March 2012 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

The Word on MS Word: Start Learning Now!

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By Beth Oyler, Writing Consultant

Higher education has drastically changed in the last few years: Technology has permeated almost every aspect, from libraries (online text books and databases) to classrooms (Blackboard and online forums). Therefore, most institutions (including Walden) now require students to have some skills with technology.

Students now write papers almost exclusively in a word processor, with Microsoft (MS) Word being one of the most common programs.  Although there are other word processing options out there (including Writer and a plethora of others), most students will use MS Word at some point in their education or career. MS Word skills have become so important that community colleges now regularly offer continuing education courses in the subject. MS Word savvy has become an asset, helping to make completing a degree easier.

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When the Going Gets Tough

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Kevin Schwandt
By Kevin Schwandt, Dissertation Editor

I recently suffered a personal tragedy; my aunt, who taught me some of my earliest music lessons, passed away.  As a gift to her and to my family generally, I am in the process of writing music for her memorial service.  This may seem an odd way to begin a post about doctoral writing, but the experience does, indeed, resonate with capstone writing in surprising ways.

Not unlike—though for different reasons—my memory of writing my own PhD dissertation, writing this music feels overwhelmingly daunting.  In the case of the memorial composition, my progress is impeded by the intense emotions always accompanying grief; in the case of the dissertation, I remember being periodically rendered utterly unproductive by the burden of producing such a substantial document.

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My Election 2012 Candidate: The Dash

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By Julia Cox, Writing Consultant

Perhaps it’s because my high school English teacher detested them, but I have been in a love affair with the dash for close to a decade now.

Besides being my favorite grammatical character, the dash is the underdog of the punctuation realm. As dashes are appropriate in only a limited number of APA contexts, they are definitely less prevalent than perfunctory marks such as the colon and comma.

According to APA style, writers should use dashes in pairs, to separate extra information that interrupts a complete sentence. Dashes help the detail phrase stand out and prevent the information from getting lost in the sentence.

When used correctly, the dash is nothing but dazzling.

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Down to the Wire? Quick Tips to Reduce Paper Panic

By Kayla Skarbakka, Writing Consultant

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating procrastination here. As you’ve been hearing since middle school, time management is essential for academic success, and there’s no substitute for effectively budgeting your schedule to set and meet your writing goals. Manage time wisely, and you’ll save yourself countless headaches and heartaches.  
That said, Walden students have a lot on their plates. We tutors understand that. And I would be lying if I said that I always planned my time effectively as a student. I brewed my share of midnight coffee and shed my share of midnight tears, and in doing so, I learned a few tips to make last-minute writing a bit more bearable:


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