Writing Guides and Tools

Created by Writing Center consultants, our Quick Guides provide concise instruction on a variety of writing skills, tasks, and processes. Consultants often integrate these guides into consulting sessions, but you can use them independently to get a quick handle on the topic of your choice.

Print copies of the Quick Guides are available in our campus locations, but we invite you to download as many as you like.

Writing as Process

Understanding Your Instructor's Prompt

Brainstorming Techniques



Reverse Outlining| Video on Reverse Outlining

Organizational Maps

23 Ways to Improve Your Draft

Providing Feedback to Writers

Editing Checklist

How to Edit Your Own Essay: Strategies for Multilingual Writers

Advice on Setting Up and Working with a Writing Group

Writer's Block | Video on Writer's Block

Revising for Concision: 10 tips

Writing in Different Genres


Abstracts for Conference Presentation Proposals

Annotated Bibliographies

Business Letters

Business Memos

Business Term Word Bank

Conference Presentations

Cover Letters

Curriculum Vitae

Discussion Board Posts

Emails to Faculty and Administrators

IMRaD Reports (Scientific Research Reports)

Abstracts in Scientific Research Papers (IMRaD)

Introduction Sections in Scientific Research Reports (IMRaD)

Method Sections in Scientific Research Reports (IMRaD)

Results and Discussion Sections in Scientific Research Reports (IMRaD)

Conclusion Sections in Scientific Research Reports (IMRaD)

Introductions and Conclusions for Humanities Papers

In-Class Essay Exams

Literature Reviews

Organizing Literature Reviews: the Basics

Organizing Literature Reviews: Advanced

News Writing Fundamentals

Personal Statements

Personal Statements for Health Professions

PowerPoint Presentations

Problem Proposals

Reflective Essays


Talking Points

White Papers

General Writing Practices

Common Writing Terms and Concepts Defined

Writing Your First Sentence

Thesis Statements



Writing Concisely

Cohesion and Coherence

Signposting Language for Improving Cohesion

All About Counterarguments

Online Resources for Improving Grammar and Word Choice in Writing


Research-Based Writing

How to Write a Research Question

Searching for Sources on the Mason Library Databases

Quotation, Paraphrase, Summary, and Analysis

When to Summarize, Paraphrase, and Quote

Signal Phrases

A Guide to Annotated Bibliographies

Writing a Literature Review (See above for more lit review guides)

Hedges: Softening Claims in Academic Writing

Citing Sources

APA Style Quick-Guide

Chicago Citation Style Quick-Guide

MLA Citation Style Quick-Guide

MLA 7 v. MLA 8: What’s different?

Turabian Style Quick-Guide


Reading Practices

Critical Reading

Strategies for Reading Academic Articles

Tips for Note Taking

Tips for Active Reading

Grammar & Style

Active and Passive Voice

Choosing Between Infinitive and Gerund: “To do” or “doing”?

Choosing the Correct Word Form

Combining Clauses to Avoid Comma Splices, Run-ons, and Fragments

Commas, Semicolons, and Colons

Converting Fragments to Full Sentences

Count vs. Noncount Nouns

Definite and Indefinite Articles

Improving Cohesion: The "Known/New Contract"

Modal Verbs

Parallel Structure



Proper Nouns

Reducing Informality in Academic Writing

Run-on Sentences

Same Form, but Different Functions: Various Meanings of Verb+ing and Verb+ed

Subject-Verb Agreement

The Three Common Verb Tenses Used in Academic Writing

Using Reduced Relative Clauses to Write Concisely

Verb Tenses

Word Order in Statements with Embedded Questions

VCLA Writing Tasks

VCLA Summary Task

VCLA Composition Task

Recursos para la escritura en español

Algunos recursos en línea para la gramática y el vocabulario en español

Los tiempos y los modos verbales

Los artículos