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There is no magic formula for writing a successful research paper. It is basically a question of learning to organize your time and materials effectively. The steps outlined below can help serve as a general guide for writing your next paper. For more detailed information on researching and writing term papers or essays, consult the section that appears below. Individualized writing assistance is offered by the Student Success Centre's .
As examples of how creative an introduction can be, here are the opening lines from a geography paper and a paper on optics, both of which use narrative technique to arouse our interest. Note how the first excerpt uses an "I" narrator comfortably while the second excerpt does not use "I" even though the writer is clearly reflective about the subject matter. The first excerpt is from a paper on the generic nature of America’s highway exit ramp services; the second is from a paper on shape constancy.
APA guidelines include certain formatting preferences for tables and figures that appear in your essay paper format as well. Vertical lines in your tables are not used so don’t draw them in or try to generate them. The table number is typed above the table title which is placed flush left against the margin and in italics without the use of any period marks. Use your tab function to set table tabs and when including columns of decimal numerals, the decimal points should be aligned.
Avoid any experimentation with font styles. Students are often tempted to stretch the length of their APA format research paper or in rare cases, shrink it by using a different font style. The recommended and approved font style is 12 pt Times New Roman.
APA formatting includes allowance for the use of two sets of footnotes, Content and Copyright, in the event your paper needs further notes of explanation. Both Content and Copyright footnotes call for the insertion of a number in superscript after any type of punctuation mark except dashes. If the footnote numbers appear within parentheses in a sentence, the number of the footnote is inserted in the parentheses as well. All footnotes should be placed on the bottom of the page where the text appears. If you choose, footnotes can also be included on the last page of the document following the page with “Footnotes” centered at the top of the page.
When you are first faced with the task of writing a long essay or term paper it can be intimidating, but you make your job and the reader’s job much easier by following some basic rules of thumb. Of course, if your professors offer you any specific guidelines about writing be sure to follow those first. Otherwise, incorporate the advice that follows into your papers wherever appropriate.
style necessitates formatting using the author-date format within the text. When referring to an entire book or an article, or an idea from another work that is not a direct quote, you need only refer to the author and year of the work. The author’s last name and publication year for the source appears within the text, for example (Smith, 2007) under these guidelines. If using a direct quote from another work you must include the page number as part of your citation within the text, (Smith, 2007, p12), which enables the reader to locate the APA quotation if needed. The full reference for each source is included at the end of the paper as part of the reference list.
A paper’s title should be succinct and definitive, individual and informational. Clearly, the title "An Overview of the Hydraulic Fracturing of Methane-Bearing Coal Formations" is more complete, satisfying, and informative than "Hydraulic Fracturing." The title is important because it announces the paper’s specific content and typically serves as a pathway to the paper’s thesis.
Your introduction is your opportunity to be at your most individual. You should get your reader’s attention immediately by announcing the paper’s subject or by launching into a relevant scenario or narrative that informs or illustrates your overall argument. A paper illustrating the costly effects of poor mine design, for instance, might open with the scenario of how a poorly designed pillar at a salt mine in Louisiana once collapsed, fracturing the surface above and draining an entire lake into the mine. A paper on the supply and demand of nickel might begin by straightforwardly announcing that the paper will explain the uses of nickel, detail its market structure, and use data to forecast the future supply and demand of the metal.
Headings are used based on the level of subordination for example, Section headings will be use level one formatting and its subsections will be in level two format. Level Three format is used for subsections of subsections and so on. The introduction section does not get a heading in APA Style and letters or numbers are not used to indicate heading levels. Number of levels of headings will be determined by the structure and length of your research paper.
Using an incorrect format for citations within text is a common error especially by students who may have to write papers for different professors that require using Chicago or MLA styles. In text citations are listed as (author’s last name, year).