Writing Style

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Writing Style Guides

When writing a college level paper or essay, it is important to remember that research and revision are imperative pieces of the writing process, just as important as writing the paper itself. The best part of research is learning and discovering what would be worth discussing for several pages. The best part of revision is not worrying about the grammar and presentation until the information has been fully compiled and organized. The research involves a sincere examination of what is known and what needs to be known to construct a solid and concise argument. The revision process involves going back through the work and adding correct style and clarity so the argument is effective and lasting.

If your having difficlty choosing a topic for your paper, visit the Research Help section of this wiki. Research Help lists a wide range of topics and tips to get started. Additionally, LexisNexis Academicis a very good place to start. Using the Easy Search option, it is possible to search very broad subjects such as Education or Law for sources that will lead to narrower topics. For beginning researchers, there are several guides which offer a step-by-step approach to focusing research.

One draft of the paper, at least, is necessary; two or three drafts are optimal. Several drafts of a paper or essay will allow copies for review by a peer or professor, which is crucial to ensuring the thesis is sound, and appeals to a wider audience. Above all else, working-drafts will help to catch critical errors in grammar and spelling. The writing process becomes easy with practice, but it is important not to develop bad habits. Below we have collected a key set of essential resources to begin. For more information, or on hand peer reviews during this process, visit your campus writing center.

The Chicago Manual of Style

The actual Chicago Manual of Style is quite extensive, but crucial to professional writers, journalists and editors, as it provides the essential formula for most professional pieces of writing. Fortunately, for students, Kate Turabian has compiled a guide that incorporates the Chicago style but provides only the information necessary for college- level papers. It‘s often referred to as “Turabian” by professors. The first twelve chapters of Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations guide the researcher through the necessary steps for picking a topic, organizing information and revision.

The middle section of the book, chapters 15-19, address formatting for citations. Current editions of Turabian allow for either partanthetical (in-line) citations or bibliography (endnotes, footnotes) citations. Which style is used in the paper will largely depend on the course (i.e. Literature or Physics).

The final section covers Chicago style dictates for spelling, as well as formats for dates, names, numbers, abbreviations etc.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

The Modern Language Associations guide to the rules of writing is the basis for Student writers in English and several other concentrations within the humanities. It focuses on many of the same things covered in Turabian, but several discrepancies are important to remember: First, the MLA Handbook only allows for paranthetical or in-line citations. Second, the MLA handbook includes a chapter devoted to the Modern Language Associations strict interpretation of Plagarism. There are also many smaller differences between the two writing and formatting styles, so be absolutely sure you know which is appropriate for your research paper. There are currently no full editions available on-line, though there are many university libraries which offer writing tips based on the dictates included in the guide, this one. A full, on-line version of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers will become available in Spring of 2009.

APA

The guide of the APA, or American Psychological Association, is an editorial guide employed by students and professionals in the social and behavioral sciences. It provides, among other things, correct format for citation of references and uniformity in terminology, punctuation, and abbreviations. A major stylistic aspect of the guide is its emphasis on removing bias from that language of the writing.

Elements of Style

The Elements of Style by Wiliam Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, commonly referred to as "Strunk and White" is the most common and revered guide to style and correct usage of language. The guide's direction varies from rules as elementary as those governing the use of grammar and punctuation, to suggestions for elevating clarity in sentence structure. Since it was first published in 1918, there have been four editions, the most recent of which was published in 1999.