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Why Writing Matters

Why Writing Matters in English

"A key to being a good writer is caring to be one. Thinking longer, asking questions, and spending time considering a paper from many different angles goes a long way to make a strong paper. "

~Dr. Elizabeth Rich, English Department


Why Writing Matters in English  

Writing matters in English because language is the foundation of all that we study. 

Typical Writing Assignments

Typical writing assignments in English fall into many categories, because the Department of English houses a variety of programs that include basic skills, composition, literature, English education, linguistics, and creative writing. There are no assignments in English that are “typical” in general, but many that are typical for our many programs. Students write academic essays, researched papers, personal narratives, short stories, poetry, and lesson plans, just to name some.

First Year Writing Program

English Majors: 

See also Writing in Your Major (Creative Writing) @
Go to "Handouts- Writing in Your Major," Creative Writing 
                    - Reflective Writing
                    - Revision Strategies
                    - Workshop Critiques

Qualities of Good Writing

No matter what kind of writing students produce in English classes, good writing is easy to spot. It makes a reader care about the topic and understand why what is being said matters. Good writing also shows knowledge of the conventions of writing and the discourse (the community’s ways of talking, relevant topics, and vocabulary) that each program cultivates as part of a larger, national (and often international) discussion about our fields.

Appropriate Types of Evidence & Support

Depending on the kind of class, composition, literature, or another in English, evidence and support are crucial but variable. In literature classes, support generally comes from the story, poem, essay, play, or novel being analyzed in the paper. Secondary sources, books articles, biographical, or historical information that helps in the analysis are also used in researched papers. In composition classes, for instance, many other forms of evidence can be used, such as reports, interviews, and raw data. Depending on the class, students can use a variety of texts, written, oral, or numerical, for example, to support their points.

Citation Conventions

English classes generally follow MLA format, though many of our composition classes use APA style and Chicago style, because these classes prepare students for writing in other disciplines besides English.

Note on format and documentation rules: There are times at which a student should use his or her own discretion to interpret a certain rule, such as putting the page number and header on the first page of a formal paper. In those cases, students should ask instructors which is preferred or to ask the instructor if any specifics for their particular class should be taken into account. There may be good reason for teachers to have special requirements when it comes to formatting.

References and Resources

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. (7th edition) March 2009; ISBN: 9781603290241

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (6th edition) July 2001; ISBN: 1-55798-791-2

The Chicago Manual of Style. (15th edition) 2003; ISBN: 0-226-10403-6