, creative jobs that require a different type of education are in higher demand. Multimodal composition has been designed to accommodate the creative ways of thinking needed in education today. Multimodal communication ranges from visual movement to audio recordings (Mehu, 2014)...

  • Nonessential elements

    Nonessential words and phrases are elements of a sentence which do not contain information essential to the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

    For example:

    • Jan, the second of three children, always feels left out.

    Here, “Jan always feels left out” is the main clause and “the second of three children” is the nonessential phrase. We can move nonessential elements to different parts of a sentence, which can make these elements essential to the meaning...

  • Outline creation

    Outlining helps to organize thoughts and create a sense of refined structure to written texts. By following these simple steps, you can clearly define your main ideas and figure out how to support your claims.

    How to start an outline

    1. Brainstorm
      1. Think about all of your ideas and what you would like to do with them. Write or draw them out and see if you can find a connection between these ideas.
    2. Limit Your Ideas
      1. Find a connection that links similar ideas together from your brainstorming session; this will help you develop your main theme or topic...
  • Paragraph structure

    Paragraphs are the building blocks writers use to construct their writing; however, that does not mean there is one, pre-determined way to create them (Trimbur, 2008, p. 541). Just as paragraphs are the building blocks of a whole text, paragraphs are made up of different elements that should be arranged in a manner relevant to their content.

    Paragraph Elements

    These are some basic paragraph elements. Every paragraph will be different. Some may be mostly background, while another may not have any background at all...

  • Paragraphs

    A paragraph is a distinct unit which connects to a larger idea. A paragraph should have only one idea or topic (in the example below, Alexie’s family members are each distinct units connected to the larger idea of his family; his house is one distinct unit connected to the larger idea of his reservation, etc.).

    I can remember picking up my father's books before I could read. The words themselves were mostly foreign, but I still remember the exact moment when I first understood, with a sudden clarity, the purpose of a paragraph. I didn't have the vocabulary to say "paragraph," but I realized that a paragraph was a fence that held words...

  • What is parallel structure?

    Parallel structure is used in sentences to promote readability as well as to create a common level of importance between ideas.

    • Also know as parallelism, using parallel structure creates a common grammatical pattern throughout a sentence.
    • Often, matching verb tenses, nouns, and conjunctions will lead you to a more parallel construction.


  • Paraphrasing

    Whether working on a research paper or a personal narrative, presenting the ideas of a credible source using your own language is an effective way to integrate evidence into your academic writing. However, paraphrasing is more complex than directly quoting source material, and it is important to practice paraphrasing in order to succeed. Here are some steps you can take to construct a successful paraphrase.

    Step 1: Take notes on the most important aspects of the sentence(s) that you are attempting to paraphrase. Even though it’s tempting to use the “perfect” wording from your original source, try thinking of synonyms or related terms to get these ideas down in your words...