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Writing Tips


Key tenents of academic writing

  • The integration of the thoughts and works of others will become an integral part of your writing style as they provide context and credibility to your writing (and thinking).
  • Citing your source and the thoughts of others MUST become a habit in your writing style.
  • Use Sentence Templates + Transitions

Derived from Graff and Birkenstein’s crazy-helpful They Say, I Say



Introducing What an Author Says

  • X acknowledges that _____________.
  • X agrees that _____________.
  • X argues that _____________.
  • X believes that _____________.
  • X denies/does not deny that _____________.
  • X claims that _____________.
  • X complains that _____________.
  • X concedes that _____________.
  • X demonstrates that _____________.
  • X celebrates the fact that _____________.
  • X insists that _____________.
  • X questions whether _____________.
  • X reminds us that _____________.
  • X reports that _____________.
  • X suggests that _____________. 


Introducing “Standard Views”

  • Americans today tend to believe that ______________.
  • Common sense seems to say that _________________. 
  • It is often said that __________________.
  • Many people assume that ______________. 


Introducing an Ongoing Debate

  • In discussions of __________, one controversial issue has been ____________. On the one hand, ______________ argues __________________. On the other hand, ______________ opposes _____________. Others even believe ______________. My own view is ______________.
  • When it comes to the topic of ________, most of us will readily agree that __________. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of _____________. While some are convinced that _____________, others believe that _____________.


Using a Quotation (i.e., Backing up your argument with proof)

  • X states, “_______” ( ).
  • Example: Standage states, “Some [drinks] have served to highlight the power and status of the elite” (2) 
  • According to X, “____” ( ).
  • According to Standage, “Wine was the lifeblood of [Greece]” (3).
  • X himself writes, “_______” ( ).
  • Standage himself writes, “Six beverages... chart the flow of world history” (2).
  • Odysseus himself says, “I longed for sweet Penelope” (9.21).
  • In his book, ______________, X maintains that “________” ( ).
  • In his book, A History of the World in Six Glasses, Standage maintains that “Greek and Roman knowledge... had been safeguarded and extended by scholars in the Arab world” (4).
  • Writing in the magazine ________, X complains that “____________” ( ).
  • Writing in the online magazine Salon, Weitz complains that “reality television is little more than gladiatorial combat” (3).
  • X agrees when she writes, “_____” ( ).
  • I believe wine was the most influential drink in history. Standage agrees when he writes, “Wins was the lifeblood of [Greece]” (4).

Explaining a Quotation (i.e., Showing that you understand what the quote says)

  • Basically, X is saying _______.
  • In other words, X believes ____________.
  • In making this comment, X urges us to ________.
  • In making this comment, Cepeda urges us to look consider whether we do, actually, like hard work.
  • X’s point is that _________.
  • The essence of X’s argument is that _____________.



Naming Your Naysayers or Opponents (i.e., Introducing your rebuttal)

  • Here many ____________ would probably object that _______.
  • Here many proponents of choice reading would probably object that complex texts destroy the enjoyment of reading.
  • Of course, ____________s would certainly take issue with the argument that ________.
  • Of course, antiglobalization activists would certainly take issue with the argument that globalization helps out developing countries.
  • ___________s, of course, may want to question whether ______________.
  • Patriots, of course, may want to question whether the United States is acting out of selfish motives in its wars overseas.
  • Nevertheless, critics of _________ will probably argue that ______________.
  • Nevertheless, critics of student-chosen reading will probably argue that reading complex texts is the only way to increase reading levels.
  • Although not all _____________s  think alike, some of them will probably dispute my claim that ______________.
  • Although not all globalization fans think alike, some of them will probably dispute my claim that globalized companies are destroying developing countries.


Making a Concession (i.e., They have a point, BUT...)

  • Admittedly, ___________.
  • Proponents of X are right to argue that ______________. But they are exaggerating when they claim that _____________.
  • Proponents of complex texts are right to argue that reading such material is essential for post-secondary success. But they are exaggerating when they claim that Standage’s book is the only possible complex text for world history students to read.
  • While it is true that __________, it does not necessary follow that _____________.
  • On the one hand, X is right to say ________________. On the other hand, it is still true that _________________.


Disagreeing, with Reasons (i.e., They are just wrong)

  • X is mistaken because she overlooks ______________.
  • X’s claim that ____________ rests upon the questionable assumption that __________________.
  • X can’t have it both ways. On the one hand, she argues ___________________. On the other hand, she also says ____________________.
  • By focusing on _______________, X overlooks the deeper problem of ________________.


Establishing Why Your Claims Matter (i.e., Why should I care about this argument?)

*This is great clincher material*

  • X matters because _____________________.
  • High school matters because it either opens or closes doors into the rest of my life.
  • Although X may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of today’s concern over _________________.
  • Although doing homework may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of succeeding in high school and developing my brain.
  • Ultimately, what is at stake here is ________________________.
  • Ultimately, what is at stake here is my lifelong flourishing; being lazy now means being unhappy for decades.
  • Although X may seem of concern to only a small group of _________________, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about ________________.
  • Although high school may seem of concern to only a small group of nerdy students, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about having an enjoyable life.
 Introducing Gaps in the Existing Research
  • Studies of X have indicated ____________________. It is not clear, however, that this conclusion applies to_____________.
  • _____________ often take for granted that ____________. Few have investigated this assumption, however.
  • X's work tells us a great deal about __________________. Can this work tbe generated to _______?
Verbs for making a claim
Argue Assert Believe Claim Emphasize
Insist Observe Remind us Report  Suggests
Verbs for expressing agreement
Acknowledge Agree Endorse Extol Praise
Verbs for agreement
Celebrate the act that Corroborate Do not deny Reaffirm Support
Verbs for questioning or disagreeing
Complain Complicate Contend Contradict Deny
Deplore the tendency to Qualify Question Refute Reject
Renounce Repudiate      
Verbs for Recommendations
Advocate Call for Demand Encourage Exhort
Implore Plead Recommend Urge Warn



also                      another                  in fact        equally important         moreover
furthermore        additionally             indeed        in addition              


however                      nevertheless                      although conversely  
on the contrary             notwithstanding                 even though all the same                                              

on the other hand        by contrast                         nonetheless


likewise                               equally along the same lines
similarly                             in comparison in the same way


for example                          in other words in fact
for instance                          specifically after all
as an illustration                 consider        


accordingly                                hence consequently
as a result                                  thus therefore


especially important                          above all   most noteworthy
especially relevant                            a significant factor most of all       

For ELABORATING (expanding upon a point):

actually                      by extension to put it another way
to put it bluntly          in short to put it succinctly
in other words           ultimately basically


admittedly                          of course although it is true that
naturally                            granted to be sure


clearly                                  hence consequently
obviously                             therefore thus
in short                                all in all