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Michigan State University

MSU Program in Public Health: Writing Help

General guide for resources useful to the MSU Program in Public Health.

APA Basics

NOTE: These sources may not yet be updated for the newest version of the APA style guide, which is the 7th edition. If your professor wants you to use that version, make sure to use the "Quick Answers" on the APA style guide listed above.


Grammar & Style

Guide to Grammar and Writing (Capital Community College) A great overview of grammar and how to avoid common writing mistakes.

In the social sciences, writers usually use active rather than passive voice. If you majored in a health or natural science for your undergraduate degree, you might have been told to use the passive voice in your scholarly writing, so you'll have to switch when you write papers in public health.

Passive Voice: A mistake was made by the Finance Department.

Active Voice: The Finance Department made a mistake.

You can find further explanations of active/passive voice on these websites:

UW-Madison Writers' Handbook

Your Dictionary


Turnitin is one of the tools that your professors may have you use to check your papers for copying and to help you with your writing. It's important to recognize that Turnitin does NOT check for plagiarism--it compares what you've written to other documents in its database to see if any of the text is the same. There are times when it's OK to have words from other documents in your papers--for example, when you're quoting. To find out more about how to use Turnitin, go to their QuickStart Guide for students, or watch the video below. 


Below are some resources to help you avoid plagiarism in your writing:

Examples of paraphrasing (MIT)

Plagiarism (UNC-Chapel Hill)

How to paraphrase a source (University of Wisconsin)

Writing Assistance

The MSU Writing Center

The Writing Center in Michigan State University offers consultations at locations on the MSU campus, as well as online. 

They have quick guides on their services here

Writing Guides

UNC at Chapel Hill has a wide variety of short and concise guides to a range of topics.

Here is a selection that are specifically useful to the types of writing you will be doing in the Program.

Michigan State University