General Writing Resources


The goal of this page is to provide you with information about writing genres, and provide specific help with organizing your essay writing, integrating direct quotations, searching (research) for sources, using in-text citations, and formatting your References page.

Almost every course you will encounter in college will include writing assignments. One of the most common writing assignments is known as an essay (informative, research, response, or analytical). While the content and style of essay projects will vary across the disciplines, there are a number of key components that all good essays include. This section will walk you through some of the basic components of the essay genre.

Understanding Genre

What do we mean by genre? This means a type of writing, i.e., an essay, a poem, a recipe, an email, a tweet. These are all different types (or categories) of writing, and each one has its own format, type of words, tone, and so on.

Analyzing a type of writing (or genre) is considered a genre analysis. A genre analysis grants you the means to think critically about how a particular form of communication functions as well as a means to evaluate it.

Every genre (type of writing/writing style) has a set of conventions that allow that particular genre to be unique.


These conventions include the following components:

Tone: Tone of voice, i.e., serious, humorous, scholarly, informal.

Diction: Word usage - formal or informal, i.e., “disoriented” (formal) versus “spaced out” (informal or colloquial).

Content: What is being discussed/demonstrated in the piece? What information is included or needs to be included?

Style / Format (the way it looks): Long or short sentences? Bulleted list? Paragraphs? Short-hand? Abbreviations? Does punctuation and grammar matter? How detailed do you need to be? Single-spaced or double-spaced? Can pictures / should pictures be included? How long does it need to be / should be? What kind of organizational requirements are there?

Expected Medium of Genre: Where does the genre appear? Where is it created? i.e., can it be online (digital) or does it need to be in print (computer paper, magazine, etc.)?

Audience: What audience is this piece of writing trying to reach?

  • Genre creates an expectation in the minds of its audience and may fail or succeed depending on if that expectation is met or not.
  • Many genres have built-in audiences and corresponding publications that support them, such as magazines and websites.

Purpose: What is the goal of the piece of writing? What is its purpose?

  • The goal of the piece that is written, i.e. a newspaper entry is meant to inform and/or persuade, and a movie script is meant to entertain.
  • Basically, each genre has a specific task or a specific goal that it is created to attain.


Depending on the needed resources, there are many available to you:

  • Baker Online Library as a helpful resource.
  • Baker College Writing Guide as a helpful resource for writing, research, formatting, etc.
  • Large newspapers and news stations, e.g. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN/Fox News, etc
  • Local news stations, e.g. WNEM, ABC 12, etc.
  • Local newspapers, e.g. Denver Gazette, Flint Journal, Detroit Free Press, etc.
  • Magazines, e.g. Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics, TIME, etc.
  • Academic resources, such as academic and scholarly journals
  • General websites (just be sure the URL for these general sites are: .GOV, .EDU, or .ORG).
  • Google Books for help too! Here's the link:

Integrating Direct Quotes

Attributing Quotes Students often have trouble distinguishing between an idea an author describes and their position on that idea. You will usually want to ask:

  • Who said it?
  • To whom?
  • Under what circumstances?
  • Does the author challenge, agree with, or modify the idea?
  • How does it relate to the author’s position?
  • How does it relate to your position?

Quotes are an integral part of any writing program paper; they show that students are not only able to read and understand the texts, but are able to analyze and interpret them, too.

Justifying Quotes

For each quotation the student wants to use, they should consider: (1) What does the author mean? (2) What are the implications of what the author has written? (How does it help develop his or her thesis?) (3) How does the quote connect to the other text(s) you are discussing? (4) How does the quote connect to your position?

Catching “Drop Quotes”

Integrating quotes is both a technical and interpretive task. Avoid “drop quotes” (aka “dangling quotes”). To do this, use the Quotation Sandwich Method: 1.) Introduce the quote, 2.) Use the quote, 3.) Explain the quote.

Sample: The internet can have negative affects on one's education. Jane Smith (2016) argued that "we need to determine the ethos of a source before using that source in our paper" (p. 25). By determining the ethos of a source, we find out if the source is reliable and credible.

Parts of an Essay

(This will vary, as the essay is informed by purpose and audience.)


An effective introduction starts with an introductory sentence about the subject, offers the writer's main point, and reveals the organization of the essay.

  • Does the introduction "grab" you as a reader or "hook" your interest?
  • Does it lead naturally to the main point of the essay?
  • What is the purpose? To explain something? To argue an intellectual position? To argue for a proposal? To tell a story? Other?
  • Is there a thesis that reveals the purpose of the essay? [Usually, the thesis appears at the end of an introduction, but sometimes it appears later in the paper or it may be implied rather than explicit.]

A thesis is the main idea of the paper, and without it, teachers, consultants, and even the writers themselves cannot tell what a paper is about or what the writer is arguing! Think of the thesis as the guide for your reader. Sample: In this paper, I will first discuss_________. I will then argue _________. Lastly, I will determine_________. This sample is an explicit thesis; as your writing skills get stronger, you will write more implicit thesis statements. Sample: While the internet has many positive attributes in regards to its effects on education, there are negative implications as well.


In the body of the essay, each paragraph presents evidence that supports the main idea (thesis or assertion). Each point should have its own paragraph.

  • What are the major points being made in the essay?
  • Is the essay well structured and organized effectively?
  • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence (explicit or implied) and address a main idea?
  • Are paragraphs clearly organized and adequately developed?
  • Do transition statements link paragraphs and the sentences within the paragraphs? Sample transitions: also, in addition, moreover, further, furthermore.
  • Does the writer support his/her main argument with evidence? Is it adequately defended and "meaty" enough? (“Evidence” means: examples, explanations, and paraphrases and direct quotes).


An effective conclusion has a short summary of the main points in the body, followed by a general statement about those points, and the final commentary or opinion from the writer.

  • Does the conclusion address and "finish" the essay's main idea?
  • Does it leave the reader thinking about the subject in a new way?