The College Writing Guide

Writing is an important, and unavoidable, part of being in college. As a student who is pursuing a higher education, one can expect to draft countless numbers of papers that range from argumentative essays to lab reports. For that reason, it helps to develop good writing skills while still in high school. The ability to write papers that are accurate and free of formatting and grammar errors is an invaluable skill that will contribute to one’s success. By having a grasp on college writing, students are taking a positive step toward the fulfillment of their educational goals.

Preparing to Write

  • Preparing to Write and Drafting the Paper: The University of Chicago Writing Program offers this page on writing preparation and drafting. Students are given basic advice on gathering evidence as well as information on draft styles, beginning a first draft, and revisions.
  • Preparing to Write: Make an Outline: Click this link to read tips on how to prepare a writing outline.
  • The Writing Process (PDF): This document from Capella University outlines the steps in the writing process, such as pre-writing, drafting, revising, and polishing.
  • Writing a Paper: Pre-Writing: Pre-writing basics, including taking notes, choosing a topic, and developing an analysis, are the focus of this page on the Walden University website.
  • Integrating Writing: Drafting the Essay: Before submitting a document, read this page for information on how to catch mistakes and make corrections. The page also includes a printable checklist.

Developing a Thesis

  • Developing a Thesis: Click this link for steps on how to construct a thesis. The page also includes caveats, examples, and writing resource links.
  • Developing Your Thesis: Learn how to develop a thesis by clicking on this link to the Dartmouth Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. The page not only discusses developing a thesis, but it also reviews alternatives to the thesis sentence and provides a checklist to help determine whether it needs further work.
  • Tip Sheet: Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments: Open this page on the Butte College website to read a tip sheet on writing a thesis and supporting it.
  • Developing a Working Thesis: This document outlines what a working thesis is and how it helps in the revision of a final draft. People who click this link will also find an illustration of a working thesis.
  • Develop a Thesis (PDF): Students who read this document will find guidance on how to craft a thesis. The page also lists what makes a strong thesis.

Grammar and Mechanics

  • General Writing Mechanics: Sentence Clarity: Learn more about sentence clarity by clicking on this link and watching a presentation by the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
  • Hit Parade of Errors in Grammar, Punctuation, and Style (PDF): Common grammar, style, and punctuation errors are outlined in this document from the University of Toronto.
  • Sentence Combining Skills: Brush up on combining sentences by clicking on this link to the Capital Community College Foundation. The page reviews compound sentences, compounding sentence elements, subordinating one clause to another, and more.
  • Writing Mechanics: Grammar (PDF): This document covers appropriate usage and what it means to writers. Students who click this page will find examples of gender-fair language and other forms of appropriate usage.
  • Ten Rules of Grammar and Usage That You Should Know (PDF): Open this document to read a list of ten grammar and usage rules. An explanation is given for each of the rules on the list, and the page also includes examples of correct and incorrect usage.


  • The Writing Process: Revising: This Frankfurt International School page lists questions one should ask when revising the first draft of their written work.
  • Revising Drafts: Click this link to read a handout on revising drafts. The page explains what it means to revise, why it is important, and the process. There is also a list of answers to common revision concerns.
  • Editing vs. Revision: The information on this page explains the difference between editing and revising.
  • Revising Your Paper: This page outlines what elements students should look for when revising written work. The bottom of the page also includes a short list of online writing resources.
  • Revision Strategies: Visitors to this page will learn revision strategies that will help make their writing, and ultimately their finished papers, stronger.


  • How to Cite Other Sources in Your Paper: Learn how to cite sources of information, including standard text formats, theses and dissertations, and the Internet. The page also includes citing personal conversations or other forms of communication. Students who visit this site will also find specific format models.
  • Citations and References: Documenting Your Sources: Click this link to read how to document sources in lab reports. The page discusses using the name-and-year system and the alphabet-number system.
  • When to Cite Sources: Discover when to cite sources and why by clicking on this link to this Princeton University Academic Integrity page.
  • Writing Tips: Proper Citations: Open this link and read about proper citations. The page lists the purpose of citations and gives three examples, two that are correct and one that is not.
  • Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism: This page briefly covers why properly citing sources is important when writing essays. Students who open this page will also find links to information on different formatting styles.

Additional Resources

  • AMA Style (PDF): On this page, students will find information on the formatting style known as the American Medical Association, or AMA, style.
  • Basics of APA Style Tutorial: Click this link to view an interactive tutorial on the basics of the American Psychological Association style format, which is commonly referred to as APA style.
  • Editing and Proofreading Strategies (PDF): This document from the University of Minnesota Center for Writing provides quick tips to high school and college students who are looking for strategies that may prove helpful when editing and proofreading their work.
  • Formatting a Research Paper: Open this page to the Modern Language Association Style Center website to view MLA formatting guidelines for research papers.
  • Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A: Visit this page for a list of questions and answers on style rules using the Chicago Manual of Style.