Category Archives: Handout Highlight

TXTNG ABBRVTIONS DN’T CT IT: Tips for Composing Academic Emails

People have become remarkably adept at abbreviating words and sentences in order to send succinct messages quickly. Most everyone knows what LOL, OMG, and J/K mean. These abbreviations may be appropriate for texts or emails between friends, but it is best to reject any instinct to send abbreviated messages when composing academic emails. Professors and other professionals are going to expect formal, well-constructed messages. When crafting academic emails, use full sentences and write with clarity and conciseness. Adhere to basic guidelines for letter writing and you should be in good shape! For additional information regarding academic emails on various topics, including asking for a letter of recommendation and missing class, take a look at this Writing Studio handout.


Getting Started

The semester has started and students may be getting their first writing assignments. If you’re struggling to read and understand a prompt or to prewrite, the Writing Studio has handouts that may guide you. They offer strategies that many people find useful. Check them out!

Handout Highlight: Closing Paragraphs

Oftentimes during tutoring sessions, writers express their troubles with conclusions, or closing paragraphs. Some writers have a difficult time articulating the significance of their paper’s topic. Others get confused because they think the closing is pointless because it merely restates the paper’s opening. This latter thought, especially, can hold writers back from ending their papers effectively. If you have ever struggled with writing closing paragraphs, or aren’t even sure of their purpose, have no fear! The Writing Studio has a Conclusions handout that discusses the purpose of conclusions, and how to write them.

Strategies for Getting Started on a Writing Project

Do you struggle with starting a writing project?  Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  Whether you’re writing in response to a prompt, or writing creatively, it can be difficult to begin.  Thankfully, there are also many strategies to help writers cope with this part of the writing process.  From talking aloud about your ideas, to freewriting, to mapping, to outlining, there are many ways to get started.  If you can relate to this dilemma, you can find solace in some of the Writing Studio’s resources we have about prewriting.   The Writing Studio website  also has other handouts that can help you target why you might be struggling with getting started on a project.  And if procrastination  is something you struggle with, the Writing Studio also has a handout to help with that problem!  Good luck!

Editing for Clarity and Conciseness

If you are nearing the end of the semester, and are looking for ways to polish that last paper, you might want to consider reading over a Writing Studio handout dedicated to editing for Clarity and Conciseness. You can find it at:

Sometimes it is the small changes that really make the difference in a paper’s quality. We hope you find this handout useful!

Constructing Paragraphs: The MEAL Plan

My name is Heidi Giusto, and I am a tutor at the Duke University Writing Studio. This week, I have recommended one of our handouts about paragraph structure to several writers and thought I’d share it here. If you ever struggle with your paragraph structure, you might find this handout helpful. The handout reviews the MEAL Plan. MEAL is an easy way to remember that each paragraph needs a Main Claim, Evidence, Analysis, and a Link Back to the Larger Argument.

I hope you find this handout useful! To access the handout, go to:

Handout Highlight: Response/Reaction Papers

In this post, we’ll highlight a handout on how to write response/reaction papers. Many professors require students to turn in these types of short papers throughout the semester in order to gain a better understanding of the material, but how do you write one?

Response/Reaction papers can ask students to do a number of different things, depending on the specific assignment:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of texts individually
  • Discover how texts relate to each other
  • Discuss questions the texts raise for the student

There are many questions to consider before starting, including:

  • What is the main problem or argument presented and what evidence is used to support the author’s claims?
  • What are strengths, weaknesses, and counterarguments to the author’s assertions?
  • For multiple texts, how do they relate to each other? Do they agree or disagree?

Response/reaction papers vary based on instructor, so make sure you read the assignment carefully to understand what is being asked. Giving yourself enough time to think about the assignment will allow you to take the actions described in the full handout, including:

  • Explaining key terms and arguments presented
  • Weighing the arguments and inserting your own voice
  • Evaluating what side of an issue the texts support. Consider both sides and see if there are strengths, weaknesses, or gaps in the arguments.

Response/reaction papers give you the chance to take a critical look at the texts you read throughout the semester, so give yourself time to think about what you want to say to ensure you have as solid a response as possible!

For on writing in different genres and other handouts, visit the resource section of the Writing Studio website.