4 Tips For Writing A Successful Paper

If you are an aspiring writer, then you must know the basics about grammar. Below are some helpful tips to help you improve your writing. 

Be concise

Nothing is worse than when I am reading a paper, and I can find multiple places where a whole phrase could have been condensed into one or two words. Most people will fluff up their papers with words that can be eliminated just to reach a word count; what this does, however, is make the point of the paper uneasily detectable . . . kind of like a needle in a hay stack. So, when writing a document, always remember that if you can say what you want to say in a couple of words, then do it. One of my high school English teachers always told the class "brevity is the soul of wit," and that phrase has stuck with me through college.

Remove redundancy

As with the tip above, redundancy occurs when you are trying to meet a word count or paper length or when you have a point, but you don't really know how to explain your point. In order to remove redundancy, you should ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Have you already made your point?
  • Do you feel like you are using the same words over and over again?

If you have already made your point, then there is no need to keep beating a dead horse. It's like when your mom keeps telling you to clean your room after you have already agreed to do it. If you keep using the same phrases and words, then it's time to switch it up. Use the thesaurus if you need to find a synonym for a word that you've used for the nth time. Shuffle your sentence structure around a bit, so maybe your subject comes at the end of the sentence rather than the typical "Subject, Verb, Complete thought" sentence pattern. 

Learn the proper usage of words

Nothing is more embarrassing than when you realize you have used the wrong word such as "effect" instead of "affect." In order to avoid this mistake, always proofread your work and make sure every word is what you really want to use. To offer some help, I will outline a couple of commonly mistaken pairs and show how they are supposed to use. 

  • Effect vs. Affect: Effect is commonly used as a noun and means "A change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause" (Oxford Dictionary). Example: The effects of alcholism include bad relationshiops. Affect is mostly used as a verb and means "Have an effect on; make a difference to" (Oxford Dictionary). Example: His behavior has been affecting my self-esteem. A good tip if you're still having trouble: Replace "effect" with "consequence" and replace "affect" with "alter." The sentence should still make sense if you make this change. 
  • Advise vs. Advice: Advise is the verb which means to offer suggestions. Example: He advised me to buy stocks now. Advice is the noun which means "suggestions" or "recommendations." Example: He offered me some advice about stocks. 
  • Lose vs Loose: To lose something means to "be deprived" of something (Oxford Dictionary). Example: He will lose the game. Loose is an adjective essentially meaning "not tight." Example: The screw was loose, so he needed to tighten it. 

If there are any other confusing pairs that you just can never get the hang of, a simple google search does not hurt. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

Proofread. ProofREAD. PROOFREAD. 

Any great author knows that proofreading is one of the most essential parts of writing. The content that you worked so hard to put together does not even matter if your writing is mediocre at best. And if you can't stand to look at your paper one more time, then have a friend look over it; they have fresh eyes and will catch mistakes better than you can. Also, reading your piece aloud helps because you will hear your mistakes and not see them. 

The four tips above should improve your writing dramatically if grammar and writing is something you are not completely familiar with. So good luck and keep proofreading!

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