EazyPaper manWrite your EazyPaper January 2012

Happy New Year! And to another semester of paper writing and the Write your EazyPaper monthly newsletter. This semester, Professor Randy Wollf will give general writing tips, and Michael Hu, President of EazyPaper, will explain Word's Page Layout features.

An apology

But first of all, an apology. EazyPaper.com was down from January 5 to January 26, 2012. The one responsible for renewing the domain name had changed emails and did not get the notification to renew it. The loss of the domain name took out the website and eazypaper.com email system; ie: all our ways of communicating with you. It was a long, frustrating process for recovering and testing the domain name and website to ensure everything has been recovered.

On behalf of EazyPaper Inc., I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and stress of our website going down, and the ensuing lack of communication against our will. This is what we have done to make it right:

  1. Switched the domain renewal notifcation from a single email to multiple emails going to different people.
  2. Released EazyPaper 7.0 as a free upgrade to all users, which includes support for Word 2010 64 bit, a top requested feature. EazyPaper is also faster, has better Zotero integration, and has a 8-14 day editing option at reduced cost.
  3. Sent you this apology, as soon as our email system was working again and we completed our system tests.

If you have any questions or concerns, or just need to rant, contact me at our support system with the subject line, "eazypaper.com went down." I will personally answer your concerns promptly.

Michael Hu
President, EazyPaper Inc.

Using Commas

by Professor Randy

As a professor and editor, I am consistently surprised at how writers, even good writers, will put commas in the wrong places or neglect to insert them as required. Commas serve an important role in directing the flow of ideas within a sentence. If used incorrectly, the reader, who may be your professor, may stumble over words and may even miss important ideas. However, when students use commas correctly, they strengthen the overall coherence of their writing. In this article, I will look at three common mistakes related to comma usage.

Mistake #1 - Not adding a comma after an introductory clause, phrase, or word that precedes the main clause
If your sentence begins with words like if, when, while, because, since, after, or as, you will likely need to add a comma after the first clause or phrase in the sentence.

Example - When I write a paper, I always try to create an outline to guide my thoughts.

It is also important to add a comma after introductory words such as however, yes, suddenly, and consequently.

Example - However, I will change my paper outline if I find important ideas that support the purpose of my paper.

Mistake #2 - Not adding a comma before something in quotation marks
When you have a quotation in your sentence, you should insert a comma before the quote. Here are two examples:

Example - In his article, Wollf (2011) stated, "Most writers would benefit from using headings in their papers in keeping with their outline."

Example - The student asked the professor, "How do I know when to insert headings?"

Mistake #3 - Not adding commas to set off a clause, phrase, or word in the middle of a sentence
A key principle to keep in mind when deciding whether to use commas is the principle of taking a breath. If you were speaking the sentence in your paper, would it be natural to take a breath or pause during the sentence? If so, you probably need to add one or more commas. Non-essential clauses, phrases, or words that occur in the middle of a sentence often require a pause to set them off from the rest of the sentence.

Example - The professor, who was also a professional editor, replied, "Headings usually introduce major topics of one to three paragraphs in length."

Commas may seem rather small and unimportant. However, their proper use will strengthen the flow of a paper, often resulting in a stronger grade.

Introduction to Page Layout

by Michael Hu

Microsoft Word's Page Layout features can be one of its most complex and frustrating features. A proper understanding of Word's approach to page layout and its limitations could save you hours of frustration, but let me give you an EazyPaper story first. My undergrad was in Computer Systems Engineering, and the formatting requirements of engineering reports were quite relaxed. We just simply opened Word and wrote.

What frustrated us though were diagrams - they tended to jump from one page to another as we edited text before the diagram. We would press Enter a few times to have it positioned just so, but adding and removing Enters would impact the layout of diagrams later on in the report. Laying out diagrams then became a game of experimenting where to press Enter, often with trade-offs for the layout of the paper as a whole.

Lesson #1: Do layout at the end
It's what the professionals do. Consider a newspaper - writers submit their articles by a deadline, and an editor, almost always a separate person, edits, orders, formats, and positions articles according to space and eye-appeal considerations. This process is called page layout and has to be done after the articles are written or there is nothing to lay out! The mistake I made in my undergrad is to do layout concurrently with writing, and as the content changed, so did the length and relative position of diagrams to the text. Do layout at the end, not while you're writing.

Lesson #2: Break up your paper into sections
In fact, you probably already do. Every formatting standard has sections like Title Page, Table of Contents, and Bibliography. Each of these sections start on a new page, meaning that the previous section's layout changes are isolated from this one.

Instead of using Enters to move text to the next page, click the Page Layout tab, Breaks, and then insert a Page Break as shown in Figure 1.

How to insert a page or section break

Figure 1: How to insert a page or section break

Even more powerful is the Section break of Figure 1. They act like Page Breaks, except that the header, footer, page numbering, margins, and even page orientation of one section can be different than the other.

This is quite powerful, but explaining that power will have to wait till next month's newsletter.

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