How to Learn Anything
Shortcuts to Knowledge and Understanding

5. Researching and Writing

Content Guide


1. Overview

2. Define Purpose/Thesis

3. Who are Your Readers?

4. Define Your Terms

5. State Your Assumptions

6. Designing a Research Plan

7. Define Your Scope

8. Using Cue Card Method to Research

9. Discard Most Information

10. Compartmentalize Information

11. Organize Your Cards & Write 1st Draft

12. Revise Draft

13. Further Revisions

14. Final Writing



Print/Non-Print Media

Resource Location - Public Library

Special Libraries

Other Sources (Experts)

6 Steps to Successful Interviewing

Reference Texts & Indexes


A. Writing Techniques

1. Revise Purpose/Thesis Statement

2. Define Your Terms

3. State Your Assumptions

4. Revise Your Research Plan

5. Discarding Information

6. Divide Cue Cards

7. Further Division of Information

8. Write First Draft

9. Revise Draft

10. Further Revisions

11. Final Copy of Your Work

B. Mechanics of Writing

1. Title Page

2. Table of Contents, Illustrations, Appendices

3. Forward, Preface, Introduction

4. Body of Your Work

5. Appendices

6. Endnotes

7. Bibliography


Memory Map


DON'T PANIC by the length of this chapter! Sometimes, explaining a process takes longer than using that process. Take your time in reading and using this chapter. I assume you already have some research skills so pick up those tips and techniques that can improve the abilities you already have.

This chapter is for anyone involved in any aspect of research and writing. It can be used as a reference guide for writing reports or researching academic papers. Whether they are called reports, essays, proposals, comprehensive memos, reviews or evaluations, the method is the same.

There are three sections in this chapter:

1. Preparing to Do Research,

2. Research Materials,

3. Writing Procedures.

Research Preparation

Before beginning active research you must get a clear idea of what you want to write. That is what this section deals with. Once you have your purpose clearly defined you can begin specific research confident in the knowledge that you have saved yourself dozens of hours of needless work.

Basic Methodology

The basic methodology for researching a report or paper is:

1. Prepare an overview of your main topic.

2. Define the purpose or thesis.

3. Determine who your readers are.

4. Define your terms (different people have different definitions for the same words ie.terms like success, rewards, liberal politics, bottomline).

5) State your assumptions (ie.How much knowledge do you expect the reader to have?, How does your own background influence your work?).

6. Design a project plan similar to a table of contents and then divide each section into smaller units.

7. Define your scope (how much information will you need to research).

8. Use the cue card method of research described later in this section.

9. Discard about 90% of the possible sources to examine. Concentrate only on the information relative to your purpose or thesis.

10. Compartmentalize information. Begin dividing your cue cards into the main sections of your plan and divide information into smaller units.

11. Organize your cards in order of presentation and write your first draft directly from the cards turning each card over as you continue.

12. Revise draft (preferably a few days after not looking at it!). The best way to know if your writing is smooth is to read it aloud to see if there are any difficult parts to read.

13. Depending on amount of revisions and importance of the paper you may wish to do a second or third draft.

14. Final writing.

1. Overview

When first presented with a problem or research topic we often do not know enough about the subject to define a specific purpose or thesis and, therefore, to prepare a thorough plan.

The purpose of the overview is not to do detailed research but to get a general understanding of the subject. Use standard reference texts, encyclopedias, or an article in a magazine or specialized journal.Use the cue card recording method detailed at the end of this section to take notes.

While doing the research, ask basic questions so that you can find the information you need more quickly. You will need to know WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, & HOW.

2. Define Purpose or Thesis

The purpose of your research needs to be clearly written in one or two sentences. For reports, such a statement is called the purpose of your work. In academic essays this sentence is called a thesis statement.

Writing a purpose or thesis sentence may sound quite simple.

In fact, this sentence often takes hours of work and revision to get it just right. Without a clear and concise purpose or thesis statement you are doomed to the many hours of wasted effort that most students complain about after finishing their essays.

Before writing the purpose or thesis sentence you must decide on the type of written work you are doing. The form your written work will take will help you prepare a concise purpose or thesis sentence. The following is a list of some different forms of research.

a) A comparison of points A and B e.g.comparing two proposals, reports or books to choose the most suitable one.

b) A cause and effect analysis e.g.Does too little education adversely affect a person's ability to cope with change?

c) A specific argument e.g.Corporate executives in the 1980s must become actively involved in a physical health program for at least 30 minutes each day to reduce their risk of heart attack.

d) A sequential presentation e.g. Between 19401950 the Canadian government increased its control over the social economy of Canadians.(This statement implies that you will present the pre1940 situation in Canada, the evolution of change between the war years 194045, and the post war years 194550.)

e) A classification method e.g.There are three types of love: spiritual, emotional and physical.

When writing a purpose or thesis sentence we must define specifically what we want to write about or prove. Compare the following sentences:

"The peace movement is long overdue."

"The peace movement is not only long overdue but the only method through which people will survive this century."

The first sentence is too broad in its scope and would require considerable restrictions because the reader does not know if you are referring to the peace movement in all countries, in Canada or the U.S. The term "long overdue" makes multiple assumptions including that the present peace movement is original and effective.

The second sentence is called a multiple thesis because it adds even more scope to an already complicated argument. Again there are many assumptions about what the reader believes in, and there is no chronological or geographical limits.

A possible revision would be: "The call by scientists of both the western and eastern blocks for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s is a necessary step to encouraging both governments and the general public to demand more aggressive disarmament talks between the U.S.and the Soviet Union."

* As you continue your research you may find that your purpose or thesis statement requires revision. Make any revisions that make your purpose more concise and clear.

Testing Your Purpose or Thesis Sentence:

You can use the following steps to test the accuracy and effectiveness of your purpose or thesis (remember I told you this step would take time!):

a) Is the subject of the research the subject of your project?(Seems obvious but take the time to make sure.)

b) Does your purpose or thesis sentence accurately describe the ideas you want to prove?

c) Is the purpose or thesis sentence a singular or multiple one? Can you handle the scope of your project?

d) Is the purpose or thesis sentence restrictive enough?

e) Does the purpose or thesis sentence tell your reader what you intend it to? Ask a colleague to review your purpose or thesis sentence before researching and writing.

f) Is your purpose or thesis sentence consistent with the form of your research ie. comparison, cause and effect analysis, specific argument, sequential presentation, or the classification method?

If you can answer yes to the above questions you can move on to the next step.

3. Who are Your Readers?

Are you writing for your colleagues, your supervisor, a committee, a professor or instructor, your friends, the "general public" or a publication?

Each audience requires a different perspective and scope. Your colleagues already are aware of what you are doing and therefore you needn't spend so much time explaining definitions and assumptions.

Your supervisor or a committee will probably want your work presented briefly yet concisely.

Your professor is looking for your ability to research, draw conclusions, and present your ideas in a format somewhat standardized by the subject matter.

The general public requires more background information on your topic. You must "sell" your work to them so they need to know why you are writing it and why they should read it.

When writing for a publication there are often standards and formats you must follow. Check with them in advance to save you some time and effort.

There are resource guides to help you write for all types of audiences. Check with your colleagues, librarians, and resource lists.

4. Define Your Terms

Too often a person's total argument or presentation is discounted because the reader has a different definition for a term used by the author. Words such as legal, medical or political terms or the use of adjectives (e.g.obscene, right or wrong,) are not specific enough unless you give your own definition. The reader may not agree with your definition but at least there is common ground upon which to continue reading.

5. State Your Assumptions

Assumptions are often not stated and therefore are also a reason for losing your reader's attention. Assuming that they have a certain knowledge or understanding is the most common error.

A less common assumption is believing that your readers agree with your general argument or presentation before having read your work. An example would be assuming that the editor of a professional journal sees the same importance in a topic that you do. By making such an assumption you do not spend the necessary time "selling" your idea. Spend the necessary time to examine your assumptions and give them to your readers.

6. Designing a Research Plan

In designing this chapter I began by jotting down topics in a memory map diagram that I felt a writer or researcher would find important. (See the chapter on "Taking Notes" for more information on memory maps.)

Basically I wrote down the section titles of this chapter and then wrote them in a more detailed way as a Table of Contents. After having the general headings I divided each section into smaller units just as this section was divided into 14 points.

With this "Table of Contents" or plan before me I researched each topic using cue cards (described in this chapter) and put completed cards in piles divided by unit names.

The need for a plan cannot be emphasized enough. Without a clear purpose or thesis sentence and research plan you will spend far too much time researching useless information. With a plan you can be quite brutal as to what information you discard no matter how interesting it might be.

The other main advantage to having a plan is that it forces you to find the right answers to your own questions and forces you to present your information in a clear and sequential way. Without a plan you will often do too much research and writing.

Note: As you continue your research you may decide to revise your plan to meet the changing requirements of your research. Revise your plan only if it makes your work more organized and easier to read.

7. Define Your Scope

If you are writing a 20-page paper you will not need to review 100 text books and articles, or interview dozens of experts.

By narrowing your purpose or thesis and having a clear plan you will be able to decide how much information you need and where best to find it. For example a short biographical sketch will not require much "PRIMARY" source research. Primary sources include unpublished diaries, personal photos, letters, and journals. A biographical sketch can often be done by researching "SECONDARY" sources, which include published books, articles, photographs, and videos.

By defining your scope you must examine realistically how much time you have to research. Often deadlines are very demanding and do not allow sufficient research. Therefore you must use indexes (see section on "Research") , reference texts, and other readily available resources to limit your scope and concentrate on information best suited to your work.

8. Using Cue Card Method to Research

Cue cards, or scraps of paper, should be 3" x 5" (larger or smaller sizes are not as effective). These cards will be used for two purposes:

1. to write the bibliographic citation for each source to be used later in your work, you can number your citation so that you can write the number on each new card you use to take notes;

2. each single fact, quote or summary must be written on a separate card. Even if the fact is very short (ie.Mr.Smith was born August 27, 1943) you use only one card.

You should never use two cards to copy a quote for that indicates that the quote is probably too long.

Also use a single card for each of your personal ideas, conclusions, questions, and things to follow up. When you begin to write you have these ideas available to incorporate into your work.

Below are two examples of the cue card method.

NOTE to Computer Users: If you input your information directly onto computer you can: (1) input the correct bibliographic citation for each source directly into your bibliography; (2) Divide a computer file by generic headings (e.g. intro; short, detailed facts; personal ideas, conclusions, questions; quotes;) which you can later reorganize in much the same way as you would cue cards. If you already have a general structure to your paper or report, you can begin to divide your file by those headings and input information to the specific heading to which it applies.


(1. van Bommel, Harry. The Busy Person's Guide to Research and Writing. North York, ON: Skills Development Publishing, 1985.

1. [the #1 refers to the number of the p. 13, 14

bibliography citation on the card above.]

van Bommel says: "only one fact, quote, conclusion, or idea per card".

9. Discard Most Information

Writing the information that you need to collect is time consuming enough without writing out unnecessary information as well. Although it is a simple matter to discard cards you do not need it is still best to avoid writing out the information in the first place.

Concentrate on information that is relevant to your work.Although this is a repetitive point, it is one that is crucial to successful research.

10. Compartmentalize Information

As you do your research place the cue cards into groupings to help divide them according to your outline. Have a separate grouping for only bibliographic citations. Have another grouping for each chapter or section heading based on your research plan. Also have a separate grouping of cards for the following sections of your work: Forward, Introduction, Preface, Conclusions, Recommendations and other divisions you think are useful.

11. Organize Your Cards & Write a First Draft

Once your research is complete and you are ready to begin writing divide your cards within each grouping in the order that you want to present the information. When you begin to write your draft turn over each card after you have written the information down.

For those of us, including myself sometimes, who have no time to write drafts before certain deadlines, this method will allow you to use the cards to write your final draft right away. This is only possible if you use the cards to record single facts, quotes and personal ideas and conclusions. If you should go straight to writing a final draft you must pay special attention to use sentences to join paragraphs smoothly together. These joining sentences should help make your report easy to read and understand.

For the bibliographic grouping you will organize the cards in alphabetical order. An alternative is to list the resources alphabetically by type ie. books, articles, films, interviews.

12. Revise Draft

A revision of your draft can be successful only if you do not attempt to do it just after writing it. It is best to leave the work completely alone for a while so that you can get a new perspective of it when your read it again. It will allow you to see the corrections you need to make more clearly.

Perhaps the best tip ever given on revising drafts is to read your work aloud. At points where you stumble you will know that the style needs revision. By reading it quietly you will naturally skim over sections you feel confident about.

13. Further Revisions

Sometimes you will be blessed or cursed with the opportunity to make further revisions. Do so only after you have put the work aside for a few days or weeks.

You might get some outside criticism from a colleague or perhaps an expert in the field you are writing about. If the work warrants the effort you might make a few photocopies of your draft and ask for such advice.

It is always best to read the paper aloud again after revisions to assure smooth reading for your audience.

14. Final Writing

This final writing should not require major effort. If you have not already done so, this is the time to celebrate a job well done! If you have followed the majority of the recommendations you have done your work in an organized and professional manner.

F I N A L N O T E : Although this plan appears lengthy it takes very little practice to discover its timesaving method. Once you have used it a few times you will find its applicability for all of your future writing whether it is for further education, professional purposes or writing for pleasure.

Research Materials


The research portion of any written or oral presentation can be the most exciting or the most frightening part of your work.

This is called the "Information Age" and although we are fortunate to have great libraries, computer data banks, and access to many experts we are also the first generation to be overwhelmed by DATA.

To make research the adventure it was meant to be, we must discount 99% of all accumulated data and find that 1% which we call useful information.

This section deals with the short cuts to finding that 1% of useful information and discount the rest no matter how interesting it may be.

To research effectively we must narrow the scope of our project by defining the purpose or thesis as specifically as we can. The previous section on "Research Preparation" should be reviewed before continuing with this chapter in order to save you many hours of needless work.


There are four main areas are available for research:

1) print and nonprint media,

2) interviewing people,

3) personal observations,

4) personal reasoning based on information.

We will look at all four areas.

Print and Non-Print Media


a) Books:serials, reference texts, general works, specific works;

b) Journals/newsletters/newspapers: general and specific works;

c) Indexes:on just about every topic there is a specific index (see examples at end of section);

d) Abstracts:in most fields of interest which give sources based on specific "key words" ie.if you are looking for recent articles on delinquency check subject headings in Crime & Delinquency Abstracts;

e) Primary sources:unpublished manuscripts, handbooks, workbooks, diaries, notes, letters, written speeches (any printed matter that has not been previously published).


a) audiovisual materials:films, cassettes, videos, microfilm, filmstrips, photos, slides;

b) games & simulations (generally computer operated);

c) computer data banks;

d) maps, charts, globes, models.


With a click of a computer mouse and a search engine, you can travel the world in seconds. You can visit the library in the Vatican or see if you favorite musician has a web page with personal information. You can visit historic sites or 'interview' professors anywhere in the world with expertise in your topic. The options are endless and that is the challenge.

The vastness of knowledge available to you now at school, work or at home can be overwhelming. Sources listed at the back of this unit list specific books that will help you research the Internet more thoroughly. The technology is changing so quickly that no book or resource can remain up-to-date. Understand some of the basics and then use newspapers, speciality magazines, Internet search engine sites and colleagues to remain current.

To search the World Wide Web using the Internet requires a search engine. These engines are similar to library catalogues. You can search by author's name, subjects, code words, and more. Each search engine will provide you with the specifics of how to do a basic search (which usually provides too many responses) to more advanced search techniques. Take the time to learn the 'tricks' of each engine. Each site is a free lesson in using the vast world wide network without having to buy a book to learn or take an expensive course.

Some of the most popular search engines are:

If you are searching for a specific book or resource you can try several of the on-line book selling sites, such as, and

In most fields now there are specific web sites that describe the field with links to related sites. For example, many medical schools now how web sites that provide information and links to related sites on all areas of medicine. There are also consumer or professional associations that have sites that can lead you to related sites. An association of scientists specializing in a specific area of science can be a gold mine of information. You can find these associations or sites through a search or by referral of your professor/boss or colleagues.

CAUTION: The web is also filled with information that is inaccurate or misleading. Before you take information from a web site find out who is behind the site, where they get their information and whether other reputable 'experts' in any particular field either link to the site or recommend it.

Some general sites for researchers and writers that may prove helpful:

Hypertext Webster dictionary

Dictionary & Thesaurus

Almanac-type information


Virtual reference libary


When citing information taking from a web site you must consistently present:

Author or organization's name, date material accessed, publication name and date (if article or online book), web site location, page number.

van Bommel, Harry. (September 18, 2003). Family hospice care (2002 online book).

Resource Location - Public Library

Knowing what materials are available for us to complete our research and having narrowed down our purpose or thesis we can now examine specific locations for finding the research materials we want.

REMEMBER to use the card method of recording information outlined in the "Research Preparation" section.

It will be no surprise to most of you that the best source of information is the public library and the best resource person is the librarian. Always present a cordial and professional attitude toward librarians because they can save you endless hours of research and advise you of sources not generally used by the public. A smile and sincere thank you will go along way to establishing a rapport that will extend over future projects.

Other than the normal books and magazines at the library there are many timesaving sources available:

1. indexes, abstracts and directories;

2. government reports and data bases;

3. vertical files (usually divided by subject and containing newspaper articles, brochures, posters, etc.) are a good source for background information or recent information on a specific topic or person.

INDEXES, DIRECTORIES AND ABSTRACTS are the key to timesaving research!At the end of this section is a sample list of useful sources. When you use these sources for the first time they may appear overpowering. They are large books with small print and they use a lot of abbreviations which is why they are neglected by most researchers. Look at the explanation page for a key to abbreviations and experiment with them. NEVER NEGLECT THEIR USE for your own sake.

GOVERNMENT SOURCES:most government levels (municipal, provincial or state, federal) have an information hotline (find number through government inquiry number in phone directory). Expect to be passed around to various departments before finding the right person.

Each government level has its own archives with information as wide ranging as Voter Lists, tax assessments, Royal Commission Reports, historical documents, official Minutes of meetings, and personal papers of politicians.

MICROLOG is a publication by Micromedia Limited which indexes any report or document of research value by federal, provincial and municipal governments.

STATISTICS CANADA has offices throughout Canada and has valuable information on every facet of Canadian life.

REMEMBER the librarian can help find the shortcuts with you if you only ask.

Other sources such as Audio Visual (A.V.)materials, diaries, and photoscan be found at many libraries. When beginning work in a new library take a good look at all the resources available, introduce yourself to the chief librarian and ask about any special collections that are available.

Special Libraries

Special libraries are kept by not only governments but also hospitals, universities, professional associations, corporations, unions, personal collections, notforprofit organizations, newspapers and others.

Check the following sources for libraries most accessible to you:

Directory of Special Libraries in the Toronto Area

The Canadian Library Handbook (published by

Micromedia Limited)

Directory of Associations in Canada

local library for sources specific to your location

Other Sources (Experts)

Nonprint sources such as experts in a particular field are invaluable for finding further printed sources and also for personal information and usable quotes.

Most of us are reluctant to interview "experts" because we believe they are too busy to talk to us. If you present a professional attitude and sincere interest in their field of expertise then you should have little difficulty. Although these people are busy they also remember that they too had to go to experts in order to attain their present level of knowledge.

Trying to locate the correct person to talk to is not very difficult. Consult: the Directory of Associations in Canada, your personal contacts in universities (professors) or in your organization, book titles for authors living in your area, your local newspapers for journalists in the area, and your librarian.

Once you have the names of people call or write them to set up an appointment of 2030 minutes so that they don't feel that it will take too much time.

7 Steps to Successful Interviewing

1. You may choose to send the person your questions and the purpose of the interview in advance so they can prepare the information you need. If you want a more spontaneous interview, you would only tell them the general purpose of the interview.

2. Be polite and professional in your manner.

3. Opening Remarks:explain your purpose and credentials and mention any interests you may have in common (be brief).

4. Be prepared with a list of questions (and answers you might expect).

5. LISTEN:learn to listen, keep eye contact, although you may anticipate an answer don't assume you have heard it before moving on to the next question.Allow the person to wander a bit off topic if you feel it will lead to a more open discussion.

6. Remain Objective: keep the "who, what, where, when, how and why" in mind. Look at body language to determine if person is telling the truth, and listen for selfserving answers.

7. Closing Remarks: ask an open ended question i.e. "What else do you think you can tell me?"or "Is there anything I have not asked you that you thought I was going to ask you?" At the end of the interview summarize main points to determine if you understood them correctly.

Note: Try to meet person in a place that is comfortable to them eg. their office or work place, their home, or a nearby restaurant where they are most relaxed. If you are interviewing a "difficult" or "longwinded" person summarize their answers in quotable terms and ask "Is that correct?". In this way you can be sure you understood the main points correctly. Another technique is to use some prewritten answers you thought might summarize the person's viewpoint and ask them to confirm it for you.

Avoid using tape recorders with people who are nervous. Generally a well prepared interview does not require recording equipment.

As well, using such equipment puts an interviewer too much at ease and you may miss some important body language, verbal cues or summarizing. Last note: do not be surprised by answers do your homework before interviewing someone otherwise they will not give you the detailed information for which you are looking. For example, if you are interviewing a veteran of WW II and half-way through the interview you find out that they never saw overseas duty, your whole interview may be wasted. Or imagine interviewing someone about what it feels like to have a child die of sudden infant death without knowing (or checking) whether or not they are comfortable talking about such a painful experience.

Reference Texts & Indexes

This section is just a sample of the many resources available in libraries. No one person will need to use all of the resources listed below.

Do not become overwhelmed with these timesaving sources. Although the first time you use them they will be somewhat intimidating, they will become your most valuable tools.

Surprisingly these are not all the tools available to you. They are a modification of various Source Lists mentioned in the bibliography. Always check with librarians, colleagues or professors who may know just the right index, reference text, dictionary or data base that you are looking for. Also, check with your librarian to see if they can do a COMPUTER SEARCH for you. A computer search uses many indexes and saves you the effort of going through the indexes yourself.

Put an asterisk beside sources most valuable to you or add further sources in the sections provided.

In the following sections check both general sources and the specific subject sources for the issues you are interested in.

Outline of Subject Headings Available in Libraries

General Sources

Government Sources


Social Science: General materials:






Political Science: General

International Affairs



Social Work


Humanities: Applied Arts, Theater Arts, film, dance

Fine Arts


Literature: General Works & Prose






Natural General

Sciences: Biological Sciences (botany, zoology, agriculture)


Earth Sciences (geology, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography)

Medical Science

Physics & Mathematics

(astronomy, engineering, space)

Urban & Architecture

Environmental Environmental Studies


General Sources

The Alternative Press Index (P.O.Box 7229, Baltimore, Md.21218) covers over 150 alternative & radical newspapers, magazines and journals. Difficult to find in general libraries.

American Library Directory, by R.R. Bowker, New York. Lists 30,000 U.S.and 3,000 Canadian Libraries.Lists contents of each library.

Biographical Index, by H.W.Wilson Co.Biographical data from 2,400 periodicals, books, obituaries, etc.

Canadian Almanac and Directory, published by Copp Clark Pitman, Toronto. Names and addresses of leading officials and departments at all federal, provincial, municipal levels, list of associations and other information.

Canadian Business Index, published by Micromedia Limited, Toronto. Indexes about 200 business publications.

The Canadian Encyclopedia, publication of Hurtig, Edmonton. Several volumes covering all aspects of Canadian life.

Canadian Library Handbook, published by Micromedia and lists about 5,000 libraries (public, university, government, special libraries).

Canadian Medical Directory, published by Seccombe House (Southam Communications), Don Mills, Ontario. Lists doctors and hospitals by province and town or city.

Canadian News Index, by Micromedia. Indexes seven major daily newspapers by subject and journalist.

Canadian Periodical Index, by Canadian Library Association, Ottawa. Indexes about 100 periodicals by author and subject.

Canadian Who's Who, by University of Toronto Press.

Directory of Associations in Canada, by Micromedia.Lists about 8,000 associations under 800 subject headings and lists their serials.

ENCYCLOPEDIA: Check library encyclopedias for type best suited to your research.

Encyclopedia of Associations, U.S.version of Directory of Associations, by Gale Research Company.

Guide to Reference Books, by American Library Association.General source book for librarians with 1,000 pages of brief descriptions of books on all subjects.

Guide to Reference Material, by London Library Association, R.R.Bowker, New York. British resource guide similar to U.S.Guide to Reference Books.

National Directory of Newsletters and Reporting Services, U.S. listing by Gale Research Company, Detroit, Michigan.

The New York Times Index, contains brief abstracts of newspaper contents on thousands of subjects.

Omni Online Database Directory, by Collier Macmillan, Don Mills, Ontario. Lists and describes over 1,000 data bases available to the public.

Polk's City Directories, by R.L.Polk Co. Publishes 1,400 U.S.& Canadian city directories. Includes residential data on people plus corporate information. Some city directories go back to 19th century.

Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, lists by subject only for periods 180281, 18821906.

Popular Periodical Index, (P.O.Box 739, Camden N.J., 08102) lists 36 magazines not listed by Readers' Guide, ie.Mother Jones, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Conservative Digest, T.V.Guide.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, index of about 180 general and nontechnical U.S.periodicals by subject, author.

Reference Books: A Brief Guide, by Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, Md 21201.(180 page paperback for $2.50) Excellent resource guide.

Special Libraries Directory of Greater New York., by Special Libraries Association of New York. Lists 1,200 special libraries in New York City and environ.(*Check local library for similar listing for your city.)

Standard Periodical Directory, indexes 68,000 major publications in U.S.and Canada by 230 subjects.

Subject Collections, by R.R.Bowker, New York. Lists U.S.libraries and special collections within libraries by subject headings.

The Times (London), indexes British daily newspaper.

Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, by R.R.Bowker, New York. Similar to Standard Periodical Directory but includes international listings.

Who Knows What:Canadian LibraryRelated Expertise, by Canadian Library Association.Directory of librarians and other research specialists.

Who Was Who in America, summarizes biographies of Americans now dead.

Who's Who, British version published since 1849.

Who's Who In America, by Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Brief biographies of notable living Americans. Also check regional Who's Who books published by same firm.

The World Almanac, published for a century. Standard American book of facts. Used widely by newspaper editors, and researchers.

General Sources Not Listed

(Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)

Business Sources

The Blue Book of Canadian Business by the Canadian Newspaper Services International, Toronto. Over 100 profiles of major businesses plus information on more than 2,400 other companies.

Business Periodicals Index lists 300 periodicals covered since 1958. Includes Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Business Week. It's predecessor, Industrial Arts Index started in 1913.

Canadian Business Corporations Act and Regulations is published annually by Richard De Boo, Don Mills, Ontario. Federal act with required forms to be completed by the businesses.

Canadian Key Business Directory has two volumes by Dun and Bradstreet, Toronto. Profiles 14,000 Canadian businesses.

The Card Index by the Financial Post's Corporation Search Group of Maclean Hunter, Toronto. Detailed profiles of 600 publicly owned by Canadian corporations. Check other services offered by Maclean Hunter.

Directory of Directors, by the Financial Post. Lists leading business people and their backgrounds; by both companies and by individual directors.

F & S Index International Annual by Predicasts, Cleveland, Ohio. Indexes over 750 business publications, newspapers and reports on international corporations, products and industries.

Funk & Scott Indexes lists articles about international companies.

Gebbie Directory Magazine Directory is bi-annual (P.O. Box 1111, Sioux City, Iowa, 51102). Guide to "in-house" publications of many corporations not listed in other indexes because they are generally not available to the public. Can sometimes get specific editions or be put on a mailing list.

Guide to American Directories by B. Klein Publications (P.O. Box 8503, Coral Springs, Florida, 33065). This is a guide to the major business directories in the U.S. covering all industrial, professional and mercantile categories.

How to Find Information about Companies by Washington Researchers, 918 16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006. Guide to researching private and public companies in the U.S. including Canadian companies operating in the U.S. Must order from Washington Researchers (202-833-2230).

Inter-Corporate Ownership by Statistics Canada, Ottawa shows foreign ownership and corporate structures of corporations operating in Canada.

Moody's Investors Service Moody is a subsidiary of Dun and Bradstreet Corporation. Six annual manuals profiling 20,000 international businesses and corporations including financial data.

1001 Valuable Things You Can Get Free by Mort Weisinger (Bantam Books) is a guide to useful information produced by public relations sources.

Scott's Industrial Directories has information on manufacturers in Canada in seven individual directories.

Sources of Information for Canadian Business by Brian Land and published by Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Toronto. Excellent resource.

Who Owns Whom in North America by Dun and Bradstreet showing corporate structures including subsidiaries and associated companies. Similar sources by Dun and Bradstreet for Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.


1. Indexes and directories of specific industries, e.g. Canadian Oil Register.

2. Directories and reference texts for specific professions e.g. Directory of Canadian Charter Accountants. Check with specific associations by calling or writing (check the Directory of Associations or Encyclopedia of Associations for addresses and phone numbers).

3. Specific Investments Sources e.g. Ontario Securities Act and Regulations.

4. Specific handbooks and dictionaries for accountants, advertisers, business managers, etc.; e.g. Dow Jones Investor's Handbook or the Handbook of Business Administration.

5. Check your library for specific information sheets on business sources.

Business Sources Not Listed

Government Sources

Access to Information Act is a federal act that allows you to examine or obtain copies of records of a federal government institution except in limited and specific circumstances. Read Using the Access to Information Act by the International Self-Counsel Press, Vancouver.

Annual Report of the Provincial Auditor of Ontario is printed annually by the Queen's Printer of Ontario. Similar reports by all provinces. Call provincial government book stores for information.

Congressional Directory is a biennial guide to the resources of American federal government, i.e. the Congress, it's committees, federal courts and judges, agencies and officers of the Executive branch of government.

Congressional Record is a verbatim transcript of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The Corpus Administrative Index is published annually by the Southam Communications, Don Mills, Ontario (also its subject guide). Lists leading personnel in federal and provincial governments with their phone numbers.

Data Users Directory: Who to Dial at Statistics Canada, by Statistics Canada (twice yearly) free of charge. Lists department heads at Statistics Canada.

Hansard is the official transcript of proceedings in the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada. Similar reports are made by each province.

Index to Federal Programs and Services is published annually be Methuen Publications, Agincourt, Ontario. Examines federal government's spending.

Information U.S.A. by Penguin Books, New York is a detailed book on how to access U.S. government information.

Microlog by Micromedia, is printed monthly with a yearly cumulative index. Lists reports of all levels of Canadian government and institutional sources.

Personal Information Index by the Supply and Services, Ottawa. Describes information under the control of the federal government relating to individuals. Libraries and post offices often have a copy.

The Public Accounts of Canada is published annually by the Receiver General for Canada. The three volumes give information on federal government spending habits. (Provinces have their own "Public Account" reports.)

The Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons, by the Auditor General. Critically examines federal government spending with specific emphasis on a different ministry each year.

The Source Book: The Corpus Almanac by Southam Communications includes a lot of information on Canada plus government addresses and telephone numbers across Canada.

Statistical Abstract of the United States has been published annually since 1879 by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Similar to Statistics Canada publications including areas of demography, social statistics, finance, business and economics.

Government Sources Not Listed

(Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)

Humanities Sources

General Sources

Humanities Index covers more than 250 periodicals.

Applied Arts, Theater Arts, Film and Dance

Costume Index: A Subject Index to Plates and to Illustrated Tests by I. Monro and D. Cook, Wilson, 1937.

Directory of the American Theater, 1894-1971 by O.L. Guernsey, Dodd and Mead, 1971.

Film Literature Index, Filmdex Inc.

Guide to Dance Periodicals, University of Florida Press, 1963.

Guide to the Performing Arts, Scarecrow.

Index to Characters in the Performing Arts, Scarecrow, 1972.

Index to Critical Film Reviews

Index to Critical Reviews of Books About Film, Stephen E. Bowles and Burt Franklin, 1975.

Fine ArtsFine Arts

Art Index

Sculpture Index, J. Clapp, Scarecrow, 1971.


A Guide to Historical Method, Dorsey, 1974.

America History and Life, 1974.

L'Annee Philogogique, bibliography of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature

Historical Abstracts

Index to Book Reviews in Historical Periodicals, 1972 to present.

International Bibliography of Historical Sciences

Reviews in American History, 1973 to present.

Reviews in European History, 1974 to present.

Check Indexes and Abstracts for specific geographic regions re: historical information.



Abstracts of English Studies

A.L.A. Index to General Literature

Alternative Press Index

American Recognition of Canadian Authors Writing in English, 1890-1960, 1964.

Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature

Book Review Digest, 1915 to present. Index of 80 U.S. popular magazines and journals.

Book Review Index, 1965 to present. Index of 200 popular and scholarly journals.

Books in Canada, 1971 to present. Monthly magazine of reviews.

Brick, 1977 to present. A mixture of reviews.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1975 to present.

Canadian Essay and Literature Index, 1973 to present. Listings not found in the Canadian Periodical Index.

Canadian Literature, 1971 to present with an annotated bibliography.

A Concise Bibliography of English Canadian Literature, by Michael Gnarowski, McClelland and Stewart, 1978.

Current Book Review Citations, 1976 to present. Indexes reviews of 1,000 journals including little-known titles.

Index to Book Reviews in Historical Periodicals, 1972 to present.

Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities, 1960.

Index to the Science-Fiction Magazines, 1926-1950, D.B. Day, Perri, 1952.

Internationale Bibliographie Der Rezensionen Wissenschaftlicher Literature, 1971 to present. Over 2,000 periodicals indexed in German with English cross references.

M.L.A. International Bibliography of Books, Articles (also known as P.M.L.A. Bibliography).

New York Times Book Review Index, 1973.

Quill and Quire, 1935 to present. Canadian book trade magazine.

Science Fiction Story Index, 1923-1973.

Short Story Index, D.Cook and I. Monro, Wilson, 1953.

The Times (London) Index

Women's Studies Abstracts, 1972 to present.


American Library Association, Subject Index to Poetry for Children and Young People, A.L.A., 1957.

Index of American Periodical Verse, Scarecrow, 1973.


Cumulated Dramatic Index, by Faxon, Bates & Sutherland, C.K. Hall, 1965.

Dramatic Criticism Index, P. Breed and F. Sniderman, Gale Publishing, 1972.

Index to Plays in Periodicals, by D. Keller, Scarecrow, 1971.

Ottemiller's Index to Play in Collections, J.H. Ottemiller, Scarecrow, 1971.


Guide to the Musical Arts: An Analytical Index of Articles and Illustrations, S.Y. Belknap, Scarecrow, 1957.

Music Index, 1949 to present.


The Philosopher's Index

Repertoire Bibliographique de la Philosophie, 1966 to present. Reviews over 350 international philosophy journals.


Index to Jewish Periodicals, 1964.

Index to Religious Periodical Literature

Religious and Theological Abstracts

Sources in Humanities Not Listed

(Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)

Natural Sciences Sources

General Sources

American Men and Women of Science, by R.R. Bowker & Co. Over 100,000 U.S. and Canadian scientists' biographies.

Applied Science and Technology Index

British Technology Index

General Science Index Covers about 90 general science periodicals.

Science Abstracts

Science Citation Index

Biological Sciences: (Agriculture, Botany, Zoology)

Agricultural Index

Biological Abstracts

Biological and Agricultural Index

Catalog of Medical and Veterinary Zoology

Wildlife Abstracts


Chemical Abstracts

Earth Sciences: (Geology, Hydrology, Meteorology, Oceanography)

Abstracts of North American Geology

Bibliography and Index of Geology

Chemical Abstracts

Meteorology and Geoastrophysical Abstracts

Ocean Abstracts

Physics & Mathematics: (Astrology, Engineering, Space)

Astronomy and Astrophysics by D.A. Kemp, Archon Books, 1970.

Engineering Abstracts

Engineering Index

Mathematical Review

Physics Abstracts

Medical Sciences

Abstracts on Hygiene

A.H.A.Guide to the Health Care Field, American Hospital Association, (annual).

American Drug Index

Cumulative Index to Nursing Literature

Current Medical Information and Terminology, A.M.A., 1971.

Dictionary of Medical Syndromes, by S.Magalini, Lippincott, 1971.

Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine and Nursing, by Miller & Keane, Saunders, 1972.

Index of Legal Medicine, by W.V.Nick, Legal Medicine Press.

Index Medicus

International Nursing Index

Medical Legal Dictionary, by Bander & Wallach, Oceana, 1970.

Parr's Concise Medical Encyclopedia, Parr & Young (eds.), Elsevier, 1965.

Toxicology of Drugs and Chemicals, by Deichmann & Gerards, Academic, 1969.

Natural Sciences Sources Not Listed

Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)

Social Science Sources

General Sources

ABS Guide to Recent Publications in the Social and Behavioral Sciences by American Behavioral Scientist.

Canadian Periodical Index

A Dictionary of the Social Sciences by J. Gould, (ed.), Free Press, 1964.

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, D.L. Sills (ed.), Macmillan, 1968, previously the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

The Literature of the Social Sciences by P.R. Lewis, Libraries Associations, 1960.

The Public Affairs Information Service Bulletin, (P.A.I.S.). A major current social science index for the world.

A Reader's Guide to the Social Sciences, B.F. Hoselitz, Free Press, 1970.

Reference Books in the Social Sciences and Humanities, R.E. Stevens, Illinois Union Bookstore, 1968.

Social Science Abstracts

Social Science Citation Index

Social Science Index


Abstracts in Anthropology

Abstracts of Folklore Studies

Anthropology Index

Biennial Review of Anthropology 1959-71 renamed Annual Review of Anthropology, 1972 to the present.

Catalog of Folklore and Folk Songs, Cleveland Public Library (John G. White Department) with 110,000 listings. G.K. Hall, 1964.

Encyclopedia of Anthropology, D.C. Hunter & P. Whitten, Harper and Row, 1976.

Index to Current Periodicals, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

International Bibliography of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Child Development

Child Development Abstracts and Bibliography


Crime and Delinquency Abstracts

Crime and Delinquency Literature

Criminal Justice Abstracts

Criminology and Penology Abstracts


McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Modern Economics

A Dictionary of Economics

World Economic Review by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Index of Economic Articles

Economic Abstracts


British Education Index

Canadian Education Index

Current Index to Journals in Education

Dictionary of Education

Education Abstracts, UNESCO Education Clearing House.

Education Index

Encyclopedia: Check ones at hand to determine which is best suited to your work.

Research in Education by the Educational Research Information Center (ERIC), U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare.

Resources in Education


A Dictionary of Geography, F.J. Monkhouse, 1970.

Current Geographical Publications, an annual report.

Geo Abstracts

Geographical Research and Writing by R.W. Durrenberger, Crowell, 1971.

Yearbook of World Affairs

Political Science: Labor

Collective Bargaining Information Sources by Industrial Relations Information Service of Labor Canada, Ottawa.

Corporations and Labor Unions Returns Act, annually by Statistics Canada.

The Current Industrial Relations Scene in Canada, annually by Industrial Relations Center, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.

Directory of Labor Organizations in Canada, annually by Labor Canada.


Population Index


Annual Review of Psychology

Child Development Abstracts and Bibliography

Encyclopedia and Handbooks: Check various editions to choose one best suited to your work.

Literature and Psychology Bibliography

Mental Retardation (Annual Review)

Mental Retardation Abstracts

Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Abstracts, 1974-76.

Psychology Abstracts

Psychopharmacology Abstracts

Social Work

Abstracts for Social Workers, 1966-1976.

Human Resources Abstracts, Sage Publications (preceded by Poverty and Human Resources Abstracts)

Sage Family Studies Abstracts, Sage Publications.

Social Work Research and Abstracts, National Association of Social Workers, 1977 to present.


Black Information Index

Combined Retrospective Index to Journals in Sociology 1895-1974, Carrollton Press, Washington, 1978.

Drug Abuse Bibliography (Annual)

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences: Sociology, Tavistock Publications, 1960 to present.

Sociological Abstracts

Women's Studies

Women's Studies Abstracts

Social Science Resources Not Listed

(Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)

Urban and Environmental Studies Sources


Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Columbia University.

Comprehensive Urban Planning: A Selective Annotated Bibliography, M.C. Branch, Sage, 1970.

Encyclopedia of Urban Planning, A. Whittick (ed.), McGraw-Hill, 1974.

Guide to Architectural Information, M. Phillips, Design Data Center, 1971.

Index to City Planning, Libraries Exchange Bibliographies, Council of Planning Librarians, C.P.L., 1974.

New Communities: A Bibliography, U.S. Department, H.U.D., 1970.

Quarterly Digest of Urban and Regional Research, University of Illinois.

Urban Canada, Canadian Council of Urban and Regional Research (formerly Urban and Regional References).

Urban Environments and Human Behavior: An Annotated Bibliography, Bell and Roeder, 1973.

Environmental Studies

Applied Science and Technology Index

Air Pollution Control Association Abstracts

Biological Abstracts

Chemical Abstracts

Ecological Abstracts

Environmental Index

Pollution Abstracts

Water Resources Research Catalog

Urban & Environmental Studies Resources Not Listed

(Add sources you have found most useful for future work.)


Beginning to write your work is perhaps the most difficult aspect of your task because it is at this point that you must communicate, in a clear and active way, all the research you have done and the great ideas you have developed up to this time.

The written work is what will be evaluated by your readership and no matter how excellent your ideas or how detailed your research, if your readers cannot understand what you have written or find it too boring, they will not read what you have written rather they will read or skim what they think you have written.

Readers have only so much mental energy. If they use up too much energy to understand the meaning of your words or sentences then they have much less energy to make effective use of what you have written.

We have all read "heavy" books written to impress academic or professional colleagues. The authors have not given enough regard to the larger readership they are trying to write for and therefore much of their sound ideas and research goes unread.

To avoid these errors in judgement always consider who you are writing for and remember the old "K.I.S.S."method of writing: Keep It Short & Simple.Remember that clear language does not mean "simple" as in dumb.

Do not use compound or difficult words when short, compact ones will do. For example rather than writing "At this particular point in time..."write "now". Although the English language continues to evolve, especially through the neutral answers by politicians to direct questions, it does not mean that writers have to use such neutral phrases as "are of the opinion that" (instead of "think that").

Another error of many writers is to write in the passive voice rather than the active voice. Although we all need to write in the passive voice occasionally it is used too much by writers trying to remain objective or neutral.

To put it technically the passive voice has the object of the verb leading the sentence or clause rather than the subject of the verb. For example, "This book was written by me to express in real terms effective and practical methods to better studying techniques for timeconstrained people." This is a pretty dull sentence with too many words and the emphasis at the beginning of the sentence with the object "This book was". Often the passive tense has the verb "to be" written as "was" or "were".

The same sentence above in the active tense with less tendollar words could be written: "I wrote this book to give busy people effective and practical studying techniques." This type of sentence has the subject of the verb actively, rather than passively, involved in the sentence. By shortening the sentence at the same time it makes it easier to read and easier to understand.

Always try to remember that your writing is meant to influence, educate or entertain your readership. When you read your draft copy aloud to check for smoothness also check to see if your work is too lengthy or boring.

Before beginning to write your work I suggest you review the section on "Research Preparation" to understand the use of cue cards, a project plan and how to write for a specific audience.

This section will concentrate on:

1. writing techniques

2. mechanics of bibliographies, footnotes or endnotes, and physical presentation of work.

1. Writing Techniques

Although the following points look familiar from the "Research Preparation" section they serve to emphasize the importance of consistency in your work.

You have basically come full circle in much less time than you would have otherwise. You have done this in a professional, consistent and effective way.

The list below allows you to continue with your plan revising those portions that require modification. At this point much of your concentration should be with getting your ideas on paper in a clear and active way. Using the cue card method you have already decided what your thesis is, how you will present the information and what your conclusions are ­ YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS and I congratulate you!

1. Revise purpose or thesis statement.

2. Define your terms.

3. State your assumptions.

4. Revise your research plan.

5. Discard any cue cards with repetitive or unnecessary information.

6. Divide cue cards (if not already done) by chapter or section headings.

7. Divide cards within each chapter or section in the order you plan to use them.

8. Write first draft (if you have insufficient time to write a draft, write the final copy taking extra pains to make sure that sentences and paragraphs are joined in a logical and smooth structure).

9. Read draft aloud and make revisions (begin this process a few days after completion of draft.

10. Read revisions of draft after a few days of not looking at your work. Do this step over as many times as necessary depending on the time you have available and the importance of the work.

11. Prepare the final copy of your work. Check the section of this chapter relating to the physical format and presentation of your work.

1.Revise Purpose or Thesis Statement

Throughout your research you may have revised your purpose or thesis statement to keep consistent with the research materials available to you. At this point it is necessary to write the purpose or thesis statement as clearly as possible using the test outlined in the Research Preparation section.

Write the statement for your work but also write it on another cue card to tape up to the wall in front of you, on the desk or somewhere you can constantly refer to it to keep your work consistent throughout.

2. Define Your Terms

You have previously defined your terms so this is the time to review your definitions for clarity and brevity.

3. State Your Assumptions

Review your list of assumptions to make sure that they are clear. Also ask yourself if you have other assumptions that you should give your readers e.g. are you assuming that your readers understand the differences between people from various cultural backgrounds and the effect of those differences on your report?

4. Revise Your Research Plan

The research plan plus your purpose or thesis statement gave you the direction to complete the research portion of your work. Based on your research you may decide at this point to revise your plan one last time by changing some of the section or unit headings, placing them in a different sequence or combining parts of them. This is not the time to redo your plan and begin further research. Your concern here is for designing the clearest and most interesting presentation of your work.

5. Discarding Information

Depending on your personality type discarding information can either be a personal triumph or a real discouragement. By getting rid of repetitive or unnecessary information you are taking control over your work. If you find it difficult and feel that a bit of information must get into your paper in some way then you should do so in a footnote.1

6. Divide Cue Cards into General Chapters or Divisions

If you have not already divided your information into general sections or divisions do so now. You must do this general division for all of your cards before going on to divide cards within each section.

If you find that certain information needs to go into more than one section then make out appropriate copies onto other cards and continue dividing the rest of the cards.

7. Further Division of Information

You can either divide the information sequentially in all chapters or sections at one sitting or you may decide to divide and draft one chapter or section at a time.

8. Write First Draft

1. Begin your paper with your thesis or purpose statement (not necessarily in the first paragraph but near the beginning).

2. Catch your reader's attention and interest. If you are writing to a specific audience do not alienate them with statements to which they are expressly opposed because they will not continue to read.

3. PREVIEW your readers at the beginning of your work and the beginning of every chapter or section with what you are going to write about. Giving a preview to your readers forces them to ask questions about your topic and encourages their interest throughout.

4. Be interesting, relevant and concise.

5. Use the ACTIVE VOICE as often as possible.

6. At the end of each section and the end of your work summarize your main points and reemphasize any key arguments. Make your CONCLUSIONS forceful, active and thoughtprovoking.

Remember that a reader often remembers only the preview and conclusion of a work with odd bits of information to support their point of view.Knowing this allows you to make sure they are getting your point of view as well as a thorough understanding of the key points.

KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL DRAFT: write without editing. It is extremely important to write as much as you can without worrying about grammatical structure, spelling and other errors. You will have time to correct the mechanics of your work once you are relieved of the pressure of "getting it all down on paper".

At the same time it is very important to record your footnote or endnote references accurately so that you will not have to return to your sources during later revisions.

9. Revise Draft

After a few days or weeks reread your draft aloud looking for smoothness of structure, correct spelling, grammatical errors, and consistency of purpose relative to your purpose or thesis statement. Once you are satisfied with the overall smoothness and effectiveness of your work look for ways in which to simplify some of the words and phrases. Remember the KEEP IT SHORT & SIMPLE method to make it easier for your reader to understand your important points. I began this chapter by saying that readers have only so much mental energy and your duty is to encourage your readers to use that energy on the substance of your work, not the grammar!

The following are editing and proofreading tips to help make your work more readable and professional looking.

Good communication is not written but rewritten.

You write the first draft using your creative skills to write everything you want to say, without stopping to correct grammar or spelling. Once everything you want to say is on paper you can edit using your detail-oriented skills to improve your style, your content and your grammar. Proofreading corrects typing mistakes, spelling errors and other technical features of your work.

1. Re-work the prose, putting sentences into the active voice, shortening sentences and paragraphs, changing paragraphs and sections around.

2. Rewrite weak sections where a point is not well made or transitions are unclear.

3. Reread the piece over again out loud and begin with step two again until you are satisfied.

4. If you are using a computer, remember that a spell-check program does not fix content or grammar mistakes. There are some programs that help with grammar reviews but they can be quite time consuming.

Remember that your goal is to write well. You can never be the perfect writer so do not overedit your work.


You proofread to check for typing errors, spelling and other technical mistakes. Proofreading requires a special frame of mind. You are looking for specific details and cannot let outside distractions interfere with your work. It is easier to proofread someone else's work and perhaps you can work with a colleague to correct each other's work.

To proofread you must orient yourself to small details. There are too many things to look for at one time so I suggest you go over a piece of work several times looking for different things each time.

Some people find proofreading very tedious work. If you set your mind to the mystery of finding and correcting errors the work can be quite fulfilling. Use a colored pencil or pen for corrections.

1. Scan the work for any obvious errors. Often a typing error will jump out at you when you are scanning.

2. Read the work out loud for obvious grammar and style errors, e.g., do subjects and verbs agree, are the sentences too long, does your tongue trip over parts?

3. Go over the work a second time reading backwards looking at each word for spelling.Does the author use American or Canadian spelling? Be consistent in your spelling.

4. Check each title and subheading for spelling, location and format.

5. Check each page number to make sure the pages are in sequence and in the correct location.

6. Are margins and indentations consistent? Are there any pages where a paragraph begins at the bottom of the page (move it to the next page if this happens).

7. Are numbers consistently spelled out (e.g. for numbers less than 10)?

8. Are footnotes in sequence and accurate?

9. Are the page references in the Table of Contents, Index, and other tables accurate?

10. Is there enough "white space" on each page to make the page easy to read and pleasant to the eye?

11. Is the work free from gender, culture and ethnocentric bias?

12. Take an extra minute to get a global look at the work to see if there is anything you have missed.

10. Further Revisions

Depending on the importance of your work and the time available you may go through more than one revision. If you are this fortunate then ask a colleague (generally not a family member) or associate to review your work.

The CARDINAL RULE of getting constructive criticism is not to defend your work. A person asked to critique your work generally does so objectively with none of the personal energy or emotion that you used to write it.

Note criticisms and thank them for their considerable effort. Do not defend your work nor debate grammatical, structural aspects of your work.

Perhaps the most helpful saying I have heard regarding critiques is : "It is not what you write that is important it is what the reader reads." In other words if the readers believes you meant X when you actually meant Y, then the fault is with your presentation and not with the reader.

Once you have the critique, decide which parts of your work you will change and which you will keep the same. Everyone writes in a different style and although a critical reviewer may suggest that you rewrite a sentence in a certain way does not mean you have to do that. Consider the importance of the recommendation and act accordingly.

11. Final Copy of Your Work

The final copy requires close attention to the form of presentation depending on the format generally used in your field of study or business. The second unit of this section deals with the mechanics of final presentation. This chapter does not deal with sending your work to graphic designers or printers so you should get more advice if your work is going to be professionally produced. The bibliography also lists books dealing with these aspects of final presentation.

Once your work is complete make a photocopy of it before submitting it to your employer, professor, colleagues or friends,then go out an celebrate!

NOTE: When you receive your grade for a paper go to your professor or instructor and discuss that grade. So often professors or instructors grade a paper without enough information to tell you what you have done well and what needs improvements.

When I was a student I went to my professors to discuss my grades. The most difficult point to get across was that I was not there to talk them into increasing my grade. In fact when I received a very good mark I still went to the professor (much to their surprise!).

No matter what you submit to a professor you are never sure what you will get as a grade. By going to see your professors you can find out in greater detail those areas where you are consistently doing well and those areas where you can improve. A grade does not give you that information.

B. Mechanics of Writing

It bears repeating that the best way to see if your paper is grammatically correct is to read your work aloud to check for its smoothness. Any "rough" spots usually indicate bad grammatical structure. By reviewing a few grammar texts you will find your own weak areas and can improve your skills accordingly.

For those of you who have the time it is always advisable to take a few writing workshops to get some objective criticism and assistance with your writing. Professional writers continue throughout their lives to take workshops to keep their styles alive and energetic.

This section will cover the mechanics of writing by the following divisions:

1. Title Page,

2. Tables of Content, Illustrations, Appendices,

3. Forward, Preface, Introduction,

4. Body of Work,

5. Appendices,

6. Endnotes,

7. Bibliography.

General Notes:

When submitting educational papers or presentations it is best to use white bond paper, double spaced text and visual presentation (i.e.margins on all four sides) that are pleasing and easy to read.

Check with your professor or instructor to determine normal standards within your field of interest or study.

The golden rule in presenting written work is to be NEAT. Therefore do not allow typeovers, smudges from a hot dog and fries, or creased pages.

1. Title Page

Follow the general standards of your profession or field of study but make sure that you include:

The Title

Your Name in Full

Student Number (when applicable)

Name of Professor

Name of Course

Date of Submission

2. Tables of Content, Illustrations, Appendices

Tables of content, illustrations and appendices act as previews to your work. They aid your readers in understanding where you have decided to put the emphasis on your research and it encourages them to ask questions about your work.

Tables of Content can either list the main division headings or they can subdivide within main division headings to give a more specific breakdown of your work. The nature of your work will determine the necessity for a more specific breakdown to aid your readers in understanding your work.

3. Forward, Preface, Introduction

All of these sections allow you to emphasize certain preliminary points. Included in a forward or preface can be a list of acknowledgements or you can have a separate section to thank the people who have helped you with your work.

Generally you do not have all three sections in your work, but often an author will use the Preface to give some background information about the work and thank the people who helped her, while using the Introduction as a preview of her work outlining in summary form the key points she wishes to write about.

A Forward or Preface can also be written by someone else as their introduction to your work.

4. Body of Your Work

Each new chapter or section of your work should begin on a new page to clearly indicate a new division in your presentation.

Single QUOTES are included in the body of your work using quotation marks while long quotes (do not use these often) are typed in a singlespaced block that follows a colon in the main body of the work.

When writing the NAMES of articles, poems, stories, books, magazines always underline them or type them in Italics.

If you use a large ILLUSTRATION or TABLE then have a separate page for it. When a person previews your work they will see it clearly and understand its importance. Smaller ones can fit directly into the body of the work.

FOOTNOTES are the same as ENDNOTES in style. The difference is that footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page to which it belongs while endnotes are collected and listed at the end of a chapter or the end of your work.

Footnotes and endnotes are indicated by putting a number directly to the right of a word, a phrase or sentence. The footnote either explains the source of a fact or quote or it can give supplementary detail to a point raised in the main body of your work. For examples of footnotes and endnotes see the section on ENDNOTES.

Remember that it is better to use a few extra sheets of paper to make a work pleasing to see and read then cramming your work too closely together!

5. Appendices

Appendices are used to give information that supplements the main body of your work. Reading the appendices is not critical to understanding your work but gives more detail for readers who require it.

For example if you are writing a historical work that describes various letters of importance you may include a copy of each letter in separate appendices.

As well in committee presentations you may include budgets, legal documents or accounting forms in separate appendices.

6. Endnotes

Like footnotes, endnotes give sources for facts or quotes and also allows you to add supplementary details to information contained in the main body of your work. They also allow you to make a cross reference to information found in another section of your work.

Although there are different forms to both endnotes and bibliographic citations it is important to follow the norms of your profession or field of study and to use the same style consistently throughout your work.

There are shortened versions of footnotes and endnotes that are often used the second time the citation is used:

a) a shorter version of author and title e.g.

Carr, Growing Pains, p.47.

b) Ibid.(Latin for ibidem, in the same place).

This word indicates that this reference is the same as the previous one. Volume and page numbers are indicated if different.

21) Eugene P.Odum, Ecology (New York:Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963), p.64.

22) Ibid., p.72.

c) Op.cit. (Latin for opere citato, in the work cited).It may be used only if the full identifying details have been previously given. If the author has more than one source listed then include both their name and shortened source title.

36) Carr, Op.cit., p.49.

37) Feldon, Beginnings, Op.cit., p.23.

In the following section on Bibliography I will compare footnote and endnote citations with their correct bibliographic citation.

7. Bibliography

Also called "Sources Used" the bibliography must cite all books, articles, films, interviews, speeches, etc.that are used in preparation of your work.

Below are samples of both bibliographic and footnote or endnotes from the same source. The numbered example represents a footnote or endnote with the numbers representing the footnote or endnote mentioned in the body of your work.

The main differences between bibliography and footnote citations are:

a) author's last name begins bibliographic citation

b) bibliographic citations divide the three main points by periods (after name, title and publishing data).

Note the position of commas and periods and be consistent throughout your work.

Note if you have more than one work by the same author then the second and subsequent entries may use a series of 8 consecutive dashes in place of the author's name:


NOTE: There are many resources that provide standard formats for citing resources, e.g. A Guide to Writing Essays and Research Papers, the APA Guide written by the American Psychological Association, and The Chicago Manual of Style. The APA Guide methods have been used in the chapters of this book as a comparison to the more generic guidelines given below.

The important thing is to use the method required by your readership (if any) and to be consistent throughout your work.

Print Sources

(Remember the numbered example is a footnote/endnote and the second example is for the bibliography or Reference section of your work.)

Book by one author:

1. Emily Carr, Growing Pains (Toronto:Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1946), p.83.

Carr, Emily.Growing Pains.Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1946.

Book by two or three authors:

2. Richard C.Gossage and Melvin J.Gunton A Parent's Guide to Streetproofing Children, (Toronto: Seal Books, 1982), p. 54.

Gossage, Richard C., and Melvin J.Gunton.A Parent's Guide to Streetproofing Children.Toronto:Seal Books, 1982.

Book by more than three authors:

3. A.G.Croal and others, General Biology (Toronto, Copp Clark, 1955), p. 134.

Croal, A.G., and others.General Biology.Toronto: Copp Clark, 1955.

Book by one author, revised or translated by another:

4. R.M.Dawson, The Government of Canada, Rev.Norman Ward, (Toronto:University of Toronto Press, 1970), p.154.

Dawson, R.M.The Government of Canada.Revised by Norman Wade. Toronto:University of Toronto Press, 1970.

Multivolume work:

5. Thomas B.Costain, The Tontine (New York: Doubleday, 1955), II, p.133.

Costain, Thomas B. The Tontine.2 vols.New York:Doubleday, 1955.

Book as part of a series:

6. Douglas Bosh, English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 16001660, 2nd ed.,(vol V of Oxford History of English Literature, ed.Bonamy Dobree and E.P.Wilson),(Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1966), p. 401.

Bosh, Douglas.English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century, 16001660.2nd ed.Vol.V of Oxford History of English Literature, ed.Bonamy Dobree and F.P.Wilson. Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1966.

Book that is a collection of various writers' work:

7. Judith Krantz, "A Few Words to a Beginning Writer", in Sylvia K.Burack, ed., The Writer's Handbook (Boston:The Writer, Inc., 1982), p.12.

Krantz, Judith."A Few Words to a Beginning Writer", in Sylvia K.Burack, ed., The Writer's Handbook. Boston:The Writer, Inc., 1982.

Book issued by organization:

8. Special Products Committee, Canadian Authors Association, The Canadian Writer's Guide (Toronto:Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1985), p.76.

Special Products Committee, Canadian Authors Association.The Canadian Writer's Guide.Toronto:Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1985.

Signed Encyclopedia Article:

9. H.L.Ferguson, "Acid Rain", The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1985, (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishing), I, 6 & 7.

Ferguson, H.L."Acid Rain", The Canadian Encyclopedia, 1985, I, 6 & 7.Edmonton: Hurtig Publishing.

Unsigned Encyclopedia Article:

10) "Icebreaker", Encyclopedia Americana, 1971 ed., XIV, 707.

(The bibliographic citation is the same as the footnote citation and is placed in alphabetical order by article title.)

Signed Periodical Article:

11. Elena Hannah, "Quality Time", Today's Health, Volume 1 (FebruaryMarch, 1983), p.37.

Hannah, Elena."Quality Time", Today's Health Volume 1 (FebruaryMarch, 1983), 3438.

Unsigned Periodical Article:

12. "Getting the Most from Your Snacks", Today's Health, Volume 1 (FebruaryMarch, 1983), p.24.

"Getting the Most from Your Snacks", Today's Health, Volume 1 (FebruaryMarch, 1983), 2326.

Government Publications:

13. Government of Canada, Department of National Revenue, Tax Reform and You Valuation Day (n.d.), p. 8.

Government of Canada, Department of National Revenue.Tax Reform and You Valuation Day.Undated pamphlet.

(each document will have a different style depending on its source. Remain consistent throughout work.)

Letter or Memo:

14. J.Klees, letter to H.F.M.Haas, August 27, 1985.

Klees, J. Letter to H.F.M.Haas, August 27, 1985.

15. A.J.Levins, memorandum to staff on proposed union, June 2, 1978.

Levins, A.J.Memorandum to staff on proposed union, June 2, 1978.

Instruction Manual:

16. Ditto Duplicating Made Easy, Bell & Howell (6800 McCormick Road, Chicago; n.d.), p.ii.

Ditto Duplicating Made Easy.Bell & Howell, 6800 McCormick Road, Chicago; undated.

Work Quoted in another Work:

17. I.A.Richards, Science and Poetry (1926), cited in David Daiches, Critical Approaches to Literature (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:PrenticeHall, 1956), p.135.

Daiches, David.Critical Approaches to Literature. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:PrenticeHall, 1956.

NonPrint Sources

There are no acknowledged standards of nonprint sources. Below are some suggested styles keeping in mind that citations are to help readers find the same resources you have used.

Record or Tape:

18) Joan Baez, Baptism (Vanguard:VSD 79295, n.d.)

Baez, Joan.Baptism.Vanguard:VSD 79295, n.d.

Film or Filmstrip:

19. Xerox Films, The Guitar, From Stone Age Through Solid Rock, color, 14 mins., 1971.

Xerox Films. The Guitar, From Stone Age Through Solid Rock.Color, 14 mins., 1971.

Live Theatrical Performance:

20. George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple (performance at Shaw Festival Theater, NiagaraontheLake, Aug.1, 1974).

Shaw, George Bernard.The Devil's Disciple.Performance at Shaw Festival Theater, NiagaraontheLake, Aug.1, 1974.

Radio or Television Broadcast:

21. "A Matter of Conscience", CBC Radio, Toronto, Sept.24, 1985.

"A Matter of Conscience".CBC Radio, Toronto:Sept.24, 1985.

22. Brian Mulroney, interviewed by Peter Truman on "Conversation with the Prime Minister", Global Television, September 3, 1985.

Mulroney, Brian: Interview by Peter Truman on "Conversation with the Prime Minister".Global Television, September 3, 1985.


23. M.S.Hornyansky, lecture in English 191, Brock University, Mar.15, 1974.

Hornyansky, M.S. Lecture in English 191, Brock University, March 15, 1974.


24. James Wright, Librarian at National Library, (an interview, July 6, 1981).

Wright, James.Librarian at National Library.An interview,

July 6, 1981.

The Internet

When citing information taking from a web site you must consistently present:

Author or organization's name, date material accessed, publication name and date (if article or online book), web site location, page number.

van Bommel, Harry. (September 18, 2003). Family hospice care (2002 online book).


Researching is much like detective work. Detectives do most of their research in libraries, government offices and by interviewing people. They have to use many short cuts to get the relevant facts quickly. You can benefit from those same short-cuts.

Effective research requires you to be clear about what you specifically need to learn and within what boundaries. If your purpose is unclear you could be researching dozens of resources that are interesting but not specifically relevant to your work.

You must understand the audience you are writing for.

Researching techniques can save you valuable time. Using cue cards, outlines and using the reference guides in libraries will speed up your research.

Once you are clear about where you are going with your research you need to decide how to present your information. You need to identify your own assumptions about the work and what words need to be defined for your audience.

The actual writing requires you to organize your information and then present it in an acceptable style for reports and papers. You must know what styles are acceptable to your audience before you begin to do the writing.

Writing long reports and papers can be intimidating. Time management and breaking up the work into small manageable units will result in success. See the work as a detective might see it and enjoy the hidden treasures of information you will discover.

The writing can be very rewarding if you give yourself enough time to write and enough time to get various people to read the draft and recommend changes. A finished paper is tangible proof that you have accomplished a major project. Reward yourself!


Whenever you finish learning new information it is helpful to take a moment or two to evaluate what you have found most useful and what you would like to do with that information. This process can be very useful whether you write out the answers or just think about them.

1. What general concepts, ideas or techniques have you learned?

2. List at least three techniques from this chapter that you could use immediately.

3. What other concepts, ideas or techniques do you want to learn?

4. Is there anything you have learned that you could pass on to your colleagues, family members or friends?

5. Do you have any further comments or ideas you want to record based on what you have learned?


The following references are only a few of the many useful resources that you can find in your local libraries, within your school library, and in your local book stores. Look for further books but also for journal articles, magazine reports, films, videos and audio cassettes. Also keep in mind how much you can learn from experts in the field, including people in your school.

Bell, Barbara Gurrier. (1984). Tools in the learning trade. New Jersey: Scarecrow Press.

Presents and her eight indispensable tools for college students with specific recommendations and critiques of: dictionaries, synonym books, writing guides, one-volume general encyclopedia, research guides, style manuals, calculators and computers, and handbooks on creative thinking.

The Chicago manual of style. (1982). Chicago:University of Chicago Press. 737 pages.

This style manual is updated regularly by the University of Chicago and is considered by many as the standard style guide for Americans.

Coggins, Gordon. (1983). A guide to writing essay and research papers. Scarborough, ON: Nelson Canada. 94 pages with illustrations and exercises.

Concise presentation of how to begin your research, various short-cuts to finding answers in the library through indexes and other resources, how to take notes, and how to write the actual paper or report.

Crampton, Esme. (1980). Good words, well spoken: A handbook of speech for people in all walks of life. Toronto: The Norman Press. 179 pages with illustrations.

Although this book is primarily for public speaking and using the telephone effectively, it does give useful information for people who have oral exams or must defend their papers or dissertations before an academic committee.

Gowers, Sir E. (ed). (1965). Dictionary of modern English usage (2nd ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Basic grammar text.

Grossman, Jeremy. (1976). Quickhand: A self-teaching guide. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

A form of short-hand writing to replace the more complex forms studied by secretaries in school. Quickhand does not use vowels. It also has an abbreviated form for the 35 words we use most often in our language and it contracts the rest of the words using consonants.

Overbury, Stephen. (1989). Finding Canadian facts fast. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson. 193 pages with Index and examples.

Research techniques and examples for people who need to find business, government, and legal facts.

Ross-Larson, Bruce. (1982). Edit Yourself: A manual for everyone who works with words. New York: W.W. Norton and Company. 108 pages.

A professional editor's guide to: choosing betters words, cutting down the "fat", pronoun references, order in sentences, shorter sentences, dangling constructions, abused relatives, active voice use, parallel constructions, consistency, and other basic tools. Very much a professional's approach with many lists and comparisons to assist editors in reducing the text and confusion of bureaucratic writing.

Strunk, William Jr., and White, E.B. (1979). The elements of style, (3rd Ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. 85 pages.

Easy to read text for describing elementary rules of usage, elementary principles of composition, approaches to style and form, and words and expressions commonly misused. Not effective as a reference text but a good read to refresh your memory.

Todd, Alden. (1979). Finding facts fast: How to find out what you want and need to know. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. 123 pages with Index and examples.

Basic, intermediate and advanced researching techniques for American people in business, government and the law.

van Bommel, Harry. (1985). The Busy Person's Guide to: Research and Writing. North York: Skills Development Publishing.

The main points within this chapter on "Researching and Writing Reports and Papers" are covered in van Bommel's book.

Weisberg, Robert and Bucker, Suzanne. (1990). Writing up research: experimental research report writing for students of English. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 202 pages.

For learners in technical and scientific studies.


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