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.
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?
Purpose: What is the goal of the piece of writing? What is its purpose?
Depending on the needed resources, there are many available to you:
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:
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.