EazyPaper manWrite your EazyPaper September 2011

Welcome to the launch of the Write your EazyPaper monthly newsletter. Here you'll find tips from Professor Randy Wollf on the paper writing process, and Michael Hu, President of EazyPaper, on core Microsoft Word concepts, and how you can make them work for you.

Preparing to Write Well

by Professor Randy

Would you like to get an A on your next paper? My focus in this newsletter is on the topic of “Preparing to Write Well” (in future newsletters, I will discuss how to write and edit your paper). When I was doing my thesis, my supervisor told me that the preparation phase is the most important part of the writing process. Here are some tips to help you prepare well:

Tip #1 - Write when your Mind is Fresh
Everyone has creative moments. Of course, we also have moments when the creative flow has been reduced to a trickle. Make the most of the time when your mind is fresh. This could be first thing in the morning or between midnight and 2:00 am. If your paper is due in six hours and your mind is far from fresh, take a 20-minute break to do something that refreshes your mind (e.g. a quick jog).

Tip #2 - Know the Purpose of Your Paper
Make sure that you are clear about your topic. Write down the purpose of the paper and keep it in front of you throughout the writing process. It will keep you from straying down a rabbit trail that may be interesting, but unfortunately leads you away from an A grade.

Tip #3 - Develop an Outline
Having a good outline that serves the purpose of the paper is incredibly important. As you think about the purpose, what are three or more areas that you will need to address to achieve the purpose. For longer papers, you may have more main points and even sub points. Generally, each main point or sub-point will translate into one to three paragraphs in your paper.

Tip #4 - Research and Organize Your Ideas
If your paper requires research, make sure that you organize the ideas you find according to your outline. Type them right into the outline. You may find that your outline will need to change as you discover new ideas. That’s totally okay. Make any necessary changes, but make sure that every point in your outline contributes to the overall purpose of the paper.

If you follow these tips, you will be well under way to writing an A paper.

Next month, I will share some tips on excelling during the writing phase.

Writing in style (Part 1 of 4)

by Michael Hu

Styles are probably the most under-used feature in Microsoft Word, and a proper understanding of what they are and how to use them will save you time and grades. How? Let me tell you the EazyPaper story. I was the editor of a group project that had to merge four completely differently formatted sections into a single paper. None of my teammates followed Turabian, and after 4 hours of just fixing footnotes (there were 99 of them!), I threw the sections back at them and told them to follow “the standard.” Now we argued about interpretations of Turabian, and the usefulness of following it anyways. We ran out of time, handed in the paper, and lost grades for formatting. Fed up, I wrote a computer program to format my papers for me, and the rest is history.

Styles to the rescue
Looking back, what we needed for a uniform formatting was a standardized way to format blocks of text, like headings, footnotes, page numbers, etc. That format standard is what Word calls a style, and arranging and ordering styled blocks of text is called a template. What I should have done (and what EazyPaper does now) is create a template that correctly and uniformly formats the sections, headings, footnotes, etc. according to the Turabian standard.

So how do you use styles?
You only need to know two things about styles: how to apply them, and how to change how they look. To apply a style, select the text you want to style, and then click Heading 1 (or whatever style you want to apply) as shown in Figure 1. To change how it looks, right mouse click Heading 1 and select Modify.

How to modify Heading 1

Figure 1: Styles on the Home tab

Note that every time you modify a style, all the text linked to that style will be automatically updated to the new format. This means all your Heading 1s will look and act the same though-out your entire document.

But there’s more to styles! In next month’s newsletter, I’ll show you how to use styles to generate a table of contents from the headings in your paper.

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