There are some things you have to get right in order to ensure your paper is good. You have to make sure you understand the assignment, you have to start with a good argument, and you have to back up that argument with support. A good conclusion is essential too, but what if you want to make your paper even better?

Here are a few surprisingly simple ways to do just that.

Spice up the Punctuation

Paragraph after paragraph with period after period is the norm in many papers. It gets repetitive, which can make your paper boring to read. If you want to make things a little more interesting, try spicing up the punctuation. That means knowing when to use commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes.

When a reader comes across an interesting piece of punctuation, they are likely to slow down. In addition, different punctuation can alter the meaning of a sentence. For example, dashes in the middle of a sentence can call more attention to that phrase than if commas are used.

Just make sure you understand the rules for using each type of punctuation. You can’t just sprinkle in commas wherever you want, after all!

Know How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarization

It’s true that there are students out there who are plagiarizing on purpose in order to get done with a paper quicker, but it’s more often the case that students end up plagiarizing when they don’t mean to. The trouble is, a plagiarized paper or paragraph can result in a failing grade, which means you may have to take the class again. In some cases, it can even result in expulsion, fines, and even legal action.

The question is, how are you supposed to avoid plagiarizing if you don’t know you’re doing it? The trick is to comb over your resources, take notes, and then write.

Most accidental plagiarism happens because the person writing is looking at the source as they’re writing. By separating these two tasks, you can ensure what you write is written in your own words.

Don’t Use Words You Aren’t Comfortable With

If you’re writing an important academic paper, you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about. For some writers, that means diving into the dictionary and coming up with complex words to help make their argument. It’s important to write your paper with a college-level audience in mind, but it is not a good idea to start using words you aren’t comfortable using.

Avoid using words that you don’t normally use, and absolutely avoid using words that you don’t really understand. Just one word that is out of place can throw off your entire paper, making it hard for the reader to get at the core of the argument you’re trying to make.

Make Your Paper Longer by Being More Specific

Coming up short is a common problem when writing a paper. It often happens that you put the period on the last sentence and discover that you didn’t meet the length requirement.

How do you make your paper longer? You don’t want to do it by repeating information or shoving in descriptive words you don’t understand. Instead, try being more specific.

Using adjectives to describe nouns is a good place to start. Describe how instead of just what. Use the phrase, “Show the reader, don’t tell them” to guide your writing. Not only will it help you meet the minimum length requirement for long papers, but it will also make your paper much more interesting to read.

Take a Break

Papers that are written overnight are never as good as they could be. That’s because a ton of focused attention went into creating the paper from start to finish. There will always be things you will overlook when you focus on your paper, and only on your paper.

If you’re starting to feel your eyes glaze over while you’re writing, or you just can’t seem to write what it is you want to say, it’s time to take a break. Taking a step back can help you re-approach your work with fresh eyes and a positive attitude.

A few easy ways to take a break include:

  • Listen to a song or an entire album
  • Take a long shower or bath
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Read a book
  • Paint or draw
  • Take a nap

Get Feedback From Someone Else

Feedback is one of the most powerful teaching tools. It’s especially powerful if you want your paper to be the best version of itself that it possibly can be.

Although it can be nerve racking to let someone else read over your paper, especially if it’s a work in progress, it can be extremely helpful. Another person can bring a different point of view to your argument and make suggestions on how to make it better.

Who you have read your paper matters. Asking a classmate to look over your writing is a good first place to start, but a mentor or a professor is an even better resource, as is your college’s writing center.

Don’t Write and Proofread in the Same Day

When you’re finally done writing your paper, you probably want to edit it and be done already! That’s not a good idea. It’s easy to glaze over sentences you just wrote, reading them the way you intended to write them in your head and skipping over obvious errors.

Don’t write and proofread in the same day. By going to sleep and giving your brain a chance to rest and stop thinking about your paper, you can come at it with fresh eyes. You’ll be much more likely to slow down while you’re reading and find errors that you would have missed had you stayed up late reviewing your paper.

Why turn in a good paper if you can turn in a great paper! With the tips on this list, you can take your paper to the next level and get the grade you deserve.