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Library Research Process: A Tutorial

Write and Cite

Writing Tips & Help

This page has a few tips to get you started with writing your paper. If you've got deeper questions about the writing process itself, or you're stuck with writer's block, or APA format has you scratching your head, there's dedicated writing help available to you at the English Center! Check out their online tutoring service!

Write: Outlining and Taking Notes

Creating an Outline

Writing up an outline of your ideas can help you focus your topic and give structure to your thoughts. Check out this video:

Taking Notes

As you read each source during your research, you should be taking notes along the way.  Not sure how to take notes? Here's a video that covers a few of the many ways:


Go to YouTube for full transcript of video.

Document what you find. No matter which method you choose, be sure to write next to each note where you got the information-- you will need this for your in-text citations and your bibliography/references cited page.  Occasionally review your assignment and your topic sentence or research question to be sure you are staying on track.

Organize your notes. Divide up your notes based on the different parts of your topic or your various topic questions.  If you are using a computer, you could combine them on different pages: a page for each part of your topic.  If you are using note cards, you could make piles of cards on each part of your topic.

Do you have enough information? Now you have a collection of information/notes on each area of your topic.  Read through them.  Do you need more information for one area?  Do you need a statistic to make your point?  Did you have notes that answer all your questions sufficiently?  Maybe more research is needed. 

Helpful books in SDCC Library:

(Re)Write: Drafts

Do not turn in your first draft unless your professor has asked to see it!  Instead, re-read and rewrite your draft several times before submitting your final product to your professor.  Have a friend read it-- another pair of eyes might catch something you've overlooked.

You need to show your best work, and plenty of help is available at City College to make your work shine. Start your papers and projects early so that you can take full advantage of this opportunity!

Helpful books in SDCC Library:

Helpful website:

Essay Writing: Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

[NOTE: This site contains advertising] "This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help." --Website

Cite: Formatting Your Paper

Use a writing guide. Many professors expect you to follow a writing guide for in-text citations and a references cited page or bibliography.  Ask your professor if you need to follow a specific guide. The two most common guides are MLA and APA. See books, web sites and "cheat sheets" below: 

Helpful books in SDCC Library:

Web Sites:

The pages below are sponsored by Purdue University Online Writing Center (OWL), a well-known institution. Their web pages have almost as much detail and examples as the official handbooks.

"Cheat Sheets":

The documents below are quick two-page overviews created by SDCC Librarians of the style guides with samples of the most common formats of resources used in term papers.

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