Writing Tips

Brandon Hunt’s Writing Tips

  1. Always hand in typed papers unless the instructor tells you otherwise.
  2. Include an APA formatted cover page that includes a title for the paper, your name, and the course number.
  3. Avoid the word “subjects” when referring to people. English and math are subjects. Use the word “participant” instead.
  4. Do not use one or two sentences as a paragraph.
  5. Don’t misspell words. Use a dictionary or a friend to check your spelling. It’s not cheating to get help with spelling or punctuation. It is cheating if someone writes your paper for you.
  6. Make clear and logical transitions between paragraphs. This is one of the most difficult parts of writing, but it is a very important part.
  7. Always cite the source for any information that is not “common knowledge.” Not citing a source in this instance is plagiarism.
  8. Use direct quotes sparingly. Quotes should be used to enhance what you are writing, not say it for you. When you paraphrase be careful not to use too many of the author’s words, since that would be quoting.
  9. Avoid jargon, clichés, slang, and abbreviations in a professional paper.
  10. State your ideas clearly and concisely. Nothing ruins good writing like overwriting.
  11. After you have edited your paper, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound the way you want, then you need to do more editing.
  12. Write in complete sentences. Avoid run-on sentences.
  13. Learn when to use colons, semicolons, and apostrophes. Avoid overusing commas.
  14. Use the following Latin abbreviations only in parentheses: “e.g.” (which means “for example”) and “i.e.” (which means “that is” or “in other words”).
  15. Make sure your subjects and verbs agree in any sentence (i.e., do not mix plural and singular in the same thought). For example, do not write the following sentence: “A person needs to know their values if they are going to be counselors.” A more appropriate sentence would be either “People need to know their values if they are going to be counselors.” Writing in the plural form rather than the singular will help you avoid this error.
  16. Don’t interchange “that” and “who” when writing about people. Do not write: “There are many people that…” The sentence should read: “There are many people who…”
  17. Technical papers should not include your opinion unless you can support it with research. If you need to express your personal view it goes in the discussion section.
  18. Do not to start a sentence with the word “however.” It is acceptable, however, to move the word “however” to another part of the sentence.
  19. Do not use the word “etc.” in a technical paper.
  20. Know when to use “who” and “whom.” If you can substitute he or she, who is correct; if you can substitute him or her, whom is the correct pronoun.
  21. Good writing is hard work. It requires time, energy, and persistence. The best way to become a good writer is to write often and edit your work diligently.
  22. An apostrophe is not used to note that something is plural. For example, when referring to an event that happened in the 1960s, writing “1960’s” is incorrect.
  23. The word “which” typically has a comma in front of it. The word “that” does not.

APA Writing Style Hints

  1. The margins on all four sides of the paper should be one inch. Every line should be double spaced (including references and tables).
  2. The title (cover) paper is numbered page 1. The numbers should be typed in the upper right hand corner of the paper.
  3. Use a comma before the words “and” and “or” when writing in a series (e.g., I do not know which theorist to believe, Freud, Rogers, or Skinner.).
  4. APA format places commas and periods inside quotations marks. For example, “I would never misplace a comma.” All other punctuation is placed outside the quotation mark.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.