August 22 2016

4 writing tips for Fall 2016

by Barbie in Academia, Writing

back to school 16

If you’re not back on campus, you will be soon! Colleges and universities here in Kentucky are kicking off the fall semester this week. As you collect your syllabi and prepare for a busy semester ahead, follow these tips when writing those academic papers.

1. Don’t procrastinate.

Effective academic writing requires outlining, drafting, and revising. If you wait until the last minute to write that paper, you simply won’t have time for these key steps. Start your paper at least a week before the deadline, which will give you time to adequately research the topic. Then, you will be able to step away from the paper and return to it with a fresh mind, which will improve the revision process.

2. Know your style.

Professors have different requirements for the style and format of the paper. Read the requirements closely to ensure that you are following the appropriate style guide, whether it be APA, MLA, or Chicago. Look for any tweaks to the style — for example, APA prefers abstracts of 150 – 250 words, but some schools permit their students to write abstracts up to 350 words.

3. Cite carefully.

Unintentional plagiarism can have serious consequences. Always cite any content that is not your own, whether it is a direct quote or a paraphrase. Use both in-text citations and a detailed bibliography. Many professors use plagiarism checkers when grading your paper, so proper citations can be the difference between passing and failing.

4. Build in proofreading time.

Hastily writing a paper the night before it is due will likely result in plenty of typos or poorly phrased sentences. Set aside a few hours before your deadline to proofread the paper, focusing on the concision of your sentences, the overall flow of your paper, and adherence to proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If that task sounds too overwhelming, we’re here to help!

Here’s to a successful fall semester!

January 30 2016

Recent travel writing

by Barbie in Web Writing, Writing

In 2015, we established ongoing writing relationships with several new clients, including ZOZI. Many of these projects will continue in 2016, and we’re looking forward to helping retailers and small and large businesses alike develop effective content for their websites. Here are a few of our ZOZI articles, with more to come!

Southern California Adventures Up and Down the OC 

Go Wild: 10 Ways to Get Unanchored in Anchorage

Successful Surfing Starts Here: The Best Spots for Newbie Riders

April 4 2014

Two phrases to eliminate from your writing

by Barbie in Writing

Concision is an important part of writing. It enhances your document’s readability, allowing you to make your message clear. Two phrases that we often strike from documents, especially academic papers, are “There are” and “It is.” In many cases, these phrases are not necessary and make a simple sentence more complex.

Here are some examples.

There are studies that show that concision can help improve students’ writing.

Revision: Studies show that concision can help improve students’ writing.

It is reported by Jones et al. that students use these phrases too frequently.

Revision: Jones et al. reported that students use these phrases too frequently. 

You want every word in your sentence to count. These filler words add nothing but complexity to a sentence that can be simplified. When you remove them, you create an active sentence that is easier for your readers to understand.

February 26 2013

Using figures and tables

by Barbie in Writing

Figures and tables can be a helpful supplement to your document, allowing you to convey your message in a different way. Follow these tips when designing useful figures and tables:


  • Reference the figure or table in your text. If you have not explained why the figure or table is included in your document, it will serve no purpose. Elaborate on the significance of your figure or table within the body of your document.
  • Keep the figure or table as close to the text that discusses it as possible.
  • Identify the figure or table by name (e.g., Figure 1), and include a clear, descriptive title.
  • Follow your style guide for format of figures, tables, and their titles. If you’re unsure, we can help.


  • Restate information in your figure or table that is already in your text. Your figure or table should supplement and enhance the body of your text, not simply repeat it.
  • Repurpose figures and tables created by other writers/researchers without properly attributing them.
  • Include figures or tables without proper labeling, which can make them confusing.
  • Use an inconsistent format for figures or tables, which can confuse your readers.


December 1 2012

The research process

by Barbie in Writing

Check out this interesting timelapse video, which reduces the writing process into a minute and a half:

Timelapse Writing of a Research Paper

What’s your writing process like?

November 13 2012


by Barbie in Writing

Say what? November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those writers too busy to spell it all out. Ambitious writers from across the globe attempt to compose a novel before the calendar turns to December. On the official website, you can track your progress, interact with fellow writers, and get support for this challenging endeavor.

What do you think? Is it realistic to write a complete novel in 30 days? Does speed writing compromise the quality of the piece? Can online support from other writers help the writing process? Are you brave enough to give NaNoWriMo a try?

We support anything that encourages writing, and support and encouragement from fellow writers can certainly help jump start stalled-out writing efforts. Thirty-day novels might not be bestsellers or perfect quality, but they certainly are a unique writing challenge for novice writers looking for a reason to write.

Good luck to the ambitious NaNoWriMo writers out there!

October 19 2012

What I Write

by Barbie in Writing

In honor of National Day on Writing, today’s blog post is dedicated to just that subject. Writing is an important part of my career, and while it might not seem like it’s an integral part of yours, chances are you write every day. You might compose an email to a friend, coworker, manager, or spouse. You might write a quick note to your kids to stick in their lunchbox. You might draft a letter to an organization praising its services, issuing a complaint, or asking for aid. Writing is the most important skill students can learn, which is why the National Council of Teachers of English established October 19 as the National Day on Writing.

Think you’re not a writer? Think again. What have you written this week? Here’s just a sampling of the items we’ve composed:

  • Emails to clients, friends, and family members
  • Dozens of product descriptions for retail websites
  • Pitches for potential articles
  • Comments in a dissertation helping guide the writer in her revision
  • Facebook posts on Carpenter Doc’s Facebook page
  • Blog posts for this blog and other client sites
  • …and many more!

Everyone is a writer. We all just write differently. Some write to earn a living; others write to communicate with long-distance friends and family members. Still others write because their teachers or professors asked them to. No matter your reason for writing, embrace it, and enjoy it. Happy National Day on Writing!

If you want to share your thoughts on writing today, use the hashtag #WhatIWrite on your favorite social networking site!

September 3 2012

Writer, Compose Yourself!

by Barbie in Writing

If you write for a living, you might feel like you live a solitary lifestyle. However, networking with fellow writers can inspire your creativity, encourage you to move forward with your work, and even give you helpful writing tips. That’s the idea behind Writer, Compose Yourself!, a new venture that I am excited to be a part of. Want to know what Writer, Compose Yourself! is all about? Here’s a good summary from the site’s founder, Heather Craik:

Writer, Compose Yourself! has a whole bunch of useful components: articles, multiple writers, forums. However, that isn’t the main point behind it. It’s really about supporting you while you knuckle down and finish that story. You know the one. The one you’re writing for yourself, that lurks in the back of your mind, making little sniffly noises whenever you work on something else instead of it. The one that grips you, can make you cry when you have to write the death of a favorite character, can make you euphoric when it’s going really well, and can leave you staring blankly at the page trying to put the next part into words.

That one.

WCY is my answer to the blocks and barriers we all come across when we’re writing ‘The One’. Especially if it’s our first. When we’re nervous, uncertain, have moments of fumbling around in the dark groping for words, and really just need someone to talk to and make sure we’re “doing it right”!

Are you motivated to write yet? Join me and five other contributors, as we share our knowledge, discuss writing, and connect in this interactive community. Each contributor comes from a unique background. While I’m the resident editor on staff, you can also read insightful articles from published authors from a variety of backgrounds. If you’re interested in joining WCY, learn more about the benefits of membership and sign up today!

Hope to see you over there soon! Connecting with other writers and gaining helpful advice from expert contributors can be the first step in finishing your work.

June 24 2012

Concision tips

by Barbie in Writing

Writing concisely goes a long way in making your document easy for readers to understand. Some writers think verbose sentences are the mark of an adept writer, but such sentences only hinder the clarity of your document. Here are a few examples of wordy phrases and their more concise counterparts:

  • “There are” constructions can usually be condensed to more concise phrases.
    Verbose: There are six people that will attend the conference.
    Concise: Six people will attend the conference
  • “It is” is another subject/verb phrases that is often ambiguous and can be eliminated.
    Verbose: It is the researcher’s belief that the study will have a significant impact.
    Concise: The researcher believes the study will have a significant impact.
  • Introductory phrases can often be combined with the subject/verb phrases for improved clarity.
    Verbose: According to the organization, it has surveyed 300 individuals.
    Concise: The organization has surveyed 300 individuals.

Remember, concise is best. Shorter, more direct sentences are preferred to long, wordy ones. If your sentence includes multiple thoughts, break it up into multiple sentences for improved clarity.

March 11 2012

Check us out on Scribd!

by Barbie in Company News, Editing, Writing

We field many FAQs via email weekly, whether clients are wondering how to rid their document of markups or how to insert page numbers. Now, to make the writing and editing process easier for you, we’re developing some tutorials and posting them on Scribd. Subscribe to our collection, Carpenter Doc Tips & Tricks, to check out these tutorials as soon as we post them. Our first one is up, which we’ll discuss in more detail in a blog post this week. If you don’t visit Scribd often, don’t worry — we’ll notify you here on the blog (and on our Facebook and Twitter pages) about updates to the collection.

If you have a topic you’d like us to write about, just ask! We are always adding to our list of client FAQs!