A Blog of Writing Resources from The University of Scranton's Writing Center

Category: General Writing Tips (Page 1 of 4)

Grammatical Rules with Gender Inclusive Pronouns

You are likely familiar with the chart below that lists the personal pronouns by case.


However, some of those, particularly she/her and he/his, are traditionally associated as being either masculine or feminine. For that reason, gender neutral pronouns have been widely adapted. Here are some examples:



Gender Neutral Pronouns

zie zim zir zis zieself
sie sie hir hirs hirself
ey em eir eirs eirself
ve ver vis vers verself
tey ter tem ters terself
e em eir eirs emself

Find a brief overview of the grammatical rules associated with gender inclusive pronouns with a more extensive list with context please explore the resource  here.

The best way to integrate inclusive pronouns into your speech and writing is to practice the rules of usage. This a platform that will allow you to review the rules quickly before allowing you to test your knowledge here.


How to Format a Hanging Indent for Your Reference Page

Lots of students struggle with indenting the second lines of their references on their works cited page. Sometimes they use spaces or tabs, which create a sloppy and inconsistent reference page. There are many easy ways to insert the hanging indent, which will visually enhance your reference list. It will also save you time.


1.) There are two easy ways to do it in MS Word, and this video demonstrates both methods:  How to Create Hanging Indents in MS Word

2.) There are two similar ways to do it in Google Docs and this video demonstrates both methods: How to Create Hanging Indents in Google Docs

Put Pen to Paper: Confidence Is the Key to Writing


By: Stephanie Lehner


To all of you who may be new to writing or have been doing it for a long time, I am writing this blog to express my opinion on the importance of practicing and trying to better your writing skills rather than utilizing AI to write for you. Since we are now in an era where AI is becoming more familiar with human tendencies and is gaining an ever-increasing ability to do what people once did alone, it is important not to lose vital communication skills.

When I entered college as a freshman, I was scared to go to the Writing Center because it was unfamiliar to me. I also felt uncomfortable going to in-person appointments, as I did not yet know many people at the university and I was afraid of having my paper ripped to shreds. Instead, I would write my papers and spend hours poring over each line to edit them properly. After I received my grade, I would sometimes be disappointed with the grammar errors that I missed. As such, when I became a Writing Consultant during my sophomore year, I started making appointments to utilize the Writing Center’s services myself. As I began to better my writing by receiving constructive feedback and helping others with their papers, I regretted not going sooner, for I could have saved myself a lot of time and grief freshman year, while also learning from my mistakes more quickly from more experienced writers. The fear that I initially had was quelled, since I saw how patient the other Writing Consultants were with me. They truly wanted to help me to further improve, and that is the mentality that I also share when I work with students.

Now as a senior, I can confidently say that my writing has become drastically better since my freshman year. However, it has taken a significant amount of time to get where I am. I also share the mindset that it is much more beneficial for an individual to start with writing that you, yourself, may deem ‘bad’ because you can always improve. Oftentimes, what you may deem to be ‘bad’ is in reality not bad at all and changing a practice or receiving a few tips could go a long way. This sentiment is similar to the quote that I chose, which hangs in the Writing Center: “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” This could apply to papers where you feel like you’re experiencing writer’s block but could also help you to get started in your writing journey. All it takes is for you to put pen to paper, or sometimes, your fingers to your computer, and let the ideas flow.

AI definitely is a great tool and may be able to produce papers that could pass as your own. However, you will not feel the same excitement when you get your grade back. You will also not feel the satisfaction of reading your finished paper thinking, “Wow! I came up with that!” In my experience, feelings such as these form after hours of brainstorming, writing, and proofreading, and this level of hard work makes the writing process much more rewarding. You never know what doors could be opened for you once you become a strong writer. Writing is an essential skill in many professions from scientists who publish research papers to copywriters for skincare companies to script writers of movies. Perhaps that skill will impress a future employer or maybe you will be asked to be a keynote speaker for a graduation or conference. Regardless, I think it is extremely important to have confidence in your abilities no matter where you are in the writing process. AI will never replace humans, especially when it comes to evoking feeling and your personal thoughts and experiences in your writing. As such, I

have a challenge for you: don’t be intimidated about coming to the Writing Center. Don’t think to yourself that your writing is ‘bad.’ Don’t rely on AI to write something for you when you could write a masterpiece that is 10 times more eloquent. Instead, have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Utilize the Writing Center’s resources to improve and come frequently if you need help. Lastly, never stop believing that one day, you could have wonderful writing that may help others do what you were once afraid of. So, put your pen to paper, and let the ideas flow!

Identifying and Correcting Run-Ons: Tips To Avoid Them

 By Myracle Brunette

Imagine this: You finally finished writing a paper for a class. Once you go to revise it, you come across a sentence that feels like it just goes on and on without any breaks or pauses. You might catch yourself struggling to understand what’s trying to be said. You might even catch yourself saying, “wow that’s a really long sentence.” If so, you’ve most likely encountered a run-on sentence. Run-on sentences are common to run into when it comes to writing. If you happen to have any in your paper, don’t worry. We’ve all been there, and they can easily be fixed.  


What Really Is A Run-On Sentence? 

Now you might be wondering, “what really is a run-on sentence?” A run-on sentence is when two independent clauses are joined together improperly. They are sentences without proper punctuation or appropriate conjunctions to separate them. This can involve using too many conjunctions and omitting punctuation such as commas, periods, and semicolons. This can lead them to oftentimes lack clarity and confuse the reader. There are 2 different types of run-on sentences. They are fused sentences and comma splices. 


Fused Sentences: 

A fused sentence is when two or more complete sentences are joined together without punctuation. They are fused together as if they were only one thought, and this can change what the writer was actually trying to tell the reader. For example, “I like dogs dogs can smell sometimes.” This sentence contradicts itself and can confuse your reader. Instead, the sentence can read, “I like dogs, but they can smell sometimes.” Notice how I just added a coordinating conjunction to join the two ideas and transform the sentence. You can also break up the sentence completely with a period to make it two separate ones, but since the writer is saying that they like dogs and then states something that they dislike about them, it would be best to use “but” to show that idea better. 


Comma Splices: 

A comma splice is when two or more complete sentences are incorrectly joined by just a comma. It normally looks like this: “main clause, main clause.” For example, “I love to read books, I also enjoy watching movies.” We can fix a comma splice the same way we can fix a fused sentence. We can either make the two clauses into two complete sentences, use a coordinating conjunction, use a semicolon, or use a subordinating conjunction. The ideal way to correct the sentence I provided would be to simply break it into two complete sentences.  


How Can I Fix My Run-On Sentence? 

In case you missed the examples I provided of run-on sentence solutions, I’ve listed them below:  

  1. Check for Comma Splices 
  1. Utilize Coordinating Conjunctions 
  1. Use a Semicolon. 
  1. Utilize Subordinating Conjunctions 


How To Avoid Them: 

Working on run-on sentences can be hard, especially when trying to avoid them. I’ve provided some resources below to help you exercise your brain a little. The more one works on improving their skills, the faster they improve them.  


My personal favorite resource is Grammar Bytes. This website has some exercises that can help you work on your skills for more than just run-on sentences. It also provides more rules on comma splices and fused sentences. https://chompchomp.com/exercises.htm#Comma_Splices_and_Fused_Sentences 

We also recommend Purdue Owl as a great resource for help with run-ons. 



A Great Shakespeare Resource



Litcharts is a great resource if you are new to navigating the works of Shakespeare. The website offers the original full-text of most of Shakespeare’s plays with modern translations on a parallel screen. The lines are color-coded, which makes it easy to read and compare the two versions of the text.  Additionally, you can get the act, scene, and line number by hovering over any piece of text. It also gives you the full reference for the webpage,  just in case you’d like to use any of their modern translations in a paper.  Check it out!

Shakespeare Translations at LitCharts



Free Dictate and Text to Speech Program

Speech Notes is a free website that will type your text as you speak it. In the column to the right, it has basic instructions for inserting punctuation as you talk. From there, it’s easy to copy and paste your sentences into a word document with the “Copy to Clipboard” icon. You can also upload your document directly to a google drive, Word document, or email it to yourself using the icons to the right. It’s functionality also available in multiple languages. Check it out!

In addition, you can also upload text, and it will read it aloud to you.  Just click “Text to Speech” at the top of the page:


Check it out here!

Writing a Paper for a Conference

Conferences are ideal ways to connect with professionals in your field and increase your visibility within your discipline. They are wonderful opportunities for professional development and presenting at conferences can be crucial lines for your CV.  However, crafting a paper to be accepted and later presented at a conference is a unique art. Here’s some of our favorite resources to guide you through the process.


1.) How to write a conference paper

2.) What to avoid when crafting a conference paper.

3.) Some possible templates to help you draft your conference paper:

4.) Here’s a sample conference paper

Our Favorite Resource for Literature Reviews

Our favorite resource for literature reviews was created by The University of Waterloo.  First, these modules define what literature reviews are, where they appear, and  why they are beneficial. The website talks about discipline-specific writing conventions and the different organizational approaches. Then, it walks writers through the process of composing literature reviews in a highly visual and interactive guide.  The images, in particular, can help writers understand the various forms of knowledge gaps. Ultimately, this is  a quick but highly beneficial resource that can guide novice writers who are unfamiliar with the conventions of literature reviews.  

      1.  Here’s the entire guide
      2. Here’s the recommended writing  schedule
      3. Here’s an annotated sample paper
      4. Here’s a template to help guide your writing process 
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