PSU Logo
HomeAbout UsStaffHelpStudy SkillsBecome a TutorNeed a Tutor?OWLDisabilities

Help with Writing

The Writing Lab is open every Monday through Thursday from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Improve the Way You Write

Be direct:
Instead of writing, "Pursauant to our discussion of the 24th, I am enclosing a copy of the material from our
file in which you expressed interest, "try saying: "Here's a copy of the letter we discussed last Thursday."

Be active, not passive:
Active verbs connote direct, vigorous, confident action. Passive verbs are indecisive and weak. Get in
the habit of using sentences with a subject, active verb, and object.

Use an outline.

Don't wait for inspiration:
Get a rough draft down on paper, no matter how rough an incomplete it is.

Don't worry excessively about style:
Just keep it short, direct, active, and simple.

Think of your reader:
Read back what you have written aloud, so you can actually hear it. How does what you have written sound?

Listen to yourself:
When you find something that sounds awkward, confusing or long-winded, revise your draft.

Remember sentence structure:
While simple subject-verb-object sentences are best, compound and complex sentences can't always be avoided. What's more, they add variety and interest to your writing.

Avoid fancy words:
When you read back aloud what you have written, change any words you stumble over and those that sound foreign to your ear.

Make your beginnings and endings best:
First and last words are the most important in sentences; first and last sentences are the most important in paragraphs.

In summary:
keep your writing short, simple, direct, and well organized.

(Learning Skills; Domino, John)


Guidelines for Tutor Writing Session

Stage Bring With You
Getting Started Any handouts you have about the assignment, including information on the syllabus.
A restatement of the assignment, written in your own words.
Necessary readings.
A list of what you need to do to complete the assignment.
The Planning Stage A outline of your paper.
Necessary readings, with your comments in the margin and/or areas important to your paper marked or highlighted.
Quotes and other supporting sources that you plan to use.
The First Draft Your outline.
The draft with specific questions about it.
Necessary readings, with your comments in the margin and/or areas important to your paper marked or highlighted.
Instructor Comments Your paper with responses to the instructor's comments.
An initial revision and/or idea about how you'll revise your paper based on the comments.
Final Paper Bring in your paper after you have thoroughly proofread it. Mark areas you're not sure of.

Useful Links:

MLA APA Chicago Manual of Style: Grammar help: For non-native speakers:


Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS!