Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category

Prioritize tasks to keep up with school work

Students are busy and frequently have to manage multiple priorities. When you move into the workplace priority management is an essential skill, so learning to prioritize as a student will benefit you, not only now, but in the future as well. If you are an adult student then priority management is absolutely essential.

Determining what is important

In order to prioritize you have to determine what is important; but how do you measure importance? Hai Nguyen (http://www.appfluence.com/productivity/priority/) suggest the following metrics by which priorities can be compared.

  • Benefits: how much benefit is obtained from accomplishing a task
  • Harm: how much harm would be caused by not accomplishing a task
  • Effort: how much reward can be obtained from doing a low effort task vs. a high effort task.

In school, typically you have to focus on harm: how much would not accomplishing a task harm your grade. In a work environment, things are not always as clear cut and some tasks can be delayed or put on hold if the effort outweighs the benefit.

Even in school, you typically have priorities that canΓÇÖt just be measured by the harm metric. Stephen Covey suggested creating a quadrant to group tasks to help you prioritize. Throw your tasks into this grid to help organize your tasks from a priority perspective.

Time management grid

Task grid

And remember, anything that saves you time can help you manage tasks. Reference Point Software can save you a lot of time formatting your academic papers and potentially leave you more time to accomplish your tasks.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

How to cite a Google map in APA Style

A customer recently asked us how to cite a Google map in APA style. There is no specific entry in the APA Publication Manual for doing this. We suggested that she cite this as a web page because that is what it is.

To cite a web page you need the URL. Here is how to get the URL for a Google Map.

  1. Search Google maps for the location you are discussing in your paper
  2. Click the Share button
  3. Click “COPY LINK”
  4. Once you copy the URL you can paste the URL into the reference

 

Step 1- Click Share

 

 

Step 2 – Click Copy Link

 

 

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

News articles vs. scientific articles

A journal article about Facebook and mood made big news recently and this incident serves to illustrate the difference between news reporting and scientific journalism. When doing research for your APA paper keep in mind that the purpose of a news article is to get your attention, sell newspapers or ads, and inform you.

The purpose of scientific journalism is to explain complex ideas.

Big headline: ΓÇ£Facebook can make users feel worse.ΓÇ¥ The only thing the editor left out was the exclamation point and the conclusion of the researchers. Ethan Kross, the lead author of the study, is quoted in the article as saying ΓÇ£The more you used Facebook, the more your mood dropped.ΓÇ¥ Note the difference in this statement vs. the headline. The headline implies causality. The quote by the author implies that there is a relationship, but not necessarily a cause and effect relationship. Big headline; big difference.

Be careful about citing attention-grabbing headlines in your MLA or APA papers. Sometimes it is better to let a newspaper article lead you back to the source.

Be careful when citing news articles in your apa papers

A sensationalistic headline about a scientific study

 

Be careful when citing news articles in your apa papers

A sensationalistic headline about a scientific study

For more info:

Kross E, Verduyn P, Demiralp E, Park J, Lee DS, et al. (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. PLoS ONE 8(8): e69841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069841

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

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How to write a good essay: Try reading one first

Do you struggle with how to write a good essay? How do you mix opinion and first person narration with facts? Well, you’ve heard the old saying a picture is worth a thousand words. We say the opposite is true, too.

Our vote for best essay of the year:

Appalachian Hope and Heartbreak
by Amy D. Clark

Posted in Writing Tips | Comments Off on How to write a good essay: Try reading one first

Publically vs. publicly

I was just writing a letter in Microsoft Word and happily noted that I had made no spelling errors. I then pasted said letter into an email and was surprised to see that I had made a spelling error in my spelling of the word ΓÇ£publically.ΓÇ¥ Wait, I said to myself, Word says that is spelled correctly and my email provider says that is it not! Who is correct?

If you do a quick search of publically vs. publicly you will find that both are correct. IsnΓÇÖt English fun?

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

How to Apply Critical Thinking and Logic in Argumentative Essays

Whatever subject youΓÇÖre studying in college, your professors are likely to ask you to write an argumentative essay, also referred to as a persuasive essay. Critical thinking is essential for writing academic papers, particularly when writing an essay that requires you to demonstrate that one idea is better and more legitimate than other ideas. Of course, when we refer to critical thinking we donΓÇÖt mean criticizing from emotion or prejudice, but using logic to analyze and argue your case to support your position.

The Definition of Logic

When youΓÇÖre tasked with writing an argumentative essay, youΓÇÖre expected to use logic and reason. This is the basis and foundation of critical thinking. But how is logic defined? The Greek philosopher Aristotle developed the most common formula for logic, called a syllogism. It is as follows:

Premise 1: All men are mortal.
Premise 2: Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

The first statement is a foundation of fact and the second statement is another fact. When the second statement is tested against the first statement, it proves the conclusion in the third statement. You may use more than two premises to prove your conclusion. When you have your logical premises and conclusion, the conclusion becomes the thesis of your argument, and the premises become the supporting points. If your argument doesnΓÇÖt work using this concept, it isnΓÇÖt considered logical and, therefore, isnΓÇÖt considered proven.

Logic can be misleading if part of it is based on a fallacy. This is an example of how a logical statement can appear accurate but is actually completely false even though the syllogism is logically true.

Premise 1: People who wear yellow are bad drivers
Premise 2: John wears a yellow shirt
Conclusion: John is a bad driver

For a syllogism to work, you must make sure your facts are facts and not assumptions or some other form of fallacy.

When youΓÇÖre writing your argumentative essay, be careful to avoid the use of illogical statements and fallacies, such as:

  • Hasty Generalization: when an incorrect conclusion is reached through a limited number of premises
  • Circular Argument: when an argument is just restated rather than proven
  • Ad Hominem: when the writer attacks the person rather than the facts
  • Ad Populum: when the writer appeals to the readerΓÇÖs emotions rather than using facts
  • Red Herring: when a writer makes the reader pay attention to something other than the facts
  • Either/Or: when the writer oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices

Additionally, your argumentative essay should also avoid the use of emotional and colloquial language.

To produce evidence to support your argument, you will need to gather your facts carefully. DonΓÇÖt make the mistake of confusing facts with so-called truths, which are ideas believed by people, but not proven. Instead, you should always use sound reasoning and solid evidence by stating facts, giving logical reasons, using examples and statistics, and quoting experts and utilizing any other provable resources.

Be sure that you cite your sources carefully using the correct formatting style. This will enable your reader to check the sources behind your assertions. Your professor will indicate which formatting style you should use for your argumentative essay. If you are not assigned a formatting style and you are unsure which one to use, consult your professor.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

How to Paraphrase and Use the Correct Citation Styles to Avoid Plagiarism

While youΓÇÖre at college, you will be required to write numerous essays to demonstrate your understanding of a subject and your ability to conduct effective research. A large proportion of your research will be done by examining and disseminating other peopleΓÇÖs work to provide information that supports your thesis.

You may wish to paraphrase some of your findings or give a direct quote that supports your ideas. While it is never a good idea to borrow other peopleΓÇÖs work without giving credit where it is due, in academia, it is the ultimate sin. Using other peopleΓÇÖs work without giving proper credit can not only result in your work losing credibility but can also lead to other, more severe consequences. This article describes how to paraphrase your source material by re-shaping other peopleΓÇÖs ideas in your essays, and how to give credit to the author correctly should you want to borrow passages of their work.

How to Paraphrase without Plagiarism

The art of good paraphrasing is accomplished by knowing what to take from a passage and what to leave out. Your aim is to convey the information without copying the structure or word sequences. To do this, read the work over to get the full sense of it. Then, make a list of the essential ideas and their connections to the points you are making. Note any important keywords. Add to this list any important names used in the passage and their relevance. Make notes of any impressions and thoughts as they arise. Then write a passage using the information and your notes without referring to the original work.

When you have done this, read it through and compare it with your source material. It should clearly convey the sense of what you have sourced without looking like you have simply moved a few words or phrases around.

Example:

We will use a passage from another of our articles, ΓÇ£A vs. An before an abbreviation,ΓÇ¥ as an example of paraphrasing. The original passage reads:

ΓÇ£We all learned that you use an ΓÇ£aΓÇ¥ before words that start with consonants and ΓÇ£anΓÇ¥ before words that start with vowels. But what about abbreviations? Should you use an ΓÇ£aΓÇ¥ or an ΓÇ£anΓÇ¥ before abbreviations?ΓÇ¥

“The accepted rule is to use the choice that matches how the abbreviation is pronounced rather than how it is spelled. For example, HIV begins with a consonant but is pronounced āch-ˌī-ˈvē. In other words, HIV is pronounced as starting with a long “a,” which is a vowel; therefore, it should be proceeded by “an.” The following sentence illustrates the correct usage: An HIV positive patient was transferred to the nursing unit.”

Edited version:

At school, we were taught the rules about using ΓÇÿaΓÇÖ and ΓÇÿanΓÇÖ before vowels, consonants, the silent ΓÇÿhΓÇÖ, phonetic glides, and when a consonant sounds like a vowel. However, many people struggle when it comes to using these indefinite articles correctly before abbreviations.

The rules for abbreviations are based on their phonetics and, therefore, they have their own logic. For example, HIV is pronounced ─üch – ─½ – v─ô, so the correct usage would look like this:

An HIV test is recommended for all pregnant women to determine if medication is required to prevent the spread of the virus to the unborn child.

Using the Correct Citation Styles

At some point during your essay, it may be appropriate to quote directly from your research materials as an additional way to strengthen your argument. If you are going to use a direct quote from someone elseΓÇÖs work, then you must document your sources carefully so you can correctly cite your references. The most commonly used methods of citations are MLA and APA formatting. These use in-text citations, placed in the same sentences or paragraphs with the quotes.

It is very important to ensure that you use the most up to date methods of MLA and APA formatting styles as these are revised from time to time. You can either format your citations manually, or you may prefer to use MLA and APA APA formatting software which will save you significant time and ensure that you are using the correct version. With a couple of clicks of your mouse, your citation formatting will be done for you, leaving you more time to spend compiling your research and writing your essay.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

Edit a Paper by Applying the Paramedic or Reverse Paramedic Methods

When you edit a paper, you have several aspects to consider. These include checking that your spelling and grammar are correct, ensuring that your paper makes sense and is relevant, adhering to the correct formatting style for your citations, and verifying that your paper is focused and keeps your reader interested. This article describes two easy-to-learn methods you can use to edit a paper so you can produce concise and persuasive papers.

The Paramedic Method

This method will help you recognize and edit wordy sentences. It will enable you to reduce your word count and activate your sentences by eliminating redundancies and the passive voice. The following primary editing elements were originally described in Richard Lanham’s Revising Prose.

  1. Circle the prepositions (including: of, in, about, for, onto, into).
  2. Draw a box around the ‘is’ verb forms (including: is, are, have been, was, were)
  3. Ask ‘where is the action?’
  4. Change the action into a simple verb
  5. Move the doer into the subject (who’s doing what to whom)
  6. Eliminate any unnecessary, slow wind-ups or lead-ins
  7. Eliminate any redundancies

Here are examples of sentences written before applying the paramedic method:

  • This sentence is a demonstration of the use of the paramedic method in the editing of a paper.
  • The primary work that Mr. Stewart will experience is the art of writing critiques on his students’ writings.

Here are the edited versions after applying the paramedic method:

  • This sentence demonstrates using the paramedic method to edit a paper.
  • Mr. Stewart will mainly be writing critiques of his students’ writing.

The Reverse Paramedic Method

Authors often use the passive voice in scientific writing to emphasize what was done and remove the doer of the actions. This makes the writing more impersonal and objective. The reverse paramedic method assists in recognizing and implementing the passive voice while still providing conciseness. This method is useful for students of the sciences, such as nursing students.

  1. Circle the prepositions and eliminate any that are unnecessary
  2. Identify any references to the researcher (the doer)
  3. Replace any reference to the researcher with a passive construction that emphasizes the experiment or what was done
  4. Eliminate any unnecessary, slow wind-ups
  5. Eliminate any redundancies

Here are examples of sentences before applying the reverse paramedic method:

  • In order to make sure we didn’t mix up the medicine bottles we put the patient’s name on them.
  • For the sample, the nurse made sure that she took an adequate amount of blood from the patient.

Here is how the sentence would read after applying the reverse paramedic method:

  • The medicine bottles were labeled with the patient’s name.
  • An adequate amount of blood was taken from the patient for the sample.

The paramedic and reverse paramedic methods are effective ways to edit your papers, resulting in strong academic pieces and ensuring good grades. However, as mentioned in the beginning, there are other elements that you must edit, too. These often require that you adhere to a specific formatting style, for margins, headers, citations, and more. Editing for specific styles can be quite time consuming; time better spent on content. Using software that sets up the style right from the start will save you time.

Get more details about our formatting products to help save you time and points on your papers.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

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2 Tips to Help You with Writing an Essay in College

When youΓÇÖre writing an essay, itΓÇÖs essential to be able to express yourself clearly and present your points in a way that fully engages your audience. This article discusses two primary ways to make your essays more interesting to your audience using sentence length variety and visual-textual devices.

1. Sentence Length Variety

Sentence length has a subtle but strong effect on your readers. If your writing tends to have sentences all the same length, it can make your writing look monotonous, and your readers feel unable or disinclined to engage with your work fully. If you write sentences that are too short, it will make your work sound childish and boring. Here is a simplistic example to prove a point:

Jane went to school. She rode her bike there. She had class. She had lunch at noon. She came home at 6:00 PM. In the evening she took her dog for its walk.

An edit to make this series of sentences flow better could be:

Jane rode her bike to school. She had class before going to lunch at noon. She cycled home at 6:00 PM so as to be home in time to take her dog for its evening walk.

As you can see, the edit took the information from sentences of nearly identical length and varied them, which immediately looked more interesting to the eye and made for a more natural flow of ideas.

Conversely, to demonstrate the point about longer sentences, if you write sentences that are too long, they can become complicated for the reader, who may either lose the sense of what you mean or lose the will to read your work altogether, as you may well see from this sentence.

This lengthy sentence is cumbersome and tiring to read. A better way of writing that long sentence would be:

Conversely, if you write sentences that are too long, they become complicated for the reader. Lengthy sentences make it more difficult for the reader to digest your points. Additionally, they may lose the will to read your work altogether.

People make a commitment subconsciously to read material based upon a quick glance. The structure of your writing needs to be visually inviting. When youΓÇÖre writing an essay, varying the length of your sentences will make things look more appealing to the eye and create more impact. Short sentences can strengthen a point among longer ones. Longer sentences can be used to offer additional details and present a more powerful description. If you are in any doubt about your sentence lengths, itΓÇÖs always a good idea to read your work aloud to yourself and get a sense of the rhythm of how it sounds.

2. Visual-Textual Emphasis Styles

Nowadays, computers allow student writers to visually emphasize words in everyday writing by utilizing a variety of means including capitals and bold fonts which may or may not be acceptable in writing an essay in college. The older, more established styles of visual emphasis that are acceptable in academic writing are underlining and italics.

You can incorporate underlining for subheadings and sparingly for emphasis where necessary. You can include wording in italics in essays to provide emphasis on certain words when necessary and for citing the titles of longer works using MLA style formatting.

Ultimately, if you have concerns about ensuring that you meet all of the guidelines for APA or MLA style formatting, you can utilize formatting products that will be of immense help, saving you time and points on your papers.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

The Correct Use of Paragraphs in Your College Paper

Well-written paragraphs are the building blocks of an effective college paper. To achieve high marks from your professor, you need to do more than incorporate an extensive vocabulary with flawless spelling and grammar. Your ability to communicate thoughts and ideas successfully to your reader will be severely compromised if you donΓÇÖt know how to use paragraphs correctly.

What Is a Paragraph?

As a general rule, a well-written paragraph contains a key topic sentence that states a primary purpose with other related sentences that support that specific idea. Even if the paragraph doesnΓÇÖt have an explicit topic sentence, it should be easy to summarize what the paragraph is about. You can make several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic within. One of the most common mistakes people make is to introduce too many unrelated or indirectly related ideas into a paragraph. This will weaken the overarching topic and possibly confuse readers.

Developing the Paragraph

Developing a paragraph requires finding the balance between discussing a topic in sufficient depth without becoming verbose. Some ways you can develop paragraphs in your college paper are by analysis or description, citing data, using quotes from other sources or referring to other evidence such as testimony, examples, and statistics. It is important to use the correct formatting style appropriate for the type of college paper that youΓÇÖre writing when citing references for any quotes or other types of supporting information.

When to Start a New Paragraph

Your college paper should always begin with an introductory paragraph or two and finish with a paragraph or two for your conclusion. When you write the body of your college paper, you typically will start a new paragraph any time that you develop a new idea, a new point of an extended idea or contrasting differences such as points in a debate or in an argument. If you are developing a complex or an extended idea that is turning into a long paragraph, find a way to make a logical break for your reader by starting a new paragraph. Most people find long paragraphs uninviting and difficult to read.

Using Transitional Words

Paragraphs help you organize and present your ideas, so they flow from one to the next. To help improve the flow of your paper, include appropriate transitional words and phrases to identify the relationship between the preceding and following paragraphs. The list of transitional words is substantial, and includes words and phrases such as: also, and, as well, besides, equally important, finally, too, similarly, obviously, at the same time, conversely, as an illustration, in other words, afterward, finally, accordingly, meanwhile, soon, subsequently, finally, in brief, in conclusion.

In formal writing, transitional words and phrases are followed by a comma. Make sure that you avoid overuse of the same transitional phrases.

The correct use of paragraphs will help you stay focused in the early stages as you draft and revise your college paper. Once you have completed your final draft, edit your paper with objectivity. Assess if your paragraphs are well constructed and identify if you adhere to all of the guidelines for your assigned formatting style.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).

 

For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

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