Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Using Blackboard: Pasting Word Documents into Blackboard

APA documents are usually submitted to Blackboard as an attachment. Some instructors ask students to paste the text of a document directly into Blackboard and this can cause formatting problems because of the differences between Blackboard and Microsoft Word (and other word processing programs).

To paste text from Word to Blackboard:

  • Copy the text from Word
  • Click the Mashup icon in Blackboard and select “Paste from Word.”
Paste to Blackboard using the Mashup button

Paste to Blackboard using the Mashup button

Video instructions

If you have to paste text into Blackboard from a Microsoft Word document see this great video posted by UTC:
http://youtu.be/HzlPtQydvM4

Written instructions

Missouri State has some good written instructions here:
How to paste from Microsoft Word to Blackboard

Using older versions of Blackboard

If your school is using an older version of Blackboard or has not installed the tools described in the above instructions see these older video instructions from bossier parish community college.
Using Text Editor to format a Word document for use in Blackboard

If your school does not have these Blackboard tools installed you can make a suggestion to have them installed. You will be helping all Blackboard users save time! More info from Blackboard is here:
Paste From Word Mashup for Blackboard

David Plaut, MS 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 about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

What vs. Which: which one should you use and when?

Not always sure which one to use when writing your APA papers?

What is typically used when there are an unknown number of choices.

Example: What are we going to do today? We have so many choices.

Which is typically used when there are a known number of choices. A good example is the title of this blog!
Another example: which flavor of ice cream do you want?

Better yet, which APA template should you buy…. why Reference Point Software, of course.

 

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

Should the word “states” be capitalized?

Should the word ΓÇ£stateΓÇ¥ or ΓÇ£statesΓÇ¥ be capitalized when referring to the United States or the 50 states that make up the U.S.?

  • If you are referring to the U.S. you should capitalize as in this sentence: ΓÇ£IΓÇÖll be returning to the States next week.ΓÇ¥
  • Otherwise, use lower case as in: ΓÇ£Each state has its own governor.ΓÇ¥

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

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 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

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

How to Write Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays are used for examining, elucidating, and explaining the relationships of why and how things happen. They are commonly used in science, arts, humanities, literature, and statistics to provide a theoretical prognosis of contributing reasons for events. This article will briefly describe how to write such an essay.

Differentiating Cause from Effect

When you are considering topics for your cause and effect essays, you may have some trouble identifying or separating causes and effects, especially if you are looking at a broad topic. You can find the cause by asking the question ΓÇ£Why?ΓÇ¥, while the effect or effects can be determined by asking, ΓÇ£What was the result?ΓÇ¥

While there can be several contributing causes for an issue, you need to separate the prime cause from other, secondary causes. Focus on the immediate and direct cause or effects, which are closest to the event in time and are related.

There can be several different effects. You must be careful to keep your essay manageable by identifying and writing about a few of the primary effects, or those with the most significant impact. If you get describe too many effects, your work will be watered down and lose its focus.

Once you have established the relationship between the cause and the effect, you have identified your topic. The reason why there is a connection between the cause and effect will be your thesis statement. ItΓÇÖs usually wise to keep your topic narrow so that your essay remains manageable and that you donΓÇÖt get too diverse and distracted and lose the point of your essay. Organize the details either in chronological order as the events occurred or in order of importance.

Writing a Cause Essay

Start by writing your introductory paragraph, including your thesis, and identify the effect or effects that resulted from the cause. Your objective is to address what caused this effect.

In the body of the essay, discuss the links in the causal chain. You can address them by either working backward from the effect to the first cause or by beginning with the first cause. Use transitional words to analyze the relationships you are identifying, such as because, due to, since, firstly, secondly, the main cause, for this reason, as a result.

Finally, use your final paragraph, to sum up your conclusions as they relate to your thesis.

Writing an Effects Essay

Start by writing your introductory paragraph, including your thesis, and describe the primary cause. Your objective is to address what effects result from this cause.
In the body of the essay, discuss each effect, tracing it back to the root cause. Use suitable transitional language for effects such as consequently, as a result, one result is, another result is, since.

As with the cause essay, use your final paragraph should sum up your conclusions as they relate to your thesis.

Provide Evidence to Support Your Argument

It is essential to provide evidence to support your arguments. Use relevant references to define your terms and to offer facts and statistics where appropriate in your cause and effect essays. Cite your references properly using MLA or APA formatting, whichever your professors may require. You can also give examples, anecdotes, or personal observations that support your ideas.

Whether you are using MLA or APA formatting for your citations, it is worth considering using formatting software. It will ensure accurate formatting of your citations and allow you more time to focus on the quality of your college 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 the 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 Write an Expository Paper

Professors like to assign an expository paper because itΓÇÖs a good way to challenge students on how to perform in-depth research and demonstrate their understanding of a specific topic. ItΓÇÖs likely that you will be required to write this type of paper at least once, if not several times while youΓÇÖre in school. Here is an overview of what an expository paper is and the key elements necessary so you can write a paper that meets your professorsΓÇÖ expectations.

The Definition

The word ΓÇ£expositoryΓÇ¥ is based on the word ΓÇ£expoundΓÇ¥ which means to ΓÇ£clarify the meaning of and discourse in a learned way, usually in writing.ΓÇ¥

An expository paper explains by exposing and conveying information about something that may be difficult to understand. It informs by giving a complete, fair, interesting and relevant explanation about a topic in detail. It does not use criticism, argument or any form of development of the subject. It simply demonstrates all the relevant facts without giving any point of view from the writer. The first person, ΓÇ£IΓÇ¥, is not used in an expository paper.

Getting Started

The steps to writing this paper are similar to writing any other winning term paper. You must first define your audience. Who are you addressing? Why do they need to know this information? What information is relevant to them? When you have identified the answers to these questions, you can go on to do your research.

Find a credible source that clearly states the facts. Make sure you understand the ideas and underlying values contained in the work that underpin the writerΓÇÖs thesis. Then go on to use the work of other equivalent sources to put the ideas into a larger context.

When you write your paper, make sure you communicate your explanation clearly, analyzing the parts fully in proper sequence so your audience follows how you arrived at your conclusions.

The Basic Structure

There are different developmental styles you can choose from for writing expository papers that each has its own pattern, depending on the subject matter. They should all start with an introductory paragraph and your thesis statement. The rest of your paper should follow the pattern for the style of expository paper that you are writing.

The patterns include:

Description ΓÇô Describe your topic by listing characteristics, features and examples, using cue words such as ΓÇ£likeΓÇ¥ and ΓÇ£such asΓÇ¥, for example.

Sequence ΓÇô List items and events in numerical or chronological order. Use cue words such as ΓÇ£firstΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£secondΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£thirdΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£nextΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£thenΓÇ¥, and ΓÇ£finallyΓÇ¥.

Comparison ΓÇô Explain how two things are alike or different using cue words such as ΓÇ£alikeΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£same asΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£on the other handΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£differentΓÇ¥, and ΓÇ£in contrastΓÇ¥.

Cause and Effect ΓÇô List one or more causes and resulting effect or effects, using cue words such as ΓÇ£a resultΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£thereforeΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£becauseΓÇ¥, and ΓÇ£reasons whyΓÇ¥.

Problem and Solution ΓÇô State a problem and list one or more solutions to the problem or pose a question and then give answers to it. Cue words for this pattern include ΓÇ£problem isΓÇ¥, ΓÇ£dilemma isΓÇ¥, and ΓÇ£puzzle is solvedΓÇ¥.

Finally, your concluding paragraph should reflect back to your opening paragraph and reinforce your thesis statement.

Proper Formatting

As you explain your topic, you will cite references from other works to provide a complete argument. Be sure to cite your sources accurately using the most up to date version of the APA or MLA formatting guidelines. This will help your readers refer to the sources you provide. If your professor specifically assigns MLA formatting for your paper, you will need to follow the guidelines for creating a bibliography, too. If you do not adhere to these guidelines, you will make it difficult for your readers to verify your supporting evidence, which will cost you points.

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 us here.

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

How to Write a Literature Review for College

While youΓÇÖre at college, you may be required to write a literature review. The common misconception is that this means reading and then writing an opinion about what you have read. However, in the context of your college studies, this isnΓÇÖt an accurate understanding.

What is a literature review?

It is an analysis of existing work used in relation to a narrow topic. A literature review is used to examine previous related research by extracting and comparing the major elements and showing their relationships through summary and classification. It identifies new ways to interpret the current writings about a topic and sheds light on gaps in research, bringing knowledge up to date and pointing the way to further research.

While a literature review is comprehensive, it isnΓÇÖt exhaustive. It isnΓÇÖt practical or necessary to analyze all the articles, books, reports and other written works about a topic. It only includes the most pertinent writings to your assignment.

How does a literature review differ from a research paper?

The prime focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument. A research paper will contain a literature review as one of its parts. Within the context of a research paper, a literature review is used to help the reader by establishing what is already known about a particular topic and what methods have been used to research that topic. It brings the reader up to date to the place you are starting from and exposes the gaps in the literature that you are using as a foundation and support for the new insight that you are contributing. Your review of the literature also helps save you from reproducing what is already known.

The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions. It adds to your understanding of the subject while you develop skills in information seeking and critical appraisal.

What are the basic steps to review the literature?

Before finding the material to research, the first step is to decide what topic you will be examining and the issues in relation to it. The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material. Find the literature by using libraries, on-line databases and other appropriate sources.

The second step is to skim through the literature youΓÇÖve selected, evaluating the information. This is not an in depth study of each piece of literature at this stage. As you review each piece, ask yourself if it makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic and if itΓÇÖs directly relevant to your specific topic focus and why. Take notes and keep your focus clear. Discard all literature that is not in the scope of your criteria.

The third step requires that you read through in more detail the remaining literature that you will use in your review. This time, you will assess if the literature is current, relevant, objective, proven and unbiased, and if the authorΓÇÖs credentials are satisfactory. As with the previous cursory review, keep the literature that fulfills those conditions and discard the rest. Continue to make notes as you go to help you develop and refine your perspective.

Next, when you have finished reviewing the literature, you will be ready to make an initial outline of your literary review. Chart out the way you will organize the information you have accumulated. Formulate your thesis and then go on to write your paper. The structure is like other academic papers with an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. You must also cite your sources correctly, using either the MLA or APA format, as appropriate. If you are unsure as to which formatting guidelines you should use, ask your professor.

The final step is editing your literature review. In this phase, you will correct spelling and grammatical errors, as well as revise any word choices that interrupt the flow. Additionally, you will need to review all the formatting requirements. Luckily there is a way to save time editing your paper using formatting products that ensure your paper adheres to the correct MLA or APA format with just a few simple clicks, giving you to more time to focus on the rest of your paper.

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 us here.

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