Step 1. Find a topic you are interested in, AND would be interesting to a general reader.

Step 2 .Do a Topic Exploration or other  Brainstorming to develop your thinking

Step 3. Write the TOPIC and your opinion about it. Then list at least three reasons you think that.

Step 4. Write a one sentence thesis NOT a question--made of the TOPIC+ your POSITION about it +[because] 1-3
              REASONS why you think that.

Step 5. Start essay with a TITLE that contains the main idea/theme of the thesis-- NOT a question.

Step 6. Gather a list of sources as citations and URLs that you might use as evidence. Note what you
             found of interest for each.
-- to Position Paper Work Page (docx)

Step 7. START WRITING :  OWL on MLA | OWL sample paper w/notes | Orlov Model paperGd w/sample papers | MLA   CITING Tutorial  -- OR for APA--APA OWL guide (and print version) | Sample APA science papers. Subheadings can be used in MLA or APA to organize and help convey the ideas.

I.  INTRODUCTORY SECTION -- for APA  include an Abstract on a separate page before main intro. and body of paper.

Paragraph 1

  1. Introduce the topic/issue
  2. Brief background of topic or why it is interesting/important...
  3. Example to  illustrate topic
  4. Thesis sentence underlined

Paragraph 2

  1. Define key terms and cite the reference source--Which are terms/ideas especially IN the title/thesis and any other important ones.
  2. Explain in your own words, the Idea/terms as used in paper topic--cite as needed.

II. BODY SECTION: presents the core of the thesis, the reasoning and evidence (intro. and cite each source as it is used).

  • 1st paragraph in body section:
    • Explains topic/issue in more depth than in intro.
      • Presents 1st clear reason that supports thesis
      • Use signal phrase [Signal phrases handout] to introduce ALL cited evidence to support reasoning
      • Personal commentary as needed to interpret and make connections that create unity
  • 2nd paragraph in body section Statement of 2nd main point that supports the thesis, reasoning/evidence, etc.
  • 3rd paragraph in body section: Statement of 3rd main point that supports the thesis, reasoning/evidence, etc.
  • As needed, any other paragraphs in body section supports the thesis, reasoning/evidence, etc.
  • 4th paragraph in body section (ANY key opposing points/evidence and why they don't stand up to the thesis)
    • Personal commentary as needed to interpret and make connections to conclusion.

III. CONCLUSION SECTION: sums up the findings that prove the thesis

(In Final 2-3 paragraphs--with sources cited)

  1. Restate, summarize key thesis points, reasoning and evidence
  2. Refer to opening points or examples to close the "circle" of writing
  3. Include personal comment that wraps up the thesis and writer's thinking
  4. End with a brief remedy, next "step" or "take-away" regarding the issues in the thesis

IV. WORKS CITED: (FYI: EasyBib-citation maker to see how entry should look) [Bibme for APA & APA OWL guide] On a separate page, headed WORKS CITED, an MLA listing of the 3-5 sources actually appearing in paper [ list of sources in APA is called References.] Each source can be used more than once in the paper, but needs only one listing in the Works Cited. The Works Cited listing DOES NOT number the entries.

About Signal Phrases and In-text Citing:

  • "Signal phrases mark the boundaries between source material and your own words; they can also tell readers why a source is trustworthy. . . .
    "Readers should not have to guess why a quotation appears in your paper. If you use another writer's words, you must explain how they contribute to your point. It's a good idea to embed a quotation--especially a long one--between sentences of your own. In addition to introducing it with a signal phrase, follow it with interpretive comments that link the quotation to your paper's argument."
    (Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook. Macmillan, 2005)
  • Sample signal phrases: Signal phrases handout
    • Chancellor Chase observed that "The Army is . . .."
    • According to Frito-Lay research, women snack only 14 percent . . .
    • The candidate insisted that the tariff must be reduced to a "competitive basis" and taxes . . .
    • Undernourished children have long been India’s scourge--“a national shame,” in the words of its prime minister . . ..
  • "If we mention the author's name in the text in a signal phrase ('According to Richard Lanham . . .'), then the parenthetical citation includes the page number only (18). If we use more than one work by an author, and we have identified his or her name in the text, our parenthetical citation must include a short title of the work cited and a page number (Style 18)."
    (Scott Rice, Right Words, Right Places. Wadsworth, 1993)