Students who have good Writing Skills enjoy an advantage in almost all situations. They generally make better grades in school or college than the students who are poor writers. They are able to communicate their ideas effectively in school and in business. And when they lodge complaints or make request, they usually get results. Most students also find that as their writing skills improve, their self-confidence grows and they feel better able to tackle problems and challenges.
So, investing in time and energy to improve your writing skills will pay off not only while you are a student, writing an essay or creating a web site or putting together an oral presentation, but also in later years when you may write grant proposals, business documents or political speeches. The writing strategies you learn now will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Academic writing is not all alike. Writers work in many different disciplines. The conventions for style, documentation and evidence vary from one field to another. So, we can’t set clear cut guidelines for writing college papers or presentations. Nevertheless, it is possible to formulate general principles for academic writing. Because we know that instructors do tend to reward certain characteristics in writing that is submitted to them.
Here are seven precepts that apply to writing in college:
• If the assignment permits you to choose your topic, write on a subject that interests you even if it will require a fair amount of work and time. It is always a mistake to choose a topic just because it looks easy. Too often writers bog down because they hate their topic.
• Do not overstate your case. If you make sweeping claims and big generalizations, you will quickly damage your credibility. Avoid terms like always, never and everybody knows. Instead, choose phrases like this suggests, it may be and it seems likely.
• Support your claim. Professors are skeptical readers who expect writers to back their claims with evidence and reasons. They like to ask “What is your evidence?" and “How do you know this?"
• Argue logically and avoid highly emotional language. Depend on the weight of facts and rational argument to make case. Avoid sarcasm and extreme examples.
• Choose a title that accurately reflects your content. Your title introduces you and your ideas, so make sure it is clear and forceful.
• Cite your sources, either formally or informally. Although the assignment may not require formal documentation, let readers know where you got your information and what authorities you are citing.
• Make your work look good. Leave plenty of white space around your text, double space and avoid long paragraph and dense looking pages. Proofread carefully.