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A+ Paper Checklist: How to Ace Your Next Assignment

Writing a paper can quickly turn into a chaotic mess if you don’t follow a proven framework or have a well-organized plan. As a result, even if you’ve found some great sources and have strong points to make, you still risk ending up with a low grade.

Because of weak writing, a lack of vital elements, or an incorrect order of your paper’s components.

That’s exactly why we’ve developed this paper checklist.

With the help of this faithful guide, you’ll easily handle even the most difficult assignment. You’ll be able to stay on track and know exactly what you need to add to your paper to make it perfect.

Basic elements

Title

  • Your title page must contain all necessary information about the author, course, teacher, and date.
  • The title itself should be a concise statement of your paper’s main topic.
  • Identify the specific issue that you’ll analyze in your paper.
  • The title needs to be informative yet not too long.

Outline

  • Divide your paper’s content into clear sections in order to categorize information.
  • The outline needs to summarize the main points of the whole paper.
  • It must be both specific and concise.
  • You can know that your outline is good by checking whether it can stand alone, without any additional information needed to explain the main purpose of your paper.

Contents: This section must be complete and contain all the required information about your topic . Be sure to include page numbers, a list of figures, a list of tables, and appendices, if necessary.

Introduction

  • Introduce the topic and provide some context for your paper.
  • Explain why your work is important. Name the major objectives.
  • Make sure to include the most important previous studies on your topic.
  • Depending on the nature of the paper, you can also add formal hypotheses. However, this component is usually optional.
  • State your thesis clearly and define key terms that you’ll use in your work.
  • Your language must be accurate and precise.
  • Don’t overload the reader with long sentences.
  • Begin each paragraph with a sentence containing the main idea.

Body

  • Arrange and structure your paragraphs properly. Even the way you structure your work needs to support your argument.
  • If you start making an argument, be sure to end it logically before moving to the next one.
  • Don’t review previously mentioned arguments, unless it’s completely necessary.
  • In each paragraph, focus on a single main idea, and state it at the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Provide enough evidence to support your main idea. Then conduct your analysis and explain why this evidence supports your argument.
  • Make sure to write smooth transitions between paragraphs in order to keep the right flow.

Conclusion

  • Summarize the work you’ve done, tell about the discoveries you’ve made, and explain why your findings are important.
  • Give suggestions about further possible paths for developing the topic.
  • Mention the messages that are most important for the reader to remember.
  • Stay focused on only the most important conclusions.
  • Reformulate some of your ideas and connect them to those mentioned in the introduction, so the overall summary is clearer.

Quoting

  • Limit direct quotations in favorof paraphrases with sources.
  • If your citation is four lines or longer, use block quotations – but try to minimize the number of block quotations in your paper.
  • When using block quotations, make sure to space, indent, and place them correctly, without quotation marks.
  • If you make a statement that is not common knowledge, cite the source with a footnote or endnote.
  • Make sure that you have integrated quotations into sentences properly.
  • Include a bibliography of your sources, following the writing style assigned by your professor or standard to your field.

Mechanics

Spelling: Use spellcheck to make sure that your writing is flawless. Also, keep an eye on punctuation to ensure that you’re delivering the exact message you want to.

Sentences: Get rid of incomplete or run-on sentences.

Tenses: Use tenses consistently. The correct use of tense often depend s on the type of paper you’re writing. In a thought paper, you can usually write everything in present tense. If it’s a research paper about historical issues, share your own thoughts in present tense, but write historical facts in the past tense.

Figures and tables

  • Put every figure and table on a separate page after the references.
  • Make sure that every part of your figures and tables are readable.
  • Take care to use the proper range and spacing, and add relevant units of measurements. Avoid unnecessary additions or complications.
  • Use sequential numbers for your figures and tables. To make them easy to understand, have the same sequence in the text itself.
  • Your figures and table s need to contain enough information that they’re possible to understand without reading the whole paper.

Style

General advice

  • Make sure that your pages are numbered consecutively.
  • Use a standard typeface for your work.
  • Double-space the paper and leave proper margins at the top, bottom, and sides.
  • Write the title of your paper in such a way that it clearly relates to the content.

Proper language: Use natural, standard English. Don’t overuse difficult terminology or technical vocabulary. By keeping your writing straightforward and clear, the impact of terms will be much greater.

Conjunctions: It’s better to avoid using qualifiers (e.g., given that, then, however) and conjunctions. Cutting out unnecessary words will make your paper easier to read, because most of the time, it’s easy enough to understand how one sentence relates to another. Use conjunctions and qualifiers only as necessary in order to clarify the message and the relationship between sentences.

Pronouns: It’s unacceptable to use male pronouns to refer to both sexes. Instead, use female and male pronouns alternately. As another option, you can use neutral pronouns, like “they” and “one”. The only thing to remember here is that you should avoid using both of them in the same sentence because one is plural and one is singular.

Errors

Here are some ways to prevent common mistakes that many students make when writing their paper:

  • Make sure that the sentences you build contain grammatically complete thoughts and can stand alone, without losing their message.
  • Avoid sentence sprawl. Reading a lengthy sentence that contains many equally weighted thoughts can be tiring. If it’s possible to separate your ideas into two sentences without losing the meaning – do it.
  • Don’t forget to add modifiers when writing sentences to make them clearer and easier to understand. Also, be sure to place the modifier as close as possible to the word it describes.
  • When describing multiple ideas or thoughts of equal importance, make sure to include grammatically equal sentence elements. This way, you’ll fully express each idea.
  • Make clear references between nouns and pronouns to avoid confusion. There also needs to be agreement in number (singular or plural).
  • Use commas correctly. Instead of making your sentences difficult to read by putting too many commas, use them correctly to show the relationship between sentence parts.
  • There’s no need to use a comma when you’re writing two independent clauses. Just rewrite the sentences, and use a semicolon or a period. If you want to use a comma, be sure to add a coordinating conjunction (but, and, or, etc.).

Time Management and Organization

  • Divide your writing process into parts and build a schedule to complete all of them. Completing smaller tasks one at a time will be easier than trying to write the paper as a whole.
  • Carefully read all instructions and requirements before starting to write. You’ll prevent yourself from having to make unnecessary edits and changes that are easily avoidable. This will save you tons of time.
  • Spend a little bit of time making an outline. By including the outlining phase, you’ll go through the process of writing your paper a lot faster.
  • Apart from a plan, you can also have a checklist of all the requirements and tasks you need to complete. This will help you stay on track.
  • Pay extra attention to the tasks that take the most time. This is where mismanagement can happen. Leave extra time for difficult tasks to make sure that you can do everything properly.
  • Make writing into a habit. You certainly won’t be able to finish your paper in one day, so schedule the same time for writing every day. That way, you’ll always know what you’re going to do when.
  • Set deadlines for every small task. Think of the approximate amount of time you’ll spend completing a certain task and give yourself a time limit. You’ll stop yourself from procrastinating because there will always be other things to do after your current task.

Sure, there are many more rules to follow when it comes to writing . However, we decided to focus on the ones that cause trouble for students most of the time. And now you have the necessary knowledge to avoid these common struggles.

All it takes to improve your writing and tackle any assignment is a little bit of attention.

With this checklist, writing a perfect paper won’t be that big of a challenge anymore.