Skip Navigation
Skip to Menu Toggle Button




abstract—a short summary of points made in a large paper; can also serve as an indexing tool with keywords; content and form vary depending on discipline

academic research—the complex, investigative research students produce in college

academic writing—writing that students and others scholars perform; the emphasis is on the writing and research process as well as the written product; usually written to demonstrate learning

accuracy—source material has accuracy when it defines and relies upon correct, precise facts

analysis—breaking an idea or concept into its parts to understand it better

annotated bibliography—a type of expanded bibliography or references list; includes a very short summary of the source called an annotation

APA—shorthand name for the style guide used by the American Psychological Association; most commonly used in documenting research in social sciences and the humanities

application—the action or operation of knowledge; also called argumentation

argumentative techniques—formal rhetorical and logical methods used to argue a point of view

audience—the intended readers of a work

audience analysis—a detailed examination of the significant characteristics of an audience so that you can tailor your writing to meet the audience's needs

authority—source material has authority when it has credibility, correctness, and reliability sufficient to guide other scholars in their work

top ↑


bibliography—a list of works a writer presents for background or further reading

Bluebook—the name for style guide used to cite legal materials

brainstorming—a prewriting technique used to generate ideas

top ↑


causes and effects (causal analysis)—establishing a relationship between two things, or among more than two things, where one or more of these things is the consequence of another; thinking and organization pattern used in writing

chaining—a structured, visual, free association of ideas to help you start writing

Chicago style—sometimes simply called Chicago; shorthand name for the Chicago Manual of Style guide; most commonly used in history, anthropology, and some sciences

citation—a means to identify a source; reference citations generally include the title, author, publisher, year, doi, or URL, and page number for a source; in-text citations appear in the body of a work to identify the source's contribution to the work

clusters—a brainstorming technique in which a writer uses a keyword to generate ideas related to that keyword

cognitive objectives—the desired learning outcomes of specific thinking tasks

collaborative writing—writing a paper as a team 

college writing—the writing students do while attending college; see academic writing

comparing and contrasting—a way of organizing a paper to compare two or more things; explains likenesses and differences

content—the substance of writing; the subject matter of a paper

controlling idea—the primary idea of your topic sentence or thesis; expresses your attitude and approach to your topic

copyright laws—laws written to protect writers and their written products

coverage—refers to a source's comprehensiveness and the correctness of its context

criteria—principles or standards by which a thing can be evaluated or judged

critical thinking—the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

critique—a piece of writing that analyzes and evaluates something else

top ↑


database—a collection of logically stored information that can be accessed by computer

deductive reasoning—logical reasoning pattern in which the conclusion follows from the premises; "if A is a true general rule, and B fits the pattern of A, then the general rule in A also applies to B"

diction—choice of words and the informality or formality of a style based on the kinds of words chosen

discourse community—Collection of people or groups that work towards a common goal through communication

documentation—the use of proper citation to acknowledge a source's contribution of particular ideas and quotations to a piece of writing

doi—(digital object identifier)--a persistent link to a non-changing digital document

top ↑


editing—the process of revising a written paper to improve clarity, correctness, and organization

electronic resources—research resources that are stored in digital format

emotion-laden—something that is weighed down, physically or emotionally

endnotes—the references or list of works cited located at the end of a chapter or article

enthymeme— in an argument, a form of assumption in which one of the premises or the conclusion is not state explicitly because it is considered obvious (as in "i am human" [minor premise]; "therefore, I am mortal" [conclusion]; the major premise, "all humans are mortal," is not state because it is assumed)

essay exam—a form of exam that requires a student to draft one or more paragraphs in response to a specific question

ethos—the characteristic spirit of a work, or that work's context of belief and purpose

evaluation—the process of choosing criteria to measure the value and relevance of research and then applying those criteria

evidence—facts, examples, statistics, and expert testimony that are used to support claims

executive summary—an introductory summary of a longer report that provides key data to a decision-maker

expert testimony—opinion from someone whose education, training, and experience establish his or her expertise in the objective analysis of data

exploratory writing—a retrospective of your writing and thinking process as you work through a problem.

expository—relating to explanatory, informative, or scientific speech or writing

top ↑


feedback—objective comments given to writers that they can use in revising their writing

final draft—the final written product submitted for a grade or other evaluation

first draft—the first prose conception of the written paper; also called a rough draft

flush—when text aligns with the margin; "flush left" aligns with the left margin and "flush right" aligns with the right margin; papers are often formatted flush left with a first-line indent

footnote—the bibliographical or content note that appears at the bottom of the page in traditional note-citation styles like Turabian and Chicago

format—how a written product looks; includes headings, subheadings, type fonts, text, graphics style, page layout, and white space

free association—a prewriting technique used to generate ideas; the writer starts with an idea and connects other ideas by brainstorming

freewriting—nonstop, free-associational, informal writing; writing to think that taps into your individual perspective, knowledge, memory, and intuition

top ↑


hanging indent—bibliography style in which a first line is flush left and the second and subsequent lines of a bibliographic entry are indented

human resources—the sources used for research that originate with people, such as interviews, surveys, and solicitations of expert opinions; examples of human resources are your instructors and librarians

top ↑


idea map—a diagram used to brainstorm that shows the relationships between ideas

IEEE—shorthand name for the style guide used by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; most commonly used in some computer sciences and electrical engineering

inductive reasoning—a logical reasoning process in which facts are evaluated to discover a general conclusion, principle, or pattern among them

information plan—a planning tool for a longer writing assignment that includes a statement of purpose, audience, scope, and objectives; a tentative outline of the content; and a schedule for completing the tasks

intellectual property—the product of a person’s thinking; may be protected by intellectual property laws

interlibrary loan (ILL)—a library service in which, upon request, one library lends an item to another library that does not have it

in-text style—a documentation style in which references to sources are placed in parentheses within the text itself rather than in footnotes and endnotes; also called parenthetical style

introduction—the structured beginning of a research paper; presents the problem, purpose, and focus of the paper and summarizes the writer’s position

top ↑


journal—a writing technique used to generate ideas and to practice thinking in writing; may be structured or unstructured

journalist’s questions—questions to ask and answer to generate ideas to get your writing started, such as who, what, where, when, why, and how

top ↑


knowledge community—the community of scholars in a particular discipline or field of study

top ↑


learning objective—the knowledge goal for an assignment; the skills you are meant to acquire and use to complete the assignment

literature review—sometimes called a review of literature; an objective survey of the scholarly work in a particular subject area

logos—appeals to the audience's reason, building up logical arguments. 

top ↑


mechanics—elements of writing such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation

metadiscourse—language in a paper that talks about the author or the paper itself instead of about the topic of the paper

MLA—shorthand name for the syle guide of the Modern Language Association, commonly used in literature and languages

top ↑


note citations—also called notes; a traditional documentation style that uses footnotes or endnotes and superscripts; sometimes used in the humanities

top ↑


objectivity—a quality of being free from the influence of personal opinions when evaluating facts and constructing analysis

organization—the way in which ideas are tied together to flow logically

outline (or outlining)—a document showing the relationships of major and minor ideas in a work; an informal or formal way to organize your ideas in the planning stages of writing

top ↑


paragraph—a unit of writing that has a topic sentence and explains one major idea in support of the thesis

paraphrase—putting an author's phrasing into your own phrasing and words; contrast with summary and quote

parenthetical style—see in-text style

pathos—a quality of suffering that evokes pity or sorrow

peer reviewers—your classmates and others who may review your writing

persuasion—the art and skill of convincing someone of the credibility of your argument

plagiarism—presenting other people’s ideas, words, and products as your own; not properly citing your sources when you use other people’s words or ideas

prewriting—the discovery and composing tasks writers perform before they actually start writing

primary audience—the audience for whom something is written

primary sources—the original sources of materials, such as interviews, eyewitness accounts, and original works of art

print sources—sources that appear in a printed format

proofreading—reviewing the final copy of your paper for accuracy; checking the latest version of your paper against the last version with editorial changes marked to ensure that you have made all of the corrections

punctuation—non-alphabetic marks used in writing to organize word groups and clarify meaning

purpose—the reason for writing; what the author hopes to accomplish in the writing (contrast with writing strategy)

top ↑


qualitative information—descriptive or explanatory information based on and expressed using value judgments, opinions, and arguments

quantitative information—statistical and numerical data

quote—using the exact wording of an author or interviewee; when a writer wishes to invoke authority or preserve an author’s or speaker’s language, he or she may quote the author or speaker

top ↑


record—information contained in a library catalog that includes the title, author, subject, location, and call number of a printed or electronic resource

recursive—a term used to describe the writing process; it refers to the repeated application of the steps of the writing process

reference—notation of the source of a quotation, figure, or paraphrase using conventional bibliographic information that includes the author, title, publisher, city of publication, and year or other data for books, journal articles, and online sources

reference list—a list of references you create while researching and writing your paper

research—the process of finding, evaluating, and using information on a given subject; the body of information about a given subject; writers may quote from, summarize, or paraphrase information they have found through their own research in primary and secondary sources

research question—the question a researcher asks that guides his or her inquiry into a topic

revision strategy—a systematic approach to revising your writing

revising—a systematic approach to improving writing that may include changes to subject matter, organization, phrasing, or all of these

rewriting—see revising

rhetoric [as in rhetorical style]—the techniques for using language effectively in writing

rhythm—the cadence of writing created by patterns of sounds and stress

top ↑


SAILOR—a website librarians designed for the state of Maryland; SAILOR gives Maryland citizens and students access to the Internet at no charge and allows them to examine the holdings of the public and academic libraries in Maryland

secondary audience—the audience who might read a piece of writing but for whom the piece is not primarily intended

secondary sources—writings and discussions about the primary sources, such as works of history or criticism found in books and journals

source—the origin of material used in writing and research, such as a book, an interview, or an article

style—the impressions, such as gracefulness, fluency, and seriousness, of a piece of writing; style can also refer to the sound of a piece of writing, whether formal (with long sentences, many balanced constructions, or erudite vocabulary) or informal (conversational or colloquial)

style guide—a set of rules for formatting and presenting information in written work; the style guides most commonly used in college are those of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA)

summary—information condensed into a brief format using the major ideas of the original source

supporting idea—an idea that lends credibility to a writer’s thesis

syllogism—a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in “all humans are mortal” [major premise]; “I am human” [minor premise]; “therefore, I am mortal” [conclusion])

synthesis—bringing two or more ideas together to show their relationships

top ↑


T-chart—a two-column chart used to map out the ways two things are similar or different

templates—predesigned formats used in professional workplace writing

thesis—a summary statement of the writer’s main point; sometimes called a thesis statement

thinking strategy—see writing strategy

timeliness—a quality of being recent enough to be valuable; the measure of timeliness can vary with subject matter

tone—the overall expression in writing of a writer’s attitude

top ↑


URL (Uniform Resource Locator)the address of a website

top ↑


Venn diagram—a diagram with overlapping circles showing the ways two topics are similar or different

vocabulary—the specific words of a subject; related to diction

voice—the individual way in which writers or narrators express tone

top ↑


webbing—an unstructured, visual, idea-generating technique that uses association to explore relationships to get your writing started

WorldCat—the largest database of library holdings in the world; contains the holdings of libraries around the globe

working thesis—the drafted thesis a writer uses to research and begin writing an assignment; this thesis changes as the writer revises the draft to make it final

workplace writing—the professional kinds of writing used on the job, such as progress reports, proposals, memos, and task descriptions

writer’s block— a momentary setback in thinking that some writers experience that makes it difficult for them to write

writing strategy—the organizing and thinking strategy you use to write a paper, such as analysis, definition, synthesis, cause and effect, and comparison and contrast


top ↑

Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. © 2022 UMGC.
All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing