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Quick Access: Reference for Writers provides down-to-earth writing advice, cutting edge research information, and trusted, class-tested, grammar instruction to help students succeed in their composition courses, in other classes, and beyond.

Author Biography

Lynn Quitman Troyka, Adjunct Professor of English in the MA Program in Language and Literature at the City College (CCNY) of the City University of New York (CUNY), taught freshman English and basic writing for many years at Queensborough Community College. Dr. Troyka is a past chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC); the College Section of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); and the Writing Division of the Modern Language Association (MLA). She has won many awards for teaching, scholarship, and service, and has conducted hundreds of faculty workshops about teaching writing and its relation to college-level reading.



Doug Hesse is Professor of English and Executive Director of Writing at the University of Denver, one of only thirty writing programs to receive the CCCC Certificate of Excellence. Dr. Hesse is a past chair of the CCCC, the nation’s largest association of college writing instructors. A past president, as well, of the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA), Dr. Hesse edited, WPA: Writing Program Administration. He has served on the NCTE executive committee, chaired the MLA Division on Teaching as a Profession, and served on the MLA Committee on Contingent Labor.  Author of nearly sixty articles and book chapters, he has been named University Distinguished Scholar at the University of Denver.

Table of Contents

Hands-On Advice for Writers


1       Ten Top Tips for College Writers 


2       Ten Troublesome Mistakes Writers Make 

                Sentence fragments 

                Comma splices and run-ons

               Subject-verb disagreement

                Pronoun-antecedent disagreement

                Unclear pronoun reference

                Sentence shifts

                Misplaced modifiers

                Comma errors

                Apostrophe errors


3       Thinking Critically 

a              Critical thinking             

b              Rhetoric and the appeals            

c               Inductive and deductive reasoning          

d              Logical fallacies 


4       Reading Texts and Visuals Critically  

a              Critical reading  

b              Steps for critical reading

c               Close reading techniques           

d              Reading-writing connection         

e              Critical reading of visuals     


Writing Processes


5       Planning Your Writing

a              Writing processes          

b              Thinking like a writer     

c               Planning a writing portfolio         

d              Purposes for writing       

e              Audience          

f               Developing ideas           

g              Thesis statement           

h              Outlining           


6       Drafting, Revising, Editing, and Proofreading

a              First draft         

b              Overcoming writer’s block          

c               Revising           

d              Revising with thesis statements and titles

e              Revising for style and tone         

f               Editing              

g              Editing software

h              Proofreading     


7       Composing Paragraphs          

a              Understanding paragraphs         

b              Introductory paragraphs            

c              Topic sentences

d              Supporting details         

e              Coherent paragraphs     

f               Strategies for body paragraphs  

g              Concluding paragraphs  


8       Designing Documents 

a              Understanding document design 

b              Principles of design        

c              Text     

d             Headings          

e             Photographs     

f              Other visuals    

g             Page layout


Frames for College Writing


9       Personal Essays          

a              Understanding personal essays   

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c               Frame for a personal essay        

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example  


10     Informative Essays     

a              Understanding informative essays           

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c               Frame for an informative essay  

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example  


11     Essays Analyzing a Text         

a              Understanding rhetorical and content analysis  

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c              Frame for a textual analysis       

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example 


12     Argument       

a               Understanding argument

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c               Frames for argument 

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example  


13     Proposal or Solution Essays 

a              Understanding proposal/solution essays  

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c              Frame for a proposal/solution essay        

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example  


14     Evaluations 

a              Understanding evaluations         

b              Generating ideas and revising    

c               Frame for an evaluation 

d              Sentence and paragraph guides  

e              Student essay example 


Source-based Writing


15     Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing                  

a              Integrating sources       

b             Quoting sources

c             Paraphrasing sources    

d             Summarizing sources    

e             Verbs for integrating sources  


16     Avoiding Plagiarism               

a              Understanding plagiarism           

b             Avoiding plagiarism       

c             Avoiding plagiarism of Internet sources   

d             What not to document                

e             Documenting ideas      


17     Writing about Readings          

a              Typical assignments      

b              Summary essays          

c              Response essays           

d             Synthesis essays    


Research Writing


18     Starting a Research Project     

a              Understanding research 

b              Choosing a topic

c              Developing a research question  

d              Types of research papers       


19     Developing a Search Strategy             

a              Understanding search strategies 

b              Understanding sources   

c               Doing field research      

d              Choosing a documentation style  

e              Using a research log

f               Creating a working bibliography  

g              Using documentation software    

h              Creating an annotated bibliography         

I               Taking content notes     

j               Planning a research project 


20     Finding Published Sources     

a              Understanding published sources

b              Using libraries   

c               Search engines v. databases      

d              Using search engines and databases       

e              Using subject directories

f               Finding books    

g              Finding periodicals         

h              Using reference works   

i               Finding images  

j               Finding government documents  


21     Evaluating Sources 

a              Location of a source      

b              Credibility of the publisher          

c               Credibility of the author 

d              Sufficiency/accuracy of evidence

e              Other critical thinking tests         

f               Combining evaluation strategies 


22     Synthesizing Sources in Research Papers      

a              Understanding the synthesis of sources

b              Relationships between sources   

c               Sources about different subtopics?          

d              Sources that agree        

e              Sources that partly agree           

f               Sources that disagree

g              One source more specific than the other  


23     Drafting and Revising a Research Paper         

a              Writing process for research papers        

b              Drafting a research paper?         

c               Frames for research papers 

d              Argumentative research paper frame      

e              Revising a research paper          

f               Editing and formating a research paper


MLA Documentation


24     MLA In-Text Citations 

a              MLA documentation style

b              MLA in-text parenthetical documentation  

c              Additional MLA guidelines for parenthetical citations  


25     MLA Works-Cited List 

a              MLA guidelines for a Works Cited list       

b              MLA guidelines for sources in a Works Cited list    

c               MLA guidelines for content or bibliographic notes  


26     A Student’s MLA Research Paper           

a              MLA format guidelines for research papers          

b              A student’s MLA  research paper   


APA, CM, and CSE Documentation


27     APA In-Text Citations 

a               APA documentation style

b              APA in-text parenthetical citations           

c              APA guidelines for in-text citations          

d              APA guidelines for writing an abstract 

e              APA guidelines for content notes 


28     APA References List   

a              APA guidelines for a references list         

b              APA guidelines for sources in a references list     


29     A Student’s APA Research Paper        

a              APA format guidelines for research papers          

b              A student’s APA research paper      


30     CMS Documentation    

a              CMS documentation           

b              CMS guidelines for bibliographic notes  


31     CSE Documentation    

a              CSE documentation           

b              CSE guidelines for sources in a list of references  


Grammar Basics


32     Parts of Speech and Parts of Sentences          


a              Nouns  

b              Pronouns          

c               Verbs   

d              Verbals

e              Adjectives        

f               Adverbs           

g              Prepositions      

h              Conjunctions     

i               Interjections     



j           Subjects and predicates 

k          Direct and indirect objects          

l           Complements, modifiers, and appositives

m         Phrases

n          Clauses

o          Sentence types 


33     Verbs  

a          How verbs function        

b          Forms of main verbs      

c           Auxiliary verbs  

d          Using lie or lay  

e          Verb tenses      

f           Indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods     

g          “Voice” in verbs


34     Subject-Verb Agreement         

a          What subject-verb agreement is 

b          Ignoring words between a subject and its verb     

c          Verbs when subjects are connected by and          

d          Verbs when subjects are connected by or

e          Verbs with indefinite pronouns    

f           Verbs with who, which, and that  

g          Verbs with one of the . . . who    

h          Other complicated cases


35     Pronouns: Agreement, Reference, and Case   


a          What pronoun-antecedent agreement is  

b          Pronouns when and connects antecedents           

c          Pronouns when or connects antecedents  

d          Pronouns when antecedents are indefinite pronouns         

e          Pronouns when antecedents are collective nouns  



f           Avoiding unclear pronoun reference        

g          Pronouns with it, that, this, and which      

h          Using you for direct address       

i           Using who, which, and that         



j           What pronoun case is    

k          Personal pronouns         

l           Selecting the correct case          

m         Case when and connects pronouns          

n          Matching case in appositives       

o          Subjective case after linking verbs          

p          Using who, whoever, whom, and whomever         

q          Case after than and as   

r           Case with infinitives and -ing words         

s           Case for -self pronouns  


36     Adjectives and Adverbs          

a          Differences between adjectives and adverbs        

b          Double negatives          

c           Adjectives or adverbs after linking verbs 

d          Comparative and superlative forms         

e          Nouns as modifiers        


Sentences and Words

37     Sentence Fragments   

a          Recognizing fragments   

b          Correcting fragments that start with a subordinating word 

c           Correcting fragments that lack a verb                 

d          Correcting fragments that lack a subject  

e          Correcting fragments in a compound predicate     

f           Intentional fragments    


38     Comma Splices and Run-On Sentences           

a          What comma splices and run-on sentences are    

b          Correcting comma splices and run-on sentences  


39     Problems with Sentence Shifts           

a          Consistent person and number   

b          Consistent subject and voice      

c           Consistent mood           

d          Consistent verb tense    

e          Consistent direct and indirect discourse   

f           Sentences with mixed parts        

g          Ellipticals and comparisons         


40     Misplaced Modifiers    

a          Misplaced modifiers       

b          Squinting modifiers        

c           Split infinitives  

d          Modifiers that disrupt a sentence 

e          Dangling modifiers        


41     Conciseness    

a          Writing concisely           

b          Avoiding redundancies   

c           Avoiding wordy sentence structures        

d          Combining sentence elements    

e          Verbs and conciseness   


42     Coordination and Subordination        

a          Coordination: Expressing equivalent ideas           

b          Coordination: Avoiding problems            

c           Subordination: Expressing nonequivalent ideas    

d          Subordination: Avoiding problems           


43     Sentence Style

a          Understanding parallelism          

b          Avoiding faulty parallelism         

c           Parallelism with conjunctions      

d          Strengthening a message with parallelism           

e          Understanding sentence variety  

f           How subjects affect emphasis     

g          Adding modifiers           

h          Inverting standard word order    


44     Word Meanings and Word Impact      

a          Words and their meanings          

b          Exact words      

c           Increasing my vocabulary          

d          Suitable language          

e          Figurative language       

f           Clichés 

g          Effect of tone in writing  


45     Using Inclusive Language       

a          Gender in English          

b          Gender-neutral language           


46     Spelling          

a          Plurals  

b          Suffixes

c           The ie, ei rule   

d          Homonyms and other frequently confused words  

e          Other spelling errors      


Punctuation and Mechanics


47     Commas          

a          When to use commas    

b          With introductory words 

c           Before coordinating conjunctions

d          With a series     

e          Between adjectives       

f           With nonrestrictive and restrictive elements         

g          With quoted words         

h          Other word groups to set off       

i           In dates, names, places, addresses, letter format, and numbers    

j           Preventing misreadings  

k          Avoiding other comma errors     


48     Semicolons     

a          Instead of periods         

b          Instead of commas        


49     Colons

a          Lists, appositives, or quotations  

b          Between sentences        

c           Conventional formats     


50     Apostrophes   

a          Possessive nouns          

b          Possessive indefinite pronouns   

c           Possessive pronouns: hers, his, its, ours, yours, and theirs           

d          Verbs that end in -s       

e          Contractions     

f           Letters, numerals, symbols, and terms    


51     Quotation Marks         

a          Short direct quotations   

b          Long direct quotations    

c           Spoken words   

d          Titles    

e          Terms, translations, and irony    

f           When quotation marks are wrong           

g          With other punctuation   


52     Periods, Question Marks, and Exclamation Points      

a          Periods 

b          Question marks 

c           Exclamation points        


53     Other Punctuation Marks        

a          Dashes 

b          Parentheses      

c           Brackets           

d          Ellipsis points    

e          Slashes


54     Hyphens          

a          End of a line     

b          Prefixes and suffixes     

c           Compound words          

d          Spelled-out numbers     


55     Capitals           

a          “First” words     

b          Quotations        

c           Nouns and adjectives     


56     Italics (Underlining)   

a          Italics versus quotation marks    

b          For emphasis    


57     Abbreviations 

a          Times and amounts       

b          People’s names 

c           Jr., Sr., II, III, 2nd, 3rd 

d          Names of countries, organizations, and government agencies        

e          Addresses        

f           Using etc. and other Latin abbreviations  


58     Numbers         

a          Spelled-out numbers     

b          Dates, addresses, times, and other numbers       




A Message from Lynn Troyka and Doug Hesse to Multilingual Writers     


59     Singulars and Plurals 

a          Count and noncount nouns         

b          Determiners with singular and plural nouns          

c           Nouns used as adjectives           


60     Articles           

a          Singular count nouns     

b          Count and noncount nouns         

c           Using the with proper nouns       


61     Word Order     

a          Standard and inverted word orders         

b          Placing adjectives          

c           Placing adverbs 


62     Prepositions   

a          Using in, at, and on to show time and place         

b          Phrasal verbs    

c           Passive voice    

d          Expressions      


63     Gerunds and Infinitives          

a          Gerund objects 

b          Infinitive objects           

c           Using stop, remember, or forget 

d          Sense verbs     

e          Choosing between -ing and -ed adjectives           


64     Modal Auxiliary Verbs 

a          How modals differ from be, do, and have

b          Expressing ability, necessity, advisability, or probability    

c           Expressing preference, plan, or past habit           



65     An Overview of Writing Across the Curriculum          

a          Writing across the curriculum       

b          Audience and Purpose 


66     Writing About the Humanities            

a          What the humanities are

b          Types of papers

c           Documentation styles    


67     Writing About Literature        

a          What literature is           

b          Types of papers

c          Rules for writing about literature

d          Documentation styles    

e          A student’s literature essay       


68        Writing in the Social Sciences           

a          What the social sciences are     

b          Types of papers           

c          Documentation styles    


69        Writing in the Natural Sciences        

a          What the natural sciences are   

b          Types of papers           

c          Documentation style     


70        Making Presentations           

a          What oral presentations are       

b          Focusing the presentation          

c          Adapting for the listening audience        

d          Organizing a presentation          

e          Incorporating multimedia           

f           Presentation styles        

g          Collaborative presentations        


71        Writing for Digital Environments      

a          What digital environments are   

b          Blogs   

c          Wikis   

d          Video and sound           


72        Writing for Work       

a          Workplace writing purposes      

b          Features of workplace correspondence  

c          Work-related e-mail      

d          Memos

e          Business letters

f           Resumés          

g          Job application letters    


Usage Glossary          

Terms Glossary       



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