Use an OUTLINE -- thoughts must progress logically from one to the next. Draw a picture of your thought processes -- straighten out loops.
Start off by posing a specific question.
must be some reason why you want to research your topic -- specify that
reason and crystallize it into a very narrow question.
Do not waste space with plump generalizations. (Did Celtic women fight? NOT: War is hell.)
in a logical manner, so that one sentence follows reasonably upon the
Do not be sidetracked into irrelevant tangents. Stay focused,
topic and precise.
Give examples, explain and describe. Be specific. The bulk of your paper should consist of FACTS.
Do not feel that you need to write down everything you can dig up about the subject; be selective and present only material germane to your argument. If there is evidence refuting your argument, be sure to provide that as well.Be able to back up what you argue. If you have examined the evidence and the result is inconclusive, say so.
Avoid vague generalizations (e.g., Since the beginning
of time ... ) and all fluff (e.g., It
is important to note that ... )!
Do not repeat yourself. Redundancies indicate disorder and
clarity. If you find you are repeating yourself, go back to the outline
and refine it.
Make sure that your conclusion has some connection
to your opening question. Your
paper should progress logically
from query to resolution of some kind. Do not wander
off into universals, etc. (e.g., Based on the evidence presented, some
Celtic women appear to have fought,
NOT: War is hell.)
It is perfectly okay to conclude that you have inadequate data
answer your question with certitude; in that case, you should summarize
the direction your data have pointed you and outline a potential
Cite the sources both of passages you quote verbatim, and
you paraphrase. Paraphrase or incorporate as much as possible --
quote verbatim very sparingly.
Make it very clear when you are using
someone else's work.
Choose a form of citation and stick with it --
A. Author-date style:
... very important is the human-headed horse (Kruta 1991, 535).
- or, avoiding the passive verb -
... Peter Green compares the behavior of the Greeks at this time to that of "fractious, ill-mannered children" (1990, 288). This assessment ...
Bibliography contains these entries:
Green, P. 1990. Alexander to Actium. London: Thames and Hudson.B. Textnote style (beyond simple bibliographical citation)
... the behavior of the Greeks at this time may be compared to that of "fractious, ill-mannered children."1C. Cite ancient sources
Be consistent; if you do not feel comfortable with standard abbreviations (in the Oxford Classical Dictionary), use the authors' full names. Name the work and the translator, and make sure to include your source in the bibliography.
As a captive slave slips away
If you quote a long passage (4 lines or longer), use a block
-- no quotation marks, and indent the block on both sides.
Label your illustrations clearly. Either provide each image with a caption, or provide a list of illustrations with as much information as you have or as is appropriate.
Figure 1. Silver torc from Trichtingen. Württembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart. Cunliffe 1997, 124 fig. 96.
This refers to the following bibliography item:
Cunliffe, B. 1997. The Ancient Celts. London and New York: Penguin.
III. Avoid common grammatical errors
A. Pick a tense and stick with it.
If you use the historical present ("Celtic warriors are ..."), do so throughout. Note that the sources you quote may use a different tense; remember to return to the one you have chosen.B. Make sure numbers agree. Plural subject, plural verb. Objects of prepositions are never subjects of verbs.
No-one is. Neither .. nor ... is. The number of houses is. The ages of man are.C. Don't lose sight of the subject. Phrases and clauses should not confuse matters.
"At the age of three, Green states that Alexander the Great ..." means that Peter Green was three years old when he said it.D. Common UT undergrad errors
This is so; this is also
and is logically connected.
At a time or place, this
I did this, which was
I did what was good
Verbs and Subjects:
else is so
I saw what he had
Avoid split infinitives -
Prepositions and misc.:
NOT inside of,
outside of, (near to)
with which I did (NOT
I did with)
the person who
Look up words if you are not sure what they mean --
highfalutin' terminology is fine as long as it's the right
in the context.
Avoid slang; e.g., instead of "being that," use "since" or
- a situation, person or data imply
(= suggest) something; a person infers (~
deduces) something based on the data ...
The preceding are only the most common pitfalls.
Use the Writing
help you identify any problems you may have.
Lay your writing aside for a few days and look at it again
Have a friend or classmate go over it with you.
ALWAYS read your paper aloud, whether to a friend or yourself.
Proofread your work! Sloppy errors show carelessness.