Writing Center: Just Do It


Hey You

Yes you!

Do you dread writing papers?

Do you struggle with getting started?

Or does writing come naturally?

But you need someone to look over it?

Then do we have a place for you…

Visit the Writing Center!

Make an appointment or stop in during After Hours today!

You know what to do…

By Anna Drenick


The Writing Center during the Summer


Hi everyone! As the semester is winding to a close I thought it would be a good idea to give an update on what the Writing Center’s hours will be during the summer!

Our summer hours will begin on June 4th from 9 am – 2 pm Monday through Thursday!

There will not be any Walk-In hours over the summer, so make sure to make appointments for any writing assignments you may have for a summer course as you won’t be able to procrastinate and come in for help the night before it’s due!

With that said I hope you all have a wonderful summer, even if you are having to take some of those much hated summer classes! You survived another year! We look forward to working with you again, whether it be this summer or next fall!


How to Write a Blog Post


I feel like I’m doing a lot of “How To’s,” don’t you? I’m like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I’m becoming the “How to” girl. Oh whale, this one’s pretty simple folks. Everything I’m going to try to explain to you is in the title. This may not go well cause I’m very tired and dying from my allergies, but we are going to give it a go anyway!

Step 1: (I laughed as I typed this because I remembered when I was in elementary and had to write an essay explaining how to make a pb&j sandwich.) Pick a topic that interests you, and with this have a captivating title and introduction to whatever it is you may be talking about. I’m not saying you need to be like click bait so you can get people’s attention. The goal is to get their attention with the start of your post and maintain it through so they want to keep reading what you write. Unlike those click bait articles we all read half of them, get bored, and move on to something else. This is crucial in holding your audience’s interest.

Step 2: (If anyone has heard Instruction by Demi Lavato know that this is the song I’m singing to myself as I write this post.) Research what you’re going to write about! Yes, you probably chose something you know a great deal about, but still consult outside sources just for the purpose of being 100% sure. I’ve typed multiple blog posts at this point, but I still look at other people’s tips to see which are the most common when explaining what to do. It’s okay to check with different resources because it’s what you should do to not only ensure you know what you’re talking about, but also to give your readers extra information if they are really interested in the topic you are writing about.

Step 3: Make an outline. Yes, this sounds like a tip we would have where research papers or something of the like were concerned, but it’s still important to outline what you’re doing. This will make sure you stay on topic as you are writing because we all know how easy it is to lose focus and have something come out of left field when writing. Maintaining focus with your outline is going to be vital to maintaining your audience’s interest through your post. It will also assist in knowing where you want to go, as it’s not always easy to sit down and immediately start writing, so an outline will help you find your way.

Step 4: Now write! You’ve got the outline, now you can go about writing your blog post with some idea as to where you are going with the information. Don’t hesitate to add in pictures or gifs, because both can assist in amusing your audience and maintaining their attention. Our posts are perfect examples of this, as we add in relevant gifs and memes when we so desire it. I’m not saying you should throw in this week’s Spongebob meme, keep it related to your topic, but don’t intentionally avoid humor. This blog is yours, and you’re allowed to let your emotion color what you’re doing.

Step 5: Now it’s time for revision and posting your first blog post, I’m so proud of you! Ah, yes, I love making jokes to myself as I type, it keeps me entertained. This step is important mostly for the revision process. You need to go back over your post and make sure there aren’t any grammatical errors and to ensure everything makes sense. There’s no point in publishing a post that no one is going to understand, especially if “trolls” intend to come after you for grammatical problems. I’m not saying you have to go over the post with a fine-toothed comb or send it in to the Writing Center. Read it out loud to yourself because more often than not, you’ll find any leftover problems when you hear it. If you’re still not fully confident, ask a friend to read it for a second opinion. After you’ve done this, you can post it!

And that’s all there is to it! I hope for any of you thinking of starting a blog or those who have to create a blog for a class that this helped! Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re getting it right off the bat, it’s taken me some time to become adjusted to writing blog posts. Just take it a little at a time, and you’ll be able to watch as your posts improve. Don’t get discouraged if in the beginning you don’t have a lot of people reading your blog because it takes time to develop readers who stick around. Just stick with it if you really love writing, and you’ll get there with time.

With that said, good luck everyone!


How to Write Efficiently and Effectively


Focusing your mind on writing can be hard, creative writing or otherwise. I know I will sit down to write and struggle to get out ten words, so how am I supposed to write a five page paper when I can barely get out ten words? Every student struggles with writing papers, at least the ones I have talked to, and it’s a common problem, so why haven’t we looked for ways to write faster and better? That’s what I’m here for (in theory XD) so, without further ado, here are my top ten tips for how to become a more efficient, and hopefully better, writer!

1. Break it down: While for some it is easy to sit down and pound out a ten page paper, generally it’s easier to break your paper into parts.  Write your introduction and a body paragraph one day, write a few more body paragraphs the next, and then finish up with your conclusion.  Don’t try to force yourself to simply sit in front of your computer for hours on end to continuously write a paper or a story.  You won’t get much out of it other than a headache, and your writing will likely not be your best.  Break it down, and this will save you stress in the long run and also give you a chance for breaks to help your writing, hopefully.

2. Be yourself: This one applies to both creative writers, as well as anyone writing research papers.  Don’t try to copy your favorite author when writing, but you can practice imitating their style but shape it to make it yours.  You will enjoy writing a lot more if you are using your own style to write your own characters.  Where technical papers are concerned, if you’re using outside sources, try not to use too many, and don’t imitate their style of writing in your own paper.  Even if you aren’t using sources, try your best to keep your own voice through the paper.  If you don’t usually use really technical language like “gasconade,” which means to boast or brag, (don’t worry I had to look this up, it’s not common language for most) then don’t add it to your paper.  Try to remain as true to your own voice when you can, and your paper will flow and sound a lot better.  It will also make it easier for you to write in the long run if you are comfortable with your own writing voice, as opposed to trying to mimic someone else’s.

3.  Don’t give up: Another that might seem simple, but it is oh so important.  Giving up seems like the easiest thing when you’re struggling with a paper.  This won’t help you though, you need to push through.  If you’re really struggling with development or even starting your paper, come into the Writing Center!  We are here to help and make sure you feel confident in your writing when you finally turn it in.  For creative writers, this is especially important if you are working to improve your craft.  Even if you lose the will to write some days, force yourself to write.  This will give you a portfolio of work to look back on how you have progressed, as well as possibly give you new ideas.  JUST DO IT! (Yes, I know it’s an old reference, but let me have my moment, okay?)

4. Avoid being repetitive: I know it’s very easy to reach the point in your paper where you’re simply reiterating what you’ve already said, which is redundant.  When you feel like you’re restating yourself, take a break.  Walk away.  Leave your writing alone for a little while and try to brainstorm some new ideas.  Don’t constantly restate what you’ve already stated (I’ve used “state” multiple times now as an example, try to ensure your vocabulary doesn’t get repetitive as well), it will get tiresome for both you and your reader.

5. Write from an outline: Using an outline will be helpful in forcing you to consider what the most important parts of your paper are going to be.  It will help you to seriously evaluate your topic and what you’re writing, and a lot of people push outlines without ever explaining why.  Also, keep in mind that it will force a structure onto your writing, so that means less writing in circles about what you want to talk about and more getting straight to the point. We have a post already made about Writing an Outline if you need some tips!

6. DO NOT RAMBLE: This one is hard to avoid, especially if you’re trying to meet a word count.  You can very easily fall into, “This is my name, that is, my name, which is mine as it was given to me by my parents upon my birth, my name, Reyna that is, is my name.”  This is the kind of sentence you want to avoid when writing.  You aren’t going anywhere with the sentence except in circles, and this isn’t helpful to you or your paper.  If you find yourself writing like this, take a break or try to find something about your topic that you didn’t know. This will give your brain a chance to relax and possibly supply you with a new topic to help you avoid rambling.

7. Get rid of distractions: I’ve mentioned this method before in my post “How to Focus on Studying” and it remains a good method, especially when you are trying to write. While I mention in the post I listen to music when I’m trying to study, the same doesn’t apply when I’m trying to write. Noise distracts my thought process, so it’s got to be quiet for me to write efficiently and effectively. Try this one out if you feel like you simply cannot focus on writing, ever. Turn off the TV, put your phone up, don’t have any extra tabs open on you computer or laptop, and see if it helps. At most I would only suggest an instrumental song or one that you have heard so many times it will fade into the background very easily. 

8. Brainstorm: I feel like I should point out these are in no particular order as this should have gone before number five, but it’s all the way down here /shrug. Brainstorming prior to starting your paper is probably one of the best things you can do to help your writing process along. It gives you a chance to look at all of your ideas where the topic is concerned and to figure out what main points you are looking to make.  This will also assist in writing an outline, having some kind of idea as to what you’re going to be writing about will allow you to be more productive with your ideas.

9. Plan ahead: Set aside time that is specifically for writing. This connects with get rid of outside distractions. You need to be focused to be able to write efficiently and effectively, this means you need to know that a specific chunk of your day is going to be completely cut out for writing. No outside distractions allowed, you need to concentrate on your writing so you can get a good grade on your paper or just so you can be proud of what you wrote. I did this this past weekend and shut myself in my room for a few hours to focus on writing a paper, I’d told myself I would do this all week and was able to focus better on what I was writing. Yes, I still distracted myself, but they were small distractions that were five minute breaks so my brain didn’t explode. This one is tested and approved.

10. Don’t stress: This one is last on purpose.  The top thing on my list of methods to not die while writing is trying not to stress, in the end it’s just going to muddle your writing because you don’t feel confident in what you’re doing.  Trust in yourself that you are writing to the best of your ability and try to follow some of the steps above.  It’s not a guaranteed catch all method, nothing is, but it should help put your mind at ease and improve your writing.  This means not procrastinating, I know it’s hard, but that’s what is going to stress you out the most.  Come into the Writing Center if you’re really nervous, I know it’s the second time I’m plugging us in this post, but we are here to help.  We aren’t the end all be all of knowledge, we also aren’t your professor, but we can be an extra brain to help with any problems you feel like you’re having with your paper.  Trust us, we do this a lot. 😉

I hope these ten tips will help you in your writing process. I’m not claiming these are going to work for everyone and I want to make that clear, one of the biggest things is that you are going to have to want them to work, not try them once and when one doesn’t work get upset. It takes practice and patience, and if you run out of hope come in! We’ll help you out, it’s what we are here to do, it might seem scary, but really we just want to help you feel confident in your writing. Good luck!


Elements of Academic Writing


Academic writing can be a big shock to some students, as the expectations for academia are often much different than those found in high schools or in creative works.  However, writing  in academia is a skill that can easily be learned through practice and knowledge of a few “do’s and don’ts” of the genre.  We at the Writing Center are experts at academic writing, so here are our tips for writing for academia.

Unity.  What differs between academic writing and other forms is that it is formal and logical.  The argument presented should unify the writing under a singular idea, and that idea acts as the focus of the essay.  While outside sources should be used, they should work to advance the logical argument presented, and they should be cited using a recognized style system.

Tone.  The tone of an academic piece of writing should be professional and objective.  You should avoid first or second person because they are not objective perspectives; third person forces you to work in facts, which is imperative in academic writing.  You should also refrain from appearing ignorant of your topic.  Your work should be authoritative and show that you are an expert in what you are talking about.  Therefore, instead of using phrases like “I believe” or “I think,” simply state whatever the thing is as a fact.

Clear organization.  Academic writing can sometimes cover complex and difficult-to-understand material, so it is important to make clear to the reader the meaning behind the information presented.  This is done through the use of topic and concluding sentences, evidence commentary, and thesis statements.  Although research must include empirical facts, without an overarching argument or theme, those facts have no meaning.  It is up to the writer to put the information presented into context by explaining its meaning to the larger point of the paper.

Citations.  Source attrition is imperative in academic writing.  Academia encourages the use of others’ work to support an original argument, but you must also give credit where credit is due.  With this in mind, you need to use an accepted style guide (usually APA, MLA, CMS, or ACS) to format source citation.  You should also avoid excessive quoting, and instead rely on paraphrases to maintain your own voice.

Arguments Developed by Evidence.  Academic writing requires the use of empirical evidence to support an author’s claims.  If a claim is not backed up by evidence, it can be difficult to develop a cohesive argument.  Therefore, instead of claiming that “To Kill a Mockingbird is a great work of literature,” you should instead provide reasons for this claim.  For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird is a great work of literature because it pits childhood innocence against socially-constructed assumptions about race.”  It’s best to assume that your reader will be skeptical of your argument, and you must provide relevant facts to draw them over to your side.

Argument is Stated in a Thesis Statement.  The argument of the paper should be explicitly stated in a statement found at the end of the introduction.  This is called a thesis statement, and it is absolutely essential to academic writing.  The thesis acts as the unifying concept behind all information presented in the paper.  Without a thesis statement, the paper will lack meaning, and the reader will be forced to find that meaning on their own, when we should be doing all the work for them.

Structure of Argument.  Academic writing presupposes an exact order for elements in a paper: an introduction, body, and conclusion.  Within those parts is its own structure, with the intro being composed of broad and narrowing statements, along with the thesis statement, and the conclusion including a restatement of the thesis statement, a review of evidence, and the all-important “So what?” that explains the importance of your work.  For more information on the internal structures of these components of an academic paper, see our previous posts: How to Structure Introductions and ConclusionsPerfecting the Body Paragraph, and Writing a Thesis Statement.

Sometimes writing in academia can be like writing in a whole new language.  There are lots of expectations for this type of writing, which can be hard for newbies to pick up on.  That’s why English Comp classes can be so difficult, especially if you weren’t taught about academic writing high school.  Luckily, we at the Writing Center are well-versed in all things writing and work with students who struggle with academic writing every day.  Feel free to hit us up if you have questions!  Good luck and happy writing!

[Victoria Ho]

Balancing Class, Work, and FUN


College can be one of the most stressful times in people’s lives.  With tuition rates rising, many students feel obligated to take on part-time or even full-time jobs to avoid being overwhelmed by crippling debt.  This can be detrimental to a student’s academic performance, as there is less time to focus on class, and more time that must be spent at work.  Furthermore, many students also need to engage with various organizations to build a healthy resume their future job search.  These commitments can also take more time away from studying.  Not to mention on top of all this, college students DO like to have fun every once and awhile (plus it’s a pretty important part of mental health).  Unfortunately, in the mix of the craziness of college, it can be hard to find time for school, work, play, and taking care of yourself.  But, that does not mean that you have to let the stress get to you.  These are the Writing Center’s tips for time management.

Use a planner.  This solution is so simple, yet many college students do not realize what an amazing help a calendar or planner can be.  Not only does it allow students to plan out their week in advance, it also shows them what they’re spending their time on.  Sometimes it is necessary to spend 10+ hours a week working one extracurriculars or resume-builders.  However, if that starts becoming a distraction, this could be cumbersome to the overall goal of the university: getting an education.  I would highly recommend planning out times for study, work, and play throughout the week and sticking to that schedule.  It will ease your worries knowing that you have a plan in place to deal with the stress ahead.

Prioritize!  This one kind of goes hand in hand with using a planner.  If you happen to notice that one aspect of your life is taking up too much time, you may need to consider spending less time on that thing.  For example, if your nightly Netflix viewing is turning into three or four (or ten) episodes a night, it might be time for you to cut back.  At the same time, if you’re spending 12+ hours studying in a day, you might need to evaluate why it is you’re struggling so much; should you maybe see a tutor or talk to the professor about your progress?  Taking a big picture view of your life and seriously evaluating the worth of each item can be a life-saver when you feel drowned by deadlines and other commitments.

Take time for yourself.  You absolutely MUST take time for yourself at some point during the week.  This can be especially hard during those weeks with four exams and five essays due (or more), but you have to do it.  If you neglect your own wellness, you won’t work as well during the time spent trying to do homework.  Make sure to drink plenty of water (NOT caffeine), get 7-8 hours of sleep nightly, and eat a balanced diet.  Have an apple handy whenever you feel the need to stress-eat; it will satisfy any sweet tooth while also supplying valuable energy for your study sessions.  Furthermore, set a bedtime for yourself to ensure you are getting the proper amount of sleep.  Although these seem silly, they’re extremely helpful to ensure physical and mental wellness.  In addition, there are a few low-time consuming activities that can help ease your stress throughout the day.

  • Listen to your favorite song with no distractions.  This literally takes 3-5 minutes depending on the song; if you don’t have a measly 5 minutes to spare in your day, then I would strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your priorities.
  • Go for a run.  I know it sounds crazy, but running helps improve energy, and you will feel great afterward!  It also only takes about 30 minutes depending on the length of your run, but this can help get you energized and de-stress about your life.
  • Watch a sitcom on Netflix.  Sitcoms generally run 15-20 minutes, and the comedy will improve mood and relieve stress.
  • Go outside.  Seriously.  I used to study for hours on end in the basement of the library, with no windows or sunlight to speak of.  Taking 5 minutes to go outside and see the sun can get your mind off studying and help remind you that there is more to life than whatever it is your working on.

Work on homework between classes.  I used to think that that time between classes was useless, but I was wrong.  If you take into account all the transition times you have in a day, I would bet it could add up.  Easy assignments you can do during the 5-10 minutes before class include doing course readings, reviewing your notes, and typing a few extra sentences on that big term project due in a week.  Luckily, nearly all of these things can be done on a phone.  Try to get readings online or carry around smaller books with you in case you have downtime, and take pictures of your notes so you can review them easily.  You can also write your essays on Google docs (make sure to convert to Word before turning them in!) so you can work on them via cell phone (which I bet would have been in your hand anyway).  You will be amazed at how much work you can do in the time that would otherwise be spent scrolling through social media or looking at the newest memes.

Work hard and reward.  I know this seems obvious, but you have to work hard if you want to succeed in college.  You can’t spend countless hours on Netflix every night and expect to be successful.  Sometimes you have to eliminate your “fun” to focus on school.  And that’s normal.  It’s just when you start being so overwhelmed by everything else that you neglect yourself that it becomes an issue.  That being said, recognize that you will be working hard, and reward yourself when you do.  If you finish a major assignment, take some time to watch your favorite show or your favorite movie or go hang out with friends.  Knowing the difference between necessary fun and necessary study is key to managing time effectively.

Balancing commitments in college can be one of the best lessons in time management.  Although it can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of university life, hopefully these tips will help you out the next time you feel yourself exhausted and overstressed.  Good luck and happy writing!

[Victoria Ho]

How to Focus on Studying


We’ve all been there: we need to study, we need to type this paper, we absolutely need to get this homework done.  You think, “Okay, I’ll look at my phone for five minutes and then I’ll start!”  Then you’re on your phone scrolling through Twitter or Instagram and an hour has passed and no work has been done.  Believe me, I get it, I do it too.  It’s so hard to focus, especially when it’s on something we aren’t horribly interested in doing.  Hopefully this post will contain some helpful tips to keep you focused on whatever homework or studying you need to do so your grades won’t suffer!

Tips for focusing:

  • Get regular, healthy sleep: as pointless as this one may seem, it’s one of the top recommended methods to help you focus.  For students, getting a regular night of eight hours of sleep seems virtually impossible.  It’s so easy to stay up till one a.m. working on that massive pile of homework or binging Netflix shows.  It’s recommended that you get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night.  This will allow your brain to enter the REM cycle of sleep (that’s serious, good, deep sleep in normal terms) and allow your brain and body to get the rest they need.  However, if your sleep schedule is already a mess, don’t expect this to work right away.  Allow at least two weeks of consistent, normal sleep before you expect to start seeing results.

  • Wiggle your toes: I know, I had to read this one twice too.  It makes sense though, when studying or working you are generally sitting stationary, you don’t move.  This makes it easy to lose focus when it seems like you can no longer feel your legs.  Wiggling your toes will help to refocus you on the task at hand.  I’d personally recommend this for that 8 a.m. lecture you have where it seems like it’s not humanly possible to stay awake.

  • Remove outside distractions: You know that phone that you can’t seem to put down when you’re trying to work?  Put it somewhere out of reach when you’re working, or download an app that will block specific apps from sending you notifications for a set period of time.  If you’re working on your laptop make sure you don’t have any unnecessary windows or tabs open, otherwise it’s likely you will be switching to something you find more entertaining instead of working.  Also, I know it might be easier to work with the TV going but try turning that off, likely you’ll become more interested in whatever show is on rather than focusing on work.  Music is where I run into difficulties, some people say you should shut that off too, but personally I focus better with music playing.  That said, if you are going to have music on find a song you don’t mind playing on repeat, or, find some instrumental music that you like.  This will give you something to listen to but also lessen the distractions.

  • Clean up your work space: Personally, I work at my desk usually when I’m really trying to focus on homework, and it really bugs me when it’s a mess because it’s so hard for me to focus.  This one may not help everyone, but for some a messy work space can be a huge distraction.  Try to take some time and tidy up before you sit down to start working so that you aren’t continuously distracted by the mess.

  • Reward yourself: This is one I’ve never tried, but I constantly have people recommending it to me.  Tell yourself you’re going to work for the next hour, set a timer, force yourself to pay attention to what you’re doing.  When the hour is up give yourself five or ten minutes to take a break, watch a couple videos, get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text your friends, get a snack.  Find some way to reward yourself for the work that you’ve been doing before you go back to it. Don’t take long breaks unless you’ve been working for multiple hours at a time, and don’t take a five minute break if you’ve only been working for half an hour. This will lead to more breaks than work being done.

  • Set up specific study times: if you’re a morning person, block off part of your schedule in the morning specifically for studying.  If you feel like you are more mentally awake in the afternoon or evening, set up a specific time then.  Also, this doesn’t mean you are studying every single day, but set a few days aside where you know this is all you will be doing during this time.  Don’t plan anything else for this time.

These, of course, aren’t the end all be all of study tips.  Some will work for you and some won’t, it will also depend on your motivation to do the assignment.  Get psyched up, consider that you need to study to get good grades.  One bad grade isn’t the end of the world, but do try your best when studying.

Good luck!


Lab Reports for Dummies


It’s that time of year again: lab report season!  We at the Writing Center have seen a huge influx of lab report appointments over the last couple of weeks, so we decided to put together a little how-to guide on writing lab reports.  Although we may not be experts at chemistry, we can certainly help with formatting and grammar.  So here is a Writing Center breakdown of writing formal lab reports.

Content.  The content of each lab report section is fairly consistent across classes.  Here are the major components of most of the reports we see at Pitt State: Introduction/Purpose, Principles, Procedure/Experimental, Results, Discussion, Error Analysis, Conclusion, and Appendix.

  • Introduction/Purpose-This section introduces your reader to the science that you will be using and explains the purpose of the experiment.  Some instructors will want you to save more of your scientific explanation for the “Principles” section, while some will eliminate the “Principles” section and want you to include everything in your introduction.  Make sure you know what your instructor expects before beginning your report.

  • Principles-This section should discuss any laws, theories, or calculations behind your experiment.  While the “Purpose” section tends to focus on the why, the “Principles” section should focus on the how.  How is your experiment supposed to work?  What are some of the scientific principles you will be using?  Some instructors may combine the “Purpose” and “Principle” sections into an “Introduction” section, so double-check to make sure you are following their expectations.

  • Procedure/Experimental-This section should describe what you did in your experiment.  This should be in narrative form and focus on what you did.  It should also be in passive and in past tense.  This means that you will not have an “actor” in any of this section; avoid making it sound like a recipe (“you do this, then do that”), but instead, focus on what you yourself did during lab.  See the explanation below for information on passive voice.

  • Results-This sections documents the results of the experiment.  If you have any tables or figures of data, you can usually place them here.  Most instructors will want this section to be objective; you won’t have to do much analysis, but just report your findings.  Others will want this section combined with the “Discussion” section; if your instructor asks you to do it this way, you will have to add some analytical commentary to make sense of your data.

  • Discussion-This section is likely the most important of the whole report; it should be your analysis of the results.  This section should answer the question: What do your results mean?  You will likely need several paragraphs and possibly outside sources to explain the results of your findings and what they mean in a larger context.

  • Error Analysis-The error analysis should explain any shortcomings of your experiment.  Was there something that happened in lab that could have affected your data?  If so, it needs to be stated here.  You should also acknowledge any inconsistencies in your data and explain what possibly could have caused them.

  • Conclusion-This section should be a summary of your report.  Briefly restate the purpose of the experiment, summarize what you did, and then explain the results.  This should only be about a paragraph long and doesn’t need to be too in depth.

  • Appendix-While some instructors prefer to have figures, graphs, and tables in the “Results” section, others prefer that they be included in a separate Appendix.  The appendix usually follows the bulk of the lab report and puts together all the different figures needed to hold your data.   Make sure that wherever you put your figures, that they are labeled according to ACS guidelines (see http://aerosol.chem.uci.edu/intranet/writing/ACS_style_guide.pdf).

Passive Voice.  Most students coming in with chemistry lab reports struggle with passive voice.  Passive voice must be used in the Procedure/Experimental section and any other time you discuss an action performed in lab.  The main idea behind passive voice is that it places attention on the object of the sentence (what receives the action) instead of the actor (often the subject).  Here are a couple examples of passive voice:

The shoe was eaten.

The milk was poured.

The woman was robbed.

Unlike active voice, passive voice does not require an actor; we don’t know who ate the shoe, poured the milk, or robbed the woman, but in this case, we don’t care.  The object gets all the attention.

For a more detail explanation of passive voice, see Active and Passive Voice.

Lab reports can be scary, especially if you’ve never found yourself writing one before.  However, with practice and patience, they can become much easier.  The Writing Center has a great understanding of lab reports; we’ve seen plenty.  So feel free to drop in whenever you are feeling confused.  Good luck and happy writing!

[Victoria Ho]