Use this guide as a sort of checklist as you continue to write, revise, and edit your Unit 1 essay. Before you submit a final draft, review this presentation multiple times. It will help you with revision strategies on this project and future assignments.
You must use MLA formatting for all major assignments in this class. It is a common formatting style in academia. Visit Purdue OWL for more help with MLA Formatting: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_style_introduction.html. Below are the basics you need to remember for this essay:
- Heading (first four lines of the first page, double-spaced)
- Instructor and/or Class
- Header (top right of all pages)
- Last Name
- Page Numbers
- You may need to insert as page numbers, then edit to add last name
- Times New Roman Font Style
- 12-point Font Size
- Double-Spaced (entire draft, including heading)
- It can simply be the value that you are writing about. Or it can be something more creative. It cannot be the assignment name (“Essay 1” for example).
- Title should be the same size, font, color as the rest of the essay. In other words, don’t do anything creative as far as visuals go. Don’t underline it. Don’t make it bold. Don’t make it enormous. Don’t make it a different color.
- Capitalize all words in the title, just as you would see in the title of a film or book.
- Clearly state a value (early in the draft) that is important to you.
- Clearly define the value (in your own words) somewhere in the draft. This often works best at the very beginning or at the very end.
- Make it clear that your value has been shaped by your experiences. Then share one or more of those experiences in as much detail as possible. Most of the essay will be your experiences.
- Throughout the draft, remind the reader of your value. Explicitly state how the experiences connect to the value. Don’t trust the reader to make those connections.
- Avoid persuasion or argument. In other words, avoid “advice” statements or sentences that make a broad claim about the value or an experience. If it sounds like you are trying to tell people what to think–reword it or cut it out. This essay is NOT an argument essay. You are merely informing the reader how YOUR experiences have shaped YOUR values.
- Avoid broad generalizations. For example: “Everyone wants to be successful in life.” Or, “The most important thing in the world is…”. You should not make any claims that cannot be verified. You can say things like, “Many people, in my experience, want to be successful in life.” Or, “Some might argue that the most important thing in the world is…”. This is a rule of thumb for ALL academic writing. Unless you are speaking from personal experience, prepare to back up your claims. If you can’t, then change your wording.
- Canvas Submissions:
- ALWAYS submit essay drafts to Canvas as a Word Doc, Google Doc, or PDF.
- Spell out numbers.
- Instead of “5”, write “five”. If the number is really large and would require more than two words, then you can write the number. If it’s a year, like 2020, then that’s fine. But most of the time, you’ll spell out numbers.
- Avoid “very.”
- If you feel the need to use it, then there is a better word to choose from. For example: “He was very happy” can be “He was ecstatic”. Or, “I was very upset” can be “I was devastated”.
- Avoid cliches.
- If it’s a common saying that we hear all the time, we don’t want to hear it again. You are an academic, now. Write like one! Come up with your own metaphors. Or just say what you have to say more simply. Either way, use your own voice. It makes you more credible.
- Sentence Structure.
- Pay attention to your sentence structure. It’s good to have a mix of sentences that are different lengths. But be careful with really long sentences–often, those can be broken up to sound better. Ask yourself if the long sentence would sound better as two (or more) independent sentences. If so, change it.
- Read Your Paper Aloud:
- ALWAYS read your paper aloud when revising. This will help you identify sentences that don’t sound right. It will also help you recognize if you are repeating yourself too much. Maybe there is a particular word that you use too often and need to cut (or change). Maybe you leave out words entirely–because that happens sometimes when we write.
- Revise, Revise, Revise:
- It is easy to see when a student has adequately revised an essay, and when they haven’t. Be sure that the final draft submission is polished. When you submit, you are telling me this is the best version of the essay. While I am forgiving of minor errors, here and there, I tend to judge more harshly on issues that I have pointed out in previous feedback, and issues that can be easily resolved using online resources (like spell check and grammarly). Use all of the time that is available to you to ensure you are submitting your best work.
- Peer Review:
- Of course, if you can review the essay with a friend/classmate/roommate-that’s great. But be sure to ask your reviewer to be honest about what isn’t working. ALL writers make errors. All of us need multiple rounds of revision.
- Writing Center Help:
- OU’s Writing Center should be utilized throughout the semester. You can make an appointment to receive additional help at all stages of the writing process. Visit the website for more info: https://www.ou.edu/writingcenter
- Review the Unit 1 Prompt and Unit 1 Rubric one final time before submitting your essay. If you have questions/concerns, reach out to me!
Copyright, 2022, Lamanda Beesley Conrad