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English 102

Writing Resources

5 Steps for Writing a Paper

Choosing your Topic

Before you begin to write your paper, look at the following to see how they apply to your assignment.

  • What type of paper are you writing? What are your Instructor's expectations?
  • Do you have specific directions or a rubric?
  • How long should your paper be?
  • Is research required?
  • Are you required to use APA or MLA format?
  • Do you have to do research? If so how many sources are required and what kind of sources are required.

Try a quick brainstorming session on what you might write about.

  • Analyze your topic
  • Look at sample papers.
  • Consider using a graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas.
  • Jot down key ideas or points so you can research and find sources later.
  • Free write what the topic means in your own words.
  • From your Brainstorming, perform a quick outline of your ideas.

Tutors are available through the Student Success Center to meet with you on the writing process for your paper. The tutoring calendar can be found on the Student Success Center's page.


  • Research can take time, so be prepared.
  • Use your topic and key words to do a general search for information before narrowing down your search. Visit the OCtech Library or schedule an appointment with one of the Librarians to get assistance. If you are unable to come on campus, you can visit the OCtech Library's website to search for resources online. Guides have also been created for specific classes!
  • Make sure to check to see if the library has guide listed for your class. The class guides can be found under the subject guides listed on the Library's homepage.  
  • Make sure to keep anything you will use in your paper. This will include information you will need for reference page or works cited page.
  • Your paper may require that you use MLA or APA referencing formats for your paper and research.
    • APA (American Psychological Association) APA is generally used with research and science related papers
    • MLA (Modern Language Association) MLA is generally used with humanities and English papers.

Outline and Thesis Statement

A strong outline and thesis statement will help to organize your research and thoughts so that your paper is easier to write and the content flows in an orderly manner. When reviewing or creating your outline, look at your  sections and content to review to see if you have enough information or support for your paper. Starting your outline while you are gathering your research and sources will help you to decide if you have enough information. Remember your outline should include enough sections to meet the criteria for the length of your paper. Organizing your research by an outline should help to make writing the paper easier once you begin. Don't forget to include required sections or information that your instructor has given you.

  • Outline: Read the following article, Writing an Outline, from The Writer's Reference Center to learn more about outlines. 
  • Thesis Statement: Use your main ideas to form your thesis statement. The Writer's Reference Center has an article, Writing a Thesis Statement, that goes in to more detail about developing your thesis statement.


First Draft

Now, it is time to start writing your paper. 

Write your introduction, supporting paragraphs, and conclusion.

While writing, think about how you transition from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph.

Make sure your paragraphs have a topic sentence and a conclusion sentence.

Avoid repeating yourself or using a word too often.

Final Paper

  • Review, Edit, and Proofread your paper.
  • Consider reading your paper out loud to check that flows well.
  • Check your subject-verb agreement in sentences.
  • Have a peer or Brainfuse review your paper. Learn more about Brainfuse here.


Library Research: Subject Guides

Critical Thinking Guides

Writing Argumentative Essays

Writing Narratives

Writing Persuasive Essays