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Writing Place Resources

In the resources in this section you will hear from undergraduate consultants, graduate fellows, and faculty members from The Writing Place team.  They have all distilled their research and personal experience into valuable advice for writers.

All of our Writing Place Resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Creative Commons License  We invite you to distribute and share content from our resources for non-commercial use provided you attribute the content to The Writing Place at Northwestern University and to named authors (where relevant). We provide you with printable versions of various resources to facilitate your sharing, and ask that if you alter, transform, or build upon our work that you license it under the same (or similar) license.

If you have any questions about linking to, distributing, or using any of our resources, please email us at writingplace@northwestern.edu.

Sections Included Below:
1) Planning and Organizing Your Writing
2) Negotiating and Composing Common Types and Genres of Writing
3) Writing in Specific Disciplines and Fields
4) Responding to Feedback and Revising Your Writing
5) Polishing Your Language: Style, Tone, Grammar & Punctuation
6) Citation

Planning and Organizing Your Writing

Writing Place Tips for Writers

This resource will remind you of the basics behind a better academic writing process.  Click here to read more.

Confronting College Writing Myths

This resource debunks some myths about college writing and helps you negotiate the transition from highschool to college-level composition.  Click here to read more.

When Your Writing Prompt is Broad or (Worse) Non-existent

This resource will help you find your bearings, and even write a project you enjoy, when a prompt gives you a little too much freedom.  Click here to read more.

Tackling Writer’s Block: In Defense of Freewriting

When you are overwhelmed or stuck, in spite of our love of plans and outlines, it might be time for a little freewriting.  Visit this resource to explore why freewriting can boost your productivity and how to do it well.  Click here to read more.

Developing a Thesis

This resource will help you develop a successful thesis for your paper.  Click here to read more.

PREZI: Flow Chart for Testing the Strength of Your Thesis

Visit this resource to view a PREZI flow chart that will help you test the strength of your thesis and make revisions.  Click here to view.

Types of Evidence in Dynamic Research Settings

Taking notes on live events can be overwhelming, visit this resource for concise note-taking advice about what constitutes important evidence.  Click here to read more.

Note-Taking Strategies for Writing Strong Descriptions

This resource contains note-taking advice for observing live events that will help you write strong descriptions.  Click here to read more.

How to Read and Take Notes for a Published Book Review

This resource will help you prepare, as a graduate student, to read a book in preparation for writing a published book review.  Click here to read more.

Balancing Description & Analysis

This resource will help you successfully balance the amount of information your audience needs to imagine the art object or event with the analysis that pushes past description into elevated, academic writing.  Click here to read more.

Negotiating and Composing Common Types and Genres of Writing

3 Steps to Successful Close Reading

This resource will help you prepare to successfully select and close read a passage to support your argument. Click here to read more.

Tips for Concluding Your Paper

This resource will help you with the final stretch – writing a conclusion that is as compelling as your paper! Click here to read more.

How to Write a Lab Report

This resource will help you write an efficient lab report.  Click here to read more.

Sample Book Review (with Commentary)

In this resource, you will review a draft of a book review and propose improvements.  The key that follows will weight the strengths and weaknesses of the piece as written to help you think ahead about writing your own book review for publication.  Click here to read more.

Matching Different Reviews of the Same Book with the Authors

Book reviews often vary in style and tone depending on the professional status of the author.  This matching game (and answer key) will help you think about the tone you might want to strike when writing your own review.  Click here to read more.

Identifying and Prioritizing Elements of a Research Abstract

This resource describes five primary components of an abstract and gives a strategy for how to combine them when faced with a limited word count.  Click here to read more.

Comparing Research Abstracts with Conference Abstracts

The research and conference abstracts in this resource, written about the same project, will help to highlight important differences between genres. Click here to read more.

Planning for and Presenting at a Conference: A Checklist

Conferences are important venues for sharing your work and networking, so it is important to arrive prepared!  Click here for a handy checklist.

Creating Presentation Slides

Visit this resource for some basic best-practices for presentations that will help you in conference settings and classrooms. Click here to read more.

What to Include in a Department Website Bibliography

Biographies for department websites are a new genre for most grad students, and an important one given the likelihood that someone will “google” you for professional purposes!  Read this resource, with examples and commentary, to help you formulate your thoughts.  Click here to read more.

Best Practices for Commenting Online

Commenting on academic blogs can be a great way to increase your visibility.  This resource provides examples and best practices for engaging in appropriate argumentation.  Click here to read examples and commentary.

Asking for an Extension on a Paper Due Date

This resource will help you cogently argue for an extension on a paper to help you submit your best work.  Click here to read more.

Writing in Specific Disciplines and Fields

How to Write a Philosophy Paper

This assignment will help you write and introductory philosophy paper, whether you are crafting an argument of your own or weighing in on the work of a famous philosopher.  Click here to read more.

How to Write an Art History Paper

This resource will help you engage with a formalist analysis or stylistic analysis in art history. Click here to read more.

How to Write a Film Analysis

This resource will help you prepare to write a formal analysis of a film, helping you name the elements that you see and weigh how they are meant to affect the viewer.  Click here to read more.

More on Writing on and about Film: The Critical Essay

This resource helps you prepare to write a critical essay on a film.  Click here to read more.

10 Essentials of Good History Writing

This resource cross references advice from Northwestern professors to provide you with a checklist of properties that all good pieces of historical writing have in common.  Click here to read more.

Responding to Feedback and Revising Your Writing

Performing a Writing Self Assessment

The questions in this resource will help you critically reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your own writing.  Click here to read more.

Diagnosing Problems with Description

This resource provides you with descriptive passages to revise.  The accompanying commentary will help you think about how to revise your own work.  Click here to read more.

Getting the Most out of a Writing Conference with your Instructor

This resource will help you prepare for an effective writing consultation with your instructor so you can get the feedback you need to keep writing and revising toward a strong final product.  Click here to read more.

Getting the Most out of Peer Responses to Your Writing

This resource will help you solicit and successfully utilize peer feedback.  Click here to read more.

Responding to Questions at an Academic Conference

By reviewing sample questions and responses in this resource, you can think ahead about how you might respond to similar questions after a conference presentation.  Click here to view the Q&A and commentary.

Categorizing the Feedback of Anonymous Peer Reviewers

This resource will help you categorize feedback from reviewers and create and action plan. Click here to read more.

Elements of a Response Letter to Anonymous Peer Reviewers

Though some fundamentals of revision and resubmission vary by field, irrespective of discipline, response letters should usually contain the basic elements reviewed in this resource.  Click here to read more.

Polishing Your Language: Style, Tone, Grammar, & Punctuation

Trimming Prose for Clarity and Concision

This resource can help you reduce your word count, whether you are just revising or facing a strictly imposed word limit. Click here to read more.

Key Differences Between Oral & Written Prose Style

Advice for preparing the text of a conference presentation (especially one you will read aloud).  Click here to read more.

Maintaining an Appropriate Tone When Responding to Peer Review

This resource presents potential responses to criticism from peer reviewers.  By choosing the one you think is best and checking it against our commentary, you can think ahead about how to handle comments of your own. Click here to complete the exercise and learn more.

Making Negative Critiques Sound More Positive

This resource helps writers preparing book reviews for publication give appropriate criticism while still maintaining a positive tone.  Click here to read more.

Awk-word-ness: Fixing Problems That Lead to Awkward Sentences

It can be difficult to identify what is “not quite right” about the words you put on the page, but this resource is here to help. Click here to read more.

Identifying and Fixing Run-on Sentences

This resource can help you revise your run-on sentences and stray clauses into sensible (and comprehensible!) sentences. Click here to read more.

Identifying and Revising Passive Sentences

This resource will help you revise your passive sentences to keep your point clear and your writing concise.  Click here to read more.

How to Use a Thesaurus

Different words aren’t always better!  This resource is here to help you use your thesaurus wisely. Click here to read more.

Identifying and Fixing Pronoun Errors

Pronouns need to be clear and in agreement to serve your writing well.  This resource will help you identify and correct common errors. Click here to read more.

Fixing Common Comma Errors

In this resource, we’ll walk through some of the most common comma mistakes and explain the underlying rules for them. Click here to read more.

Using Adjectives in the Correct Order

Adjectives can make your writing more expressive.  This resource will help you arrange them in the right order to keep your meaning crystal clear. Click here to read more.

Identifying and Fixing Common Prepositions

In this resource, you will look at lists of prepositions and how to successfully pair them with verbs. Click here to read more.

Citation

Avoiding Accidental Plagiarism

Blatant plagiarism is easy to identify and obviously problematic.  Accidental plagiarism, however, is a little trickier.  This source will help you avoid subtler mistakes by reminding you of the best practices for paraphrasing and citing.  Click here to read more.

MLA vs. APA: Some Key Differences

This resource will quickly review the differences between MLA and APA for those writing in new and different fields.  Click here to read more.