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Create the final version of your document plan

You're almost ready to write: you've got your thesis statement to guide you, you've completed your research, and the last step before you actually start writing is to create the final version of your document plan. Please look at your preliminary document plan and add any new information that you have from your research and thinking that you've done since you first created the plan. Make sure that you include enough detail in your plan so that you can easily see what you're going to write about at any point in the document. One way of making sure that your paper makes sense and is easy to read is to plan your paper to the paragraph level. If you're new to academic paragraphing, please see Paragraphing for more information on academic paragraphs, including what needs to be in every body paragraph. When you're planning, consider including keywords in your plan to represent the topic sentence (TS) that usually presents the argument (AR), evidence (E), analysis (AN), citation (C), conclusion (CN), and transition (TR) for every paragraph. You don't need to prewrite the entire paper; however, having keywords in the plan will make sure that when it comes time for you to write that section, you'll remember what you were thinking when you created the plan.

The Collaborate recording available at Planning the paper gives an example of a mind-mapped document plan; see below for an example of a more traditional linear layout. If you'd like a version that you can use and adapt, please see Create the final version of your document plan (Word .docx).

Introduction

- Describes the reason for the discussion - why is the subject interesting/important? Why should the reader care about what you have to say on the subject?

- The thesis statement usually appears in the second-to-last sentence of the introduction. The last sentence of the introduction provides the transition to the next paragraph/section. See How to write a strong thesis statement for more information.

- For a short video with more information on introductions, see Writing an introduction. The video will open and play right away, so please be prepared to adjust your speakers.

Paragraph A

TS & AR:

E: (As many as needed)

C: (As many as needed)

AN: (As many as needed)

CN:

TR:

Paragraph B

TS & AR:

E: (As many as needed)

C: (As many as needed)

AN: (As many as needed)

CN:

TR:

Paragraph C

TS & AR:

E: (As many as needed)

C: (As many as needed)

AN: (As many as needed)

CN:

TR:

Continue with as many body paragraphs as is necessary for the paper.

Conclusion

- Finishes the paper and reminds the reader that the thesis statement has been proved through the logical analysis of the arguments and evidence provided in the paper.

- New information should not be introduced in the conclusion.

- The conclusion is your last opportunity to make an impression on your reader. What message do you want your reader to take away after reading your paper?

- See Writing a conclusion for a short video with more information on writing conclusions. The video will open and play right away, so please be prepared to adjust your speakers.

Final thoughts:

Once you have the final draft of your plan done, the final step in this stage is show the plan to someone to get an opinion on whether or not the plan makes sense. If you want specific feedback on whether or not you're on track for the expectations of the assignment, check with your instructor to see if you can send the plan to him/her for feedback. You might also want to give the plan to someone who doesn't know the topic and see if the plan makes sense to that person.  What you are looking for is anywhere that you've made assumptions about your reader's knowledge or understanding, and it's much easier to fix those errors at the planning stage than after you've written the paper. Keep in mind that your job as the author is to write a paper that provides all the information someone would need in order to understand your topic without having to do extra research. In other words, anyone in the academic community should be able to understand your paper. Consider your audience to be someone in the general academic community, versus thinking exclusively of your professor whom you know is an expert in the subject. To make your paper easy to read, you will need to connect all lines of thinking, explain terms, fully develop arguments, and present all the necessary information so that your reader's attention stays focused on your message, rather than straying into "I wonder what that means?". Reviewing the plan allows you to check your plan to make sure that you've built in all those explanations and connections. If you haven't thought through and planned your ideas so that you have a clear idea of your message, it isn't reasonable to expect that your reader will somehow understand your meaning. You need to be clear on exactly what it is you want to tell your reader; the document plan allows you to do that before you begin to write.

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