Issue For May 9, 2007
We invite all of our OWL users to take our online usability survey . Please give us feedback to make the OWL even better! http://owl.english.purdue.edu/survey/
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
I was asked to write an informative essay. My questions are as follows:
What is an informative essay?
How do I get started on writing an informative essay?
If this essay is purely facts then how do I keep my audience (instructor) entertained?
Thank you for writing. Informative essays differ from argument-based essays in that they are not designed to persuade your audience but to inform. Your thesis statement should simply reflect what your paper is about, not pursue a persuasive agenda. Sometimes these essays are called expository or explanatory essays. Please visit http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/ for more information on creating thesis statements for this type of paper.
However, I would encourage you to also talk to your instructor about this assignment. Different instructors have different requirements for what they expect in an informative essay. You should be doing more than regurgitating facts. You may still be required to do some sort of analysis or to present different views on a subject without offering a particular stance. Consider your audience for the essay and decide what is most relevant for that audience. When you tailor the information to the audience, you will keep them engaged.
The OWL Help Nest
Each week we publish Purdue OWL News readers' requests for advice or information and the responses from other Purdue OWL News readers.
When I learned to type many years ago, I was taught to leave two spaces after a period. I notice that in many texts there is only one space after a period. Are there any guidelines regarding this? --Fran Koconis
Depending on when you learned to type, you may have been taught to put two spaces after periods and two spaces after colons. That was good advice in the days of typewriters but it no longer is. Why? Word processing software automatically puts in the extra space that visually separates one sentence from the next and goes between a colon and the text that follows.
What? You say you learned to type in the dark ages of typewriters :-) and putting two spaces after every period is automatic for you…a habit you don’t think you can break? Not a problem. Go ahead and type the way you always have. When you have finished your document, use the find/replace feature of your word processing software. Find every instance of a period and two successive spaces in the document and replace that period and those two spaces with a period and a single space.
--Sigrid Trombley, Wichita Public Schools, Wichita KS
Fran, the answer to this question goes back to the days of using typewriters. With typewriters, the characters are monospaced--e.g., an 'i' takes up the same amount of room as a 'w' or a '.' So two spaces were needed to clearly mark the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. With computers, the amount of space a character takes up varies, and it's easy for the eye to pick out the end of one sentence and the start of another. Hence, using two spaces between sentences is not necessary.
--Joe Wisinski, Adjunct Professor, University of Tampa
The double space in old manual type was required for easier reading. In this age of digital type. The computer automatically adds a slightly larger spacing (about a half times more than the normal character space) after what it perceives is the end of the paragraph. So, using the double space on the computer keyboard creates too large of a space. Some institutions' style guidelines call for two spaces, most don't, and it is an anathema to newspaper editors. I use an e-mail cleaner with a "remove double spaces" when required to make a submitted article usable.
--From Parker's Pen, Southern Nevada, USA
Can you tell me how and when we use "as if"? --Alex
I think "as if" (and as though) is used to talk about the so-called hypothetical situations, that is, situations that are unreal or contrary to fact, as when you say 'He treats me as if I were his enemy'. These situations always imply the opposite of what one says. The above example implies that I am not his enemy. It is often argued that the same thing holds true for expressions like 'I wish' , or 'if only', for if a person says "I wish I were rich", s/he implies "I am not rich".
--S.Maliki, Casablanca, Morocco
Next Week's Questions
What's Your Question?
If you have a question you'd like to ask our readers, please send it via our simple Web form.
What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...Remote Testing Survey. The Purdue OWL has been doing extensive usability testing on our new site. We invite our users from around the world to take our remote usability survey: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/survey/. OWL Eye On...Logic in Argumentative writing. The Purdue OWL is pleased to announce an extensive revision of our Logic in Argumentative Writing handout. The handout is available here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/659/01/
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...Summer Schedule. We will begin our summer tutoring hours from May 14th to August 3rd. Tutoring hours for the summer will be Mon-Thurs 9-4; Friday 9-1.
- OWL Eye On...OWL Mail. Because of our break between the spring semester and our summer hours, individuals submitting questions to OWLmail may experience delays in getting a response. We apologize for the inconvenience!
This week's OWL News was edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll, OWL Coordinator.