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Student Learning Center (SLC)

RMCAD's free tutoring and academic success center

Tell us what you think!

Oxford comma: use it or lose it?
Use it--it looks nice and it's important!: 16 votes (84.21%)
Lose it--it's just clutter: 0 votes (0%)
Uhh, what is that?: 1 votes (5.26%)
Sorry, I don't have strong opinions about punctuation: 2 votes (10.53%)
Total Votes: 19

Whether you need help with a specific paper or you’re looking to sharpen your overall writing skills, you’ve come to the right place⁠the SLC can help with all of your writing-related needs!   

In this guide, you’ll find our favorite resources for writing, from brainstorming and organizing ideas to wrapping your brain around grammar rules. If you want some one-on-one assistance, though, be sure to schedule a tutoring appointment!

Now, onto the resources!

General Writing Tips

What you say is more important than how you say it. Whether you’re writing a personal narrative or research paper, your ideas should be the driving force behind your writing⁠—not your style, punctuation, or grammar. Take adequate time to inventory your thoughts and develop the overall message you want to convey well before you begin your draft. Then, once you understand what you’re trying to write, you can turn your attention to the finer details. (Pro tip: try out an invention strategy to sift through and organize your thoughts!).


Use your writing to probe deeper. A strong piece of writing doesn't present a simple overview of a topic: it asks questions, makes connections, proposes new ideas, and draws informed conclusions (also known as analysis). Just make sure you support your claims with evidence.


Let your thesis take the wheel. With few exceptions, every paper should contain a thesis that both presents your paper’s argument and gives the reader an idea of where your writing is going. Your paper’s job, in turn, is to give your thesis support! Each paragraph should play a role in defending your thesis and proving that it’s right. If you find a paragraph that isn’t pulling its weight, you can probably omit it from your paper altogether.


Look over your work before you turn it in. There's a reason newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses employ teams of editors: everyone, including professional writers, makes mistakes in their writing, and all writing can be improved with feedback. Be sure to have another person review your work, like another student in your class, your sister with an English degree, or a tutor at the SLC. If you'd rather proofread your work on your own, though, wait at least 8 hours after you've finished writing. It's difficult to catch mistakes before your brain has had a chance to cool down!


Don't do it all at once. For many people, aiming to write a perfect paper in one sitting is a one-way ticket to Anxiety Town. Instead, see if you can break the work up throughout the week, giving yourself ample time to develop your ideas, write a

shitty first draft, and revise it.

Before You Write

Thinking through your paper before you start writing can be a game changer; it allows you to develop your ideas more thoroughly and stave off the dreaded writer’s block. While this process can happen anywhere⁠—in a notebook, a napkin, or the back of your hand with a Sharpie⁠—why not try a brainstorming app to get things started?

Apps like MindMup and iThoughtsx are free, easy to use, and help to unpack your brain in a fun and visual way. For those with a more methodical style, however, Little Outliner and Workflowy boast clean, organized templates for making lists and outlines.


Image courtesy of MindMup


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