Common Writing Assignments
These OWL resources will help you understand and complete specific types of writing assignments, such as annotated bibliographies, book reports, and research papers. This section also includes resources on writing academic proposals for conference presentations, journal articles, and books.
Understanding Writing Assignments
This resource describes some steps you can take to better understand the requirements of your writing assignments. This resource works for either in-class, teacher-led discussion or for personal use.
This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.
This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
This resource will help you with exploratory/inquiry essay assignments.
This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.
This resource discusses book reports and how to write them.
This handout provides suggestions and examples for writing definitions.
Essays for Exams
While most OWL resources recommend a longer writing process (start early, revise often, conduct thorough research, etc.), sometimes you just have to write quickly in test situations. However, these exam essays can be no less important pieces of writing than research papers because they can influence final grades for courses, and/or they can mean the difference between getting into an academic program (GED, SAT, GRE). To that end, this resource will help you prepare and write essays for exams.
This resource discusses book reviews and how to write them.
This resource will help undergraduate, graduate, and professional scholars write proposals for academic conferences, articles, and books.
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Paper Formatting and Uploading Guidelines
The guidelines on this page are based on the guidelines included in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition. You can find more information on formatting at the Diana Hacker Handbook site here.
What format should I use for the paper?
Margins and Spacing.The papers you write for this course should be typed and double-spaced with 11-12 point fonts and 1" margins.
Header Information. You don't need to use a title page. Please put the following information at the top left-hand side of the page:
Dr. Donna Campbell
Course Number (ENGL 210, ENGL 368), [list the assignment here, too: Paper 1, Research Paper, or whatever]
Title of Paper
Remember, your own title will not be italicized or have quotation marks around it unless you're using the title of the work you're discussing as part of your own title.
Page numbering. Please make sure to number your pages. In most word-processing programs, you can do this by clicking on Insert and then Page Numbers or some variation of that process.
How do I cite sources?
To cite your sources, use the MLA in-text citation method.
Do I need a Works Cited page if I'm just using the stories from the book?
Yes, you do. All papers must have a Works Cited page, even if you're using your textbook as the source for the works you'll be discussing.
I'm submitting my paper electronically. Is it okay if I attach my Works Cited page as a separate file? It's easier for me to do that.
No, please don't. All that means is that I have to open both files and add the Works Cited page to your document instead of having you do it yourself. I'll combine the files for you on the first paper, but for the second and subsequent papers, your paper will lose 1 point.
Where do I submit the paper, and in what file format?
You'll submit your paper by email to email@example.com.
Document Format. You need to save the paper using Word format (.doc or .docx,) rich text format (.rtf),or .pdf format. The first two are commonly available under the "Save As" function of all word-processing programs. Papers using any other format cannot be read and will not receive credit.
Filename Conventions. All submitted assignment files should follow the naming format as follows: last name, first initial, course number, assignment name. For example, if Joan Smith in English 368 submitted her first paper, it would be saved as SmithJ_368_Paper1.doc.
PLEASE don't upload your paper under the filename "Paper 1" or some variation of that. If you think about what it would be like to receive and save 40 files all called "Paper 1," you'll see the logic of the filename conventions for the class. Your paper will lose1 point if you don't follow the filename conventions.
Where and when will you return the papers?
As mentioned on the syllabus, if you submit your papers by email, I'll return them by email.
If you submit your papers in hard copy form (paper), I'll turn the papers back to you at the end of class once all the papers are graded.
It takes a minimum of 1 to 2 weeks to grade a set of papers, so you can expect to have them back in that time frame (not earlier).
Where can we read the comments on the paper?
If you turn in a paper copy, I'll write the comments by hand. If you turn in an electronic version, I will type the comments in the document and return it to you as a .pdf file in Angel. I add an "r" to the filename so that you know it's the returned version of the paper: SmithJ_368_Paper1r.pdf.
If you took your extension on the paper, you'll notice an EXT at the end: SmithJ_368_Paper1EXTr.pdf. This indicates that the paper isn't late but should be graded as on time because of the extension.
Note: Both kinds of submissions are graded in exactly the same way; it doesn't make any difference whether the paper is turned in electronically or handed in in hard copy.
You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read .pdf files, and this program is probably already installed on your computer. If you do not already have Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free program, visit the "Angel Help Resources: Getting Started for Students" page to download it.
If I forgot to add a Works Cited page, didn't cite sources using MLA format, or otherwise didn't follow the directions listed here, will you take off for it?
Not on the first paper, but after that, yes, a failure to follow the directions will be counted in your grade, as stated above. After the first paper, a failure to follow the guidelines will result in penalties (- 1 for unreadable files that must be resubmitted; -1 for not following the naming conventions, -1 for absence of Works Cited page, and so on.)