The Writer’s Reference Handbook

Posted on: 16th May 2023


Your writer’s reference handbook must include a table of contents and a reference page, as well as the following:

APA cover page

APA reference page

APA guide for citing a range of reference materials (website, textbook, podcast, etc.)

APA style requirements (it is highly recommended that students utilize for all materials related to APA requirements)

Parts of an essay

The writing process

Explanation of rhetorical modes of writing

Writing a strong thesis

Writing strong topic sentences

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The Writer’s Reference Handbook

The Writer’s Reference Handbook is a handbook for students and professionals who need to read, write, and cite various materials, from novels to scholarly articles. It covers all major styles used in the United States: APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago Manual of Style, MLA (Modern Language Association), and CSE (Council of Science Editors). The authors explain the rules for each style, provide examples of how to apply them, and supply tips on avoiding common problems. Each chapter discusses the most common reference materials, books, articles, websites, newspapers, and magazines and explains how to cite them correctly.

The APA Cover Page

The APA cover page is a 2-inch wide by 3-inch-high section of the cover that appears on most academic papers. This section should contain the title of your paper and your name and the date, course details, page numbers and the location where you wrote the paper. The APA cover page also includes information about the source of your research (Huh, and Lee, 2019). The APA cover page is one aspect of this set of guidelines. It ensures that all papers written using APA style will have consistent formatting throughout the document.

The APA Reference Page

APA references are a specific style of referencing used in the social sciences and some other disciplines. They are very detailed and should be used when writing essays or research papers that follow the APA format. The APA reference page is located at the end of your essay or research paper and cites all sources you have consulted while working on your project. This makes it easier for readers to find the information they need within their libraries and allows them to check that you have not made any mistakes in your work. The first step in creating an APA reference page is to decide how many pages you want it to be (APA). The standard length for an APA reference page is two pages, but this can vary depending on your referencing style. The APA Reference Page is placed at the end of your paper. It is a separate page and should be formatted with heading 2 and centered (American Psychological Association). You should also make sure that you have included a title for your reference page and an abstract. The reference page will list all of the sources used within your paper. This includes books, articles, journal articles, websites, and other resources used to develop your ideas or arguments. In addition to listing all of the sources used within your paper, the APA Reference Page also includes the name of the author, the publication year, and any relevant page numbers if applicable (for example: if you are using an article from a journal or magazine).

APA Guide for Citing Sources

APA (American Psychological Association) is a publication manual used by many academic fields in the United States. It's more like a handbook than an essay. The title is Writers Reference Handbook. APA style is a set of standards for referencing and documenting sources in writing. It is a widely used system for academic and professional papers, such as dissertations, research papers, and academic journals. APA style uses the author-date method for citing sources (American Psychological Association, n.d.). The author's last name and page number are listed at the end of a sentence or paragraph (American Psychological Association, n.d.). For example: Smith (2009) lists several strategies for referencing sources. Every reference should include the following data:

       Author's last name and initials (if applicable)

       Year of publication

       Title of source (in italics)

       Medium of publication (print or online)


Authors should provide all information needed to find a website, including the author(s), title, and publication date. Give as much information as you have if this data is not accessible.

In-text Citations: When using a website as a source, include the author’s name and date of publication in parentheses after the title. Do not use quotation marks around titles (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Also, do not italicize or underline web page titles. For example: (Smith, 2011)


The first three authors should be listed with their initials in place of their names. The title should be italicized and followed by an editor's name (if applicable). For example: "Barker, D., Axelrod, R., & Cooper, W. (Eds.). (2014)." The year of publication should be included after the editor's name if no editor is listed for that edition of the textbook (American Psychological Association).

In-text citations: When referring to a textbook in your paper, include the author’s name(s) and year of publication in parentheses after the title. Do not use quotation marks around book titles. Also, do not italicize or underline book titles. For example: (Johnston & Smith 2003).


The first author's name should be listed with no initials or periods; subsequent authors' names should be abbreviated with periods (e.g., Miller, M.; Smith, B.). The podcast's title should be italicized and followed by its date of publication or release date. If it has neither date nor episode numbers, include "[n.d.]" or "[n/a]." Finally, include your name or user name as the last author if you created it yourself (American Psychological Association).

In-text citations: When citing an audio podcast that you listened to online or downloaded onto your computer, include the following information about it in parentheses after its title: author(s) (if there are more than one), date of release, and website URL. For example: (Smith & Jones, 2009; www.exampleurl).

Parts of an Essay

An essay is a short work of nonfiction, typically written in prose, often in the form of an argument. The term is usually confined to writing in the English language but exists as a loanword in other languages. The word is derived from the French infinitive essayer ("to try") and was first used in English to describe 14th-century instructions for military commanders. Essays often consist of paragraphs with an introduction that lays out the argument and establishes a thesis statement (a single sentence) (Wiethof, Tavanapour, and Bittner, 2021). The body paragraphs are usually broken up by headings and subheadings that indicate the topic sentence (the main point) and each supporting detail or example. The conclusion restates the essay's main points and may include a summary of those points. Some essays are structured around a single idea or argument; others take an informal approach and include several themes or topics rather than one central idea.


This part of the essay explains what the paper is about, why it matters, and what you intend to prove. The introduction should also tell your reader why they should care about your topic. This is where you grab the reader's attention and make them want to continue reading your work. It should be interesting, engaging, and informative. It should also include a thesis statement that summarizes your primary argument and your point of view on the topic at hand. Within the introduction, there is a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a one- or two-sentence summary of your point of view on a particular issue or subject matter.


The body of your essay contains three to five paragraphs based on the length of the paper that supports your thesis statement by providing evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence supporting your thesis statement and providing evidence. This is where you develop your ideas by providing evidence to support your thesis statement. You should use examples from real-life experiences or other sources to support your point of view. The body is composed of the following structures:

Topic Sentences: Topic sentences state what is being discussed in each paragraph. Topic sentences must be clearly stated at the beginning of each paragraph so that readers will understand what it is about and how it supports your thesis statement (Wei, Zhang, and Zhang, 2020).

Supporting Sentences: Supporting sentences provide evidence for the topic sentence by explaining how it relates to the overall purpose of your essay. There should be at least three supporting sentences in each body paragraph; however, some writers prefer four or five supporting statements.


This is where you sum up everything that was said in the body paragraphs so that readers can quickly see how all of this information fits together into one coherent argument. A reasonable conclusion summarizes everything you said in the body paragraphs and restates your thesis statement. It should also show how your argument connects to the thesis statement and why it matters to readers today.

The Writing Process

The writing process is the series of steps you take to write a story. It begins with an idea, and then it progresses through different stages until you've completed a draft of the story. The writing process varies from writer to writer, but there are some commonalities that all writers go through when they're creating a story. Here's an example of a typical writing process for a short story:

Idea phase: Idea generation, which is the first step in writing (American Psychological Association, n.d.). This stage involves thinking about your topic and generating ideas and concepts to write about. In this step, you get an idea for a story, and then you start thinking about how it might play out. You also ask yourself questions like, "Who will be in my story?" and "What's the main problem in this world?"

Drafting stage: You create a draft of your story by writing down your ideas and expanding them into scenes and chapters. This can take several drafts before you're happy with the final product. This procedure involves 0rganization, where you decide how to organize your ideas and arrange them into an outline or a draft document. The organization of your paper should be logical and coherent so that readers can easily follow your ideas (Wei, Zhang, and Zhang, 2020).

Revising stage: After you have finished drafting your article, you go back over it to ensure that everything is clear and coherent. You might also add or change details during this stage to help readers understand what's happening in your story better than they did before.

Writing and rewriting: This involves drafting and editing your essay or dissertation chapter multiple times until it meets the required standard. You may also need to rewrite sentences or paragraphs to make them more concise and precise to read; this is called polishing your essay or dissertation chapter. This stage involves editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style, including proofreading or copy-editing errors in your work before submitting it for publication or submission (if required).

Explanation of Rhetorical Modes of Writing

Rhetorical modes are ways to organize and develop your ideas. They can be used for both formal and informal writing. The following are some rhetorical modes that you may use when writing a research paper:

Direct discourse: Direct discourse is a direct quotation, as opposed to indirect discourse, which is a summary or paraphrase of what someone said.

Indirect discourse: Indirect discourse is a summary or paraphrase of what someone said (Wei, Zhang, and Zhang, 2020).

Cause and Effect: The cause and effect rhetorical mode is used to show the relationship of one thing to another. The cause may be an action, event, or condition that leads to an outcome or effect. For example, if someone eats too much chocolate, they might get stomach aches.

Compare and Contrast: The compare and contrast rhetorical mode compares two or more things to show their similarities or differences. For example, if you were writing about the similarities between cats and dogs, you could compare size, fur color, body shape, and other characteristics (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Then you would contrast those characteristics by showing how each animal differs from the other in those same traits. You could also compare two people who are similar in some ways but different in others (Matsuda and Silva, 2019).

Narration: Narration is one of the most frequently utilized forms of writing since it is simple to convey a tale with words! A narrative text is written from the perspective of a person who has actually experienced something.

Argumentation: Argumentation involves presenting evidence that supports one side of an issue while criticizing evidence presented by the opposing side. Arguments often appear as persuasive essays or speeches that argue for or against something.

Exposition: involves explaining how something works or how it came about through exposition paragraphs and exposition sentences within paragraphs.

Writing a Strong Thesis

A thesis statement is the main idea of a paper. It is a sentence, or in some cases, a series of sentences, that expresses the paper's main point (American Psychological Association, n.d.). A good thesis statement should be specific and narrow enough to focus your writing and support your topic. Thesis statements must also be debatable and controversial. If you write an essay without any arguments or evidence to support your claims, it will remain weak and unconvincing. A strong thesis should make people think and encourage them to discuss it further with their peers and colleagues. A strong thesis statement is the backbone of your essay. It should be a claim proven by the evidence you provide in the essay (Huh, and Lee, 2019). Thesis statements must be clearly expressed, logically developed, and relevant to the topic of discourse. A thesis statement is not a place for flowery language or clever turns of phrases. It should be simple, declarative, and focused on one idea: what you will argue in your essay. To writing a professional thesis statement:

1. Identify your topic and keep it simple and specific. Begin with a topic that interests you and that you have some knowledge about or experience with.

2. Before you begin writing the body of your essay, make a thesis statement; this will help you focus on what you want to say instead of finding an appropriate topic as you write.

3. Topic – Your topic should be as specific as possible; there should be no ambiguity about what you want to discuss in your essay. This will help you choose the right words when writing your introduction paragraph (Yang, 2022).

4. Argument – You need to find out whether any opposing viewpoints may affect your argument and include them in your paper if necessary (this will make your paper more interesting).

Writing Strong Topic Sentences

A strong topic sentence is one with a clear, concise idea. It should describe the paragraph's major idea or, if there are several points, which one is the most essential. A good topic sentence can help you write an essay that's easy to follow, so it's a good idea to use them in your papers whenever possible. A strong topic sentence is the most critical part of an essay. It gives the reader a sense of what the essay is about and what points will be made in the body paragraphs (Toba and  Noor, 2019). A topic sentence seeks to pique the reader's interest by providing a sufficient summary of the subject. The following are some tips for creating effective topic sentences:

Make it relevant and exciting. An excellent way to start an essay is by making a statement that relates directly to your thesis statement. You can also use quotes or examples from the text to make it more interesting (Al Abri, Al Baimani, and Bahlani, 2021).

Use transitions effectively. Transitions help connect ideas, so they can be beneficial in creating strong topic sentences. They can also help readers understand your main idea better because they show how one point relates to another point. For example, "However," "on the other hand," and "in contrast" are all common transitions used in essays.

In summary, topic sentences are essential for several reasons. First, they help readers understand the main idea of a paragraph (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Most paragraphs have only one main idea, and it's usually expressed in the first or second sentence of the paragraph (American Psychological Association, n.d.). Secondly, they help readers understand how each point supports your thesis statement. A good paragraph will have one or more sentences that support every central claim or argument you make in that paragraph. In other words, each point should be supported by at least one sentence (and often more than one).



Al Abri, A., Al Baimani, S., & Bahlani, S. (2021). The role of web-based peer feedback in advancing EFL essay writing. Computer-Assisted Language Learning Electronic Journal (CALL-EJ), 22(1), 374-390.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Apa style. American Psychological Association. Retrieved May 31, 2022, from \

Huh, M. H., & Lee, I. (2019). A Search for EFL College Students' Culture-Related Rhetorical Templates of Argumentative Writing. English Teaching, 74(3), 55-77.

Matsuda, P. K., & Silva, T. (2019). Writing. In An introduction to applied linguistics (pp. 279-293). Routledge.

Toba, R., & Noor, W. N. (2019). The current issues of Indonesian EFL students’ writing skills: Ability, problem, and reason in writing comparison and contrast essay. Dinamika Ilmu: Jurnal Pendidikan, 57-73.

Wei, X., Zhang, L. J., & Zhang, W. (2020). Associations of L1-to-L2 rhetorical transfer with L2 writers’ perception of L2 writing difficulty and L2 writing proficiency. Journal of English for academic purposes, 47, 100907.

Wiethof, C., Tavanapour, N., & Bittner, E. (2021). Designing and evaluating a collaborative writing process with gamification elements: Toward a framework for gamifying collaboration processes. AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 13(1), 38-61.

Yang, R. (2022). An empirical study of claims and qualifiers in ESL students’ argumentative writing based on Toulmin model. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second and Foreign Language Education, 7(1), 1-17.

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