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Tackling a Writing Assignment: How To Get Started
by: Jan Kovarik

Writing assignments are often considered the worst possible class or course assignment. There's nothing worse than sitting down in front of a computer, with a blank screen in front of you. Where do you start? How do you get that first sentence written? Once you start, how do you avoid common mistakes? And when you are ready to finish the paper, how do you make sure you catch all the mistakes?

Using Word

Unless you regularly use Word (the word-processing software in Microsoft-based operating systems), you might not know too much about how to use it to create even a simple document, much less a term paper or other research-type paper.

If you are pretty much clueless about how to format a document so that it is New Times Roman, 12pt, with 1-inch margins (or whatever other format is required for the assignment), then you can get some really easy help in my article, Working With's easier than you think! You can get this article at:

Getting Started

Once your assignment has been researched, and you are ready to start writing, you might not have too much of an idea of how to even begin. It's really not a mystical process, all you need is a little bit of direction and some overall organization.

In order to get some good tips for writing, and writing effectively, review my two-part series, Writing Effectively. You can get this series at: Part 1, and Part 2.

These two articles will help you organize your notes, create a rough outline for your paper, and then actually begin the process of writing the paper by filling in the outline.

Need Some Help with Grammar, etc.?

It is affect or effect? That's a question that floors most people. You've got a foreign name that has a funny wiggly mark of the letter n---how do you do that? What are the most common punctuation and spelling mistakes, and how do you avoid them? Is just running spellcheck enough to insure that you are going to turn in an error free assignment? And what happens if you've already run spellcheck, but you think you changed something you shouldn't have because you got brain-numbed and just kept hitting "Change" in the spellchecker window?

I've written several articles that provide hints, tips, and suggestions for how to end up with a paper that is as error-free as a human being (and a computer) can create:

Some Sticky Grammar Situations, at

Diacritics: Those Squiggly Marks Above and Below a Letter, at

Checking for Mismatched Quotation Marks, at

How To Check Name Spellings in a Term-Research Paper, at

Your Spellchecker Can Catch Punctuation Mistakes, at

Good Reasons Why You Canít Rely on Your Spellchecker, at

How To Re-Set Your Spellchecker, at

Each of these articles will open in a new window, for your reviewing convenience.

Writing assignments don't have to be the Big Bad Ugly Monster that you might think they are. Just approach it logically, and understand what your computer can, and cannot, do for you!

About The Author

Jan Kovarik, The Proofer is a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Visit for more information about Janís business services and Jan's other free information and resource sites. Please visit Mom's Break ( for free printable crafts and projects.

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

This article was posted on August 23, 2005


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