Writing & speaking resources

Browse our collection of guides to find the writing and speaking help you need, whether that's a rule refresher or a whole new way to think about writing a paper.

  • 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.

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

  • Guide to writing research papers

    Get tips on how to approach writing a research paper, including things to avoid and how to structure your paper.

    Guide to writing research papers

  • 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.

    Hunting down sources

  • Note taking

    Learn a range of strategies for taking notes and understand what you should look for when taking notes during reading assignments and class lectures.

    Note taking

  • Reading strategies

    Reading, like writing, is an active process. Reading involves three major phases: previewing, reading, and reviewing. Participating in all three stages of the reading process can help you engage with and retain the information you read.

    Reading strategies

  • Refining searches using Boolean operators

    When searching online databases, you often get too many or too few results. Identifying keywords or phrases and then connecting them using Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT), along with the other tools in this guide, can help you narrow, expand, and/or refine your searches to find relevant, useful sources.

    Refining searches using Boolean operators

  • Source strengths & weaknesses

    With the Internet’s ever-expanding repository of information, appraising potential sources has become an increasingly important skill. Evaluating strengths and weaknesses can be a useful tactic to assess potential sources.

    Source strengths & weaknesses

  • Abstracts

    If you ever write any sort of research paper, you are likely to need an abstract. But what is an abstract for? What should go into one? What makes one effective? This resource will provide a brief guide.


  • 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.

    A cell-based guide to writing

  • Accounting standards in APA

    Often, we’re tasked with citing common sources that are nevertheless receive no mention in our chosen style manuals. For 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.

    Accounting standards in APA

  • 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.

    Applying the rhetorical situation to images

  • 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.

    BIOL 395: writing laboratory reports

  • 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.

    BIOL 192 general tips

  • Checklist: writing a personal statement

    Get information about writing a personal statement, with specific steps to take at every stage of the process.

    Checklist: writing a personal statement

  • CHS 211 literature review

    A literature review is a comprehensive study and interpretation of the literature (articles, studies, journals) for a specific topic (Aveyard 2014).

    The primary role of the researcher when conducting a literature review is to try and make sense of all the research. Imagine that a journal article is a single puzzle piece; when you are writing a literature review you are taking all of these different puzzle pieces, trying to get them to fit together to ultimately answer your research question.

    CHS 211 literature review

  • 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.

    Creating listening charts in American Popular Music

  • 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.

    Creating a resource

  • Creative writing

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

    Creative writing

  • 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.

    How to approach the diversity statement

  • 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.

    Drafting a summary table

  • Education application essay

    The Education Application Essay is part of the application process for acceptance into the teacher preparation program at the College of Education. Typically, applicants are in their sophomore or junior year. In the past this essay has prompted students to write about their experiences in education, how they will face issues in the field, and their education philosophy.

    Education application essay

  • 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.

    Finding your voice in personal statements

  • Graduate-level writing

    When you're an undergraduate, writing at the graduate level may seem intimidating. Maybe your upper-level course professors say they expect graduate-level writing, or maybe you're planning to go to grad school, and you want to know what to expect. Ultimately, however, learning to write at the graduate level, no matter where you are in your academic career, will help you improve your writing skills.

    Graduate-level writing

  • 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. 

    HESI A2: reading comprehension

  • 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.

    HESI A2: grammar

  • How to read primary sources

    Primary sources are direct, first-hand accounts that describe a particular time period or event. Learn what to look for when reading a primary source to make sure you are interpreting the document appropriately.

    How to read primary sources

  • 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.

    How to use tenses within scientific writing

  • 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.

    How to write a business report

  • How to write a concert review

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

    How to write a concert review

  • Differences between statements of purpose and personal statements

    Learn more about writing a statement of purpose and a personal statement and understand the key differences between the two genres. 

    Differences between statements of purpose and personal statements

  • 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.

    Cover letter format

  • 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.

    Core Humanities: a survival guide

  • Linguistics references in APA

    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.

    Linguistics is the scientific study of language, so linguistics papers follow the APA Publication Manual, with a few key adjustments that reflect the priorities of the field. These are guidelines for a references page and technical formatting in a research paper, literature review, or report for linguistics.

    Linguistics references in APA

  • 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.

    Literature reviews 101

  • 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 basics

  • Psychic distance in creative writing

    In creative writing, how involved the reader feels with a story can strengthen the clarity, pacing, suspense and drama of a story or alternatively draw a reader out of a scene that is critical to understanding a narrative. Often, stories depend on the perspectives of particular characters to lend meaning and detail throughout the story’s structure, plot and other ambitions.

    Psychic distance in creative writing

  • Quick guide to an evaluation essay

    Ever read a restaurant review or movie review? These types of reviews are evaluations of the business, products, and/or services. When evaluating, writers should consider the following components . . .

    Quick guide to an evaluation essay

  • Quote integration

    Quote integration is arguably one of the most difficult parts of essay writing; however, it does not need to be. Here are some tips to make quote integration easier. 

    Quote integration

  • Resume guidelines

    A resume is a personal document highlighting someone’s qualifications for a job, scholarship, internship, or another opportunity. Resumes are meant to be streamlined and concise, in order to give the reviewer a quick overview of experience, with optional details. Unless otherwise noted, most resumes should only be one full page.

    Resume guidelines

  • Tips for science writing

    Get guidance on writing for science classes, including formality, objectivity, voice and formatting tips, and see examples of how to make your writing better. 

    Tips for science writing

  • Stylistic considerations for engineers

    Passive and active voice simply refer to the relationship of the subject to the verb.

    Stylistic considerations for engineers

  • Understanding film writing assignments

    Sometimes it is difficult to know how to best approach writing about television, film or web media. Much of this process begins with understanding your assignment: this will have an impact on your purpose, audience, opinion, analysis and research.

    Understanding film writing assignments

  • Understanding writing prompts

    For many college papers, a prompt will ask questions related to readings and class discussion, asking you to demonstrate analysis and discussion of the topic. Decoding what a prompt is asking can sometimes be overwhelming. The sooner you understand a prompt, the sooner you can start writing. Here are some useful tips to understand writing prompts ...

    Understanding writing prompts

  • Using an interview in a research paper

    Using an interview can be an effective primary source for some papers and research projects. Finding an expert in the field or some other person who has knowledge of your topic can allow for you to gather unique information not available elsewhere.

    Using an interview in a research paper

  • Ways to effectively use University Writing & Speaking Center consultations

    Learn how to effectively use writing and speaking consultations to maximize your time and improve your writing.

    Ways to effectively use Writing & Speaking Center consultations

  • Writing in accounting

    Accountants spend one third of their time writing, according to a survey conducted by Nellermoe, Weirich, and Reinstein (1999, as cited by Cleaveland & Larkins, 2004). They must document processes, clarify issues, and propose actions for both internal and external audiences. Beyond a corporate setting, accountants who wish to sit for the professional accounting exams must also polish their writing for time-constrained writing scenarios.

    Writing in accounting

  • Writing psychology papers

    Get tips, including do's and don'ts, for writing papers for your psychology classes

    Writing psychology papers

  • Writing social work papers

    Read an overview of various kind of social work papers and their requirements.

    Writing social work papers

  • 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.

    Academic voice

  • 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.

    Argumentation resources

  • Audience

    When making a demand, what is the first thing that you consider? The best logic to make the argument convincing? The right words to say? The appropriate tone to use? All of these factors can play an important role in the writing process, but they are all quite meaningless if the individual does not take into account one very important detail: the audience.


  • Basic data and statistical analysis

    Usually when it comes to writing, mathematics and statistics probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. However, quite the number of us have had to face an instance where a source based on research must be used in our writing. Whether it be for a literature review or research paper or anything in between, being unfamiliar with how to utilize data can be a nerve-wracking experience. Knowing how to use data to our advantage can even strengthen our papers and help us to explain the things that in some cases, words alone cannot.

    Basic data and statistical analysis

  • 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 of discussion board responses

  • 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.


  • 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.

    Crafting a successful thesis statement

  • Different types of arguments

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

    Different types of arguments

  • 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.

    Drafting an argument essay

  • Drafting an effective conclusion

    When drafting an effective research paper, how the paper ends is often just as important as how the paper opens. Since an introduction serves to set the stage for a paper and provide readers with a “roadmap” of what to expect in the paper and the overall thesis or research question, an effective conclusion provides resolution to your paper. Though there is no one definitive way to approach a conclusion, several tips are presented below may help you effectively close your paper.

    Drafting an effective conclusion

  • 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 effective introduction


  • 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.

    Drafting an exploratory essay

  • 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.

    Editing & proofreading techniques

  • 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?

    Got syllabi?

  • HOC and LOC in revising

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

    Later order concerns (LOC) are focused on sentence and word-level concerns.

    HOC and LOC topic descriptions

  • 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.

    How to use a concept matrix

  • 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.

    Integrating sources

  • 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.

      Introductions & conclusions

    • 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. . .

      Logical fallacies

    • 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.

      Making peer review productive

    • 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.

      Mapping a synthesis essay

    • Multimodal approaches

      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.

      Multimodal approaches

    • Writing assets: Multimodality in academia

      With increasingly different types of communication used today, we must meet the demand of our society’s diverse communication styles. 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).

      Writing assets: Multimodality in academia

    • Narrowing your research topic

      Narrowing a research topic is moving from a general topic, like global warming, to a tighter research focus, such as helping the environment by improving travel modes (example below). However, you can’t just forget about the big picture—how your argument/claim fits into the bigger discussion including connections to other viewpoints on your topic.

      Narrowing your research topic

    • Organic chemistry outline

      When you’re trying to figure out ideas for your core classes, but your brain seems to just be focused on compounds and bonding, what might help? While a natural link doesn’t seem obvious between chemistry and writing, you can use some of the things you’re learning in those intense chemistry courses as a guide for your writing. In fact, doing so might even lead to a more organized paper.

      Organic chemistry outline

    • 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.

      Outline creation

    • Paper organization

      When writing an essay, it’s important to think about which aspects you would like to include in your paper. For example, are there definitions or background information that you’d like to explain first before getting into the bulk of your paper?

      Paper organization

    • Prewriting strategies

      Prewriting can be a useful way to organize thoughts, ideas, and questions to prepare for a writing task. Often used as the first step of the writing process, the prewriting stage allows the writer to jot down ideas about a topic rather than committing too much time to one topic and finding out three pages in that the topic isn’t a good fit. Because prewriting encourages creativity, there are many different strategies to choose from.

      Prewriting strategies

    • Reverse Outlines

      During the revision process, it is often necessary to check for understanding within your paper to ensure that your ideas are strongly developed and well-organized. However, it can sometimes be hard to read through your draft and reorganize blocks of text and efficiently manage your revisions. When revising, it is helpful to locate your ideas within paragraphs and distill the main topics that link your claims, reasons, and analysis together.

      Reverse outlines

    • Revising with higher order concerns

      Revision implies a “re-seeing” of your text, not just a quick clean up. To effectively revise, or re-see, writers should focus on rhetorical concerns that have significant impact on the text. For example, focusing on purpose and organization will have more impact than smaller concerns such as commas. Additionally, editing is best saved for the end of your process because any changes you make to higher order concerns will create a need to edit later.

      Revising with higher order concerns

    • Time management

      An essay should express continued thought and/or research on a particular subject. It is harder to collect and research information when it is all done at the last minute. Time management is integral to academic writing, especially with longer essays. Utilize these tips to make the writing process as smooth as possible.

      Time management

    • Time management remote strategies

      These strategies can apply no matter why you're working remotely—whether your class is partly or fully online, you have to work from home, or you just prefer to work in your own space, working remotely has its own specific challenges. Here are some strategies for managing your time while working from home.

      Time management remote strategies

    • What is an annotated bibliography?

      An annotated bibliography, in its purest form, is simply a list of sources and a description of each source. Aside from being an often required homework assignment in beginning college English courses, the annotated bibliography has a practical use as well. The idea of an annotated bibliography is that it gives you a springboard to write your essay.

      What is an annotated bibliography?

    • 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.

      Writing effective descriptions

    • 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.

      Writing a successful discussion board post

    • 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.

      Accurately citing to avoid plagiarism

    • ACS (American Chemical Society) Format

      This ACS Format pertains to formal reports for organic chemistry research publications, Chemistry 347, and Chemistry 348.

      ACS format

    • 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 abbreviations

    • 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.

      AMA formatting guidelines

    • 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.

      AMA references

    • 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.

      APA 7 headings

    • 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.

      APA 7 in-text citations

    • APA 7 quick charts

      Get quick resources on headings, citations and more in APA 7. 

      APA 7 quick charts

    • Brief guide to CSE citation style

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

      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.

      Brief guide to CSE citation style

    • 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.

      Chicago Manual of Style

    • Examples of citation styles using a book with one author

      View examples in various styles of citations for a book with one author.

      Examples of citation styles using a book with one author

    • 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.

      MLA 8th edition: Citation basics

    • 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.

      MLA quotation punctuation

    • 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 8th edition: Style & format

    • MLA tricky citations

      Most sources you come across for will follow the basic structure for an MLA citation. Even sources you might think are unusual, like a pamphlet, a magazine advertisement, or a message posted to a discussion forum, all can be cited using the same format outlined in our resource on MLA citation basics. There are however, a few sources and situations that might require a slight change to the format. The following examples should help with some of the more common, but still tricky, citations you may be faced with.

      MLA tricky citations

    • 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.” 

      Adjectives vs. adverbs

    • 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.

      Basic sentence pattern in English

    • 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).

      Brief guidelines for article usage

    • 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.

      British vs. American English

    • 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.

      Capitalization guide

    • Clauses & sentences

      Sentences can be multiple clauses or just one, depending on the type. Learn more about how independent and dependent clauses can be used to form grammatical sentences in English.

      Clauses & sentences

    • Cohesion: The known-new contract

      When we say writing is cohesive, we mean that relationships between ideas are easy for a reader to follow. Cohesion is often a component of what many students call “flow,” meaning that ideas are smoothly strung together to create a clear discussion, exposition, or argument. Writers may use several methods to create cohesion in their writing, one of which is the “known-new contract.”

      cohesion: the known-new contract

    • Comma usage

      Comma usage is a skill and an art. Learn some general guidelines about when to use commas in your writing. 

      Comma usage

    • 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. 


    • 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.

      Dialogue punctuation

    • 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.

      Guidelines for clarity & concision

    • 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.

      It's vs. its

    • 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.

      Nonessential elements

    • Paragraph transitions

      Paragraph transition is the movement between paragraphs, specifically how effectively logical order and transitions/transitional devices are used.

      Paragraph transitions

    • Parenthetical phrases

      Parenthetical phrases, also known simply as parentheticals, can be a great way to add flow and concision to an essay. In essence, a parenthetical is just a phrase that is not essential to the rest of the sentence. However, just because it isn’t essential does not mean that it isn’t important. When used correctly, a parenthetical can add crucial new information to a sentence without disrupting the flow. 

      Parenthetical phrases

    • Possessives

      The apostrophe is largely used to show possession, but when it comes to words with an “s” at the end, sometimes the placement gets confusing.


    • Prepositions

      Prepositions are grammatical words that have no inherent meaning like a noun or verb would.  Instead, they contribute to the grammatical meaning of the sentence. What preposition a writer should use depends upon the context of the sentence. The prepositions at, on, and in are the most common, but, of, for, and about are also discussed in the following pages.


    • Punctuation guide

      Learn how to correctly use the major types of punctuation in the English language. 

      Punctuation guide

    • Relative clauses, pronouns & adverbs

      An essential relative clause provides necessary, defining information about the noun. On the other hand, non‐ essential relative clauses provide additional, non‐necessary information about the noun. Think of non‐ essential relative clauses as adjectives describing the noun; you can remove adjectives without changing the meaning of the sentence. A relative clause can be introduced by either a relative pronoun or a relative adverb.

      Relative clauses, pronouns & adverbs

    • Run-on sentences

      A run‐on sentence is two or more independent clauses joined together with insufficient punctuation. This means that there are two or more complete sentences fused into one sentence ...

      Run-on sentences

    • Semicolon cheat sheet

      Semicolons are often used to join parts of a sentence together to establish variety and link related ideas. Unlike a colon, which separates an independent clause from descriptive information, a semicolon links independent clauses of equal standing. Below are some helpful tips on how to use semicolons effectively and appropriately to strengthen sentence structure and variety.

      semicolon cheat  sheet

    • Sentence variety

      What is sentence variety and what can it do for your writing? The following quotes are great examples of how balancing long and short sentences can make your writing more engaging. Several short sentences in a row make writing seem choppy and boring. Several very long sentences make the writing drone on.

      Sentence Variety

    • Subject-verb agreement

      Learn what subject verb agreement is and how to conjugate basic English verbs.

      Subject-verb agreement

    • Types of sentences

      Learn more about the types of sentences that make up the English language and how to use them. 

      Types of sentences

    • Verb tenses

      View a quick guide to verb tenses in the English language and how to form them. 

      Verb tenses

    • 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.

      Why isn't this plural? Mass nouns

    • Word choice

      Improving your writing skills does not require you to be a walking dictionary or have an extensive knowledge of English grammar rules and concepts. Get comfortable with getting outside suggestions and critiques. The best way to improve your writing is to read and write often.

      Word choice

    • Connecting with your audience

      Giving a speech involves encouraging the audience to be active listeners and participants. This can be tricky, especially when you are nervous and just want to be done presenting. Below are a few tips and tricks to make this connection a little easier.

      Connecting with your audience

    • Group presentations

      There is a different dynamic to group presentations because different individuals bring with them different ideas.

      Group presentations

    • 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.

        Informative speeches: role of the speaker

      • PowerPoint presentation checklist

        When preparing or revising your PowerPoint presentation, it’s a good idea to check if you are presenting effectively. Are you offering your audience an informative and balanced presentation?  Following are a few tips.

        PowerPoint presentation checklist

      • Speech anxiety

        Being nervous and anxious are normal reactions when preparing and delivering a speech. There is no real way to completely remove these feelings, but there are some ways to lessen them or to even use them to enhance the speech.

        Speech Anxiety

      • Speech conclusions

        The introduction and conclusion are essential to a speech. The audience will remember the main ideas even If the middle of the speech is a mess or nerves overtake the speaker. So if nothing else, get these parts down!

        Speech Conclusions

      • Speech delivery

        A speech is not an assignment that can be done the night before; practice is essential.  Practicing a speech will boost your confidence as a speaker and ease potential anxiety.

        Speech delivery practice

      • Speech evidence

        A speech is about making a claim and providing evidence to support your claim. Evidence used should support your claim/thesis and be concise and clear. 

        Speech evidence

      • Speech introductions

        The introduction and conclusion of a speech are essential. The audience will remember the main ideas even if the middle of the speech is a mess or nerves overtake the speaker.  So if nothing else, get these parts down!

        Speech introductions