Writing Coaching Blog

Student holding pen
Helen Sword is Professor and Director of the Learning and Research in Higher Education at the University of Ackland. She has created the WritersDiet Test that "identifies some of the sentence-level grammatical features that most frequently weigh down academic prose." To use the Test, simply copy and paste 100 - 1,000 words from your paper and paste them into the textbox. This feedback tool will show if your writing is "fit or flabby." For further information on how to improve your sentences, please Visit the WrtiersDiet website.
Two Students
Using numbers in essays can be quite confusing. There is no general rule agreed upon by all writers and handbooks. Therefore, personal preference is okay as long as there is consistency throughout the essay. Here are some basic rules to follow when deciding between spelling numbers and or using the figures. 1. Write out numbers zero to nine, or zero to one hundred. Again, this is based on the style adapted by the writer. Consequently, pick one style and remain consistent throughout the essay. 2. Spell out numbers at the beginning of the sentence. Ex: Twenty-five students studied French in the same classroom. 3. Hyphenate compound numbers and fractions Ex: Twenty-five Ex: two-fifths 4... Continued
Two Students and Laptop
Theses are papers or projects that display students’ interest and dedication to their major or study of interest.  While their transcript says “seminar” or “independent study” or “workshop,” what it really should say is “thank goodness I like this subject because I don’t know how I could spend an entire semester writing (insert preposterously large number) pages on it otherwise.”   A thesis is a big deal.  It requires time-management and diligent research and a lot of work.  However, this could be said about going to college in general – you just need to apply the above to your specific area of research.  Assuming you’ve already narrowed down your topic (which is a project in and of itself... Continued
Instructor and Students
Previously, we have talked about the importance of writing an outline and what to aim for in your outline.  After diligently considering the importance of organizing your thoughts and planning your paper, you have a lovely outline, organized by topic and with relevant research bulleted underneath your individual points.  What now?  Going from outline to paper can be somewhat terrifying.  Every student has faced the horror that is a blank word document.  Think of your outline as a skeleton: You have the bare bones of your writing, whether you’ve used phrases or complete sentences – use it to flesh out your argument.  If you’ve used incomplete phrases and short thoughts as the base of your... Continued
Two Students
Whenever you’re writing a paper, in addition to having all your library research, PDFs, and word documents open on your computer, it’s also a good idea to have a dictionary and a thesaurus open in a separate webpage.  I prefer using Google and thesaurus.com because they tend to work most efficiently for me, but most online dictionaries will also suffice.  Or serve.  Or suit.  Many a research quote begins something like, “The author says…”  Why not use “states”?  Or “claims”?  Or “expresses”?  There are so many words with which we can color our writing – take advantage of them!  While remaining concise is important, using synonyms allows you to avoid needless repetition in your writing.  But... Continued

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