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Writing Style Guide Social Studies Department (DRAFT) The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B.

. White, 3rd Edition (1979) Elementary Principles of Composition 1. Chose a suitable design and hold to it 2. Make the paragraph the unit of composition 3. Use the active voice 4. Put statements in positive forms 5. Use definite, specific, concrete language 6. Avoid repetition and omit needless words 7. Avoid a succession of loose sentences 8. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form 9. Keep related words together 10. In summaries, keep to one tense 11. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end An Approach to Style (With the List of Reminders) 1. Place yourself in the background 2. Write in a way that comes naturally 3. Work from a suitable design 4. Write with nouns and verbs 5. REVISE and REWRITE 6. DO NOT OVERWRITE 7. DO NOT OVERSTATE 8. AVOID the USE of QUALIFIERS 9. Do not affect a breezy manner 10. Use orthodox spelling 11. Do not explain too much 12. Do not construct awkward adverbs 13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking 14. Avoid fancy words and jargon 15. Do not use a dialect unless your ear is good 16. BE CLEAR 17. Do not inject opinion 18. Use figures of speech sparingly 19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity 20. Avoid foreign languages 21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat

Specific Tips or Rules 1. Written for the right audience the Teacher!! 2. Correctly formatted. Use 8.5 x 11 inch white paper, black ink, 1 inch margins on all four sides, double spacing, left justified, Times New Roman font, size 12, staple papers in the top left corner. (Should not be enclosed in a plastic folder and should NOT include a cover sheet). 3. Have a title for your essay and heading unless otherwise instructed your name, date, class. Title should be centered at the top of the essay AFTER the heading and in the same font as your essay not bold, BIG, in quotes, or italicized. (Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, etc., even in paper titles, are italicized, which is an obvious exception to the above rule.) 4. Written in past tense. Remember, the past happened! Washington crossed the Delaware. 5. Be sure the introductory paragraph includes the historic context and the controversy (task or question) you will be answering AND a strong THESIS statement.

6. Body paragraphs - each must include a topic sentence, should be several sentences long, usually at least 5, these sentences include evidence to support your topic sentence, a clincher or a transition sentence which ties back to the thesis and moves the essay along to the next topic. 7. AVOIDS opinion. Write from an analytical perspective, supported by evidence. 8. Refers to historical figures in a formal manner: by full name, title, last name. Never use first name alone. 9. OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS: You can often or usually avoid the following words: I, personally, in my opinion, a lot, VERY, kind of, sort of, basically, actually, truly, really, stuff, things, being, like, just, even, ever, all, a lot of, the fact that, which was, extremely, etc. (etc. = etcetera) 10. Written in active voice. The subject should be performing the action in the verb. 11. AVOIDS contractions. Instead of cant cannot 12. WRITES OUT NUMBERS - under a hundred or round numbers over a million, but not dates or large numbers like: In 1981, the population of Chelmsford was 32,567. Most dates in sentences are best used in the beginning of the sentence. 13. Shows, doesnt tell. Do not write: This essay will prove that . . . Just write it. 14. Forms possessive singular by adding s 15. Uses definite (positive) assertions: INSTEAD OF: did not remember WRITES: forgot 16. Uses orthodox spelling. 17. NO ABBREVIATIONS NO texting abbreviations 18. Capitalizes proper nouns 19. AVOIDS Also to start sentences 20. FOR QUOTES your use of a quote should flow in your writing. DO NOT follow a quote with What this quote means or any variation. Using a quote is like telling a joke. If you have to explain it, it didnt work! Quotes should also be integrated into your writing and not disrupt the flow of the paper of the voice of your essay. . Ex. Colonel Mustard noted that murderer used the wrench in the library. 21. Evidence of prior editing and proofreading by author is it rough or does the writing demonstrate some fluidity? 22. Uses Specific Factual Information in support of thesis does more than just lists dates, events, names, etc. Provides analysis showing how SFI connects back to and supports thesis. 23. Evidence of strong word choice avoids vague references to people, events, or ideas; instead, specifically describes those people, events, or ideas. Additional Observations 1. Write in a direct, active manner. 2. More words are not necessarily better than a short, declarative sentence. 3. Sentence variety is essential. 4. Avoid sweeping generalizations; get to the point! 2

5. Answer the question posed, none-other. (With a DBQ, with the documents provided!) 6. Do not provide unnecessary (Squirrels!) commentaries, even if you find them interesting. 7. However, demonstrate an understanding of the topic by elaboration, example, and providing facts and evidence to support your response to the specific topic. 8. Use the terminology of the topic. Use the correct terms in the correct context. 9. Beware of over use of pronouns. He, she, they, etc. Make sure the reader knows about whom you are talking. 10. Avoid unnecessary use of it. Clearly identify what it is you are discussing. 11. Know the correct word to use. Avoid confusing there (place) v. their (possession), as v. because, allowed v. out loud, etc. 12. Avoid starting a sentence, or introducing, or explaining a quote with What this means..., What this shows, or any similar clause. Just show it through your analysis. 13. DO NOT use the wording of the question to formulate the first sentence of your response, nor use it in the body of your response, nor rephrase it in your thesis statement. Be original; free yourself from the questions constructive restraints. Consider that a teacher has to read one or several class sets of the same responses. Original responses are refreshing, help speed the teacher through correcting, makes us smile, and gets you a better grade! 14. Not every possible negative consequence of a political action leads to rebellion, anarchy or chaos. Avoid declaring an extreme outcome of any action of the people, government, etc. There are always other means of resolving tension within a system, unless, of course, all of them have been exhausted. Dont start with the most extreme option before exploring the conventional. 15. Avoid putting on the cape of Captain Justice your response to a question or topic is not the place to right every wrong, declare what is unjust, bad, or unfair. Unless the instructions ask for your opinion, you are to rationally analyze the issue at hand, from a neutral academic position, presenting evidence to support your assertions. Stating that an action, policy, decision, etc., is not fair or unjust, or is bad reduces the effectiveness of your response. These are vague situational statements; fine in the letter to the editor section of the local newspaper, but not in academic, analytical responses. If you really feel the need to fight injustice in the world, in your spare time work for an organization committed to a cause. You can get a list from one of your teachers. Dont fight that fight in your writing! Elements of a Good Five Paragraph Essay 1) Introduction What is the topic of the essay? What is the controversy or conflict leading to the topic question? State your thesis which includes three points, or contentions, you will explore in support of your thesis. Examples of Thesis Statements: Weak thesis: The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different. (Note: No contentions to explore in the essay.)

Stronger thesis: While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions. (Note: Contentions are provided, but are too vague, not providing focus for the essay.) Comprehensive thesis: While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own rights to property and self-government. (Note: Thesis demonstrates a complex understanding of the topic, allowing for a comparison and contrasting of both sides, while exploring specific arguments used by each to justify their involvement in the War.) ( 2) Body Paragraphs Address your points or contentions in the order in which they are presented in your thesis. Provide supporting evidence in support your each point. Provide Specific Factual Information dates, names, events, documents, quotes, statistics to demonstrate your point is valid. Develop the support of the topic of the paragraph in a manner that is logical and sequential. Use of events in a chronological order is often best. The sentences in paragraphs must be supported by the ideas expressed in the previous sentence and lead to the ideas expressed in the next sentence in a chain of ideas. Do this for the all three body paragraphs (or as many paragraphs you need). You must demonstrate support for your thesis in EACH of the body paragraphs. 3) Conclusion Write WITHOUT restating the introduction paragraph word for word. Re-examine the topic and conflict. Re-examine your thesis and points. Tie it all together. If you have found in your conclusion that your thesis is different than the one in your introduction change the one in your introduction. Your starting and ending thesis should be the same one!!! Never start your conclusion by stating: In conclusion. In an oral presentation, yes. In writing, the reader knows the last paragraph is your conclusion. How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
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1. A strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand there is a subtle difference between OPINION (no thanks) and ARGUMENT (yes, please). Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements: 4

Weak Thesis: There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement. This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague. Strong Thesis: Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers. This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific. 2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion. Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements: Weak Thesis: My family is an extended family. This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader wont be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading. Strong Thesis: While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family. This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. 3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea. Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example: Weak Thesis: Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support. This is a weak thesis statement because the reader cant decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write: Strong Thesis: Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support. 5

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because, since, so, although, unless, and however. 4. A strong thesis statement is specific. A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say: Weak Thesis: World hunger has many causes and effects. This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger cant be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this: Strong Thesis: Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable. This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger. Thesis Statement Construction Step 1: Write-out the DBQ Task or Essay Question you are responding to 1) First word for word, write out the task or question as it is written. Identify the key terms, phrases, people, etc involved in this task. 2) Now, write out the task or question in your own words.
Step 2: Using the DBQ or question prompt or the historic context of the question, identify three major themes you will examine in your thesis. Identify theme without being either too broad or too specific. Now write out a topic sentence for each. Step 3: Under each them, identify the five most important pieces of Specific Factual Information, from most important to least important. Refer to specific documents and incorporate outside information in support. Step 4: For each piece of SFI write one clear, direct sentence, which shows how or why that Specific Factual Information supports your thesis. By identifying your three themes and the five pieces of SFI for each, you have provided the framework for your essay or research paper that will follow. The rest should be easier.

Step 5: Write YOUR thesis statement. Check for comprehensiveness. Go back and look at the examples of weak, strong, and comprehensive thesis statements. Does your have all the elements of a strong thesis statement? Step 6: Now write a 1st draft of your essay or paper. Step 7: Edit, Review and Revise Step8: Write final draft