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When writing a paper, it is tempting to sit down and hammer out a paper in one sitting. Well, as I have mentioned many times, this is not the best way at all.

A paper that is written in one sitting, no matter how short it may be, often reads no differently than if you were to ask someone a question, and they expounded on their answer for five or ten minutes. It may sound good when listening to it, but if you were to listen to a recording of it, you recognize the thought process begins at one place and meanders back and forth through a series of random thoughts until they reach a conclusion.

The better way to write a paper is to go back to the basics and write an outline. Begin with your thesis statement, list three to five supporting points (depending on the requirements for the paper), and then wrap up the paper with a conclusion.

Once you have the basic outline drafted, now it is time to fill in the details.

In the introduction, begin with a statement that grabs the attention of the reader, and build up to the thesis statement that concludes the introduction.

For each supporting point, explain it and provide support to show the source of your information or a brief quote or paraphrase from one of your sources that led you to your opinion. Then, write a concluding thought that describes why your support is significant to the point.

For the conclusion, reaffirm your thesis statement, followed by a summary of the main points you discussed in your paper, and then a concluding thought as to the importance or significance. The concluding thought is like the opening statement in your introduction in that it should be an attention-getter; it should cause the reader to stop and reflect on your conclusion.

Sticking to the basics will help you write a good paper that reads well and follows a logical train of thought.

For more tips on writing, be sure to read Beth’s four-part series on the Secret to Better Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing. The first part of the series, Write with Respect was posted on September 15th and can be read here.