A Brief Guide to Writing from Readings

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-11-23
  • Publisher: Longman
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This brief guide teaches how to write the most common papers assigned in college courses: source-based essays that summarize, analyze, critique, and synthesize. Comprehensive enough to serve as a primary text yet compact enough to serve as a supplement, this clear and concise writing guide teaches you how to critically read, clearly summarize, carefully respond to, precisely critique, creatively synthesize, and accurately quote or paraphrase texts. A Brief Guideis a valuable teaching and reference tool that many disciplines find useful for class work and for independent study.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Critical Reading  

Definition and Purpose  

Asking Questions About What You Read 

    Questions to Ask Before You Begin a Close Reading of a Text 

    Questions to Ask While You Read and Reread Material 

Marking Texts  

    Highlighting Texts  

    Annotating Texts   

Sample Annotated Reading: “Hard Choices” by Patrick Moore

Note Taking    

Additional Reading: “Getting Serious about Eradicating Binge Drinking” by Henry Wechsler    

Summary Chart—Critical Reading: Asking Questions    

Summary Chart—Critical Reading: Marking Texts    

Summary Chart—Critical Reading: Note Taking    


Chapter 2: Quotation 

Definition and Purpose  

Guidelines on When to Quote Material  

    Quote Passages When the Author Has Written Something in a Distinctive or Especially Insightful or Interesting Way   

    Quote Material That Lends Support to a Position You Are Trying to Make in Your Paper

    Quote Authorities Who Disagree with a Position You Are Advocating or Who Offer Alternative Explanations or Contradictory Data 

Guidelines on When Not to Quote Material  

    Do Not Quote Passages Merely to Fill Space  

    Do Not Quote Passages as a Substitute for Thinking   

    Do Not Quote Passages Because You Do Not Understand the Author’s Ideas Well Enough to Paraphrase Them   

Integrating Quotations into Your Writing   

Two Basic Types of Quotations   

    *Reading: “Generation Text”   

    The Block Quotation    

    The Integrated Quotation    

Altering Quoted Material and Avoiding Misquotations    

Summary Chart: Guidelines on Quotations    

Summary Chart: Integrating Quotations into Your Writing    

Quotation Revision Checklist


Chapter 3: Paraphrase    

Definition and Purpose    

Qualities of a Good Paraphrase    





How to Paraphrase Material    

    Changing Words    

    Changing Sentence Structure     

Combining Sentences    

    “Unpacking” Sentences    

    Combining Strategies: Paraphrasing Longer Passages in Source Texts    

Blending Your Writing with Paraphrased Material    


Summary Chart: How to Paraphrase Material    

Paraphrase Revision Checklist


Chapter 4  Summary    

Definition and Purpose    

Types of Summaries    

Qualities of a Good Summary    






How to Summarize a Text    

    Read, Reread, and Annotate the Source Text    

    Summarize Each Section of the Source Text    

    Check the Section Summaries Against the Source Text    

How to Write an Abstract

How to Write an Informative Summary Essay    

How to Write an Explanatory Summary Essay    


*Reading: “From Animal House to Big Brother: Student Privacy and Campus Safety in an Age of Accountability,” by Ron Chesbrough    

Sample Abstract

Sample Informative Summary    

Sample Explanatory Summary    

Summary Chart: How to Summarize Texts

Summary Revision Checklist    


Chapter 5  Response Essays     

Definition and Purpose    

Qualities of a Good Response Essay    




    Well Supported    

Writing the Response Essay    

    Carefully Read the Material     

    Compose Your Rough Draft    

    Write Your Conclusion    

    Revise Your Rough Draft    

Sample Response Essay    

Sample Essay    

Summary Chart: How to Write a Response Essay   

Response Essay Revision Checklist 


Chapter 6 Critique    

Definition and Purpose    

The Film Review as Critique    

Writing a Critique    

    Step 1—Carefully Read and Annotate the Source Text    

    Step 2—Analyze and Evaluate the Reading    

    Step 3—Write Your Thesis and Decide Which Aspects of the Reading Will Be the Focus of  Your Essay    

    Step 4—Write Your Rough Draft    

    Step 5—Rewrite Your Critique    

*Reading: “Zero Tolerance and Student Dress Codes,” by Nathan L. Essex 

*Reading: “A Uniform Look,” by Yasmine Konheim-Kalkstein   

Sample Critique Essay   

Summary Chart: How to Write a Critique    

Critique Revision Checklist


Chapter 7  Rhetorical Analysis of Written Texts     

Definition and Purpose    

The Rhetorical Situation    

Elements of the Rhetorical Situation    

    Rhetorical Strategies    




Analyzing a Text’s Rhetorical Strategies—An Example    

    Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address    

    A Rhetorical Analysis of Lincoln’s Speech    

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay    

    Step 1—Carefully Read the Assignment    

    Step 2—Establish the Source Text’s Rhetorical Situation    

    Step 3—Determine the Author’s Goal    

    Step 4—Identify and Evaluate the Source Text’s Rhetorical Strategies    

    Step 5—Determine Your Thesis    

    Step 6—Write Your Rough Draft    

    Step 7—Revise Your Essay    

Sample Rhetorical Analysis Essay    

    Rhetorical Analysis of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address    

Summary Chart: How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis of Written Texts Revision Checklist    


Chapter 8  Rhetorical Analysis of Visual Texts    

Definition and Purpose    

Reading Visual Texts Critically    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text Itself    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text’s Creator or Source    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text’s Purpose    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text’s Audience    

    Questions Concerning Your Response to the Visual Text    

Reading a Visual Text    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text’s Creator or Source    

    Questions Concerning the Text’s Purpose    

    Questions Concerning the Visual Text’s Audience    

    Questions Concerning Your Response to the Visual Text    

Writing an Rhetorical Analysis of a Visual Text    

    Step 1—Carefully Read the Assignment    

    Step 2—Analyze and Describe the Text    

    Step 3—Establish the Text’s Rhetorical Situation    

    Step 4—Determine How the Text Attempts to Achieve Its Rhetorical Goals    

    Step 5—Determine Your Thesis    

    Step 6—Write a Rough Draft    

    Step 7—Revise Your Essay    

Sample Rhetorical Analysis of a Visual Text    

Summary Chart: How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis of a Visual Text    

Rhetorical Analysis of  a Visual Text Revision Checklist


Chapter 9  Informative Synthesis    

Definition and Purpose  

Types of Synthesis Essays    

*Reading: “Media Violence and Children’s Emotions: Beyond the ‘Smoking Gun’,” by Joanne Cantor    

*Reading: “Television Violence and Its Efffects on Young Children,” by Betty Jo Simmons, Kelly Stalsworth, and Heather Wentzell    

*Reading: “Does Cartoon Violence Beget Aggressive Behavior in Real Life? An Opposing View,” by Fran C. Blumberg, Kirsten P. Bierwirth, and Allison J. Schwartz    

Informative Synthesis    


Writing an Informative Synthesis    

Sample Informative Synthesis    

Summary Chart: How to Write an Informative Synthesis

Informative Synthesis Revision Checklist    


Chapter 10  Argumentative Synthesis     


The Elements of Argument    




Argument and Persuasion    

    Appeals Based on Reason    

    Appeals Based on Emotion    

    Appeals Based on Character and Credibility    

Writing an Argumentative Synthesis    

    Step 1—Analyze the Assignment    

    Step 2—Annotate and Critique the Readings    

    Step 3—Formulate a Thesis    

    Step 4—Choose an Organizational Plan    

    Step 5—Write Your Rough Draft    

    Step 6—Revise Your Draft    

Check Quotations and Documentation    

Sample Argumentative Synthesis 

*Reading: “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad: The Anti-human Values of ‘Animal Rights’,” by Wesley J. Smith    

*Reading: “What Has the Animal Rights Movement Done for Animal Welfare?” by Sarah Wolfenshon and Matthew Maguire    

*Reading: “Building a culture of Animal Welfare: Past, Present and Future,” by Leticia V. Medina     

*Reading: “Animal Suffering: Learning Not to Care and Not to Know,” by William Crain    

Summary Chart: How to Write an Argumentative Synthesis 

Argumentative Synthesis Revision Checklist  


Chapter 11  Plagiarism    


Forms of Plagiarism    

    Purchasing a Paper    

    Turning in a Paper Someone Else Has Written for You    

    Turning in Another Student’s Work without That Student’s Knowledge    

    Improper Collaboration    

    Copying a Paper from a Source Text without Proper Acknowledgment

    Cutting and Pasting Material from Sources

    Lifting Images from the Web or Other Sources

    Copying Statistics   

    Copying Material from a Source Text, Supplying Proper Documentation, but Leaving Out Quotation Marks    

    Paraphrasing Material from a Reading without Proper Documentation 


How to Avoid Plagiarism    

    Do Your Own Work    

    Take Good Notes    

    Paraphrase Properly    

    Supply Proper Documentation

    Online Plagiarism Check   

    Clarify Collaboration Guidelines    

Summary Chart: Plagiarism

Plagiarism Checklist   


Chapter 12  Documentation    

Definition and Purpose    

Types of Documentation    

Primary Academic Style Manuals    

APA Guidelines    

    In-Text Documentation    

    Footnotes and Endnotes    

MLA Guidelines    

    In-Text Documentation    

    Footnotes and Endnotes    


Chapter 13  Reference Lists and Works Cited Entries    

Definition and Purpose    

APA Format    

    Sample Reference List Entries    

    Sample APA-Style Reference List   

MLA Format     

    Sample Works Cited Entries    

    Electronic Sources of Information    

    Sample MLA-Style Works Cited List    


Chapter 14 Timed Writing Assignments    


A Range of Timed Writing Assignments, Purposes, and Conditions    

Common Timed Writing Tasks    

Rhetorical Aims    

Access to Source Material    

Access to Possible Assignments    

Qualities of a Good Timed Essay    





    Clear and Correct    

Writing Timed Assignments    

Prepare for the Assignment Outside of Class    

Read and Analyze the Assignment or Test Question    

Plan Your Essay or Answer    

Draft Your Essay or Answer    

Revise Your Essay or Answer    

Proofread Your Essay or Answer    

Final Thoughts    

Summary Chart: How to Write Timed Essays 


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