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COMPOSITION WORKSHOP. University of the Sacred Heart Department of Humanities Center for Language Development Across the Disciplines LAD. Objective. To help the student write effective and organized essays and papers. Choose a Topic.

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Composition workshop l.jpg


University of the Sacred Heart

Department of Humanities

Center for Language Development Across the Disciplines


Objective l.jpg

To help the student write effective and organized essays and papers

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Choose a Topic

  • Select a topic that you like or that is familiar to you

  • See if there is enough information on your chosen topic

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  • Select a topic

  • Write down what comes to your mind

  • Group the ideas that are related

  • Choose the group of ideas that interests you and are related to the topic

  • Organize your notes into an outline

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Do Some Research…

…on the topic by asking the –wh questions:

who, what, when, why and how

…use the library, Internet, TV broadcasts, newspapers, magazines, etc…

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Prepare an Outline

  • Introduction

    • Thesis statement (topic sentence)

  • Body

    • Main idea

      • Supporting ideas (details)

    • Main idea

      • Supporting ideas (transition to next paragraph)

  • Conclusion

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Paper Format

Recommended font: Courier or Times New Roman




double-spaced text

indent each




1” margins

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Essay Content

  • Make sure to include the thesis statement in your introduction

  • Develop your ideas according to the outline

  • Close your argument with a conclusion

    • Summarize information from the previous paragraphs

    • Do introduce new information in the conclusion

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Sentence Variety

  • By using expansions (adjectives, adverbs, verbal and prepositional phrases and appositives)

    Example:Mary has a long, red skirt.

  • In structure (use of compound and

  • complex sentences)

  • Example:I went to Baskin Robbins, and

  • I ate a sundae. (compound sentence)

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Sentence Variety

  • In structure – complex sentence

    Example: I saw the woman, who waskilling the cockroach, scream crazily.

  • In sentence arrangement

    Example: In the middle of the

    desert, Will Smith punched the alien.

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Other Techniques

  • Achieve unity

  • Use correct word order for emphasis

  • Use occasional questions, exclamations, or commands

  • Use connectives (and, but, therefore…)

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Also Remember

  • Writing purpose

    • Narrate

    • Describe

    • Compare / Contrast

    • Persuade

  • The tone (sad, humorous, serious,concerned…)

  • Your audience (formal / informal)

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Avoid the Following

  • Breaking one idea into short, monotonous sentences

  • Including sentences with unrelated or illogical details

  • Using too many details even though related

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Avoid the Following

  • Redundancy

  • Unnecessary changes in point of view

  • Run-ons (A run-on sentence has at least two sentences. Each one should be written separately.)

    Incorrect: Do you see the man in the car he is my father.

    Correct:Do you see the man in the car? He is my father.

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  • Short quotations (three lines or less) should be enclosed in quotation marks

    Example: “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

    • John F. Kennedy

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  • On a new line, indent longer quotations (four or more lines), and set off in single space without quotation marks. Return to the original margin when you finish the quote.

My country, ‘tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing:

Land where my fathers died,

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,

From every mountainside

Let freedom ring.

  • -America, by Samuel Francis Smith

  • Always identify the source using APA

    or MLA style

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  • When you use someone’s ideas without citing, you receive credit for someone else’sintellectual effort

  • To avoid plagiarism, make sure to identify and document all your quotes, cites, and reference sources

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Save Your Work

  • If you use a computer or word processor, make sure you save your work

  • Make more than one copy !

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Go to the LAD Center!

  • Proofread

  • Check grammar

  • Check work format

  • Check essay outline

  • Check quotations and citations

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Prepare Your Second Draft…

…and go back to the LAD Center

for a

second opinion

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Preparing Your Final Paper

Make sure to include the following:

  • Cover page with your name, student number, the title of your work, course and section, professor’s last name, and date

  • Reference list at the end of your work

  • Revise quotations and citations

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Capital Community College Library. Available at

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Available at

The Research Paper. Available at

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Prepared by: Thalia N. Nazario-Santiago

Coordinator for the Center for Languages and Culture

Center for Language Development Across the Disciplines (LAD)

February 2003

Revised by: Patricia Kidd

August 2004

Revised by: Prof. Delia Serrano

January 2005