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Getting Smarter through Language

The Writing Process | Enrichment Course

Stage 3. Final Touches

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Finalizing Your Work | Final Touches

This course has covered the most important stages and steps in the writing process. As you use the process and gain experience as a writer, you will notice other, more advanced aspects of writing.

Some details may be related to a specific type of writing or where you publish your work. You may also develop other personal elements based on your own preferences.


Formatting Styles

The purpose of formatting styles is to create consistency across documents. Such consistency makes it easier for your readers to get the information they need from your writing.

Whether you are writing for a company, website, or college course, you will likely need to follow different formatting styles. Whatever formatting style you are required to follow, learn it well and follow it consistently.

Even if you are writing for yourself, it is a good idea to follow a consistent format across all your documents.

Writing Tips about Formatting
Writing for Work

Familiarize yourself with the formatting that your employer requires. Use it even if you think, “it doesn’t look very good.” If employees use whatever formatting they think looks good, you end up with no consistency and often terrible-looking documents.

If your employer has a style guide, get a hold of one and follow it.

Some companies use an existing formatting style such as the Associated Press (AP) or the Chicago style. Find out which your company adopts and to what extent it has been adapted or modified.

Writing for School

If you are in college, you will likely be required to use a specific formatting style. Some formatting styles in colleges include the following:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) Style: used in the humanities, particularly in language and literature studies.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) Style: used in social sciences, education, and psychology.
  • Chicago Style: used in history, economics, and some social sciences.
  • Harvard Style: used in business and management, as well as some social sciences.
  • AMA (American Medical Association) Style: used in medicine and related fields.
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) Style: used in chemistry.
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Style: used in engineering and computer science.

Do not “guess” which style to use; ask your instructor. In fact, instructors sometimes have specific requests about formatting in addition to the required style for your field of study. That can create confusion, but it is the instructor’s prerogative to determine what they want to see in their students’ work. Simply comply with any formatting requirements you may need to follow.

Writing for Youself

If you are writing for yourself and your own audience (e.g., writing for your blog, web site, or business), you are not bound by any specific formatting style. Nonetheless, note the following:

Rely on “industry standards.” Readers have certain expectations about the appearance of a document. Familiarize yourself with different standards in your industry or field so your readers know what to expect as far as formatting is concerned.

Be consistent. You may want to create your own formatting style to make your written product “your own;" however, make it consistent across documents. Your written product will appear unprofessional if you keep changing your formatting.

For example, if you capitalize your headings a certain way, do so throughout and across your written documents; if you use the Oxford comma, do so everywhere; if you italicize rather than underline words, always do so; and so on.

Be creative, but do not go overboard. Graphics designers are trained in layout, typesetting, color theory, and so on. It is okay to be creative in your formatting, but be aware that an untrained designer can very quickly turn a good-looking document into a psychedelic mess.

Even if you think a document looks good, remember that you are writing for your readers. Messy formatting, even if you yourself love it, can easily detract from your main goal as a writer, that is, to communicate your ideas to your readers clearly and unambiguously.

Flexibility in the Writing Process

If you are still developing your writing skills, consider following the writing process closely. You may be unaware of problems you may create problems later in the process if you skip steps.

When you let the process guide you, your writing experience goes smoothly.


As you gain experience, you will see the writing process as a whole. You will likely start adapting the process to your own needs and personal style. The writing process gives you a great deal of room for creativity, so use your judgment at each stage and do what works for you.

Growing as a Writer

Although writing can be a solitary activity, it does not mean you should work alone all the time. One way to improve your work is to get people’s help and feedback.

Even highly experienced writers often have “writing buddies” and professional writers have proofreaders and editors who go over their work.


Get help from others whenever possible. They do not have to be writers themselves; sometimes just listening to a reader’s feedback can be very helpful.

Just make sure to take any kind of feedback or criticism positively. After all, you do not write for yourself; you write for others to read your ideas. If someone critiques your work or does not understand your ideas very well, do not take it personally. Accept criticism so you can grow as a writer. Take constructive criticism to heart and ignore the rest.

If you go over someone else’s work, be sure to provide constructive criticism, too. Frame your criticism as suggestions and recommendations rather than “corrections.” Be a true “writing buddy.”

If you are a college student, you may work very hard on a paper or essay and end up with a low grade and many corrections. Do not let that discourage you! You are in college to learn, and the learning process can sometimes be frustrating. Do not take your professor’s feedback personally. Go over the corrections carefully and see where you can improve for your next paper.

Congratulations! You’ve completed the whole course.

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