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How To: Write a Term Paper © R. Craig Collins, 2005/11

See also Microsoft Word tips for Term Papers

to Sample Term Paper on Asthma

See also Capstone Project Overview (for Collins students)
See also Capstone Grading details (for Collins students)

Video Available      • Word 2007 Outlines, video
     • Word 2007 Bibliography, video (note, newer implementations, with hanging indents etc., may be required for other classes)

Skip to MLA citation format in this document

The steps to writing a term paper are very similar to creating a PowerPoint Presentation. After creating your title, you begin with an overview of your topics, develop an outline based on the topics, and finally draw the paper to a conclusion. In a presentation, once these steps are completed, you then revise your work, and finally format the project. About the only difference in creating a term paper is that before you begin revising, you first flesh out your topics into paragraphs, and then more fully develop your conclusion before moving on to formatting. This paper will walk you through the process of forming your introduction, creating your outline, developing your topics, giving credit where credit is due (footnotes and works cited), drawing your conclusion, and then finally formatting the document. You see, the introduction is actually very easy, just tell them briefly what you intend to discuss during the rest of your paper. Then make an outline, based on each topic. Below would be the first outline. As you do more reading, you will add details to the outline.

Topic
I Introduction
II Creating an outline
III Develop topics
  a rough draft
  b edit
IV Giving Credit
  a footnotes
  b works cited
V Conclusion
VI Format
How to use Word 2007 for Outlines

Creating an outline basically is just looking at the notes you have taken, and jotting down the 3 or 4 or 5 major ideas you see. Some papers require you to compare items; just make sure each major item to compare has a subtopic to cover strengths, and weaknesses, followed by topics where you describe how the items may be similar, then follow that with a conclusion based on when each item is appropriate.

If your paper is just on one topic, your outline will be based on the major themes. Nursing students looking at a career in medicine may decide to include education, expected openings in the field, wages, wage projections, and testimonials about what nurses like about the field, and what current nurses dislike. Don't worry if you need to rearrange your outline, as you do more research, or sort out ideas in your head. Once you have a stable outline, go back to your notes and begin to develop the topics by adding specific facts that you want to include. Don't be afraid to include page references here for things you wish to describe in detail later. Add quick notes about two or three things your reader will need to know to process the big facts.
Topic
I Introduction
II Creating an outline
  a first pass, general
  b rearrange as ideas gel
III Develop topics
  a add important facts
  b add notes on where to get details
  c add quick notes on supporting ideas
  d rough draft
  e edit
IV Giving Credit
  a footnotes
  b works cited
V Conclusion
VI Format

Once you are happy with your outline, simply start turning the topics and details into sentences, and before you know it, you have your first rough draft. I prefer to create my outline in Word, and save that file with a unique name. Each time I make a major change, I give the document a new name, to make sure I don't get rid of the original... that way I can always go back if what I am doing is not working out. Word also has a revisions feature that you might want to check into. I do the same thing with the first rough draft... make a new document, so I don't loose my electronic outline. Once my first draft is set, I then make yet another document, this will become the paper I turn in. Again, some papers require you to turn in outlines and rough drafts; if you work from just one document, you won't have the required items to hand in.

Once the rough draft is finished, and not before, you start to edit. Get all of your ideas on paper first, making sure you don't loose your train of thought, and then start rearranging, adding detail to, etc. Don't worry about spelling, fonts, or flow. Get your ideas captured, then start the process of polishing. Word allows you to select words, sentences, and even whole paragraphs, which you can then drag to a different location, rather than having to retype, or even copy/paste. Use the spell checker, and then use the grammar checker. All you are doing at this step is making your ideas clear and cohesive. You may find certain ideas in your research that are unique, or very well stated. Make sure you include these ideas, but also, make sure you give credit!

There are basically two ways of giving credit in a paper. A footnote is normally given for a direct quote, or a unique idea. In Word, you type in the quote (surrounded by " marks) or as separate paragraph for a unique idea. Then, you insert a footnote. Word automatically adds a number after the quote, creates a space at the bottom of the page that the quote is on, and then allows you to type in the author, publication, pages numbers, etc. You do not need to give a full MLA 1 citation, because that information is reserved for the end of the document in the Bibliography section. Some professors prefer a Works Cited instead; a works cited is different from a bibliography in that a bibliography is everything your read related to the paper, and the Works Cited is just the good stuff... that is, only the material worth discussing. If you are required to have 5 works cited, your bibliography may well have been 10 or 11 works that you thumbed through while doing research. Don't pad the Works Cited with general knowledge, this is to identify to the reader where they can go and follow up on the 'good stuff!' As you work through your outline and rough drafts, you will probably change your conclusion notes and ideas many times, but what you are aiming for is a paragraph where you review your major points, and give an opinion based on, and supported by your research. Something along the lines of 'I believe that all operating systems have their uses, but for the work I will do in the near future, Windows XP is the best solution, because of ...' or 'As you can see, the demands of nursing are high, but the rewards mentioned mesh well with my personal skill set...'

Again, this sentence can not hang alone; it needs the highlights from your paper around it.

You are now ready to format the paper. Save it one last time to a new document, and then format the paragraph (normally double space), the font size (Times Roman 12), margins (normally 1") etc. Then go back and add emphasis with bold and italics, but use these sparingly. If you choose to change the color of a few words, limit your palette, and above all remember, you are trying to make the words look nice, not take away from your words. You might also wish to crunch numbers in Excel, and create a chart... rather than dumping in a lot of seemingly unrelated numbers. This chart can be copied from Excel into Word... use Paste Special\Paste Link.

In this brief web page, I have tried to illustrate the process of creating a research paper. The steps include creating an outline, adding details, and forming sentences. You should wind up with several documents, and never throw away the old stuff, in case you wish to revert to an earlier idea. Once your rough draft is all on paper, rearrange the words and sentences to improve the flow, and document your quotes and novel ideas. Finally, after your edit phase is complete, then format the document to improve its appearance, without distracting the reader. If you follow these simple steps, you too can turn your research into a paper worthy of an 'A'.


1 MLA Style, http://www.mla.org/style


Video Available      • Word 2007 Outlines, video
     • Word 2007 Bibliography, video

Works Cited Examples from Long Island U (note, newer implementations, with hanging indents etc., may be required for other classes)

Book

Okuda, Michael, and Denise Okuda. Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future. New York: Pocket, 1993.

Journal Article

Wilcox, Rhonda V. "Shifting Roles and Synthetic Women in Star Trek: The Next Generation." Studies in Popular Culture 13.2 (1991): 53-65.

Newspaper or Magazine Article

Di Rado, Alicia. "Trekking through College: Classes Explore Modern Society Using the World of Star Trek." Los Angeles Times 15 Mar. 1995: A3.

Book Article or Chapter

James, Nancy E. "Two Sides of Paradise: The Eden Myth According to Kirk and Spock." Spectrum of the Fantastic. Ed. Donald Palumbo. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988. 219-223.

Encyclopedia Article (well known reference books)

Sturgeon, Theodore. "Science Fiction." The Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. 1995.

Encyclopedia Article (less familiar reference books)

Horn, Maurice. "Flash Gordon." The World Encyclopedia of Comics. Ed. Maurice Horn. 2 vols. New York: Chelsea, 1976.

Gale Reference Book (and other books featuring reprinted articles)

Shayon, Robert Lewis. "The Interplanetary Spock." Saturday Review 17 June 1967: 46. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon R. Gunton. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. 403.

ERIC Document

Fuss-Reineck, Marilyn. Sibling Communication in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Conflicts between Brothers. Miami: Speech Communication Assn., 1993. ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED364932.

Website

Lynch, Tim. "DSN Trials and Tribble-ations Review." Psi Phi: Bradley's Science Fiction Club. 1996. Bradley University. 8 Oct. 1997 <http://www.bradley.edu/campusorg/psiphi/DS9/ep/503r.html>.

Newspaper or Magazine Article on the Internet

Andreadis, Athena. "The Enterprise Finds Twin Earths Everywhere It Goes, But Future Colonizers of Distant Planets Won't Be So Lucky." Astronomy Jan. 1999: 64- . Academic Universe. Lexis-Nexis. B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Lib., Brookville, NY. 7 Feb. 1999 <http:// web.lexis-nexis.com/universe>.

Literature Resource Center

Shayon, Robert Lewis. "The Interplanetary Spock." Saturday Review 17 June 1967: 46. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon R. Gunton. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. 403. Literature Resource Center. Gale Group. B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Lib., Brookville, NY. 16 Oct. 2001 <http://infotrac.galegroup.com/menu>.


A Sample Term Paper (very crude, for illustrative purposes only. Gray boxes represent 1" margins)

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

Asthma

R. Craig Collins

ITSE 1294
Spring Semester, 2011







 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
  Collins Asthma p. 1  
 

 

          Asthma is a breathing disorder that is becoming an epidemic in the United States. Asthma

can be disabling to individual, can lead to other breathing issues, and can even result in death.

How people acquire asthma is mostly a mystery, but quite a bit is known about how many people

respond to certain stimuli, and the treatment options are growing, with more and more positive

results being generated. This paper will discuss the causes of asthma, treatment options, and

the long term prognosis of many asthma sufferers, as well as concluding with key points and the condition of asthma sufferers in the US.



          Causes of asthma are varied and xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
  Collins Asthma p. 2  
 

 

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx .

          Treatment of asthma can be xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx"2 xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx


2 Footnote citation for quote

 
 

 

 

 
     
 

 

 

 
  Collins Asthma p. 3  
 

 

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx .

          In this paper we have discussed the causes of asthma, the treatment of asthma, and

the long term prognosis of asthma sufferers, and can say xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

Taking all of this into consideration, we can conclude xxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx x xxx

xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxx x

 
 

 

 

 
     
 

 

 

 
  Collins Asthma p. 4  
 

 

Works cited


Di Rado, Alicia. "Trekking through College: Classes Explore Modern Society Using the World of Star Trek." Los Angeles Times 15 Mar. 1995: A3

Shayon, Robert Lewis. "The Interplanetary Spock." Saturday Review 17 June 1967: 46. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon R. Gunton. Vol. 17. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. 403.

Lynch, Tim. "DSN Trials and Tribble-ations Review." Psi Phi: Bradley's Science Fiction Club. 1996. Bradley University. 8 Oct. 1997 <http://www.bradley.edu/campusorg/psiphi/DS9/ep/503r.html>.