How to Write a Killer Term Paper
You’ve been dreading it all year: No, not your hair, Ras Trent—we’re talking about your history teacher’s infamous research paper, which she assigns while playing Darth Vader’s theme song on the class boombox. It’s bad enough that she wants you to write 20 pages on the development or cause or consequence of something that happened before dirt was invented. But what really stings is that the paper comes at the absolute worst time, when all you can think about is the sweet freedom of summer.
But don’t be too hasty to blow $29.95 at one of those online paper mills—we’ve got some tips to help you crank out this beast yourself. If you do follow our advice, all we ask is that you please send us a check or money order for $24.95. You can blow the remaining fiver on a frappuccino.
1. Pick an awesome topic.
If you’re gonna lay down 20 pages, you need a solid angle, and you’d better be excited about it. We recommend choosing a topic that's relatively unexplored. Try “The Sandwiches of WWII” or “Presidents and Their Facial Hair.”
2. Create a unique viewpoint.
Imagine you've decided to head down the facial hair route. Your teacher likely has never read a paper written from the perspective of William Howard Taft’s handlebar mustache. What was it like to be stuck to that rotund chief executive’s face as the 16th Amendment was ratified?
3. Construct an outline.
I. Text Tracy.
a. Mention new hairstyle.
b. Ask what's up with Dave.
II. Write paper.
a. Make it good.
III. Grab a snack.
a. Red Bull
b. BBQ chips
IV. Play Wii.
a. A lot.
4. Write an unassailable thesis statement.
“While the Second World War was viewed as the most destructive conflict in recorded history, its sandwiches are widely regarded as some of history’s most delicious.” Argue with that. We dare you.
5. Make sure to include plenty of sources.
Go to the library and check out a bunch of books. Write down the names of these books. This is your bibliography. Then ask your great grandfather what it was like to eat a corned beef on rye while Allied troops reached Normandy 4,000 miles away. Put his quote in your paper and include a footnote—“Holla gramps!”
6. Pay attention to structure and organization.
Using a “choose your own adventure” style of navigation will keep your teacher entertained as she proceeds. For example:
At this crucial moment in American history, Rutherford B. Hayes rushed to the bathroom and grabbed his razor. He put it near his face. Does he:
7. Triple space it.
You’re certainly not going to get to 20 pages with the line spacing set to 1.5.
8. Inflate your font.
Don’t forget to bump up the font size to 13. Anything bigger is suspicious. Your teacher has to squint at a ton of papers, and reading yours will be so painless that she has no choice but to award you a good grade.
9. Think about presentation.
Mrs. They-Call-It-History-But-I-Call-It-HerStory is going to receive a lot of papers printed in black ink on white paper. You want to make your paper stand out. Maybe go with lavender ink on yellow paper? Or consider writing it by hand on the backs of 20 sheets from your Garfield page-a-day calendar. Bonus points if the paper has a watermark of our country's 20th prez, the well-bearded James A. Garfield.
10. Hand it in with a flourish.
You might want to attach a bouquet of roses or include a very nice Hallmark card--the kind that plays music when you open it. Signing the card “With my undying historical luv” is also acceptable.
What’s your strategy for acing a big paper?