The Writing Process

The Eberly tutors have identified these sites as ones that are personally useful to them. In the annotation that follows each site, a tutor explains that benefits of the site. While the Eberly tutors hope you find these sites useful, we encourage you to come and visit us for a face-to-face session in the Writing Center.


Brainstorming (The American University in Cairo)
Often the most difficult part of writing is starting to write. The process of choosing a broad topic and narrowing it down to a thesis can be both daunting and frustrating. This website provides nine different techniques for brainstorming an idea for a paper. C.B.

Brainstorming (University of North Carolina)
"Brainstorming" is one of the most important steps in the writing process which you should never skip. This well-written and informative site introduces you to thirteen helpful and applicable techniques. Do you know that besides free-writing, clustering and circling, you could also inspire your ideas by making similes and asking yourself "journalist questions"? Have you ever considered thinking outside the box by linking a biography term with a history concept? Those techniques are just a few of the rich resources this website provides you. X.Z.

Classes: Note Taking, Listening, and Participation (Dartmouth College)
If you're anything like those of us here at the Writing Center, you take copious amounts of notes.But the question is, do you ever read them again after class is over? What you need to do is learn a better, smarter way to take notes that will actually be helpful come exam time. This site will help you take more effective notes, but it will also teach you how to be an active listener. So don't waste your time furiously scribbling your way through an entire lecture; check out what Dartmouth College has to say and spend your class time learning, not writing. C.H.

Note-taking for Essay Writing (Cuesta College)
If you are taking a course where plenty of readings are assigned, you do not need to be psychic to know an essay will be part of your future. What better way to prepare for the future than to optimize your note-taking skills? Good notetakers have an easier time understanding major themes and concepts discussed in class. This guide from Cuesta College provides a list of habits for those students who want to improve their note-taking skills or adopt other techniques, like putting down the highlighter. F.A.

Note Taking Strategies (Saint Mary's College of California)
Note taking is an essential part of learning, particularly in college where material is often thrown at you in a variety of classes. Saint Mary's College provides a page with a three-step process to make notetaking efficient and precise. M.N.

Outlining (Purdue University)
I'm such a good writer. I can just take all these ideas floating around in my head and organize them into a clear and cogent essay. Psh. If this is your mindset when you begin to write a paper, and it's actually true, I applaud you. However, for us mere mortals, outlining is a great way to get your ideas together and keep your paper on track. This site will help make sure that your outline is as effective as possible. G.M.

Outlining (University at Albany)
While writing a paper can be tough, the worst part can sometimes be getting started. If you need some quick tips on constructing an effective outline, this page is the place to go. It offers directions for writing an outline in the form of a full-functioning outline! With barely one scroll of your mouse, you will have a description, an explanation, and an example all rolled into one concise guide. What else could a writer ask for? E.B

Outlining and Organizing (Writing Center, Los Angeles Valley College)
Are you disorganized in your thinking? Do the facts you've gathered for your paper just seem like a big, disconnected blob? Fret no more! This page gives easy and straightforward organizing tips to allow you to organize your evidence around a thesis, especially guiding you to organize your body paragraphs around your thesis, and to structure each body paragraph around its sub-thesis. J.K

Prewriting and Outlining (University of Maryland University College)
Don't frustrate yourself by staring at that blank word document and waiting for inspiration to strike. Instead, here are some prewriting exercises that can help you generate some golden ideas. Then this site explains how to plan out your paper by organizing those scribblings into an outline. M.K.N.

Prewriting Strategies (University of Kansas)
Have you ever experienced writer's block? Certain strategies can prevent you from losing your train of thought mid-writing. This site lists many creative forms of pre-writing activities that can help writers of any level avoid loss of ideas for an essay. A.F.

Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block (Purdue OWL)
At some point, every writer experiences writer's block. This can be extremely frustrating, making it seem nearly impossible to proceed with an assignment. Do not worry! This article discusses several common causes of writer's block and will help you evade the problem by utilizing one of several suggested techniques. Now you can confidently proceed with that A+ paper! E.S.

Understanding Assignments (University of North Carolina)
Blindly diving into writing an essay may not be the way to approach an assignment. Essay writing is a process and the first step involves understanding what is being asked of us. The writing center at the University of North Carolina provides greatly detailed insight on this critical stage of the writing process also known as reading and understanding the prompt. F.A.

Writer's Web: Brainstorming (University of Richmond)
Before the structure of a thesis statement comes together, free form brainstorming must take place. This process consists of generating the ideas one has about a subject and is often different for everyone. One basic strategy involves freethinking about a topic and listing any thoughts as they pop into your head. This site also provides tips for narrowing down your


Counter-arguments (Harvard University)
In order to sharpen your argument skills, it's necessary to play your own worst enemy. Developing a counter-argument helps you to analyze issues from all sides to ensure your position can withstand even the strongest of criticism. N.C.

Drafting an Essay (University of Washington - Bothell)
Do you ever hear the word "draft" and cringe with disbelief at the length? Do you often ask why people go through the trouble of writing a first draft when it seems like they could just as easily write a final in one go? If so then maybe it's time to take a look at what exactly writing those first, second, and third drafts really means and the reasons behind why so many people seem to write multiple drafts. R.W.

Ending the Essay (Harvard University)
The conclusion to an essay is arguably one of the most important parts of a scholarly paper. A conclusion provides one last chance for you to prove the point that you are trying to convey to an audience. This site provides specific ideas for how to end a paper and also offers tips regarding what not to do when writing a conclusion. C.B.

Integrating Writing: Drafting the Essay (University of Washington Bothell)
No matter what step of the writing process you find yourself stuck in, the University of Washington is here to help. It details each step of the process, highlighting which aspects of writing to focus on, whether it be developing an argument in the first draft or refining the flow of information for the final draft. J.C

Introductions (University of North Carolina)
Introductions getting you down? The University of North Carolina is here to lift you back up. This website not only gives strategies on how to write this first and most daunting paragraph but also gives different styles of introductions. For your reading pleasure, each style is even ranked for effectiveness and accompanied by an example. Don't let the introduction blues defeat you! Conquer it instead with this wonderful resource. J.C


Does my paper "flow?" (University of North Carolina)
Make your paper "flow" by placing it on a riverbed and waving goodbye. That's not really recommended, but you can make your paper "flow" by writing in a coherent manner that allows readers to make sense of the text. This fluidity can be achieved on the sentence level, paragraph level, and draft level. This short video introduces the three levels of "flow," and ways to identify them. F.A.

Organizing Your Argument (Purdue University Online Writing Lab)
Get those thoughts in line! Learn how to make a thesis, support it with evidence, and add some new characters. Warrants show how the evidence relates to the claim. Backing supports warrants. Counterclaims oppose views to your thesis. Rebuttals prove counterclaims wrong. All of these pieces together form a big, happy family of solid logic! M.C.K.

Reorganizing Drafts (University of North Carolina)
You might have experienced anxiety and uncertainty about the logical flow of ideas in your essay after you finish a draft. When such happens, chances are that you need to reorganize you draft.This website introduces you to five helpful and substantial strategies with detailed examples. Some innovative strategies include "reverse outlining", which guides you to create an outline based on a written paper and to see if the thesis is followed through. Others include "talking the paper out" and "visualizing" the paper. You will surely find the strategy that works best for you. X.Z.

Reverse Outlining (Purdue University)
Purdue Owl suggests an interesting tactic to help you analyze your own essay and ensure it makes sense organizationally. The reverse outline involves assessing the topics in each part of the essay to make sure they are formulated as the writer had originally planned and that the paragraphs flow in a logical manner. This method consists of a two step, easily repeatable process. M.N.

Revising the Draft (Harvard College-Harvard University Writing Center)
When you finish a paper, you're filled with the most wonderful euphoria. However, once you come down from that high, you see that your delicate masterpiece is more like a sugar-crazed preschooler's project. Harvard's writing center can help! With tips like taking a break, going to a peer (or our very own Eberly Writing Center), making a backward outline-which involves ranking your main ideas-and proofreading, that preschooler can grow into a top-notch scholar! M.C.K.

Revising Drafts (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Revising your paper is the most important part of your writing process. This article offers some reasons for both proofreading and revising papers and gives some suggestions as to how you should approach your revisions. All of the sections are divided by common statements or questions (such as, "What happens if I no longer agree with my own point?") so it's easy to locate the tip(s) or explanation(s) that will be most helpful to you. E.B

Revision (Brigham Young University)
Revising your essay means much more than simply running your spellchecker! This site's comprehensive check list covers everything from content and organization to grammar and diction. If you're having trouble looking at your essay objectively, use these guiding questions to reread your paper with a new, critical eye. M.K.N.


Editing and Proofreading Tips (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
This page offers tips and tricks to edit your paper, such as changing the font or l a y o u t in order to "trick your brain into thinking it's seeing an unfamiliar document." It also offers guidance on what to look for when editing and proofreading. Perhaps the most important piece of advice it gives is to create distance between yourself and your paper. J.K.

How to Proofread (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees, so proofreading your own paper can sometimes seem impossible. Finding your own mistakes can be challenging, but this website is here to help. "How to Proofread" will give you a step-by-step method for finding the weaknesses of your own paper as well as providing you with other proofreading resources. C.H.

Proofreading for Common Surface Errors (University of Indiana)
Little spelling mistakes, missed punctuation marks, forgotten words, even random capitalized letters. All of these tiny errors-and many more-seem so insignificant, but if you make a lot of them, they start to add up. The culmination of a bunch of silly little mistakes can become an annoyance and start to detract from the quality of your work. Learning simple strategies to find these small errors can be extremely effective in creating a strong piece of writing. Check out this website to learn all about these strategies. J.W.

Proofreading Tips (Grammar Girl)
Every writer, good and bad, suffers through the pains of proofreading. It is nearly impossible to catch all of one's mistakes, and Grammar Girl explains this common problem in a personable and understandable way. Grammar girls emphasizes that no one is perfect but gives writers tips on how they can improve their proofreading process. C.C.

Proofreading - (Purdue OWL)
Proofreading is necessary for virtually every writing assignment. The proofreading process allows the writer to review his/her paper and address mistakes in grammar, sentence structure, voice, etc. While you may have been taught to read your writing slowly multiple times to catch errors, this article discusses a few general strategies that can improve your proofreading skills and help you catch errors you might have otherwise missed! E.S.