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Substantial Paper Guide: WRITING YOUR PAPER

Introduction

The following resources will assist students in formatting the Substantial Paper. The following boxes cover tips, hints, helpful manuals and handbooks, and additional research guides concerning drafting and editing your scholarly writing.

SYNTHESIZED TOP TEN TIPS

1.  Roadmap. Your paper should read like a map with the following necessary parts:  

  • Intro
  • Background
  • Analysis/Discussion
  • Conclusion

2.  Use section headings to organize the paper (and your thoughts!)

3.  Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that explains what the rest of the paragraph will argue or analyze, don't make the reader hunt for your argument.

4.  Use the active, rather than passive voice ("the court reasoned..." versus, "the reasoning had been...")

5.  Use transition words within your paragraph to illustrate your argument and to shift to another idea (e.g., nonetheless, however, despite, likewise, similarly, simultaneously, for instance, etc.). For more examples, click here.

6.  Long quotes are unnecessary, i.e., quotes longer than 3 sentences.

7.  Check your grammar for common mistakes or misuse (e.g., its/it's, there/they're/their, affect/effect, statue/statute, etc.).

8.  Avoid "It is important to note" (if it was not important, it would not be included in your paper) and similar general, obvious phrases (e.g., "The tax code is often regarded as complex...")

9.  After writing your intro, write out the basics, or at least a map of the basics, for each section (if you get stuck you can move on and fill in that section later).

10.  Proofread, proofread, proofread.

LEGAL WRITING LIBGUIDES

These general resource guides can help point you in the right direction with information on articles, books, and sample papers.

TIPS & TRICKS

Guidelines and tips for formatting and structuring an academic legal research paper:  

Basic legal writing help:  

FROM OUR CATALOG

OTHER LIBRARY RESOURCES