Writing Hints Includes: Basic good writing suggestions Resources for learning to write better essays Proofreader’s marks apa guidelines for references Recognizing



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SOCW 2210 Social Work Field I and Lab

Department of Social Work

The University of Toledo
Writing Hints
Includes:

Basic good writing suggestions

Resources for learning to write better essays

Proofreader’s marks

APA guidelines for references

Recognizing a journal article

Database searches

Electronic reserve

Guidelines for writing about people

Common errors

Avoiding plagiarism

Collected by Reva Allen

Edition 1, August 19, 2005

Table of Contents

Some Basic Good Writing Suggestions ……………………………………………………………...…… 3


More Good Writing Suggestions …………………………………………………………………………. 4
Resources for Learning to Write Better Essays …………………………………………………...……… 6
Proofreaders’ Marks ………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Summary of APA Editorial Style …………………………………………………………………………. 8
How Do I Know a Professional or Scholarly Journal Article When I See One? ………………………... 13
Electronic Database Searches: Getting Started ……….………………………………………………… 15
Retrieving Materials from Electronic Reserve ………………………………………...………………… 18
How To Prepare an Annotated Bibliography ……………………………………………………………. 19
Guidelines for Writing About People ………………………………………………………………...…. 22

Unbiased Writing …………………………………………………………………………… 26

Biased and Unbiased Terms ………………………………………………………………… 27
Common Errors – and Ways To Avoid Them ……………………………………………………….….. 29

Punctuation ………………………………………………………………………………….. 29

Sentence Structure …………………………………………………………………………… 32

Paragraph Structure ………………………………………………………………………….. 35

Spelling ………………………………………………………………………………………. 35

Word Usage ………………………………………………………………………………….. 39


Avoiding Plagiarism …………………………………………………………………………………….. 42

Some Basic Good Writing Suggestions

from Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hull, G.H., Jr. (2002). Understanding generalist practice. (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove CA: Brooks/Cole, p. 574.




  • Choose your words carefully. Write exactly what you mean. Every word should be there for a good reason.

  • Avoid slang. It is unprofessional. Use “young men” or “boys” instead of “guys.” Use “mother” instead of “mom.” Instead of a term like “fizzled out,” use “didn’t succeed” or something similar.

  • Avoid words such as “always,” “average,” “perfect,” or “all.” These words can be unclear and misleading.

  • Avoid sexist language. Use “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” or “Miss.” Use “woman” instead of “lady.” Use “homemaker” or “woman who does not work outside of the home” instead of “housewife.” Do not call adult women “girls.”

  • Avoid labeling people with terms such as “sleazy,” “strange,” “punks,” “slobs,” or “low class.”

  • Do not abbreviate. Some people may not understand abbreviations. You can spell the term out the first time and put the abbreviation in parenthesis right after it. Thereafter, you can just use the abbreviation. For example, “The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the major professional organization for social work practitioners. NASW provides members with a journal and newspaper focusing on current practice issues.”

  • Be concise. Determine if a sentence could use fewer words. Consider dividing long sentences into two or more smaller ones.

  • Use paragraphs to divide content into different topics, points, or issues. A solid page of text without paragraph breaks is hard to read. Each paragraph should have a unifying theme. Avoid using one-sentence paragraphs.

  • Distinguish between verified facts and your impression of the facts. Examples of ways to phrase your impressions include “My impression is . . .,” “It appears that . . .,” and “It seems that . . . .”

  • Proofread your written products before they go out. Failure to do so can ruin the impact of your message. Consider the social worker whose letter to another professional raised the problem of “drive-by-shooings” and the need for her adolescent client to “absent himself from sex.” Clearly, this letter was not proofread before it went out.


More Good Writing Suggestions


Simpler Is Usually Better

As a general rule, when writing professionally, simplify your sentences and language. Omit unnecessary words.

“That,” “the,” and “in order” often are unnecessary words.

Examples:

NO: I learned that I can accomplish more by way of partnering with other social workers than I can accomplish alone.

YES: I learned I can accomplish more by partnering with other social workers than I can accomplish alone.
NO: I can help you get the services you are in need of.

YES: I can help you get the services you need.


NO: This is the textbook that you will need for your next class.

YES: This is the textbook you will need for your next class.


NO: I am assigning essays in order to improve your professional writing skills.

YES: I am assigning essays to improve your professional writing skills.


NO: We should provide child care for children and vocational training for the parents.

YES: We should provide child care for children and vocational training for parents.


NO: Toledo General Agency serves the low-income individuals.

YES: Toledo General Agency serves low-income individuals.



Active and Passive Voice
Generally, use the active, rather than the passive voice. The following material is excerpted from NASW Press Author Guidelines, Section 8-2-C (http://www.naswpress.org/resources/tools/01-write/guidelines_toc.htm, retrieved 8-15-05)
The active voice usually makes for livelier and more vigorous writing, according to Strunk and White, authors of Elements of Style. While there are rare occasions when the passive voice is preferable to the active, writing that relies on passively worded sentences lacks force, is less concise, and is less attractive to readers.
Following are some suggestions:

  • Try to avoid using passive verbs unless there is absolutely no way to get around it, or you need to use it to emphasize a particular subject:

Examples:
Active: The kitten jumped on the catnip mouse.
Passive: The catnip mouse was jumped on by the kitten.
Active: She patted the dog.
Passive: The dog was patted by her.


  • Using the passive voice changes the emphasis in a sentence. There are times when this is desirable (not often); it is a useful tool to master, and can help you highlight a specific point or subject.

Examples:
Active: The parents loved the child. (emphasizes the parents)
Passive: The child was loved by its parents. (emphasizes the child)
Active: A three-alarm fire blazed through an apartment building on King Street last night, leaving several residents homeless. (emphasizes the fire)

Passive: Several residents of an apartment building on King Street were left homeless when a fire blazed through their building last night. (emphasizes the people)


The passive voice usually results in long sentences, which can sap the writing’s energy, as well as your readers’ enthusiasm. Often, readers end up feeling unsure about who has done what to whom…


  • Always distrust "there is" and "there are" at the beginning of a sentence(the verb "to be" offers little chance of action (a state of being is, in itself, a passive concept). It often leads into a bland, unenergetic, passive-voice sentence.

Examples:
Original: There was no one who helped him move the desk.
Good: No one helped him move the desk.

(Note how the second sentence is shorter, punchier, and has more energy…)


Resources for Learning to Write Better Essays

An essay is a short piece of writing that discusses, describes, or analyzes one topic. It can range in length from one paragraph to more than twenty. It can be about anything and written in almost any style. It can be serious or funny, straightforward or symbolic. It can describe personal opinions or just report information.

from Essays (http://depts.gallaudet.edu/englishworks/writing/main/essay.htm)

Many web sites provide guidelines for writing quality essays. You can find them by Googling “writing essays.” Among the documents Dr. Allen found through this search are

Guide to Writing a Basic Essay: http://members.tripod.com/~lklivingston/essay

Essays: http://www2.actden.com/writ_den/tips/essay

Essays: http://depts.gallaudet.edu/engllishworks/writing/main/essay.htm

Writing Essays: http://www.bradford.ac.uk/admin/studev/essay1.html


Proofreaders’ Marks




Symbol

Meaning

Example



delete





close up





delete and close up





caret





transpose





begin a new paragraph

 



spell out





set in CAPITALS





set in lowercase





set in italic



Excerpted from Merriam-Webster OnLine web site



SUMMARY OF APA EDITORIAL STYLE

Adapted from http://www.utexas.edu/ssw/apss/forms/resources/apa.html and updated


The following is a brief presentation of paper organization and major forms of citation from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fourth Edition (1994) and Fifth Edition (2001), including its guidelines for reducing bias in language. There are advantages to using this format, particularly as most social work journals have adopted this editorial style.
Notes:

  • If you have trouble with writing, contact the Writing Center, Carlson Library, Room 1005 (across from the library entrance), 419.530.4939

  • You may want to consult the following book: Beebe, L. (Ed.). (1993). Professional Writing for the Human Services. Washington, D.C.: NASW Press.



General Guidelines:

  • Use non-sexist language in your writing. Often the easiest way to avoid sexist language in writing is to “pluralize” the referents in a sentence. For example, you may change “The client may want to talk about his or her problem early in the interview” to “Clients may want to talk about their problems early in an interview.”

  • Use the active voice whenever possible. Passive voice constructions are generally poor prose. For example, “The experiment was designed by Smith” is weak; “Smith designed the experiment” is better.

  • Be certain that a verb agrees in number (i.e., singular or plural) with its subject, despite intervening phrases. Avoid dangling modifiers. An adjective or adverb, whether a single word or a phrase, must clearly refer to the word it modifies. Place an adjective or adverb as close as possible to the word it modifies and you will have fewer problems.

    • Unclear: “The investigator tested the subjects using this procedure.” (It is not clear whether the investigator or the subjects are using “this procedure.”)

    • Clear: “Using this procedure, the investigator tested the subjects.



Preparation of the Paper:

Every page and every line of the text should be double-spaced, including every line in the title, headings and quotations. (Note: this may not apply to all documents you write, so check with the intended reader for guidelines.) Number each page, placing numbers in the page location preferred by the intended reader of the paper. Use ample margins, at least one inch on all sides. Indent the first line of each new paragraph five to seven spaces. Use size 12 font on all text.



Citation of Sources:

Whether paraphrasing or quoting an author directly, you must credit the source. For a direct quotation in the text, give the author, year, and page number in parentheses. Include a complete reference in the reference list. Depending on where the quotation falls within a sentence or the text, punctuation differs. When paraphrasing or referring to an idea contained in another work, authors are not required to provide a page number. Nevertheless, authors are encouraged to do so, especially when it would help an interested reader locate the relevant passage in a long or complex text.


In mid-sentence: End the passage with quotation marks, cite the source in parentheses immediately after the quotation marks, and continue the sentence. Use no other punctuation unless the meaning of the sentence requires such punctuation.

She stated, “The ‘placebo effect’ . . . disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner” (Miel, 1993, p. 276), but she did not clarify which behaviors were studied.


At the end of a sentence: Close the quoted passage with quotation marks, cite the source in parentheses immediately after the quotation marks, and end with the period or other punctuation outside the final parenthesis.

Miele (1993) found that “the ‘placebo effect,’ which had been verified in previous studies, disappeared when [only the first group’s] behaviors were studied in this manner”(p. 276).


At the end of a block quote: Cite the quoted source in parentheses after the final punctuation mark.
Mield (1993) found the following:

The “placebo effect,” which has been verified in previous studies, disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner. Furthermore, the behaviors were never exhibited again [italics added], even when reel [sic] drugs were administered. Earlier studies (e.g., Abdullah, 1984; Fox, 1979) were clearly premature in attributing the results to a placebo effect. (p.276)



Citations in the Text:

When quoting, always provide the author, year, and specific page citation in the text and include the complete reference in the reference list. Place all direct quotes in quotation marks within the ongoing text. For quotes of less than forty words, use either of the following formats:


Leahey (1992) states that “divorce is a complex process with diverse social, psychological, legal educational and economic implications. Similarly, adjustment and adaptation following divorce are part of a complex process involving family and professional interaction in many contexts” (p.315).
OR:
“Divorce is a complex process with diverse social, psychological legal, educational and economic implications. Similarly, adjustment and adaptation following divorce are part of a complex process involving family and professional interaction in many contexts” (Leahey, 1982, p. 315).
For quotes longer than forty words, ‘block’ the quote without quotation marks, but still including reference to author, year, and page:
In her comprehensive review of the findings from research on divorce, Maureen Leahey (1992) notes that:

Outside the nuclear family are the many supra-systems which are affected by divorce. The extended family can enhance or detract from the adjustment following separation. . . Highly anxious grandparents can enhance family anxiety, impair parental functioning, and negatively influence adjustment. Extended family members who take sides may promote polarization and conflict. On the other hand, they can often provide economic contributions which assist family stability. (p. 300)


In the text of the paper, use the author’s name and the year to identify your source. You may do this either of two ways:

  1. Hepworth and Larsen (1996) identified five components in the problem-solving process.

  2. The problem-solving process (Hepworth & Larsen, 1996) includes five components.

Multiple authors:



    • When a work has two authors, always cite both names and the year every time the reference occurs: (Jones & Smith, 1994).

    • When a work has more than two authors and fewer than six, cite all authors and the year the first time the reference occurs: (Jones, Smith, Williams & Frence, 1994). After the initial cite, you can cite only the surname of the first author, followed by “et al.” and the year.

    • When a work has more than six authors, you may cite only the first author and “et al.” with the initial and later citations (Jones, et al., 1994).

Do not use “and” within a citation parenthesis; use the symbol “&.” The opposite is true in the text, outside of the parenthesis: “Jones, Smith, Williams and French (1994) stated that . . . .”


Within parentheses, use only the authors’ last names, unless there is more than one author with the same last name. In this case, identify each with first initials: (Williams, B. & Williams, J., 1996).
For identical multiple references within a paragraph, omit the year from subsequent citations after the first citation.

Citations in the Reference List:

Every entry in the text must appear on the reference list. Start the reference list on a new page. Type the word “REFERENCES” at the top (or REFERENCE if there is only one). Arrange the references alphabetically by authors’ surnames. If you cite more than one work by an author, arrange the works by dates, listing the earliest publication first. In the following examples, look carefully to see where the commas, colons, periods and spaces belong.


Books:

Author, A. (year). Title of book italicized with only first word and any word following a colon capitalized. City: Publisher.


Okun, B. (1997). Effective helping: Interviewing and counseling techniques (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.
In reference to an edited book, place the editors’ names in the author position, and enclose the abbreviation “Ed.” or “Eds.” in parentheses after the last editor’s name.

McGoldrick, M., Pearce, J., & Giordana, J. (Eds.). (1982). Ethnicity and family therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.


Periodical Articles (e.g., journals, magazines, scholarly newsletters):

Author, A., & Author, B. (year). Title of the article not italicized, with only first word and any word following a colon capitalized. Name of Journal Italicized and Each Major Word Capitalized, Volume number italicized(issue number not italicized), ###-###. [do not put “p.” in front of page numbers]


Kernis, M. (1993). There’s more to self-esteem than whether it is high or low: The importance of stability of self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1190-1204.
Nonperiodical Articles:

Robinson, D. (1992). Social discourse and moral judgment. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.


Reference to a chapter in an edited book:

Author, A., & Author B. (1994). Title of chapter. In A. Editor, B. Editor, & C. Editor (Eds.), Title of book (4th ed.) (pp. xxx-xxx). Location: Publisher.


Bjork, R. A. (1989). Retrieval inhibition as an adaptive mechanism in human memory. In H. L. Roediger III & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory & consciousness (pp. 309-330). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Report available from the Government Printing Office (GPO), government institute as group author:

National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.


Report available from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC):

Mead, J.V. (1992). Looking at old photographs: Investigating the teacher tales that novice teachers bring with them (Report No. NCRTL-RR-92-4). East Lansing, MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service N. ED 346 082).


Government report not available from GPO or a document deposit service such as the NTIS or ERIC:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1992). Pressure ulcers in adults: Prediction and prevention (AHCPR Publication No. 92-0047). Rockville, MD: Author.


Citing Electronic Sources:

  • Internet article based on a print source:

VandenBos, G., Knapp, S., & Doe, J. (2001). Role of reference elements in the selection of resources by psychology undergraduates [Electronic version]. Journal of Bibliographic Research, 5, 117-123.
If you believe article has been changed from the original or includes additional data or commentaries, add date you retrieved document and the URL:

VandenBos, G., Knapp, S., & Doe, J. (2001). Role of reference elements in the selection of resources by psychology undergraduates [Electronic version]. Journal of Bibliographic Research, 5, 117-123. Retrieved October 13, 2001, from http://jbr.org/articles.html




  • Article in an Internet-only journal

Frederickson, B. L. (2000, March 7). Cultivating positive emotions to optimize health and well-being. Prevention & Treatment, 3, Article 0001a. Retrieved November 20, 2000, from http://journals.apa.org/prevention/volume3/pre0030001a.html


  • Document available on university program or department Web site:

Chou, L., McClintock, R., Moretti, F., & Nix, D. H. (1993). Technology and education: New wine in new bottles: Choosing pasts and imagining educational futures. Retrieved August 24, 2000, from Columbia University, Institute for Learning Technologies Web site: http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/papers/newwine1.html


  • Report from a private organization, available on organization Web site:

Canarie, Inc. (1997, September 27). Towards a Canadian health IWAY: Vision, opportunities and future steps. Retrieved November 8, 2000 from http://www.canarie.ca/press/publications/pdf/health/healthvision.doc



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