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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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Thursday Thoughts: New Blog Series on APA Style Starts Monday

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Starting Monday, May 2nd, the Walden University Writing Center Blog will begin a series of blog posts dedicated to unpacking a variety of APA style-related topics. The Editors and Instructors who work in the Center with Walden students field a variety of questions which pertain to APA style. Now they'll have a chance to share their insights with you. 

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One thing you'll notice right away on Monday is that here in the Writing Center, we see APA style as more than just hard and fast rules to be memorized. APA style flows through the entirety of academic writing in the social science. It influences the smallest detail and the broadest theme. It's a way of communicating complex ideas and research in a logical, predictable, clear way. It's a way of being. It's a way of thinking. 

In other words, this blog series will move beyond simple rules and boxes to check off. We'll do our best to explain how and why APA style asks you to make certain writerly moves. 

Check back in on Monday for our first installment in the Exploring APA Style series: An Introduction to Capitalization Rules. See you then!


The Walden University Writing Center Blog
 is an instructional space where writers of all ilks can come together to learn about and discuss writing. Walden University primarily serves those scholars writing in the social science, and therefore focuses its instruction on the scholarly communication therein.  


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Snow White and The Search for Effective Word Choice: A Writing Center Fairy Tale

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Sometimes, as Writing Instructors, we see a particular problem that seems pretty minor, but when it comes up a lot, we feel compelled to write about it nevertheless. Such is the case, I have noticed, with the word “including.”

The word “including” serves a specific function and should never be misused, or simply added for no reason. Literally, the word means “containing as part of a whole.” This is important to remember. Only use the word “including” when talking about a part of something, not the whole of something.

What do I mean? Let's take a look at some of my favorite characters from literature to find out. 

Snow White and the Search for Effective Word Choice

You might see a sentence like this:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs, including Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, and Doc.”

This type of sentence makes me Grumpy. It doesn’t work because the author of this sentence is not writing a partial list of the seven dwarfs. The author, has, in fact, named every single member. Therefore, the word “including” does not belong and should be removed:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs: Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful, and Doc.”

Now, if you were to provide only a partial list of the seven dwarfs, that would be different, and you would use the word “including”:

“Snow White lived with seven dwarfs, including Bashful and Doc.”

This is a partial list, and not a full list. So the word “including” is appropriate here.

I urge students to look at words like “including” carefully in sentences. Often they do not serve a point and can be easily removed with no damage to the meaning of the sentence. Most importantly, remember the word “including” only applies to a partial list, not a full list. If you want to make your reader Happy, practice precise and critical word choice in your next writing assignment. 


Nathan Sacks
 is a writing instructor in the the Walden University Writing Center. He also enjoys writing books, playing guitar, and playing with cats. He's happy to answer your word choice questions in the comments. 


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WriteCast Episode 26 : Wrestling with Writers Block

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Our latest podcast episode of WriteCast is published and ready to be streamed and downloaded by you! 

In this month's episode, Brittany and Beth discuss writer's block. In their "Casual Conversation for Serious Writers," they'll discuss topics on writer's block like how we can define this obstacle, how it influences our writing process, and how we can experiment with different strategies to use this physical and mental phenomenon to our advantage.

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As always, Brittany and Beth's advice is practical and accessible to writers at all stages of their writing process. And no, you don't need a PhD in Psychology to practice skills to help you move beyond your writer's block. 

For a listing of all of our WriteCast episodes, visit the Writing Center website for Interactive and Multimedia writing resources. Here, you can also access download information and transcripts for each of our podcast episodes. Happy Listening, WriteCasters!



WriteCast is a monthly podcast written, produced, and published by staff in the Walden University Writing Center.  WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers offers listeners the chance to sit in on a dialogue between two experienced and trained writing instructors. Possible episode topics will always be considered from listeners, just let us know in the comments. 


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The Art of Imprecise Word Choice: Using Pronouns for Clarity and Concision

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Pronouns are a time-saving foundation of our language, and most of us use them every day.  Using these pronouns like I, we, our, us, and you helps to convey a point of view and is a common form of communication. We say to talk about ourselves, we to discuss things we have done with others, and you to directly communicate with listeners.

While this technique of using pronouns is acceptable in informal communication, when writing in APA style, many of these pronouns should be avoided or used only in specific ways. This is a result of APA’s emphasis on clarity and concision. This post, then, offers a series of tips for using first-person and second-person pronouns effectively to convey a scholarly voice in your APA style academic writing.

Understanding Walden's New Policy for Formatting the Running Head

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As you may have seen in last week’s announcement from the Chief Academic Officer, Walden University recently changed its official policy on running head requirements. Here’s the rundown of what’s going on with this APA formatting requirement, how it will impact you, and the reasoning behind this change.

What’s Happening?
You know that fun (and sometimes irksome) running head? It’s an abbreviated version of the title of your paper that appears along the top header of all pages of your work. Walden has decided to officially no longer require this detail for Walden coursework. You will still need something in the header section of your document, but now it’s only a page number in the upper right corner of your paper. Our templates have been fully updated to reflect this change, so you can see a visual of what the new format looks like.

How does it impact me?
Essentially, you do not have to include a running head on any of your papers for your Walden writing. You will not be penalized for including a running head if you so choose, but use of a running head is now optional. However, page numbers are still a requirement. If you need help with adding page numbers, you can find out more here on the Academic Skills Center pages for MS Word help, or use our templates.

Why the change?
Based on data from Walden’s support services, students, and faculty, it became clear that students were spending a great deal of time and effort formatting running heads. The running head functions to help differentiate stacks of physical papers that could get lost or mixed up on a physical desk, so for Walden’s purposes, the running head is much less important than other formatting details. Because Walden is an online university, once an instructor has a file, the title of the document is always at the top of the screen while reading, eliminating the necessity of a running head.

Also, Walden has never required a running head for doctoral capstones or KAMs, so doing away with this element helps with continuity throughout programs.

Still have questions? Need help? The Writing Center is here for you! Visit our Quick Answers, chat, or review services, or email us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu for additional assistance.



The Walden University Writing Center
constantly reviews and revises its practices and materials to best meet the myriad needs of its writers. The WUWC promotes writing as a rhetorical act, which embraces a changing negotiation between writer, audience, and technology. Walden writers can expect evolving writing instruction that helps them become effective scholarly writers in the 21st century. 


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