Student Resources

How to Use These Resources

  1. Identify your stage of the writing process using the KUWC guide
  2. Get to know your major’s citation style through the linked presentations
  3. Familiarize yourself with the MLA and APA guidelines, two widely used citation styles
  4. Learn how to access and navigate Purdue OWL
  5. Schedule a KUWC appointment to talk about these resources and to learn more

Citation Styles

MLA, APA, and Chicago are the three most commonly used styles.

Citation style varies by professor preferences, academic major, and edition year. Rubrics and assignment pages usually list the required citation style. For personal research, the area of study corresponds to an accepted citation style. English majors use the MLA citation style, so personal research in English would as well.


The KUWC tutors frequently click through Purdue OWL during tutoring sessions. The KUWC Youtube Channel includes a step-by-step video for navigating the website yourself.

Purdue OWL is an important reference tool. Their website includes sample papers, sample citations, and advice on general formatting.

The Writing Process

prewriting

Pre-writing is all of the work you do for a paper before you actually sit down and begin writing it. Some of the most important work of the writing process takes place in this step, as this is where you’ll be developing all of your big ideas for your paper. Basically, “pre-writing” is the blueprint you’re going to give yourself in order to construct your written piece; if you have a well-laid-out blueprint, you’ll have a much easier time actually building a paper.

Brainstorming: Sometimes, just figuring out what you want to write about can be challenging in its own right. This awesome resource from the Purdue University OWL (a favorite of the Writing Center) and this useful video from an online English teacher can set you up right for your topic selection.

Writing an Outline: Now that you have your topic picked, the next step will be to organize your thoughts. The easiest way to do this will be in an outline. I know, I know! You’re having horrible flashbacks to required outlines in high school and asking whether or not you really needto do an outline. Well, you certainly don’t need to, but it will make the writing process much easier for you.

Check out these examples of writing outlines for research papers, or this useful worksheet on the basic outline of a paper.

Navigating Research: So, you’ve got an outline, you’re putting some arguments together and you realize—”Oh no! I have nothing to back up my claims!” Well, luckily, Kutztown has a ton of databases that can help you get quality, scholarly research on whatever topic you may have picked to write about. This website has a list of all of our databases, with the most helpful being (arguably) Academic Search Ultimate and JSTOR. You will be required to log in with your KU ID and password.


Getting Over Writer’s Block: While it’s not a specific step in the writing process, we all feel writer’s block every once in a while. Whether it is a transition that just isn’t working, a point that you don’t feel like you’re hitting home with, or simply lacking motivation in grinding out the next part of your paper, here, here, and here are some helpful ways to get past your writer’s block.

writing

Okay, so, you’ve picked a topic, your research is done, and you may (or may not) have a clear outline. Now, it’s time to get into the meat and potatoes of things—actually writing the paper. The links in this section should help you with some of the trickiest steps of the writing process itself.

Writing a thesis can be a very hard thing to do. You may know exactly what you want to write about or what you want to argue, but actually putting that into one or two simple, strong sentences can be a daunting task. Here’s a few of the most useful exercises and worksheets we’ve found on writing strong theses.

The Purdue OWL again has a great, mechanical explanation of the thesis writing process. Ashford Writing has an actual thesis statement generator (which is a good starting point, but you will most likely want to refine what it gives you). Lastly, this short, instructional video offers some useful tips.

Topic sentences can serve as miniature thesis statements for each one of your body paragraphs. They help set you up for an organized, effective writing style. Make sure each of your topic sentences is building towards proving your thesis and that each of your paragraphs proves its respective topic sentence. This step-by-step guide is a good starting point, and this YouTube video offers an example of what is and what isn’t an effective topic sentence.

Transitions: Sometimes, moving from one point to another can be very difficult. You know you’re writing about related ideas, but it comes out on the page as choppy and awkward. Transition phrases and words are the way to correct this issue. This list of words broken down into useful categories should give you ideas as to how to start your transitions, and this page from the Purdue OWL has great examples and revisions of transition sentences.

Clarity: As you grapple with your topics, you may find that some of your explanatory sentences aren’t really working for you. Writing in clear, concise language is a challenge when you’re working with heady, difficult topics. This link has a ton of great tips on how to write in a clearer fashion, and this video, though a little over the top at times, gives great examples of how to fix an unclear sentence.

Editing: This is where most students begin to come to the Writing Center—after they’ve already written their papers and are looking for help in editing, citing, and proofreading. The biggest thing to remember here is that editing for grammar is the least important part of the writing process. It is much more important to make sure you have a well-organized, thought-out paper that meets all of the requirements of the assignment and makes strong, reasonable points. Once that part is done, though, it’s always useful to go through your writing to find any errors you can spot. Here are some links that will help you out

MLA and APA citations: We’ve used them before, and we’ll use them again, but the Writing Center really cannot recommend any website beyond the Purdue OWL’s fantastic resource on APA (located here) and MLA (located here). These sites are up-to-date, easy to understand, and full of all of the information you could ever want on these citation styles.

Grammar: It’s hard to make a category dedicated to the huge topic of grammar, so while we won’t be able to address everything here, it should be a good start. This list has some of the most common mistakes, which is a good companion for this monstrous list of grammatical rules. After you’ve perused those for some basic information, this step-by-step guide and handout should get you on the path to proofreading your own writing.

And, just for fun, here’s a link of the most common typos made in the English language.

Want to know more? If there’s anything unclear on this website or a topic you’d like to know more about, please feel free to contact us to set up an appointment at the time most convenient for you!