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INTL115: World Geography: Writing and Citing Resources

Why Outline??

Chances are if you're asking this question...the most immediate and important answer is because your professor is requiring it. Right? Right. But WHY are they requiring it? Good question...what makes an outline important?

  • Serves as a great brainstorming activity
  • Identifies main points of your argument
  • Helps you organize your research material
  • Show potential strengths and weaknesses in your argument

In other words, a well-structured detailed outline is a great bridge between the reading and understanding of your sources and the written draft of your paper. Without a good outline that gap is hard to bridge!

How do I get from my "research stuff" to my outline?

Step #1: List the points and research you want to include in your paper

Step #2: Create a working (tentative) thesis 

Step #3: Craft an argument that proves your thesis

Step #4: Include the evidence from your research that proves your point 

Step #5: Add appropriate in-text citations to your evidence 

Organizing your essay

Organizing shouldn't just happen before you start writing. Once you've got a draft done use the color blocking technique to check your balance and flow. First things first...attack your draft with a highlighter. Use the color pattern below (or substitute your own faves) to get started.

 
  • Pink--thesis
  • Green--introductory elements and/or conclusion
  • Orange--research/quotes
  • Blue--Writer's commentary/voice
     

So once we apply this color blocking to your paper, it might look a little like this:


 

Introduction and Thesis:

  XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX  XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX XX XXXXX XXXXXXX X XXXXXX XXXXX XXX XXXXXX XXXXX XXX XXXX XXX XX XXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXX

Body:

  XXXXXXXX XX XXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXX XXXXXXXX XXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX X XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXX XX XXXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX XXX XXXXX XXXX XXX XX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXX XXXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX

 


Questions to ask after color blocking:

  • Is the pink section (thesis) positioned well within the yellow (introduction)?
  • What is the balance between orange (research) and blue (writer's voice), Does the orange overpower the blue, or is the blue overly dominant?

 

Tips on Paraphrasing and Quoting

  • Write a sentence as a transition before getting to the quote itself. You should ALMOST ALWAYS start a paragraph with your words, not a direct quote!
  • Having trouble writing in your own words? Close the book or turn over the piece of paper and write out what you're trying to say from memory. This helps because in order to do it well you have to understand what you're summarizing!

When and why should I paraphrase?

A direct quote tells the reader that you can find good information

A paraphrase tells the reader that you can understand and interpret the information that you read.

When should I paraphrase?

If you are trying to give the reader an accurate and comprehensive account of the ideas you have gathered from the source, paraphrasing is very effective.

Starting with the raw material

Original Text:

“I don’t mean that some people are born clearheaded and are therefore natural writers, whereas others are naturally fuzzy and will never write well. Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem. Good writing doesn’t come naturally, though most people obviously think it does.” 


This quote is from On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. It is located on page 12.

 

Quoting: More than copy/paste

Direct quotation with signal phrase (MLA):

According to author William Zinsser, “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The quotation is taken word-for-word and placed inside quotation marks. The page number is in parentheses that are OUTSIDE of the quotation marks. The end period follows the parenthetical citation.

Direct quotation without signal phrase (MLA):

The processes involved in thinking and writing are very closely connected. “Thinking clearly is a conscious act that writers must force upon themselves, as if they were working on any other project that requires logic: adding up a laundry list or doing an algebra problem” (Zinsser 12).

  • The parenthetical citation includes the author’s last name and the page number with no comma between them. The citation is OUTSIDE of the end quotation marks, and the end period is AFTER the citation itself.

Proper paraphrasing in MLA and APA

Paraphrase with signal phrase: (MLA)

Author William Zinsser argues that in order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the sentence. The page number is in parentheses after the sentence. The end period comes after the parenthetical citation. You should generally use a signal phrase the first time you mention an author you are citing.

 

Paraphrase without signal phrase: (MLA)

In order to write well, one must think clearly and work at it, just as if one were doing any other logical task (Zinsser 12).

  • The author is clearly identified in the parenthetical citation. The page number is immediately after the author’s last name. There is no comma between them. The end period is AFTER the citation, never before. This method can be used after the author has been established in your text by a previous signal phrase.