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childhood Trauma

Formal Writing implies that there is a “form” or a “formula” to it, kind of like going to the Prom. Men are supposed to wear suits and ties; ladies are expected to wear dresses. Other formal occasions will be like weddings or funerals, or coming-of-age ceremonies like Bar- or Bat-Mitzvahs or Quinceaneras, or going to court, or meeting an important person. There are expectations as to how you need to present yourself, and not meeting those expectations puts your credibility at risk. This may feel like your writing is “formulaic,” as in robotic or repetitive, and it is, but there is a reason for this.

Look at the previous photograph. What is informal about this prom photo? Why doesn’t meet your expectations, and why do we have those expectations? Where do they come from?

Formal Writing

Outlining: Organizing Your Topic

Taking the step to think about how your are going to organize your essay is just as important as doing the drafting. Here are some steps you should take:

Gather research at first by skimming.

Read over your sources once without marking them; decide which are most useful.

Actively read your sources, making notes in the margins, highlighting, and underlining. Only about 33% of the source should be marked.

Create an Outline by writing in Full and Complete Sentences.

Outlining: Topic-by-Topic

How you organize your topic will depend upon what your Topic is, what your Issue is, and what your Questions are. One method is to go Topic-by-Topic. This is were you will focus on an aspect of your Topic in each paragraph, and your sources will be used to focus on that:

Cause of Type II Diabetes: People eat too much processed food featuring refined sugars

Source A argues ….

On the other hand, Source B claims ….

They are similar or difference because ….

The similarity or difference relates to my thesis because ….

Outlining: Source-by-Source

Certain Topics and Issues will be better suited if you proceed through your research individually, meaning that your paragraph will still be focused on a Topic, but you’ll focus on one source more in-depth:

Causes of Type II Diabetes: Some research claims that Type II Diabetes is cause by too much refined sugar in one’s diet.

Source A claims ….

That means that ….

Source A goes on to argue ….

That related to my thesis because …

However, other research suggests Type II Diabetes is not so much dietary but related to lack of exercise

Source B claims ….

Etc. etc.

Section Introductions: Intro Paragraph Form

A good Introduction is designed to ease you audience into the subject matter. DO NOT start with your research and sources, thinking they’ll do the talking for you. Include the following four elements:

A Hook: State your topic, define the problem, offer an interesting fact, start with a quote, ask a question, or tell a story that sets the scene and establishes the tone of the essay.

Intro your Main Sources: Give the reader the 1 or 2 most important sources to your essay, and provide a short summary of their work. This should include the author(s)’ last name and the year of their publication in parentheses: Smith (2018).

Thesis: Offer the reader your Hypothesis; this may be hypothetical for now.

Plan of Development: How will you support your thesis step-by-step? How is this section organized?

Sections Introductions: Do’s and Don’ts

Introduction Do’s

What is the General Subject matter and Specific Issue?

Background Information that set-up the Subject and Issue.

The Thesis, the solution you are offering for your Research Questions.

The Steps the paper will take to make it’s argument; how it will be organized.

Introductions DO NOT’s:

Do not include evidence in the introduction (no quotes from your sources.)

An Introduction does not have to be limited to one paragraph; it can be more.

Body Paragraphs Transition

The Body Paragraphs should include a Transition between them.

Avoid an A-B-C, 1-2-3 approach; instead, use what’s called a “Subordinate Clause,” which is a two part sentence

The Dependent Clause: This clause will start by referring to the previous paragraph. It will begin with a “Subordinator.” For example, “While pancreatic cancer has a daunting prognosis.” Reading this, I know the previous paragraph was about pancreatic cancer’s prognosis.

The Independent Clause: This clause will refer to the topic of the coming paragraph. This will be a normal sentence. For example, “new technology is helping patients survive with pancreatic cancer longer than ever.” Now I know that this paragraph is about new technology.

Put them together: While pancreatic cancer has a daunting prognosis (previous paragraph), new technology is helping patients survive longer than ever (new paragraph).

Other Subordinators: although, after, before, once, since, while, when, because, if, etc., etc.

Body Paragraphs: Topic Sentence

All paragraphs need to include a Topic Sentence. A good topic sentence will have two parts:

A Subject: Who or what the paragraph is about?

Example: “new technology”

A Treatment: Why or how you’re going to discuss the Subject?

Example: “is helping patients survive with pancreatic cancer longer than ever.”

Formulate your topics sentences based upon what you can support with research

DO NOT mention sources in your topic sentence. In fact, avoid starting and ending paragraphs with source intros and evidence.

Body Paragraphs Source Introduction or Reintroduction

A Body Paragraph needs to indicate which sources are being used and what those sources are about if they have not yet been introduced.

New Source: If this is the very first time a source appears in your text, the include the author(s)’ last name, the year of their publication, and a brief summary of their work.

Reintroduction: If you have already introduced the source in your Intro Paragraph or a previous Body Paragraph, then include the source’s last name(s) and a paraphrase of the section you are about to use as Evidence.

It is important for your audience to know that your topic sentence is supported by evidence from a credible source. DO NOT neglect to include the source.

Body Paragraph, Evidence: Direct Quotations APA Style

Evidence is the most crucial part of your body paragraph. Your best form of evidence is going to be a direct quote.

In between quotation marks, copy the text exactly as it is written from your source.

Drop any ending punctuation that is a period, comma, colon, or semi-colon.

If you are quoting a question, include a question mark before the final quotation mark.

DO NOT use ellipses (. . .) at the beginning or ends of quotes unless they are in the original text.

Ending punctuation goes outside the parentheses.

Include the source’s last name(s) and the year of publication before the quote or after the quote in the parentheses.

Example: Smith (2018) claims, “New technology is helping patients survive with pancreatic cancer” (p. 8).

Example: He claims, “New technology is helping patients survive with pancreatic cancer” (Smith, 2018, p. 8).

Include the page number(s) in the parentheses

“p.” for a single page

“pp.” for multiple pages

Body Paragraphs Evidence: Paraphrase

Another kind of evidence is a Paraphrase, a summary of a specific section of an article. Similar rules apply for Paraphrase as they do for Direct Quotes:

Include the source’s last name(s) and the year of publication before the quote or after the quote in the parentheses.

Example: Smith (2018) claims new technology is allowing patients to cope with the symptoms of pancreatic cancer better than ever before. Survivor’s prognoses are getting better and better (p. 8).

Example: He claims new technology is allowing patients to cope with the symptoms of pancreatic cancer better than ever before. Survivor’s prognoses are getting better and better (Smith, 2018, p. 8).

Include the page number(s) in the parentheses

“p.” for a single page

“pp.” for multiple pages

Body Paragraph, Evidence: Summary vs. Paraphrase

Paraphrase and Summary are similar in many ways; however, they also are quite different.

Aspect Summary Paraphrase
Scope The whole source A specific section
Length Shorter than Original About the same
In Your Own Words Yes Yes
Used as Evidence No; used to intro Yes
Includes Quotes No Can; key term/phrases
Attributed to Author(s) Always Always
Cited by Page #(s) No Can be

Body Paragraphs: Analysis

Now the you have included your Evidence, whether that is a Quote or a Paraphrase, now you must explain what that evidence means. Here are some suggestions:

Define: What does the evidence mean? Explain it. Pick out key words or phrases that might be complicated for a novice audience and explain their meaning.

Compare: How is this evidence similar to another piece of evidence presented in this paragraph or in a previous paragraph? Be specific about what the similarity is.

Contrast: How is this evidence different from a previous piece of evidence or source. Again, be specific about what the difference is.

Cause-and-effect: What led up to and/or will result from this piece of evidence?

Body Paragraph: Drawing a Conclusion

So, you Transitioned, made your Topic Sentence, Intro’d your Source, presented Evidence, and offered Analysis. Job done? Not yet. The last step is a critical one: drawing a conclusions. When Drawing a Conclusions, your task is to tie your Analysis of your Evidence into the Topic of your Essay. This is the “so what?” of your paragraph.

How does the Analysis support your Hypothesis or contribute to your section?

Body Paragraphs: Conclusions

Remember that readers have two major problems when they read:

Readers will not remember the main points unless they are emphasized and repeated.

Readers will remember most what they read last.

Consider these when you write your body, but it’s most important to remember when writing a conclusion. Try these ideas:

Restate you main Topic, Issues, and Main Points without saying them the exact same way; restating is not copy-pasting.

Offer solutions to your Issue. Addressed the readers saying “so what?”

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