The Anderson Writing Center is here for you!
Summer is Virtual ONLY
Contact us any time, and we will respond to you as soon as we are available!
During the semester our hours are:
Monday and Wednesday 3:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 am - 7:00 pm
We can help virtually through email, Zoom, or Ask a Librarian.
Just send an email to: Anderson-Writing-Center@ivytech.edu, and let us know what you need help with.
If you have a paper that needs reviewed, make sure you attach the paper.
APA and MLA Style Guides are below!
Credo Instruct - Tutorial - Ivy Tech Library Information Literacy tutorials made up of a pre and post test and six modules with quizzes. The topics range from basic research skills, selecting and evaluating resources, and citation skills. This resource will replace IvyTILT.
All About APA (American Psychological Association)
All About MLA (Modern Language Association)
OWL - Purdue University Online Writing Lab is one of the best web sites for help in research and writing.
NoodleTools - NoodleTools is an online research management platform that promotes critical thinking and authentic research. Students stay organized as they evaluate information, build accurate citations, archive source material, take notes, outline topics, and prepare to write. Quickly and easily generate accurate MLA, APA, and Chicago citations!
TUTOR.COM is a FREE service that students can use for various courses. You have 25 hours you can use each semester. They are available 24/7. You can access tutor.com in IvyLearn under the IvyLearn Student Resource Center.
Click on the links for information!
An Effective Thesis
An effective thesis should contain the general idea of your essay; someone should be able to read your thesis and know the overall main idea that your essay will convey.
It must be specific enough to focus your topic and convey what you think about it.
Avoid the following errors when writing a thesis:
TOO FACTUAL: Composting is a way to recycle at home by reusing food scraps.
This thesis tells us what something is—that won’t provide enough information for a good essay unless it’s only an informative essay.
REVISED: Composting is the easiest and most economical recycling solution to have less household trash.
This thesis is much better because it tells us what the reader thinks about composting: it’s the best way to recycle! It’s also an argument: sometimes you may need to write an argument, which means that you choose one side of a topic. For example, someone else could say that traditional recycling is best, but this author is arguing that composting is best.
TOO BROAD: When considering mental illness, many drugs are available to treat them.
This is enough information to write a book on, not a five-page essay. “Many drugs” could be a list of twenty drugs, and the author won’t have time to talk about each of those. There are many mental illnesses as well.
REVISED: Wellbutrin is a safe way to treat depression, but one must consider possible side effects when choosing medication.
This thesis chose one drug and one type of mental illness so that the essay will be focused and specific.
TOO VAGUE: Limiting student parking is a great idea.
This thesis has a good start because it presents an argument, but the end of the sentence isn’t specific enough to write a good essay around the idea.
REVISED: Limiting student parking to orange lots on campus will reduce traffic, give students access to all important buildings, and leave parking for other faculty and staff.
This thesis tells us what is good about student parking and specifically what their proposal calls for (limiting parking to orange lots).
Thus, a thesis should include:
A thesis may also include:
The main points of your essay. Some instructors may require this for a thesis. You can simply list your reasons, as the author did in the last example thesis above.
Created on 1/21/2021 by Stephanie M. Kurin
Finding essay topics
Your instructor’s given you a new essay to write, but how do you find a topic? What do you do if you’re stuck?
First, read the assignment sheet. Does it give any topic ideas—or topics to stay away from?
If you have a choice of topics, then consider the following:
Most students assume that the instructor will be their audience, and they sometimes think of their classmates as well. While that is true, you’ll have a better essay if you write with a specific audience in mind.
Choose a specific audience. For an essay about the common core, for example, you could say the audience is students, but that’s still a fairly general audience. It would be better to instead write to “high school students within Indiana who are planning to attend college after high school graduation” or “students at Wilson high who want to go into trades.”
Questions to help you determine your audience:
How do I know if a paragraph and essay are well-developed?
Typically, a well-developed paragraph will include a topic sentence, a sentence or two explaining that idea, at least one example or source and explanation of that, and a sentence to wrap it all up. While there’s no set length for a good paragraph, make sure your idea is well-explained before moving on.
Questions to use to help you develop further:
Questions to ask yourself to develop further:
How do I know if a source is good?
Finding good sources takes time; you’ll want to evaluate what you have. If you’ve found sources through the library, whether they’re articles or books, it’s likely they will work well, but even articles you found through the library can be too brief, general, or not specifically related to your topic.
If that’s the case or if you’re working with online sources, use these guidelines to help you find credible sources.
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” Oscar Wilde
If, for example, you found this quote and wanted to use to begin your essay, you would want to know that Wilde often wrote satire.
Look at the above article. Consider googling the source if you’re not familiar with it or read the page’s “About” section. The above source may look good at the outset, but it’s from a well-known satire page.
How do you write a good title for an essay?
Keep in mind that every good essay deserves a title! While some people start an essay by writing a title, it’s probably easiest to wait until the essay is finished to write the title so that it accurately conveys the same idea as your essay.
There are 3 possible elements to a good title:
Look at these example titles:
Adios, Franco!: An Analysis of the Spanish Communist Party
The first part of this title includes a creative element, and the second part includes the subject terms of analysis and communism. It tells us the source of Spain as well.
Background Effects as Dramatic Technique in Shakespeare’s As You Like It
This title includes the subject terms—background effects, technique, and gives a location, the name of a play: As You Like It.
Fast Food’s Feeding Frenzy
This title uses a creative aspect, alliteration, to convey its subject.
How to have good organization in an essay
See our handout on introductions for more tips.
Let’s say this was the author’s thesis:
Composting is the easiest and most economical solution to have less household trash.
His main points would be:
Both of those support the overall idea that composing is the best way to have less trash.
Choose at least two main points to develop in your essay; generally, an essay will have no more than five main points.
A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph that introduces us to the main idea of that paragraph. Often, topic sentences will convey one of the essay’s main points.
If we were working with the thesis from above, the author’s first topic sentence could read like this:
Composting is an easy way to reduce household trash.
The author has taken their first main point and included that into their first sentence of the paragraph.
Figure out what your main ideas are, then have one or two paragraphs for each—the point should come through clearly in your topic sentence.
You don’t have to have one paragraph per main point, but using topic sentences will help the reader see which main point you are discussing.
Topic sentences can also function as transitions to help link the ideas in paragraphs together.
Check out the document about conclusions to develop yours.
Principles for incorporating visuals
Questions to ask when incorporating visuals
Don’t do this with your image:
Don't put the image in the middle of the page. Put it to the right or the left so that you can wrap the text around it.
Instead, use text wrapping
Use text wrapping (right click on image, then “wrap text“) to integrate your images into your project so that they don’t stand out. Make sure that your text wrap does not make a column that is too narrow or make it hard for readers to follow your train of thought. This allows your image to be better integrated into your essay.
Revision Tips and Techniques
How do I revise my essay?
Revision will probably be a more thorough process than what you’re used to doing. Note that revision and editing are not the same; revision involves reworking your essay as a whole, and editing is what comes at the end. Editing is more like proofreading, while revision involves making large-scale changes to your essay.
A few tips:
What will I be doing as I revise?
Adding. You can add sentences, paragraphs, more examples, and more source information.
Deleting. It might feel hard, but your essay will be better if you delete sentences and paragraphs. Be ruthless! Take out sentences you’ve already said or that go off-topic.
Moving. Move sentences around; where do they fit better in a paragraph? Should you reorder your body paragraphs? Does one paragraph fit better at the beginning than the end?
What can I do to revise?
Self-Analysis for Revision
Use these questions to help you revise your essay. Be honest when answering the questions and thinking about what might need revision.
Take one read-through of your essay to proofread only: look for unnecessary or missing commas, comma splices, and misspellings.
Tips for Writing Timed Essays
This document gives you an idea of what any timed, impromptu essay like a diagnostic essay or in-class essay, whether part of an essay on its own or part of an exam, might call for. It also gives some tips for handling timed writing situations.
After you’ve written the essay, go back and check the assignment again: did you fulfill all the required aspects?
What is argument?
An argument attempts to persuade your audience by stating a claim and supporting that with evidence.
What is a claim?
A claim takes a stand on one side of an issue.
Look at these two claims:
The simple vocabulary and rhyming lines of Dr. Seuss’ books are responsible for the imaginative flair in his work.
Dr. Seuss’ illustrations are responsible for the genius and popularity of his work because of his creative use of color and simple images.
They are both talking about Dr. Seuss’ work. The first claims that the text is most important and responsible for the imaginative aspect, while the second claims that his illustrations are most important. Either of those are strong claims.
What cannot be an argument?
Questions can’t be arguments
Who makes the key decisions in U.S. Cities?
This is not an argument; a question cannot be an argument because it doesn’t take a stand.
Revision: The city governor should be responsible for key decisions in cities rather than the federal government.
This thesis is talking about the same idea, but it presents an argument about who should make decisions: this author is arguing that local government should be responsible rather than federal.
Statements or facts can’t be arguments
A quarter of a million babies are born each year with birth defects.
Pollution is bad for the environment.
Neither of these are arguments; a statement or fact cannot be an argument. No one would argue that pollution is good for the environment, so it can’t be an argument.
Revision: To combat pollution, each driver should be limited to 20,000 miles a year.
The author is arguing a specific limit for drivers. They’re still talking about the same topic of pollution, but their thesis includes a specific way to solve the problem.
Not choosing a side
This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of certain restrictions on free speech.
This sentence presents both sides without claiming one—you must choose one side (there could be two or more) to have an argument.
Possible Revision: This paper will consider the advantages of free speech.
This is still not an argument because they’re just telling us what will happen. You must present a claim about your topic as well.
Revision: Free speech should be allowed in schools because it will benefit students’ expression and self-awareness.
Features of an argumentation essay:
Writing a Good Conclusion
You can’t write a good conclusion until you’ve written your essay, so write that first and then come back and look at how you might want to revise it based on the suggestions below.
What should you avoid in a conclusion?
What are some options that work well?
This one is too brief, only includes basic summary, and ends abruptly.
If seems we can really only speculate as to what Shakespeare is trying to say about life in King Lear. There are no religious morals or Elizabethan motifs jumping out at us like handy crutches.
This second conclusion wraps up the essay and ends with a memorable sentence.
So, if by a series of occurrences very close to the core of the man, Lear, this king becomes aware of life just as it is lost to him forever. The only non-static character in the play, Lear becomes the tragic one. The tragedy is one like saving a man’s life so that he may be executed. But, in that saving, Lear is, if only briefly, whole, magnificent, wise.
Example paragraphs from “Closers,” Writing with Style by John R. Trimble
Writing a Good Introduction
Tips when writing an Introduction…
What not to do…
Possibilities for your Intro…
“Have a minute? Good. Because one minute may be all it takes to save the life of a child—your child. Accidents kill nearly 8000 children under age 15 each year. And for every fatality, 42 more children are admitted to hospitals for treatment. Yet such deaths and injuries can be avoided through these easy steps parents can take right now. You don't have a minute to lose.”
“’The rich are different,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald said more than seventy years ago. Apparently, they still are. As an examination of the tax code shows, the wealthy receive many more benefits than the middle class or the poor do.”
“The most widely read writer in America today is not Stephen King, Michael Chrichton or John Grisham. It's Margaret Milner Richardson, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, whose name appears on the "1040 Forms and Instructions" booklet. I doubt that Margaret wrote the entire 1040 pamphlet, but the annual introductory letter, "A Note from the Commissioner," bears her signature.”
“Many people think that after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the colonists defeated the British army in battle after battle, but this commonly-held belief is incorrect. The truth is that the colonial army lost most of its battles.”
“Democracy is a form of government in which power is given to and exercised by the people: this may be true in theory, but some recent elections have raised concerns about the future of democracy. Democracy in our country seems to be more about who has the money to give power to politicians.”
“Mike Cantlon remembers coming across his first auction ten years ago while cruising the back roads of Wisconsin. He parked his car and wandered into the crowd, toward the auctioneer's singsong chant and wafting smell of barbecued sandwiches. Hours later, Cantlon emerged lugging a $22 beam drill-for constructing post-and-beam barns—and a passion for auctions that has stuck like glue. "It's an addiction," says Cantlon, a financial planner and one of the growing number of auction fanatics for whom Saturdays will never be the same.”
*example paragraphs taken from courses.lumenlearning.com
Two Introduction Examples from Writing with Style by John R. Trimble
The first draft, a fairly basic introduction that gives background information:
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, admired for its poetic style and intriguing characters, has remained a classic for over three centuries. The character of Hamlet is probably one of Shakespeare’s most perplexing and most pleasing. He is easily identified with because of his multi-faceted personality and his realistic problems.
The second draft, which begins with an attention-getter:
He killed his brother. He married his brother’s wife. He stole his brother’s crown. A cold-hearted murderer, he is described by his brother’s ghost as “that incestuous, that adulterate beast” (I.v.42). The bare facts appear to stamp him a moral outlaw. Nonetheless, as his soliloquies and anguished asides reveal, no person in Hamlet demonstrates so mixed a true nature as Claudius, the newly made King of Denmark.
Which of these is more interesting? Why? What can you do to make your introduction more like the second draft?
Created on 1/21/2021 by Stephanie M. Kurin