Putting It Together: Writing Essentials

Earlier in your education, you may have used certain strategies and formulas to shape your writing. You may have been told that you should never use “I” or that you should begin your conclusion with “In conclusion.” Now that you are in college, your professors will expect both a higher level of writing and a greater variety of types of writing from you. Some of the writing tasks you will take on will be formal, academic writing; others may be less traditional, including writing reflections, discussion forum postings, and blog posts. The range of writing tasks you will face in college should prepare you for the different kinds of writing situations you may face in the world outside of college: from cover letters and memos to professional websites and blogs, and beyond.  Decorative image.

In college, you will be expected to:

  • compose nuanced, original theses that are discovered and refined throughout the writing process.
  • use key or topic sentences to establish a paragraph’s main point and situate the paragraph within the overall sequence of the argument.
  • use evidence to develop ideas and shape effective paragraphs.
  • use transitions to guide readers from paragraph to paragraph and idea to idea.
  • use introductions to orient readers to the topic.
  • use conclusions to provide fresh perspectives or calls to action.
  • consider audience and rhetoric context to influence choices of tone, language, and rhetorical appeal.
  • use effective sentences to communicate clearly and concisely.

Regardless of the task, it is critical for you to consider the rhetorical situation you face. Who is your audience and how does that influence the approach you take in your writing? What are the expectations of the writing task? How can you use language, evidence, strong organization, and effective sentences to express your ideas powerfully and efficiently?

These are the kinds of questions writers in and out of college ask themselves before each and every writing task. A good writer never stops asking these questions!