Chapter 6-5-1: Basic and Essential “Do’s and Don’ts”

When writing an academic paper, take note of the following peculiarities:

  • You must provide a title, without being asked. At this stage of the game, you are just expected to know that this is an essential part of any paper. What is more, your title must be informative—not artistic. A title such as "The Death of a Sentence" is a wonderfully artistic title, but it doesn't inform readers what the essay will be about. Instead, something such as "Death Sentences Fail to Dissuade People from Committing Murder" makes for a clear and informative title. Next, the title should resemble the thesis statement for the paper. Finally, English has special capitalization rules for titles that you should be aware of.

  • Contractions are not permitted: don’t do not use contractions in an academic essay.

Write a worthy introduction. It has a purpose. Use it to impart “real” information to your reader. Do not use the following overused, empty “filler” phrases (or anything that resembles them) anywhere in the introduction. What follows are examples of poor introductory sentences. The blank line represents your topic:

  • _______________ now occupies an increasingly important place in our everyday life.

  • _______________ is a hotly-debated topic. /// _______________ is now a subject of debate.

  • _______________ has been discussed a lot in the news recently.

  • _______________ has been making the headlines recently.

  • _______________ has come a long way (and it is not going to stop anytime soon).

  • _______________ is a controversial subject.

  • Within the topic of _______________, a lot of controversy exists.

  • A lot of controversy surrounds the notion of _______________

  • In our modern society, _______________

  • This debate is ongoing and there are arguments from both sides.

  • Nowadays, blah blah blah... /// These days, blah blah blah… /// Ever since ancient times, blah blah blah... /// Ever since the dawn of time, blah blah blah... /// Since early days, blah blah blah...

Avoid using the "this proves that" method for your clarification. Telling your readers that you've just "proved that" your proof supports your mini-claim does not help your reader understand how it supports it if they didn't understand it in the first place! A writer that uses this method demonstrates that they do not understand the true purpose of the clarification. Remember, your clarification is intended to help the "intelligent yet ignorant reader" have a second chance at understanding why your mini-claim makes sense.

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