Top Ten Writing Errors to Avoid

There are common errors that we are all guilty of but if you can avoid them you can improve your essay or assignment tenfold.

1. Don’t use capital letters in the middle of sentences. The only time you need capital letters is at the beginning of a sentence; for ‘I’ when you refer to yourself; for proper noun (names of people, places etc.); and for titles like books titles, the name of a class etc. Otherwise avoid using capital letters in the middle of sentences.

2. Don’t write in half sentences. Often we tend to shorten sentences and we love using bullet points. Good writing will use full sentences though. It’s better to write in full paragraphs in essay style, unless otherwise stated.

3. Do not overuse commas. Some of us tend to write in big, long sentences with lots of commas. Have to ever tried to read these? It’s better to divide longer sentences into shorter ones and use more full stops than commas. This makes the sentences easier to construct and much easier to read.

4. Do not write in one long chuck of text. Dividing your writing into clear paragraphs will help your reader follow your ideas more easily. See earlier posts on Paragraphing for more ideas:

https://dunboynestudyskills.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/paragraphing-an-essential-writing-skill/

https://dunboynestudyskills.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/paragraphing-an-essential-writing-skills-part-2/

https://dunboynestudyskills.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/improving-your-own-paragraphs/

5. Do not submit your writing until you have read back over it. Often we write sentences that do not make sense when someone reads them. Always read back over your work (preferably out loud) to see if the sentences read well.

 

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Guide to Harvard Referencing

For a handy guide to Harvard referencing try UCD’s excellent resource:

http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/Guide69.pdf

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Paragraphing: An Essential Writing Skill. Part 3

 

Keep them clear and easy to read

The best paragraphs will be very clear and easy to read. You don’t need to try and use big, impressive words. You can keep your language simple and if you write in a clear and logical manner, your paragraph will be effective.

Mix short sentences with long ones

Generally the best paragraphs will have a mixture of longer and shorter sentences. This mixes up the sentence structures and makes it easier and more interesting for the reader.

Link paragraphs

Keep your writing flowing by linking paragraphs. (See previous post for ideas)

One idea per paragraph

When you change to a new idea switch paragraphs.

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Paragraphing: An Essential Writing Skill. Part 2

notebook and pencil Opening and closing paragraphs are very important. You can set up a good first impression of your assignment at the beginning and leave a lasting impression at the end.

The opening paragraph

A good opening paragraph to an answer in an exam or an assignment can be very effective. It can set the right tone for a clear answer and impress the reader.

The best opening paragraph will introduce what your answer is going to be about. State clearly what you intend to write about in a few sentences. Give your stance on the issue, i.e. will you be agreeing with the question or not or what you will be arguing? Keep it short, clear and logical.

The concluding paragraph

A good concluding paragraph will sum up your main points again and round off your answer. Here you just restate the most important points you have already made and you may also want to sum up what you have learned and your thoughts on the topic.

Next time we’ll be looking at ways to improve your own paragraph writing.

 

© Irene Togher

For more on Study and Exam Skills: Shortcuts to Success; Study and Exam Skills.

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Definition of study? (www. quickmeme.com)

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November 21, 2013 · 12:02 am

Paragraphing: An Essential Writing Skill. Part 1

When writing assignments or exam answers it is essential to paragraph your writing for easy reading and clarity. This is something we can all struggle with. So in the next 3 blog posts I will be giving advice on effective paragraphing.

Firstly let’s start with learning what a paragraph is and how you can use them.

Paragraphing serves the very important function of giving your writing order and logic. This makes it a lot easier for your reader to follow what you are trying to say.

The paragraph

A paragraph always contains one main idea or topic. The rest of the paragraph is used to further illustrate that main point with explanation or examples.

So you need to form your own paragraphs this way. Have a main point or idea in each paragraph. The rest of the paragraph will explain that point and when you need to move on to another point, start a new paragraph.

For example:

I was more tired than I’d ever been. My eyes ached and my body felt like it didn’t belong to me.  I kept taking these very deep breaths and hitting the side of my leg with the pick-handle to keep awake. I tried talking to myself but even a whisper sounded loud in the silence and I gave it up. I thought, maybe this is what it sounds like to be dead.

 

I thought about my Mum, but it was unreal. Any other time I’d have wept for a week. I’d often imagined myself after her death…..

– Taken from Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells.

 

The writer’s first paragraph here is about his own tiredness. When he wants to change topics and write about his mother, he switches paragraphs.

Notice how you start a new paragraph by skipping a line.

 

Linking paragraphs

Paragraphs cannot stand alone in your writing. When you answer a question or write an essay, you need to write many paragraphs. Each individual paragraph should be linked to the next one to help your answer flow logically.

There are two ways to link paragraphs:

Using linking phrases

Paragraphs can be linked to each other by beginning a following paragraph with a linking phrase. Some examples of linking phrases would be: In a similar way..; this is also evident… so we can see that…; but…; so…; therefore… etc.

For example:

Within a minute they were gone. As soon as the motorcade was out of sight, I turned to my parents and said, ‘That was nothing.’

 

But, of course, in retrospect, that fleeting glimpse of John and Jacqueline Kennedy was truly something…

Notice that these two paragraphs are linked when the second one begins with ‘But, of course’. It helps the writing flow from one paragraph to the next and makes the chain of thoughts seem natural.

 

Linking by idea

A second way to link paragraphs is to have them flow with the natural train of thought or by ideas.

For example:

Look again at our paragraphs from Brother in the Land.

I was more tired than I’d ever been. My eyes ached and my body felt like it didn’t belong to me.  I kept taking these very deep breaths and hitting the side of my leg with the pick-handle to keep awake. I tried talking to myself but even a whisper sounded loud in the silence and I gave it up. I thought, maybe this is what it sounds like to be dead.

 

I thought about my Mum, but it was unreal. Any other time I’d have wept for a week. I’d often imagined myself after her death….. Taken from Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells.

Notice how the second paragraph naturally flows from the first one because it is an expected chain of thought that when he mentioned death in the first paragraph, he immediately thought of his dead mother. This is linking the paragraphs by the natural flow of ideas.

 

Next time we’ll be talking about opening paragraphs and closing paragraphs.

See you then!

 

© Irene Togher

For more on Study and Exam Skills: Shortcuts to Success; Study and Exam Skills.

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Top Ten Study Habits

  1. Set goals and targets. Aim to meet these each week. Keep them realistic and do-able.
  2. Make the most of your time. Decide when you will study/do assignments and stick to that schedule. Schedule when you will study extra work over and above assignments.
  3. Have a to-list of study tasks for each week. Tick them off as you complete each one.
  4. Divide study time into 45-minute blocks, with regular breaks.
  5. Always have work on hand to do at times like breaks in the timetable and rainy lunch times.
  6. Study in the same place at the same time every day to develop the habit of study and set a regular routine.
  7. Develop good note-taking skills and use these for learning late in the year.
  8. Practice what you learn with exam-style questions.
  9. Use memory skills like acronyms and visualisation to hold information in your brain and recall it in exams.
  10. Keep your body and brain healthy with regular meals, healthy food and a good sleep pattern.

© Irene Togher

For more on Study and Exam Skills: Shortcuts to Success; Study and Exam Skills.

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