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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Writing papers for 1st and 2nd year undergrads (Science, Math, Psyc)

Steps toward a great paper

This first box provides writing tips. The box below it focuses on using Word in the ways mentioned in this first box.

Writing Center See here for information about the writing center, should you need assistance with writing.

Also doing a presentation? At least some of the points below apply when preparing a presentation. Here is an LTS video about doing presentations: Creating Effective Presentations.  (It's a good idea to add the sources you used to the final slide of your presentation Powerpoint. And/or you can add citations at the bottom of individual slides.)


Spread writing and re-writing over many days. If you don't, it will show. Re-write, and then re-write again.

As you read the literature, develop an outline. As the box below points out, if  you write the outline headers as headers in Word, this makes it easy to jockey around the headers and the text that appears below them. See the box below for details..

To avoid losing the forest for the trees,and to have a high level guidepost or point of reference for where your paper stands,  consider a few things. Keep reviewing and revising your outline as it evolves. Or, as a way of reminding yourself about the direction of your paper, consider writing a brief abstract (summary) of your paper early on in your writing and then revise it as your writing proceeds. *It's important, though, to make sure that the final version of your abstract (if it is required for your paper) is finalized and polished before handing in the paper!* Another approach is to take a piece of paper and draw a flowchart of your ideas and how they interrelate in support your thesis statement.

  • Create a system to organize the resources you find.  For example, use numbers as file label names for the items you download or as file labels for printed out versions of items.
  • If you have lots of resource materials, consider using a citation manager such as RefWorks or Zotero.


Using Headers in Microsoft Word When Writing

This video tutorial explains how to use headers in Microsoft Word when writing. See below for a video, a downloadable Word template, and a discussion. Use this link if you have trouble accessing from below: tutorial video. NOTE!: you need not use the template provided here. You can create your own headers in a Word document, but the concepts in the video still apply. 



Using Word in Writing Papers: Tutorial and Template

Below are tips for using a Word writing template plus headers when writing papers. 

First, download the template above.

The template has an outline structure that you might want to use in drafting your paper. Also, it has various headers that help organize your writing workflow, such as "tasks","background resources", and "notes" sections. 

The tutorial above helps you visualize the mechanics of using outline headers in Word.

After you download the template, you should see a navigation pane on the left. The pane displays the outline structure of headers used in the Word document to the right. If the pane is not open at any point, open it by clicking on the "View" menu and then check-marking "Navigation Pane".

To add new headers as you write, open the "Home" menu. You should see various heading options, such as Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on.

Type a new header in the paper, highlight it with the cursor, and then select Heading 1 or Heading 2 etc., depending on how much you want the header to be indented. 

Again, watch the tutorial so you can visualize how to use headers in Word.

The template comes with a variety of headers:

  • Who is the Audience & What is the Take-Away? Very important. You are writing inform, convince, or persuade someone. Who are they? What is your intended take-away?
  • Tasks This is where you can put notes  about tasks to address in your research and writing of the paper.
  • Background resources Record here the resources, including their web addresses, you used for background information.
  • Possible Titles It's an art to develop a good paper title. This is a place to brainstorm about possible titles.
  • Abstract  This is where you can summarize your research. Keep revising the abstract. It's a guidepost as your paper develops..
  • Text of paper. Write text under the outline headers. You can click and drag the headers here to reposition them as needed. When you reposition a header, the text under it moves with the header. Also, you can indent the headers by selecting a higher number header, per above. 
  • Notes You can put reading notes here. Or you can park ideas here so that you can refine them before putting them in the text of the paper.
  • Reference List  This is the working list of articles, books, or other materials you are using.
  • Slush Sometimes you may have an idea you will probably not use, but want to note it just in case.
  • Acknowledgments If someone assisted you in writing, acknowledge them here.