- Choose a dynamic topic
Picking a good topic for your paper is important in setting yourself up for success with the rest of the paper. Your teacher may or may not have assigned a topic, or broad area, for the paper. If they have, then you’ll likely still need to choose some aspect of it to focus on. If they haven’t, then you’ll have many possibilities to choose from. In either case, when choosing a topic, you want to find one that is dynamic—that you can take in several different possible directions. This will allow you to say something new or unique about it, not just repeat what has already been said about it by others.
- Make sure there are good sources for your topic
Most term papers will require that you find outside sources to provide evidence and support your thesis. Depending on whether your assignment is a research paper, analysis paper, or argumentative paper, the number of sources you need will vary. In either case, you should do a quick search to make sure that there are sources available as you begin to narrow down your topic. If you are unable to find any sources, you should consider picking another topic.
- Balance sources and your own perspective
It is important that you are able to balance your own perspective with the sources that you have found. Perhaps with the exception of a research paper, your term paper needs to include your own perspective or analysis of the subject. The easiest way to think about this is to ask how or why about some aspect of your topic. For instance, if you are writing about a historical event, ask how or why someone acted as they did in it. Or if you are writing about a work of literature, ask how a certain theme plays out in it, or why the author treats a certain subject they way they have. Then, you can include sources that offer additional evidence to support your thesis.
- Organize your paper well
Most likely you’ll be writing a paper that is at least 5 pages long, and commonly 10-15 pages long. With papers that are more than a page or two in length, it is especially important for you to organize it well. This includes both organizing your thoughts well in how you craft your argument, as well as including section headings in order to allow your reader to navigate the paper more easily.
- Keep track of your citations from the start
One helpful hint for making your paper writing easier and more efficient, is to keep track of your sources and their properly formatted citations from the start. This will save you having to go back and do it at the end.