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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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Breaking it Down: An Introduction to APA Capitalization Rules

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APA rules can sometimes be confusing, including rules about capitalization.  Despite slight variations, the main capitalization rules can be broken down into two format categories: title case and sentence case.

Thursday Thoughts: New Blog Series on APA Style Starts Monday

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Starting Monday, May 2nd, the Walden University Writing Center Blog will begin a series of blog posts dedicated to unpacking a variety of APA style-related topics. The Editors and Instructors who work in the Center with Walden students field a variety of questions which pertain to APA style. Now they'll have a chance to share their insights with you. 

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One thing you'll notice right away on Monday is that here in the Writing Center, we see APA style as more than just hard and fast rules to be memorized. APA style flows through the entirety of academic writing in the social science. It influences the smallest detail and the broadest theme. It's a way of communicating complex ideas and research in a logical, predictable, clear way. It's a way of being. It's a way of thinking. 

In other words, this blog series will move beyond simple rules and boxes to check off. We'll do our best to explain how and why APA style asks you to make certain writerly moves. 

Check back in on Monday for our first installment in the Exploring APA Style series: An Introduction to Capitalization Rules. See you then!

The Walden University Writing Center Blog
 is an instructional space where writers of all ilks can come together to learn about and discuss writing. Walden University primarily serves those scholars writing in the social science, and therefore focuses its instruction on the scholarly communication therein.  

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Snow White and The Search for Effective Word Choice: A Writing Center Fairy Tale

Sometimes, as Writing Instructors, we see a particular problem that seems pretty minor, but when it comes up a lot, we feel compelled to write about it nevertheless. Such is the case, I have noticed, with the word “including.”

The word “including” serves a specific function and should never be misused, or simply added for no reason. Literally, the word means “containing as part of a whole.” This is important to remember. Only use the word “including” when talking about a part of something, not the whole of something.

What do I mean? Let's take a look at some of my favorite characters from literature to find out. 

Snow White and the Search for Effective Word Choice

You might see a sentence like this:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs, including Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, and Doc.”

This type of sentence makes me Grumpy. It doesn’t work because the author of this sentence is not writing a partial list of the seven dwarfs. The author, has, in fact, named every single member. Therefore, the word “including” does not belong and should be removed:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs: Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, and Doc.”

Now, if you were to provide only a partial list of the seven dwarfs, that would be different, and you would use the word “including”:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs, including Bashful and Doc.”

This is a partial list, and not a full list. So the word “including” is appropriate here.

I urge students to look at words like “including” carefully in sentences. Often they do not serve a point and can be easily removed with no damage to the meaning of the sentence. Most importantly, remember the word “including” only applies to a partial list, not a full list. If you want to make your reader Happy, practice precise and critical word choice in your next writing assignment. 

Nathan Sacks
 is a writing instructor in the the Walden University Writing Center. He also enjoys writing books, playing guitar, and playing with cats. He's happy to answer your word choice questions in the comments. 

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WriteCast Episode 26 : Wrestling with Writers Block

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Our latest podcast episode of WriteCast is published and ready to be streamed and downloaded by you! 

In this month's episode, Brittany and Beth discuss writer's block. In their "Casual Conversation for Serious Writers," they'll discuss topics on writer's block like how we can define this obstacle, how it influences our writing process, and how we can experiment with different strategies to use this physical and mental phenomenon to our advantage.

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As always, Brittany and Beth's advice is practical and accessible to writers at all stages of their writing process. And no, you don't need a PhD in Psychology to practice skills to help you move beyond your writer's block. 

For a listing of all of our WriteCast episodes, visit the Writing Center website for Interactive and Multimedia writing resources. Here, you can also access download information and transcripts for each of our podcast episodes. Happy Listening, WriteCasters!

WriteCast is a monthly podcast written, produced, and published by staff in the Walden University Writing Center.  WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers offers listeners the chance to sit in on a dialogue between two experienced and trained writing instructors. Possible episode topics will always be considered from listeners, just let us know in the comments. 

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The Art of Imprecise Word Choice: Using Pronouns for Clarity and Concision

Pronouns are a time-saving foundation of our language, and most of us use them every day.  Using these pronouns like I, we, our, us, and you helps to convey a point of view and is a common form of communication. We say to talk about ourselves, we to discuss things we have done with others, and you to directly communicate with listeners.

While this technique of using pronouns is acceptable in informal communication, when writing in APA style, many of these pronouns should be avoided or used only in specific ways. This is a result of APA’s emphasis on clarity and concision. This post, then, offers a series of tips for using first-person and second-person pronouns effectively to convey a scholarly voice in your APA style academic writing.