Tips to Write the Perfect Paper


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It seems like no matter what your major is, your professors always find some way to utilize essay writing in their curriculum.  With finals just around the corner, it’s a good idea to brush up on the essential elements to writing a good paper.  Whether you feel like your writing skills are up to par, or you know you need to make some improvements, here are 10 tips to help you write the perfect college paper!

1. Define Your Goal

First things first, you need to know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your paper.  Is this a research essay?  Reflection paper?  What prompt have you been given for this paper?  I usually copy and paste the essay prompt to the top of the document while I’m writing a paper.  It helps me stay focused on what I’m trying to achieve so I don’t go off on any tangents.  Usually, you are trying to answer a question with a paper.  Make sure you know what question it is.

2. Always Create an Outline

Always, always, always create an outline.  This is usually the first thing I do after I determine my thesis.  Your outline should have at least three main points of your essay, and two or more sub-points to back these up.  I am usually not too picky with my outlines at first, and I always contain more points than I think I will actually need.

3. Write down everything

As you’re writing, don’t hesitate to write down anything that comes to mind; as long as you keep it organized.  You never know what may become of a crazy idea that comes to you on a whim.  You can always edit things out later if it doesn’t fit in your paper.

4. Plan to write more than what’s needed

I would much rather edit out superfluous information than scramble to meet a word count on an essay.  Plan to write more than what you need, then edit it down to only your best writing.  Sometimes I write a complete paragraph and then realize it really doesn’t belong in my essay, in which case I’m glad I planned to write some extra material.

5. Save introduction for last

This may be standard operating procedure for many people, but that’s because it works.  I much prefer waiting to see what my paper turns out to be, then write an introduction that reflects it.  The same goes for conclusions and transition paragraphs if you plan to write those.

6. Avoid certain words

You should know if your professor is comfortable with you using first person words like “I” and “me.”  However, you may find your writing improves dramatically if you completely nix words like “very” and “really” as well.  Sure, it may seem easy to write the same way you speak, but your professors may not agree.  Instead of saying something like “I was really excited to see the show” try thinking a bit more professional sounding, such as “the audience was buzzing with anticipation of the performance.”  Some other words I try to avoid in my writing are “also” and “that.”  It’s made a huge difference in the quality of work I produce!

7. Substantial supporting evidence

No matter what you are writing, keep in mind to always back up your ideas.  It should be a constant call and response of claims and evidence.  This applies to any type of paper you are writing, but particularly pay attention to this when writing argumentative essays

8. Take breaks

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on something for hours on end, but I definitely am not.  Breaks are a strategic way to keep your mind focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes I can be responsible with my time and how long I am on break, but other times I require more discipline.  If you are really struggling with writing a paper, try giving yourself a short break every 15-30 minutes.  (If your break involves Pinterest, you might want to time yourself to only a few minutes!)

9. Get some feedback

After you’ve finished your rough draft, it’s a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to look at your paper.  You can grab a friend, your mom, or even check out some resources online!  One such service is  Their service will help catch all the little things you miss in any paper such as proper spelling, punctuation, possessives, and more.


I gave this service a try on an essay I had to write for a theatre class.  They caught several things I missed when I proofread my paper.  There is an actual person who will read over your paper and make corrections.  You can even correspond with them in the chatbox on the right and ask questions about your paper.  If you are looking for a second opinion on your paper, I would recommend checking!

10. Learn from your mistakes

After you turn in your paper, there is really nothing you can do.  Whether this is a relief or more cause for worry, it’s important to look at the work you’ve done and learn.  With every paper you write, get as much feedback as you can and apply it to the next paper you write.  Your writing skills will improve immensely with time and effort!