THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITING WELL
C.T. Evans
 
 
Since the medium of communication in your course is primarily the written assignment, it is of the utmost importance that you write well to communicate your ideas clearly to your instructor.  If your writing is faulty, screwed up, in disrepute, messy, unorganized, then your instructor will have no idea what idea you are trying to explain or analyze. I cannot emphasize that enough.
 
Often your instructor's remarks on a particular assignment will indicate problems of a writing style and/or grammatical nature.  That usually means that your writing was not done well, or clearly, enough for your instructor to begin to understand your ideas (content).   So please try to follow the the general principles of good writing in all of your course assignments.
 
The discipline of history requires a specific style of writing that is different from other disciplines like English, literature, philosophy or art.  I have indicated some of these style and structural requirements in the writing style rules and the history paper guidelines, and you are required to follow these rules and guidelines in all of your writing in these history courses.  In addition, the analytical (critical-thinking) nature of many of the course writing assignments requires a certain logical structure and the use of quoted evidence in your writing.  See especially, the Tutorial:  Writing the One-Page Paper.
 
I require a one-page limit on most of the papers in these courses because I want you to write in a focused manner and to be precise with your word choice and terminology; think about what you are writing; think about every word that goes into your paper.  Most students approach writing as:  "Oh, goodness grief, I've got to fill up three pages."  So it does not matter if any single word adds or does not add to the paper content as long as the goal of three pages is attained.  A multi-page paper might end up containing a lot of these words (a, an, the, it, he, was, were); those words do not bring much clarity of meaning to your writing.  With a one-page paper, you cannot just aim at filling up pages of space; each word must be well-chosen to fit the thesis.
 
Successful writing in this course is not all that difficult, and comments such as
  • "This is a history class and not an English course."
  • "I feel that I should not be graded on my grammar."
  • "I have a problem with spelling."
  • "A one-page paper is just too short."
  • "I've gotten good grades in my other classes."
are simply not applicable or acceptable.  Further remarks such as "I have always gotten an "A" on my papers in my English or Psychology courses," are also not relevant.  You need to write well, as a historian, so that I can understand what you are trying to write to prove in a history course.  To help you with your writing, I have collected all of my writing support aids into a History Writing Center.
 
 

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For information contact cevans@nvcc.edu