Select a topic, find sources and take notes.

Make sure you research and explore your topic in detail.

Capture everything that may be interesting about your topic, even if it does not fit in with your thesis.

Use your notes and research to determine the most important information to include in your paper – the BIG IDEA.

Everything in your paper should be related to the BIG IDEA.

The main points should be interesting to the reader.


The first step in writing an introduction paragraph is writing a thesis sentence.

A thesis declares the writer’s position about the problem or topic of your paper.

A good thesis will provide a structure for your paper.

Start by thinking about the 5 W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why.

The introduction should provide an idea about what your paper is about, without giving away all of the details you learned through research.


Each body paragraph should begin with a TOPIC SENTENCE.

A TOPIC SENTENCE summarizes the main point of the paragraph and tells the reader what the paragraph is about.

In each body paragraph, it is important to have enough evidence to support the idea you are writing about. If you have too much evidence, the reader can get lost in the details.

Ask yourself if the evidence you are providing supports the BIG IDEA of your paper. If it doesn’t, can you persuade the reader?

Check to see if you are repeating yourself in the paragraph – remember that each paragraph is to develop the BIG IDEA, not repeat yourself.

Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence, supporting sentences and a summary sentence at the end.


Transitions connect individual paragraphs and make your writing easier to read.

Each paragraph should follow logically from the previous paragraph, moving your BIG IDEA to the next paragraph.

Use transitions the beginning and the end of each paragraph.

Examples of transition words that can help you to link your paragraphs together:

For listing points: first, second, third, finally, later, at the same time

For comparison: however, likewise, despite, even though, on the other hand, nevertheless, in contrast

For cause and effect: therefore, thus, as a result of, consequently, accordingly, because

If you have trouble transitioning from one paragraph to the next, there may be something missing in the body of the paragraph.


A strong conclusion gives a summary of your paper without being repetitive.

The conclusion should answer the question why you want someone to read your paper.

If you are writing about the past, think about how your topic relates to the present. If you are writing about something in the present, consider what it may mean in the future.


Try not to edit your paper while you are writing your first draft.

Always use spell check but don’t rely on it.

Print a hard copy of your paper and read it OUT LOUD, from beginning to end.

Ask a friend to review your paper.

Pay attention to punctuation, especially to the correct use of commas and periods.

Check to see if you are repeating yourself in each paragraph.


Avoid long sentences.

Eliminate unnecessary words and adjectives.

Use the active voice – noun, verb, object (The girl wrote the paper).

Choose a good title that will interest your reader.

Avoid using clichés, they lack originality.

Make sure that your citations and references are formatted properly and included where you use this information in your paper.

Avoid vague generalizations.

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