Frequently Asked Questions about Common Writing Challenges


Writing Rules of Thumb and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In your college classes, you will be asked to create many different types of writing. Essays about literature, argument/position essays, comparison contrast essays, response papers, narratives, and documented research essays are only a few of the different writing tasks assigned by CCBC professors. In most writing assignments, you will need to adhere to some basic rules:

  • Use complete sentences
  • Avoid use of "you" and "yours"
  • Only use "I" language in narratives or where professors have said that using words like "I," "mine," "my," we," and "ours" are OK
  • Use standard language and avoid overly casual language, abbreviations, and slang words
  • Document other's words or ideas by using the appropriate documentation style. As a rule, for English and the humanities, use MLA; for science and psychology, use APA
  • Always give the original author credit when using her/his words by using quotation marks, citing the author in parentheses, and including the source you used on a Works Cited Page. Example: "These aren't my words" (Johnson).
  • For help with more specific writing challenges, review the list of frequent challenges below

Frequent Challenges with Grammar and Mechanics

Frequent Challenges with Documenting and Citing Sources

  • Remember that for MLA documentation, when citing sources in your essay, you use parenthetical documentation. After citing a passage from someone else's work, note the author and page number in parentheses. Ex. The article states, "English is difficult" (Johns 6). If you've used an electronic source, then note the author's name in parentheses without the page number. "It is hard to speak it correctly" (Johns).
  • For APA documentation, when citing sources in your essay, use parenthetical documentation. After citing the passage, note the author, comma, and year of publication. Ex. "Childhood obesity is a complex issue" (Johns, 2004).
  • When writing about literature, or about poems, plays, movies, or song lyrics, use present tense verbs.
  • Before citing passages from stories, poems, or plays in your essay, remember to build context.
  • For strong samples of student essays, review the links below:

text only | site map | privacy | contact CCBC
©2005 Copyright Community College of Baltimore County. All rights reserved.