Chapter 27. ANALYSIS
Basics of Analysis
This section explains the basics of writing and
revising an analysis--why an analysis exists and how to start, organize, and
edit it. You may want to first see the "Introduction"
before reading this page. Be sure, after reading this "Basics Page," to also visit "Sample Papers"
by students. For more advanced information, go to "Advanced Methods."
This Type of Paper?
of an analysis is a taking apart or breakdown of a subject using a
particular system or point of view. An analysis is not a disagreement with
the subject, but rather a balanced, logical look at the subject using a clearly
identifiable theory or position. An analysis also is to some extent an
interpretation of information. Academic
instructors, professional supervisors, and
work-related committees all need explanations of information. Such explanations
are supposed to help them better understand a subject from a specialized point
of view. Often your audience may have a particular method, theory, or
system of analysis in mind. For example, an art teacher may want you to use the design
elements of visual art to describe a work of art, a literature teacher may want you to use the elements of
literature such as plot, characters, symbols, etc. to describe a story, a clinic
may want you to use a diagnostic system to describe a patient, and a business
may want you to use a targeted survey or set of questions to determine the needs
of clients or customers.
so, you should keep in mind that "analyze" is one of the most common writing
and speaking assignments in college. Its specific meaning may differ from teacher to
teacher and from class to class, so be sure that you understand exactly what is expected.
Find out what kind of theory, method, or system you should apply to the assigned subject.
In addition, find out whether you are simply to apply this theory or method, or whether
you also should argue, evaluate, or otherwise reach some kind of final conclusion.
entire analysis also must be an argument or evaluation, then go to the appropriate chapter
in this textbook to learn how to write an argument or evaluation paper. However, in its
simplest form, an analysis simply is a detailed explanation of something using a specific
theory, method or system that a teacher or supervisor has given you.
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The major section of this Web textbook called "Starting"
offers a number of useful ways to start thinking, speaking, and writing about a
subject. The following advice is for this chapter's type of paper in particular.
Starting by Reading
Generally your very first focus should be on the text of the reading (or on the
other subject) you will analyze. To start, you may find your paper easier
to write if you find a text that you understand easily and thoroughly. You
should be able to understand the text well enough not only in content, but also
in structure, such that you can easily see its individual points. You also
must be able to treat it very objectively, without finding it upsetting.
This major section of WritingforCollege.org has, within it, five chapters discussing how to respond to texts
in five specific ways. Because you always must
start with a text, all five chapters of these chapters have these three
paragraphs in common. To see
more about how to start with a text, please
go to the brief summary and resource page "How
to Start Your Paper by Reading."
If you are not starting with a text but rather
a subject, much of the same advice still applies. In other words, be sure that you know your subject
Writing Your Analysis
Once you've carefully read
your text or observed your subject, start writing. You can start by
freewriting, by organizing/outlining, by collecting and/or expanding upon your
critical-reading notes you've already made, or simply by writing your point-by-point
analyses. You also can write about your system of analysis itself, and/or
how it may apply in several ways to your text or subject. However you
start, try to get as much of your thinking on paper as you can at the beginning.
The tone with which you begin
should be whatever tone works for you in the
beginning in order to get your thoughts on the page. If you must be
emotional to start, that is okay; however, be aware that eventually you must
drop all negative emotional tones in favor of sounding--and being--as impartial
as possible. Some instructors or professional coordinators may allow or
even, occasionally, seek a tone of judgment (see the "Evaluation"
chapter) or strong criticism (see the "Critical
Review" chapter), but you should be sure, first, that this is what they
When you focus on organizing--at whatever stage you do so--you'll need to be
sure in the very first sentence of each section that your readers understand
three things: first, the particular idea you are analyzing; second, what
viewpoints or analytical idea(s) you are using to do the analyzing in that
section; and third, the fact that you are using a particular viewpoint that is
not necessarily your own. For example, a typical section of an analysis
using the psychology of Sigmund Freud as applied to the play Romeo and Juliet
might start by saying, "Next, Freud's idea of the ego vs. the superego may
be applied to Romeo's swordfight." In this example, there is a
statement of the theory and a particular part of it being applied, there is a
statement of the part of the text to which it is being applied, and there is
the clear inference that you are applying the idea in a balanced, logical
way. Of course, it is to some extent your own interpretation, but this is
acceptable as long as you are using a logical, fair, and balanced application of
the theory to the text.
Different Types of Analyses
There are a number of ways to start--and then develop--the content of an
analysis. Most of the time, your instructor will assign and expect a
specific way, often one that he or she will teach to you. Here are several
generic systems. Others, more difficult, are in the "Advanced
The 5 W's
A Given Specific System
1. ANALYZING FROM SIGNIFICANT
One relatively easy method to use in
analyzing texts (or other subjects) is to take the position or stance of
several people with significant personal experience. For example, you might examine a
text about drug use from the point of view of an alcoholic or drug addict; a text
about urban values from the point of view of a small-town or country
person; or, perhaps, an article about athletes from the point of view of a
computer nerd. Much of the valueas the examples suggestin doing an
analysis from significant personal experience is in choosing a point of view
that the article may have forgotten or ignored. You do not necessarily choose
the point of view in order to disagree, but rather simply to better explain how
the texts comments might be perceived and felt by those with a point of
view not represented by the article. To use this method, explain the point of
view briefly; then, in the final draft (or in earlier ones, too), be sure to
frequently use phrases such as "From this point of view, the text seems
," "This point of view would see the texts argument as
," and "This point of view would suggest ___ about the next
." In other words, you will need to keep reminding your own
readers of the specific point of view you are usingso they can distinguish it
from the authors point of view and from your own.
In order to analyze using this method,
youll need to have a reasonable understanding of the people whose point of
view you are adopting. It certainly is okay, perhaps even helpful, to use your
own experience as a point of view. However, if you do so, avoid using the words
"I" and "me"so that you dont simply start arguing with
the text or agreeing with it as an individual. Rather, ask yourself what
group you belong to: take the point of view of the larger group to which you
belong. For example, I was raised on a farm, so I might analyze by saying,
"Farm people would see this point as meaning that _____," or
"Country people would see this idea as _____," or even "People
raised around animals would think of this as _____."
Sometimes, for contrast or because it can be
important to discuss popular public viewpoints, you may also want to use the
viewpoint of someone who does not have significant personal experience. In
such a case, you simply present this type of person's viewpoint as described
above. You may also want to mention, if it seems relevant, the level of
experience (or lack of it) of each of the types of people you use.
2. ANALYZING DETAILS USING THE 5 WS
This method works best for analyzing an
event, object, or personnot a text. The "5 Ws & Results"
are such journalistic questions as "Who, What, Where, When, Why/How, and
Results (what will happen)." Using them as a method of analysis is common
in fields and professions as diverse as the arts, the social sciences, business
analysis of employees, and psychiatric nursing. It also is one of the easiest
methods to use if you have significant or close experience of your subject. (See
also "Writing a News Report" and "Writing
A Case Study") Analyze according to most or all of the following categories:
is your subject? If you plan to write a "Summary" section as
described above, you dont need to further discuss "What," for
the Summary section sufficiently describes it.
How: How does your subject work or exist, how did it
originally come about, and/or how is it structured or organized?
Where and/or when does it exist or
happen? Is there a pattern to its place or time of existing or acting? How does it fit
into a particular place and/or time?
Why/How: Why and/or how does the subject occur,
operate, or exist?
Results: What are the results or implications for
the future, for society, and/or for others: how might others be affected as individuals,
groups, and parts of society and the world?
3. ANALYZING BY COMPARISON-CONTRAST
Comparison-contrast papers are analyses. Whether you are
comparing and contrasting two texts, two events, two objects, or two people, the idea
is to learn more about both by showing how they are similar and dissimilar.
Comparison-contrast is a rather simple method of analysis, given that it is taught in
elementary and secondary schools as a way of thinking, writing, and speaking. To make this
method more sophisticated, you can show a greater variety and complexity of variables than
often is done. Here are several more-than-simple methods:
Comparedescribe several important
ways in which two subjects are alike. Then, using each of the same points of
comparison, show how there still are subtle differences between the two
subjects concerning each point.
important ways in which two subjects are different or opposite. Then, using
each of the same points of contrast, show how there still are subtle
similarities between the two subjects concerning each point.
Develop a list of several main
points on which both subjects comment. Then develop a three-way
comparison/contrast of each point by bringing in a third subject such as the
general public or perhaps a special reading audience such as children, poor
people, the rich, country people, etc. (see "1. Significant Personal
Experience" above)any kind of group that is somewhat different from
the two main subjects. Then compare and contrast what all three subjects
appear to be saying about each main point.
Consider the two subjects
historiesthe histories of the ideas, the authors, or both. Then offer
several comparisons and contrasts of these histories.
Consider the two subjects likely
results or implications (see "Results" in "2. The 5Ws
& Results" above). Offer several comparisons and contrasts of these
results. In other words, what are some comparisons and contrasts of what
will happen to individuals or the public in general if each subject is
believed wholeheartedly or their advice is followed?
Use the "5 Ws &
Results" method above to develop a comparison-contrast of both
BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, AND/OR CULTURAL BACKGROUND
You also may research a subjects
background and use details of that person or authors times and places to
further explain, describe, and detail the meanings or implications of the
subject. The idea in this kind of analysis simply is to unfold and describe how
the past probably or possibly has affected or created something that exists in
the present. Here are some details that may help you:
Author or Person: age; place of birth, childhood,
and adulthood; social, cultural, and familial circles; physical appearance; politics;
education and training; psychological, intellectual, and emotional profiles; and hobbies.
geographical and societal locations; psychological and emotional genesis in
people; examples of its occurrence in the past; usefulness of itpurposes
that belief in it has served in the past; past opponents; and the authors
development as a person (see above, "Author or Person").
5. ANALYSIS USING
A SPECIFIC SYSTEM
Some analyses have a clear system given to you in advance.
For example, an art teacher might require you to use the elements of visual art to
describe a painting or sculpture. These elements of art might include (but not be limited
to) form, color, perspective, shading, material, line, symbol, and subject matter. A
literary teacher might ask you to analyze using the elements of literature (see
"Writing a Literary Analysis"). A science lab instructor might ask you to use
something like the IMRaD system: Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion
(see "Writing a Scientific Proposal"). Many other
systems exist. What systems do you know? Which of them, if any, could be applied to your
chosen text to create an analysis?
6. ANALYSIS USING AN
ESTABLISHED THEORY--See "Advanced
Types of Analyses" in the "Advanced Methods" part of this
ANALYZING THE ARGUMENTS OF A TEXT OR
SUBJECT--See "Advanced Types
8. RHETORICAL ANALYSIS--See "Advanced
Types of Analyses."
9. ANALYSIS USING
DECONSTRUCTION--See "Advanced Types
10. ANALYSIS USING ARGUMENTS--See
Analysis" in the "Dialogic Argument" chapter.
sure--as you build your paper--that you have plenty of quotations from the
author so that the reader can see exactly how the author develops his/her
thinking. If you are assigned to do so, you may need quotations from other
sources, as well, primarily to help support the points you are making.
Because you, yourself, are not a professional expert, you are depending--in a
research paper--on quotations and paraphrases from the professional experts.
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organizing an analysis,
you may want to consider three
practical matters. Be aware of (1) the typical visual/textual design, (2)
central key to organizing this type of paper, and (3) dangers to
avoid. General principles of organization are described in detail in
chapter. Specific details for this type of paper are below.
has already shown you the following organization for an this type of paper:
The Visual Plan or Map
READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and introductory details
Body Section 1:
First analysis and supporting details
Body Section 2:
Body Section 3:
(Optional Body Section 4:
READING, MAIN THEORY OR THEORIES, and concluding details
Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.
Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.
Here is a more detailed view of this
structure. This view is a visual and textual plan of how an analysis generally looks when it is finished.
Detailed Organization of an Analysis Paper
Unique Title OR
Analysis of "Essay"/Book*
of paper. Source info: Author's Name, "Essay"/Title,
& author's main argument. Your analytical viewpoint(s),
theory, or theories. Introductory quotation/details. [1
of the text (optional). Restate author's last name 1-2
times per paragraph; summarize the text accurately, completely, and
briefly. (See "Writing a
Summary.") This should be your shortest body
section. [1+ par.]
First Unique Subtitle
viewpoint, theory, or part of one: (a) topic sentence,
(b) discussion using quotations/paraphrases from
your reading's text using
supporting your opinions (such as quotations/paraphrases from other sources, your or others' personal
experiences, facts, figures, etc.), and (d) a brief, concluding sentence or
paragraph summarizing the entire topic section. [2+ par.]
Second Unique Subtitle
viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic
sentence, discussion with quotes,
supporting details, &
Third Unique Subtitle
viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic sentence, discussion
with quotes, supporting
details, & conclusion. [2+
Fourth-Fifth Unique Subtitle)
viewpoint, theory, or part of one: topic sentence, discussion
with quotes, supporting
details, & conclusion. [2+
Source (author and/or title). Viewpoint(s), theory, or
theories used. Final thoughts or analytical opinion. Final quotation/details.
Jones, A.J. Book One, et al.
Smith, B.K. Book Two, et al.
Create an alphabetized bibliography on a
separate page, according to the requirements of your
discipline/instructor. Formats vary among differing disciplines.
(See the chapter in Section G. "Quoting/Paraphrasing"
for more detail.)
The Key to Building an Analysis: Choosing
Viewpoints or Theories
The key to
the overall organization of an analysis is to know exactly what viewpoint(s),
theory, or theories you will use, and how you will break them down. This
should be very simple to decide if you are using the viewpoints of three or
four different types of people or
different theories, as above. The same usually is true if you are
using a specific analytical method given to you by your instructor: for
example, the use of the 5 W's, as
of literature, a design for an experiment (see "IMRaD"
Proposals & Reports"), or one of many other such
systems. You simply use one topic section for each of your types,
viewpoints, steps, or elements of analysis.
if you are using another form of analysis in which the breakdown into parts or
topic sections is not obvious, you have to think carefully about how you want
to organize. Such systems may include analysis using
analysis from the point of view of just
expert, or--especially--analysis using just
theory. In this kind of situation, you must decide precisely how you
want to break down the one theory or viewpoint into three or four (or
sometimes more) parts to apply to your text, and/or how you want to break
down the text into sections, parts, or ideas to analyze. Essentially,
there are two basic ways to start this kind of organizing. One starts by
breaking down the theory or viewpoint; the other, by breaking down the text. The following table shows both methods in four parts, each of
which becomes, in writing or revision, a separate body section:
Parts of the Theory or Viewpoint:
part of the theory (or viewpoint)
2nd part of the theory
4th part, etc.
Parts of the Text:
to one important part of the text
theory applied to a 2nd part of the text
theory applied to a 3rd part
theory applied to a 4th part, etc.
Sometimes you may find it appropriate to start
writing using an outline like one of these two, especially as you become
experienced in writing this type of paper. At other times--especially if
the ideas with which you are working are new to you--you may find it more
useful to start writing by brainstorming: by writing freely about the theory
or viewpoint and its possible applications to your text. In this case,
you simply can take your first or second draft and redevelop it to fit one of
the outlines above.
It also is important to note that some people who
start by outlining like to begin with four, five, or even more of the above
parts. If you try this, you may find it will allow you to place more
ideas on paper in your first draft and then, in your second one, to delete or
combine weaker parts. The result often will be three or four stronger
parts. Each of these parts becomes, in your final draft, a separate
Why should you have just three or four topic
sections? Most instructors prefer fewer sections so that the content of
each one has greater length, breadth, and depth. Ask your instructor:
some instructors, especially in courses beyond first-year composition and
speech classes, do sometimes prefer a greater number of points covered, with a
briefer discussion of each. In addition, a long paper or
speech--particularly a term project or major research project--may allow room
for additional sections.)
your second or third draft, make paragraphs
that contain quotations, paraphrases, story and event examples, numbers, figures,
and/or other specific proofs. Use the
writing from your first draft--your brainstorming draft--and develop it further,
adding and reorganizing as you go. To
see how to develop each paragraph individually, see the "Paragraphing"
chapter in the
Dangers to Avoid as You Organize
There are several dangers to avoid as you write an analysis. One of the
most important dangers
is that you may be misunderstanding what your text is saying.
If you misunderstand the author's ideas, you probably will analyze it
incorrectly. Be sure that you understand almost all parts of it--and
certainly the most important parts, such as the introduction and conclusion, the
first paragraph of each topic section, and the first sentence of each major
paragraph. Read your chosen text several times; use
reading to read and mark it; look up words or concepts you don't understand
in a dictionary or encyclopedia; and if there is an important passage you don't
understand, ask for help from your instructor, a tutor, or a friend.
Another danger is being--or appearing to be--biased or prejudiced for
or against your reading. One way to avoid this is to be sure
that you are, indeed, being fully objective: whenever you present the text's
thoughts, are you stating them without bias, emotionally as well as
intellectually, with no irony, scorn, or other signs of dislike? Are you
quoting or paraphrasing the text's thoughts in the same way that the author
him or herself might? You must not just avoid being biased, but
also appearing to be biased, whether for or against text's point of
view. Your analysis may have the appearance of bias--especially a
seemingly positive bias (in favor of the text)--if you simply analyze
without reminding the reader that you are applying a theory or viewpoint that
is not necessarily your own.
You can help yourself avoid bias as you write--and
also avoid even the appearance of bias--in three simple ways. First, if
you are presenting viewpoints or theories, do not speak from your own,
personal point of view (unless your instructor requests it). Rather, if
you wish to present your point of view, use a general type or theory, instead,
and let that type or theory speak for you: for example, if you happen to
believe that capital punishment is acceptable and you are a nineteen-year-old
college student, you might develop one analysis from the point of view of "a
typical middle-class male college student."
A second way to help yourself avoid bias or the
appearance of it has to do with adding an element of style. As you write,
repeat key words and phrases that remind your audience you are simply using a
specific point of view or theory. Such sentences might say, for example,
"This viewpoint/theory suggests that...," "According to this theory...," "People
who believe this theory argue that...," "Analysis using this theory suggests
that...," etc. Do so frequently at the beginnings of new topic sections
and of longer paragraphs (as often as two or three times per typed page).
A third way to avoid bias and the appearance of it is to use frequent quotations and paraphrases from the
text itself whenever you are explaining what the text says. In this way,
your audience can see for themselves what the text says at key points, rather
than trust your own summary of it. (To
place and develop quotations properly in your paper, see the "Quoting
& Paraphrasing" chapter in the "Researching" section).
As you complete your later drafts, look carefully at
the visual map above and the sample papers in this chapter. Rearrange the
order of your body sections and of your paragraphs as needed. Consider
your use of major organizing devices: for example, have you placed the correct
key sentences in your introduction and conclusion, and have you developed a
subtitle and topic sentence at the beginning of each major body section?
Asterisks *, **, and *** for the
organizational plan or map above (advice given in most chapters):
*In most academic disciplines, the title is
typed simply: no quotation marks, underlining, or bold marking. It
is centered, and the font size and style are those used in the rest of the
paper--normally a 12-point font in a style such as Times New Roman,
Garamond, or CG Times. In a professional situation, you may use
academic style or whatever is commonly acceptable in your workplace.
** In some disciplines, the "Introduction" subtitle
may be optional or even forbidden. (Most social sciences and psychology
papers, for example, should not have an "Introduction" subtitle.)
***Some instructors--and some types of papers or
disciplines--require a short
of a text before you begin responding to it. Ask your instructor.
Such a summary generally should have no quotations within it and should be fair
and balanced (even if the text is not).
***Some instructors may allow--or even,
occasionally, prefer--your paper to be completely free of subtitles.
(Some literature, history, and philosophy instructors, for example,
consider subtitles inappropriate.) If you use no subtitles at all,
consider using an extra space break at the beginning of each body section
and/or an especially strong, clear
topic sentence. In addition, some instructors may prefer you to
have a series of more than four body sections. If so, pay attention
especially to the paper's flow by using good
For more about organizing body sections, topic
sentences, and subtitles in general, please go to "Organizing
College Papers." For more about organizing paragraphs, go to the "Paragraphing"
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Are There Special Revising and Editing Needs?
an analysis, the focus techniques
with which you started in the Introduction to this
chapter can help you in finishing your paper:
FOUR FOCUSES FOR REVISING:
Drafts, Style, & Authenticity
SUBJECT: Have you stayed on the subject throughout? In an analysis, this
means being sure that everything is sorted clearly and logically, both in
your own mind for your audience's. You are working with two
different sets of information: on the one hand, your theory, theories, or viewpoint(s); on the other, the points of parts of your text to which
you apply them. You need to be sure that you are applying one set to
the other consistently in a step-by-step manner that your audience can
easily understand. If any part of the subject might be confusing to
your audience because its members know much less than you do, you need to
explain it to them clearly.
Be sure, in addition, to introduce, explain,
or connect each quotation at least briefly (see the "Quoting
& Paraphrasing" chapter
in the "Researching" section) to the content of your
discussion. Have you also considered what
kind of problem the author of your text presents and how each theory or
viewpoint you use represents some kind of solution? Can you help
your readers perceive it in this way?
FIRST & SECOND DRAFTS: Have
you used all of the needed steps to write and revise your drafts?
Free-write: after you
have added quotations, try reading your paper aloud to see if it is
choppy or has missing ideas. If either is the case, trying rewriting the choppy parts freely,
without copying what you've already written, or freewriting new
paragraphs to complete your missing ideas. (To help cure
choppy sentences, see "Using
Mixed-Length Sentences" in "Editing.")
For general freewriting, see "How
to Start First Drafts.")
Gather details: do you
have details--quotations, paraphrases, facts, figures, and/or
stories--to help prove or exemplify your analytical points? If
you are using one or more viewpoints, can your audience picture the
type of people who exemplify them? Can you provide quotations
from your theory or viewpoint sources: e.g., a textbook, encyclopedia
article, or instructor for theories, or a written source or interview
(with quotations from it) for types of people/viewpoints?
Write for your audience:
is your audience an instructor, your professional coordinator, or your own
peers? Have you visualized your audience? Have you read
your paper aloud as if reading to this audience? Have you tried
reading your paper aloud to a friend or family member, pretending he
or she is your audience? Will each step of your paper, idea
by idea, sound logical, unbiased, and interesting to your
audience? At what points might your audience have trouble
understanding what the various viewpoints--yours and others--mean, or
how they apply
to your text?
Organize: have you kept your
introduction, conclusion, and/or a beginning summary reasonably short, moving excess discussion
in them to body sections? Do you need to reorganize the body
sections for the greatest degree of logic, clarity, and audience
interest (placing more interesting information first and last)?
Does your paper proceed in each topic section using the same
pattern of application (i.e., is each topic section's presentation
organized like the other topic sections, in a parallel pattern, step by step)?
Research: iF you need
to support your points and/or others' points with research, do you have
a sufficient number of high-quality sources? Have you fully
integrated them with your paper by adding quotations and/or
paraphrases from them? If you are using non-print sources such
as interviews, videos, or television, will
they be considered appropriate and representative (well representing a
viewpoint or theory) by your audience? If you are
using online sources, have you checked them carefully to verify their
quality and accuracy (see "Evaluating
Web Sites" in OnlineGrammar.org)?
STYLE & TONE: Have you converted all parts of
your writing to the appropriate style and tone? An
should use an academic writing style, and you should remember to
include phrases a few times on each page, especially at the beginning of
each new topic section, that indicate you are applying a theory,
viewpoint, or system--not your own personal ideas. Your overall tone
should be quite objective. Your tone may be dry, warm, clinical and
detached, or even somewhat critical. However, it must be even
throughout so that you clearly are being equally objective in every part
of your paper, and so your audience believes this, too.
AUTHENTICITY: Have you tried to go to the heart
of the matter you are discussing? Do you believe that you have
represented each viewpoint or theory and the text to which you are
applying them accurately and fairly? If not, what do you need to do
to remedy the problem? Have you written respectfully to your audience?
Are your supporting details sufficient and accurate enough that your
audience will believe in the authenticity of your contents?
Final Advice Given in Most Chapters
line-by-line editing, your paper needs proper development
of both your particular points that you are making and points or
places in the text to which you are referring. In other words, you need to
explain not only yourself, but also your sources/readings. Your
sources/readings must be absolutely clear to your reader in a fair, balanced,
logical way. You must,
therefore, not just use quotations and paraphrases. You also explain them.
(See the "Quoting
& Paraphrasing" chapter for how to do this.)
Remember that the
typical quotation should, in many disciplines, have a statement of a source--a
name or title--at its
beginning; and, after it, there should be a page number (if the source is
printed). The typical paraphrase should have a source--a name or
title--either before or after it, along with a page number (if any) afterwards. In addition, quotations,
paraphrases, and stories should not just be tossed into your paper: rather, they
should be introduced by having a statement before and/or after each of its
connection to what you are saying.
In most papers, you should use the third-person
pronoun: "he," "she," "it," and "they." You should not use "you"
are giving directions, or writing a diary or personal reflection, or a less
formal magazine or newsletter article or other specific advice (as in this
In most formal writing situations, instructors and
supervisors also often dislike the use "I" at any time (unless you are referring
to yourself in a story example). However, some forms of academic and
professional writing--especially if a specific instructor or supervisor allows
it--are starting to allow the use of the "I" pronoun. If in doubt, ask
your instructor or supervisor.
Paragraphing in most academic papers follows some relatively standard guidelines.
You are working with a lot of information when you write a formal paper. For this
reason, clear, consistent paragraphing becomes even more important.
paragraphs should help you logically divide your body sections into smaller
sub-parts, ideas, or sub-ideas--just for the sake of clarity and ease of
reading, if for no other reason. Also, generally, for a short- to
medium-length paper, you should have one paragraph each for your introduction,
conclusion, and--if you have it--your summary.
You should, as a matter of habit, have at least two or three paragraphs per page in your final draft.
On the other hand, be careful not to have too many paragraphs per page. If you have a lot of
short, choppy paragraphs, combine them. The goal, graphically speaking,
is to provide your audience with a variety of paragraph lengths--an
occasional short one for emphasis or change of pace added to a mix of varying
medium and long paragraphs. The goal in terms of content is to make your
ideas flow so well that your audience can easily keep them clear and separate
without ever even noticing your paragraphing (or, for that matter, any other
mechanical aspect of your paper).
For more advice, go to the "Paragraphing"
Several other common, useful strategies
of efficient, thorough editing are in the several chapters of the "Revising
and Editing" section. Some of these strategies also are summarized
in the following very-brief web page:
Review of How
to Edit Your Final Draft.
Good luck with your writing of this type of paper.
For more advanced and/or interesting information on this type of paper, please
see the "Advanced"
section of the chapter.
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