How to write an academic paper using a “Word Count” system.

September 9, 2011

The Thesis Statement

What’s your topic? What’s the theme? What’s the point of the whole paper? Can you describe the purpose of your paper? Can you summarize what you want to talk about in one sentence? Do that…get your one sentence description/summary of your whole paper. This is your Thesis Statement. Write it down and study it. Take your time and make sure your sentence accurately describes everything you want to accomplish with your paper. If you can’t formulate a Thesis Statement, then you don’t really know what your paper is about.

The Basic Outline

At this stage, you want to identify the key points you’ll be talking about. In a basic essay, three points are sufficient. But as you move into larger academic writing, more points may be necessary. For the purposes of this article, I’ll stick with a basic three points. Write down your basic outline under the header information you put at the top of your paper.  (Sorry if the outlines look a little goofy. Some of the formatting was lost when I transferred this to the internet.) Here’s a template:

  1. Introduction. (Don’t write anything else here yet.)
    1. Thesis Statement: Your one sentence summary of your entire paper.
  2. A sentence describing your first point.
  3. A sentence describing your second point.
  4. A sentence describing your third point.
  5. Conclusion. (Don’t write anything else here yet.)

If you’ve done academic writing before, you should recognize this as a standard five-paragraph essay format. This is a good launching point for any paper. Be sure to describe your points in complete sentences.
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