As a student you’ll be writing dozens of term papers throughout your academic career. Not to mention that they are often worth a significant percentage of your semester paper. So it is worth your time to invest some time into learning how to write an excellent term paper.
Follow these easy directions to help you make your next term paper great.
By picking a good topic, you’ll be setting yourself up for success with the rest of your paper. Choosing one that has an appropriate scope is important—to do this, consider how many pages your paper can be, and how much of the topic you think you can tackle thoroughly and comprehensively in those pages. Then form a thesis statement that will be limited to that scope. Beyond the scope, you should also choose a topic that gets at the why and how of the subject. Instead of just listing information on a topic that you’ve found elsewhere, be sure that your term paper includes some kind of analysis, whether it is an argument or opinion. This will show your in depth understanding of the topic, and it will make your paper much more enjoyable to read for your teacher.
When you do choose a perspective to explore in your paper, it is important to choose one that is interesting to you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that you agree with, or your own personal opinion. But if your term paper deals with a historical period or work of literature, choose the aspect of it that you find most interesting, or choose a related topic that you can compare and contrast with.
Because term papers are often longer than regular papers, it is especially important that you organize your paper well. There are several aspects of organization to keep in mind. First, be sure to use helpful section headers and subheadings to help your reader navigate the paper, and to break it down into common sense sections. Second, try to lay your paper out as you would an argument. If your thesis has several sub-points, make each of them a separate paragraph or section. You should also include a rebuttal section if there is a counter argument to that which you are making that you feel should be addressed. The best way to ensure that your paper is well organized is to outline it before you start writing. In your outline include not only the points of your thesis, but which sources you plan to use in each section. While it may take more time to put together a detailed and comprehensive outline, it will help you greatly when it comes time to write, cutting down on the time it take you to write your paper.
Most term papers will have a significant number of sources. It is important to keep track of the sources, from the point where you begin researching to the point where you are formatting your final paper. Keep a Word document with all of your sources, with both their reference citation and their in text citations formatted properly. That way, when you want to use that source in your paper, you an just copy and paste in the citation. If you aren’t sure which format to use for your citations, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher which they prefer. Most are very similar, with small differences in commas and order of information. The most important this is that you choose one citation format and stick with it consistently throughout the paper.