Outlines, Bibliography Software, and Other Time Saving Tips

The process of writing a college term paper can be time-consuming. However, there are some smart steps that students can take to save time – without sacrificing quality. Here are some time saving tips for writing college papers.

Start With a Well-Organized Paper Outline

One of the biggest college essay writing mistakes that students make is to start writing immediately with no outline. Writing a well-organized outline can save students quite a bit of time. One of the most time-consuming parts of writing a paper is trying to figure out what to say when, so if the writer is working with a good outline, this process is already complete. Unless a student is required to turn in an outline as a part of the assignment, it’s not necessary to use a formal outline structure. Getting hung up on where to put Roman numerals and indents is a waste of time. Instead, writers should focus on making the outline well-organized. Each section of the outline should succinctly summarize a section of the paper.

Write the Introduction and the Conclusion Last

Another mistake that students make is to spend a good deal of time trying to get started with an introduction. To get off to a faster start, it’s better to skip this difficult step and work on the body of the paper first, which is usually easier to write. Many writers find that intros and conclusions can be written more quickly after the body of the paper is completed, as the writer will have an easier time seeing the paper as a whole.

Use Online Style Guide Tools or Bibliography Software

Formatting a bibliography into the correct style format – APA, MLA, Chicago, and so forth – is time consuming and confusing. Thankfully, it’s easy for students to get ahold of software and free websites that format bibliographic entries. Users are asked to type in information such as title, date, and author’s name, and the tool organizes this information into an entry. Students should keep in mind that’s a good idea to check the entries for accuracy, as some tools are more accurate than others.

Choose Topics Wisely

Students can also save time by choosing topics that don’t take too long to write about and research. When looking for a time-saving topic, students should:

  • write about topics about which they already have some familiarity
  • write about topics that are not too broad in scope
  • avoid obscure topics that are difficult to research
  • avoid topics that are too new, since there might not be much written about these
  • avoid topics they don’t fully understand

It’s always a good idea to run a paper topic past the instructor before the student begins to write. An instructor may know if a topic is not an easy one to research, or may be able to offer suggestions about how to narrow a topic.

Efficient Paper Writing

Of course, the easiest way to write a paper quickly is to write a bad one – or worse, to plagiarize or pay someone else to write it! Fortunately, there are smarter ways to save time writing papers that don’t compromise the writer’s integrity or the quality of the paper.