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Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)


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Category : Writing Tips

Using Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a good way to quickly learn a lot about a certain topic, right? So why do teachers tell you that you can’t use it as a source when you are writing a paper? Well, anyone can go onto Wikipedia and write or edit an article; for example, I’m not an expert on sharks, but if I have an account with Wikipedia, I can make some changes to the article on sharks. Instead, most teachers want you to use well-researched and well-edited documents written by experts, or those who have spent years researching a certain topic. However, on most Wikipedia articles, you’ll see a list of citations at the very end of the article. These citations mostly come from “experts,” so you can certainly take a look at these other books and articles to see if they are reliable enough to use in your paper. If you are ever doubt whether a source is “reliable” or not, just ask your teacher. Basically, Wikipedia is not 100% reliable, but it can certainly lead you to some other great sources…

Greeting for Letters and Emails

Greetings for Letters and Emails

When you begin a letter or an email, you usually start by greeting the person you are writing to; this is also known as a “salutation.” But when should you use an informal greeting and when should you use a formal greeting? When writing to friends, family members, or people you are acquainted with, you can use “Dear” and his/her first name, as in:

Dear Michael,

When it is a more formal letter, for example, one to a potential employer or someone you have not met before, you can say “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” (if you do not know the exact name of the person who will be reading your letter). You can also just use the person’s name followed by a colon- for example,

Dr. Williams:

If you don’t know whether you should use formal or informal style, use the formal style (including titles, like Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc…). It is better to be too formal rather than too informal!

MLA

MLA stands for “Modern Language Association.” When your teacher asks you to write a paper using MLA format, it means that you have to follow certain rules established by this writing association. For the most part, you have to follow a certain format in order to ensure that your paper and citation styles are consistent all the way through. MLA format is used mostly by humanities and arts classes, like English, history, and other liberal arts. So if you have to write a paper for one of these classes, you will be asked to use MLA. If you don’t know how to use MLA, you can take a look at MLA’s own website, mla.org, or you can refer to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab- this website has examples of how to cite all different sources in MLA format. That way, you can see exactly how you should cite your source, whether it is a journal article, a book, a website, an interview, or even a movie!