Writing a research paper or essay doesn't have to be a dreaded chore. Knowing the proper steps when preparing to write a paper is essential for success. Here are a few tips and techniques to make the process less frustrating, and set you on your way to creating a notable paper.

Things You Will Need


Index Cards

MLA, APA or other reference guide

College Dictionary

Step 1

Decide on a topic to write about and develope a thesis statement (i.e. a question you are trying to answer about the topic). It is always more productive to write about something you are interested in, rather than attempting to write about something you could care less about. Example: If you enjoy Charles Dickens' works, write a paper on an aspect of his work, such as Christmas traditions mentioned in his popular story, "A Christmas Carol."

Step 2

This is one of the most crucial steps in the writing process. In order to write a persuasive, argumentative, or any type of paper, good research techniques are required. Academic journals are excellent research tools to use for quotations, and general information about the topic. Many of these journals can be accessed online through campus libraries or on your home computer for free. Visiting your local library is also a good way to find sources for your research topic. Most instructors prefer academic works to be used for sources rather than non-academic resources.

Step 3

As you come across useful information for your paper, use index cards to write quotes or paraphrased material on one side, while citing the resource used on the other side. This eliminates going back and forth between books or articles. It's easy to forget where a quote came from when you are using several sources, so writing the information down on index cards helps keep you organized and on task. Use a rubberband or clip to hold index cards together.

Step 4

The next step is to develop an outline and write the introductory paragraph(s) to your paper, followed by the body of your paper, and finally, the conclusion, which is a recap of what you discussed in the body of your paper. Include appropiate quotations and citations as you write, and remember to retain balance between your original ideas those quoted by the sources you have used. *Failing to cite sources is plaguarism, and may result in failing the course, expulsion, or worse.*

Step 5

Make sure you document and write your paper according to the style that your instructor specifies, such as MLA or APA. Failure to do this can result in a large loss of points earned. Guide books on MLA and APA style can be found at most libraries and bookstores, and can also be found online.
Remember, writing a paper can be a stress-free process when you apply the techniques discussed in this article. Thorough research, documentation, and planning are essential to the writing process, and should never be done halfway.

Tips & Warnings

*Failing to cite sources is plaguarism, and may result in failing the course, expulsion, or worse.*

Give yourself plenty of time to research and write your paper. Don't wait until the last minute to start working on your paper, or you may find yourself scrambling for content, which can result in a poor grade.