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

September 9, 2011

Your Introduction and Conclusion

The Introduction and Conclusion are often the most neglected and misunderstood sections of the paper. You can’t accurately write these until the paper is done. Don’t make the mistake of trying to write your Introduction first. Don’t do it. Write these sections last.

Your Introduction should be a preview of your paper. After you’ve written the body of the paper, take the word count you’ve set aside (1/10th of the total) and write a preview. Don’t give away anything crucial; rather tease your audience a little. You need to include your Thesis statement, or at least a version of your Thesis statement, here in the introduction.

Your Conclusion should be a summary of what you’ve written. All the information is available. This is your opportunity to wrap everything up with a nice bow, and your last chance to hammer home the points of your argument.

A personal response is NOT a Conclusion! If you’re required to do a personal critique or response to something you’ve read, plan that in as one of your major points not as a Conclusion.

Wrapping It All Up

Now that the bulk of the paper is written, take your time to review and edit your spelling and grammar. Make sure there are no awkward or confusing sentences. Check your paper formatting with your style manual. Delete out all those extra notes, outline items, and your prewriting header. Add your cover page and citation page. Triple check your footnotes. And before you print it, read it again out loud. You can catch many mistakes and awkward sentences out loud when you missed them otherwise.

Congratulations! You’ve just written a paper using my word count system. I hope it worked for you. Let me know what you liked about it or didn’t like, and also let me know about how you’ve modified it to fit your own writing style. Happy writing!