Writing:  A Process
Editing & Proofreading
Grammar Quick Tips
Punctuation Quick Tips
Capitalization Tips
Tricky Words
Writing Styles
Art of Persuasion
Documenting Sources
Online Resources

Mr. B's Writing Quick Tips

Teachers in middle school, high school, and college usually require papers to follow specific style guidelines.  The four major styles are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), Chicago, and CSE (Council of Science Editors). If you are required to write in a specific style, your teacher will tell you which style to use. To find in-depth explanations of each style, you can visit The Ultimate Resource Guides for MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE published by GuidetoOnlineSchools.com, a comprehensive site featuring online degrees and online colleges.

Thanks for stopping by my Writing Quick Tips page!  Today's Collegian is expected to write clearly and concisely.  The good news is that most professors and post-secondary schools are willing, ready and able to help students build strong writing skills.  A wide variety of resources, with different presentation styles and in formats, are available.

The purpose of this page is to present some easy to read and apply writing "tips & tricks."  This Web will not make anyone an "expert," but it will provide a variety of suggestions and "short-cuts" to help writers produce readable drafts and papers that meet post-secondary expectations.   The links at the left review some fundamentals of good writing.

For many people, the key to becoming a better writer is to get ideas organized and then express them in simple, easy to read sentences.  Talk to any professor that has read hundreds of pages of students' work -- being able to express yourself in short, clear prose is a valuable skill.  

If we are unsure of our abilities to write, follow the KISS principal:  KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUDENTS!  All readers appreciate writing that gets to the point and respects the reader's intelligence.  Probably the #1 mistake that students make is trying to "write over their heads."  I have yet to see a paper returned to a student with a comment like:  "Great ideas, well organized, clear presentation; but the sentences are too simple -- Grade:  D/F"

Want to learn to write better?  Start by clearly  presenting concepts so that your IDEAS shine -- don't worry about impressing people with your writing style.  Make sure your work is readable, well-organized, spell-checked, and properly punctuated.  It is difficult to help someone improve their writing style until ideas are clear and basic writing skills are mastered.  

Once we achieve that, the sky's the limit.  Someone can help me learn more complex, creative writing styles once I am ready to apply fundamental grammar skills and punctuation. 

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Three Unbreakable Rules

1.  Know your subject.  Some sources for subject knowledge include:

  • Experience
  • Interviews
  • The "file," previously researched material
  • Electronic media
  • Multimedia
  • Internet/World Wide Web
  • Audio tapes
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • Video tapes

2.  Know your reader.  This might seem easy when writing papers for school, but be careful with what you assume.  Here are some questions that can be useful to ask yourself about the intended audience for your writing:

  • Who is going to read this writing?
    • Educational background, expertise
    • Personal: Age, gender, attitudes, hobbies
  • What does the reader already know about the subject?
    • What else does the reader need to know?
    • What will the reader do about this message? (decide, delegate, transmit, do the work, evaluate or grade)
    • What's in it for the reader? (benefits, risks)
  • When will the reader read this message?
    • How much time will the reader spend on it? (keep it simple and clear)
    • When does the reader have to act?
  • How interested is the reader in the arrival of this message?
    • How will the reader feel about it? 
    • How will the reader be affected by this message?

3.  Know yourself.  

  • Understanding your interests, motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
  • Do not try to use a writing style or form that you are not comfortable with or ready for.  People see through this and it reflects poorly on the writer.
  • Write within your capabilities -- if you want to improve your writing, always give people work that reflects your abilities and let them help you expand your skills.

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