How to Write a Paper

by Alex King

The Writing of Papers, while possessing certain cerebral qualities, is a truly academic skill. After graduation, you will never be required to utilize this skill again, unless you pursue academia yourself (nerd!). If you’re studying in one of Penn’s pre-professional schools, you probably don’t do much writing already. But, paper writing is to college what busywork was to highschool. So, you’d better learn to do it well. By reading this guide.

The Title
This is, of course, the most important part of any paper. It is the first part of the paper the reader will see, and is therefore a good time to look smart. This part of the paper is easily led awry, however, and nothing is worse than the following:

John T. Student
HIST 301.101
Professor Balzwell
November 12th, 2007
                                                                                         The Economic Impact of World War Two on the Homefronts

First off- that little sidebar with the name, course, professor and date: this isn’t highschool anymore. Its presence is sophomoric, or I guess freshomoric if you’re a freshman. As for the actual title, it is precise, to the point, and boring. It’s much better to have an artistic main title, with perhaps a subtitle containing actual information. Observe:

The World Explodes!
Nazis and Shit
John T. Student

That will be sure to grab the reader’s attention, which is far more important than conveying information.

The Introduction
The intro sets the tone for the whole paper, and is probably the only thing your TA or professor will actually read. You know they’ll just skim the rest. So, this is a good time to hide your mediocre ideas with big words. It can’t just look like you thesaurused everything, because that’s lame. No, you need to craft sentences specifically to include arcane words. This works best in seminars where the professor will actually be reading your paper- because will they admit not to knowing the words you use? Doubtful. Adumbration this, chthonic that, ignavia blah blah galimatias and so on. You’ll be fine.

The Body
This is where you get to cite things. The obvious trick here is to find a good work, and steal that author’s own citations. If fancy-pants book writer had to cite some other book, don’t cite fancy-pants, cite thost other boots. This will increase your bibliography by ten fold. This trick is so well known, your TA has almost certainly used it in their own thesis and other academic writings. They’ll be sure to recognize it immediately, but instead of being angry, they’ll recognize you as an intellectual peer. Also remember: block quotes are your friend.

The Conclusion
Just copy and paste the introduction, and then reword each sentence. You always want to leave the reader wanting more, so this is a good point for a cliffhanger of some kind, like almost killing off your protagonist or something. That way they’ll want to read your next paper too.

That’s basically all there is to it. If you can write good papers, your life will be successful and easy. If you can’t, transfer to Wharton.


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