On Writing: Rules of Thumb

Research papers, position essays, comparison/contrast essays and narratives are just a few of the different writing tasks you will likely be assigned in college.

Here are some basic rules to follow when writing:
  • Use complete sentences
  • Avoid use of “you” and “yours”
  • Only use “I” language in narratives or in assignments where your professor has given the OK to use words like “I,” “mine,” “we,” and “ours.”
  • Use standard language and avoid overly casual abbreviations and slang words.
  • Document the words or ideas of others by using the appropriate documentation style. You generally use MLA for English and the humanities. For science and psychology use APA style. Find more tips on documenting and citing sources. 
  • Always give the original author credit when using his/her words by using quotation marks, citing the author in parentheses, and including the source you used on a Works Cited page. Example: “Time alone in the woods helped her become a better writer” (Johnson).