Category Archives: Writing Guides

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Graduate Student Writing

Thesis: A document prepared to achieve an academic degree that often states a problem in a given field and then provides an exploration of that problem through reviews of literature, methodological inquiries, and discussions.

Qualifying Paper: A longer essay used as a capstone project demonstrating a student’s ability to research, evaluate, and analysis a topic or issue pertinent to her field of study.

Both theses and qualifying papers involve employing research methods that ultimately inform the writer’s ability to produce a comprehensive and cogent written text.

Research writing at the graduate level involves planning and revision. Research writing is a process that starts with focusing and narrowing your topic, discovering and incorporating sources, grouping and categorizing information, planning, writing, and revising.

Visual Literacy Elements and Principles

Whether you “totally hate” Art History or not, it’s pretty much a certain that you’re  going to work on some assignment dealing with the subject during your time at FIT. Though these assignments will take many forms, there are some key aspects to remember that apply to most writing about art or design.  Here’s a refresher on the major elements discussed in most Art History papers, and some topics to consider when discussing artworks/designs in writing.

Audience Appeals

Trying to convince your audience that your position on an issue is most sensible requires careful attention to character, reason, and emotion also referred to as ethos, logos, and pathos, respectively. These are three appeals that writers can use to persuade an audience that their arguments and claims are sound and valid.

Appeals to the audience help you to support your claims and they will also help you to provide responses to opposing arguments.

Three Important Types of Appeals to the Audience:

Appeal to Character (Ethos): Demonstrating your good character can be important in convincing an audience that what you have to say is significant. Establishing your credibility through the argument you build, the sources you incorporate, and the way you present information and data can affect the way an audience views your presentation/paper. If you are fair and accurate in your portrayal of an issue or problem, you develop your trustworthiness as a writer or speaker. Your audience will always question your judgment and values as a writer or speaker, so it is important to build a rapport with your audience to ensure your good reputation.

Appeal to Reason (Logos): Simply put, you have to have proof for what you’re saying. Audience members must be able to see the logic behind your arguments based on evidence. Providing your audience with a claim is not enough to hook an audience. Any good writer or speaker must provide reasons and evidence for their claims. Reasons are the how and why of a claim while evidence is the proof that the reason is true supporting the claim is true. Some examples of appeals to reason may include statistics and data, reports, testimony from an authority, or specific facts.

Appeal to Emotion (Pathos): Emotion can be used to deceive or frighten people, much like we see in advertisements or political campaigns. This doesn’t mean that an emotional appeal should be avoided. Sometimes a powerful story that pulls at an audience’s heartstrings is appropriate for putting them in the right frame of mind to listen to your argument. When using an appeal to emotion, be sure not to let emotion get in the way of reason, but to use emotion to illustrate a situation in a way that moves your audience to be receptive to your claims.


Blogging is a great way to put your ideas and your work out there. FIT has some great tips about blogging that are helpful to anyone considering maintaining a blog. Below we provide our own guide with Art and Design students in mind.

It is also helpful to look at other bloggers and to think about how they build a readership. Google reader is helpful in keeping you up to date with the blogs that interest you.


Grammar is something that we all find ourselves concerned with as writers. Simply put, grammar has to do with the way that we arrange words in a sentence to make meaning. But it never seems to be as simple as that. Professor Mark Goldblatt offers us a crash course in grammar in his series of survival grammar videos. Part 1 can be viewed by clicking “Download Video”. (Note: The link will take you directly to the video’s YouTube page.)

Chicago Style

The proper use of the Chicago Manual of Style allows writers to give credit to authors whose materials they have used, avoid plagiarism, and provide readers with factual accounts that give credibility to writing.

The Chicago Style of citation is formatted in two ways: the Notes-Bibliography system, which is used predominantly for writing in history, art and other humanities, and the Author-Date system, used for writing in the social sciences and other science disciplines.

Notes-Bibliography System

The main components of the Notes-Bibliography system used in the humanities include the use of footnotes and/or endnotes and a bibliography.

Author-Date System

The author-date system, preferred for works dealing with science, utilizes in-text citation as well as a bibliography.

Citing Sources using Chicago

Learn how to cite your sources in your text and create a bibliography using Chicago Style. This guide offers examples of how to cite commonly used sources. 

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, and Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th edition, both located in the Library at FIT, can provide complete information regarding this citation style.

Writing Situation Model

The model below demonstrates how people, relationships, places, ideas, and beliefs influence our writing in complex ways.



The arrows pointing in all directions on the model depict the different connections that exist between readers, writers, and texts. These connections or relationships happen in physical, social, and cultural contexts that shape the way that readers and writers enter into these relationships and understand these connections. Think of it this way: whenever we read or write anything, we do so with other texts we have read and written in mind, with an understanding of how we to relate to others, and with the physical, social, and cultural experiences and events that have shaped the way we think.