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Answered By: Cassie Sampson, Education & General Education Librarian
Last Updated: Mar 24, 2016     Views: 256

The first question you ask yourself when you begin writing should be, "What is my goal/purpose for writing?" Understanding your purpose is critical when writing for any course because it can influence your decisions about content, emphasis, organization, style and tone.


Determining Your Purpose

Your purpose for writing is simply what you are trying to accomplish. There are several different things you may be trying to accomplish in your writing. Choose the one that best suits the paper you’re working on now:

  • Writing to Reflect means you are exploring personal ideas to make sense of your experiences. Examples include diaries, journals and autobiographical memoirs. You’re trying to communicate your emotions and reactions to others.
  • Writing to Inform means you are communicating factual details about particular topics. Examples include newspaper articles, reference books, textbooks, instruction manuals and informative web sites such as government or non-profit sites. You’re providing definitions, explaining concepts or processes and helping readers understand ideas and see relationships.
  • Writing to Persuade means you are trying to convince your readers to accept your position on a particular topic. Examples include research papers, editorials, advertisements and some business communications.
  • Writing to Evaluate means you are assessing the validity, accuracy or quality of information to assess the relative merits of something. Examples include reports, critiques and book reviews.

Once you have determined what the purpose of your paper is, the writing process will be a lot smoother because you will have clearer direction.