Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching (with 2019 APA Updates), 6th Edition

  • John Van Rys
  • Verne Meyer
  • Randall VanderMey
  • Patrick Sebranek
  • ISBN-10: 1305958063
  • ISBN-13: 9781305958067
  • 768 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2015, 2015, 2012
  • COPYRIGHT: 2018 Published
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About the Product

Combining streamlined instruction in the writing process with outstanding accessibility, THE COLLEGE WRITER is a fully updated four-in-one text with a rhetoric, a reader, a research guide, and a handbook for students at any skill level. Throughout the text, numerous student and professional writing samples highlight important features of academic writing -- from voice to documentation -- and offer guidance for students' own papers. The sixth edition features fully refreshed sample essays, stronger instruction in argumentative writing, revamped activities and projects, and citation and documentation updates based on the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition. The text is available as a multimedia online learning experience (MindTap), featuring an e-book, audio, video, exercises, models, web links, and bonus chapters on writing for the web, taking tests, writing for the workplace, and preparing oral presentations.


  • Instruction in principles of academic writing helps students to more effectively produce thoughtful, energetic, college-level prose. A new diagram (Ch. 2) illustrates the recursive nature of writing, while more attention to thesis development (Ch. 3) and an introduction to academic writing moves (Ch. 4) shows students how to strengthen, develop, and expand their ideas. An overview of the rhetorical modes (Ch. 9) underscores how writers draw upon and integrate thinking patterns in their work. Also new: attention to eliminating wordiness (Ch. 6) and tips on reviewing instructor feedback (Ch. 7).

  • THE COLLEGE WRITER provides students with a concise yet complete overview of the writing process. The text's unique "at-a-glance" visual format presents each major concept in a one- or two-page spread, with examples illustrating explanations, and then the opportunity for hands-on practice, with writing assignments or practice exercises. Cut-out tabs make it easy to flip to any of the four sections of the book.

  • Consistent attention to the rhetorical situation -- writer, reader, message, medium, and context -- gives students a tool to analyze the works of others and create their own works. Chapter 1, for instance, begins with an illustration of the rhetorical situation and extended tips for reading actively.

  • Learning Objectives at the beginning of each chapter help students focus on key learning points; main headings throughout the chapter re-cite those points; and Learning-Objective Checklists at the end of the chapter allow students to track their performance.

  • Common Traits of College Writing, introduced in Chapter 2 and then underlying much of the instruction in the text, help students understand and achieve college-level writing. These traits are also in sync with the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition.

  • The emphasis on thesis thinking and outline creation encourages students to organize their thinking as they write.

  • High-interest academic writings from students and professionals help writers understand and create a scholarly tone. Throughout the text, the authors offer examples of writing for different disciplines as well as in different work contexts.

  • Each chapter includes projects or activities that may be completed individually or in groups, making the text a flexible tool for cultivating individual skills and facilitating collaborative learning.

  • Chapter 16, "Reading Literature: A Case Study in Analysis," addresses literary analysis as a form of analytical writing that utilizes many of the principles and practices addressed in the analytical writing chapters (11-15). The chapter consolidates and illustrates this instruction, showing how writers draw upon several analytical modes to answer their questions about poems, short stories, and even films. The chapter also includes the poem and short story analyzed by student writers.

  • The research section gives students all the tools they need to do twenty-first century research, including working with digital databases; understanding the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; working effectively with sources, while avoiding plagiarism; learning to evaluate diverse sources; and documenting their research in MLA or APA format. In addition, Writing with Sources boxes (integrated into the writing-process chapters) show students how attention to research-related issues might help them at a given step in the writing process.

  • The handbook covers key points of grammar, sentence structure, sentence errors, punctuation, mechanics, and usage, as well as multilingual and ESL guidelines. These topics are reinforced by exercises available both in the text and online via MindTap®.

  • Charts, graphs, and photos help visual learners grasp concepts and cultivate visual literacy in all students. These elements range from the high-interest chapter-opening photos with a "visually speaking" prompt to Photo Op activities at the end of many chapters, critical-thinking through viewing examples in Chapter 1, and graphic organizers in Chapter 3.

  • The entire text is available as a multimedia online learning experience (MindTap®), featuring an e-book, audio, video, exercises, models, and web links. Chapters on writing for the web, taking tests, writing for the workplace, and preparing oral presentations are listed in the Table of Contents and available online.


"[The three greatest strengths of THE COLLEGE WRITER are:] 1. Its comprehensive nature; 2. The blend of readings: contemporary and classic, short and long, professional and student-authored; 3. The strong focus on research skills that freshman writers require."
— Audrey Wick, Blinn College

About the Author

John Van Rys

Dr. John Van Rys (Ph.D. Dalhousie University, M.A./B.A. University of Western Ontario) has taught composition, business writing, creative writing, and literature courses to college students for more than 25 years at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. He has been teaching as a full professor in the English Department at Redeemer University College in Hamilton, Ontario, since 2005, where he also pursues scholarly work in Canadian literature. For over 20 years, he has worked on writing-across-the-curriculum theory and practice, on connections between workplace and academic writing, and on strategies for strengthening varied literacies in students (from reading to research to visual literacy). With Write Source Educational Publishing and Cengage Learning, he has co-authored writing handbooks for students from middle school to college. Dr. Van Rys also has co-authored an award-winning business-writing handbook for workplace professionals, WRITE FOR BUSINESS, with UpWrite Press.

Verne Meyer

Dr. Verne Meyer is an educator and businessperson. For nine years, he taught English in high schools in Michigan and Wisconsin; and for fifteen years, he taught dramatic literature, theatre history, and composition at Dordt College in Iowa. In 1977, with Pat Sebranek, Dr. Meyer cofounded Write Source Educational Publishing House, now a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Supplemental. A graduate of Calvin College (B.A.), Marquette University (M.A.), and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D.), he has co-authored a number of texts for college students, including THE COLLEGE WRITER, THE COLLEGE WRITER'S HANDBOOK, COMP, THE BUSINESS WRITER, and WRITE FOR WORK. For students in grades 8 through 12, he co-authored WRITERS INC, SCHOOL TO WORK, WRITE FOR COLLEGE, and a number of Write Source textbooks. For businesspeople, he co-authored WRITE FOR BUSINESS and EFFECTIVE EMAIL MADE EZ. Dr. Meyer is currently a contributing editor for Write Source and UpWrite Press. He is also a featured speaker in the School Improvement Network's instructional videos, Writing Across the Curriculum.

Randall VanderMey

Randall VanderMey (Ph.D. University of Iowa, M.F.A. Iowa Writers' Workshop, M.A. University of Pennsylvania) is an associate professor in the Department of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He also has taught composition, literature, and technical writing at Iowa State University, Dordt College, and the University of Iowa. He is a contributing editor and creative consultant for Write Source. Dr. VanderMey has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards for his teaching and poetry. He has published two books of poems, GROWING SOUL: A SONG CYCLE, GOD TALK, and CHARM SCHOOL: FIVE WOMEN OF THE ODYSSEY, as well as a commissioned biography, MERIZON: THE GREAT JOURNEY.

Patrick Sebranek

Patrick Sebranek (M.A. University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse) taught English, speech, and multimedia classes for 16 years at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin. During that time, he served as the English department chair and worked on several district-wide projects, including a writing-across-the-curriculum program and a K-12 writing sequence. He has studied the works of James Moffett, Ken Macrorie, Linda Reif, Nancie Atwell, and many other contemporary educators dealing with writing and learning. Mr. Sebranek is an author and editorial director for the Write Source Educational Publishing House and works closely with teachers and educators on all new and revised handbooks and sourcebooks.

Table of Contents

1. Critical Thinking Through Reading, Viewing, and Writing.
Critical Thinking Through Reading. Responding to a Text. Summarizing a Text. Critical Thinking Through Viewing. Interpreting an Image. Evaluating an Image. Critical Thinking Through Writing. Practicing Modes of Thinking in Your Writing. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
2. Beginning the Writing Process.
The Writing Process: From Start to Finish. Understanding the Rhetorical Situation. Aiming for Writing Excellence. Understanding the Assignment. Developing a Topic. Collecting Information. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
3. Planning.
Revisit the Rhetorical Situation. Forming Your Thesis Statement. Using a Thesis to Pattern Your Writing. Developing a Plan or an Outline. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
4. Drafting.
Reconsider the Rhetorical Situation. Basic Essay Structure: Major Moves. Opening Your Draft. Developing the Middle. Ending Your Draft. Working with Sources. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
5. Revising.
Consider Whole-Paper Issues. Revising Your First Draft. Revising for Ideas and Organization. Revising for Voice and Style. Addressing Paragraph Issues. Revising Collaboratively. Using the Writing Center. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
6. Editing and Proofreading.
Strategies for Polishing Your Writing. Combining Sentences. Expanding Sentences. Checking for Sentence Style. Avoiding Vague, Weak, and Biased Words. Proofreading Your Writing. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
7. Submitting Writing and Creating Portfolios.
Formatting Your Writing. Submitting Writing and Creating Portfolios. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
8. One Writer's Process.
Angela's Assignment and Response. Angela's Planning
9. Forms of College Writing.
Three Curricular Divisions. Writing in the Humanities. Writing in the Social Sciences. Writing in the Natural Sciences. The Rhetorical Modes. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
10. Narration, Description, and Reflection.
Strategies for Personal Essays. Brief Narratives: Anecdotes. Sample Personal Essays. "Story Time: A True Story," by Brandalynn S. Buchanan. "Spare Change," by Teresa Zsuffa. "What I Learned in Prison," by James Kilmore. "The Muscle Mystique," by Barbara Kingsolver. "Finding Ashton," by Melissa Pritchard. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
11. Definition.
Strategies for Definition Essays. Sample Definition Essays. "Economic Disparities Fuel Human Trafficking," by Shon Bogar. "Defining Mathematics," by Chase Vis. "Deft or Daft," by David Schelhaas. "Confession," by Amy Tan. "Beginnings," by Susan Sontag. "On Excellence," by Cynthia Ozick. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
12. Classification.
Strategies for Classification Essays. Sample Classification Essays. "Latin American Music," by Kathleen Kropp. "Why We Lift," by Hillary Gammons. "Four Sides to Every Story," by Stewart Brand. "The Lion, the Witch, and the Metaphor," by Jessica Siegel. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
13. Process.
Strategies for Process Essays. Sample Process Essays. "Wayward Cells," by Kerri Mertz. "No Risky Chances," by Atul Gawande. "The Washing," by Reshma Memon Yaqub. "The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln," by Eric Foner. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
14. Comparison and Contrast.
Strategies for Comparison-Contrast Essays. Sample Comparison-Contrast Essays. "Beyond the Polite Smile," by Janice Pang. "Why We Care About Whales," by Marina Keegan. "Journeys," by Barbara Kingsolver. "How the Internet Has Changed Bullying," by Maria Konnikova. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
15. Cause and Effect.
Strategies for Cause-Effect Essays. Sample Cause-Effect Essays. "Familiar Strangers," by Audrey Torrest. "The Rise of the New Groupthink," by Susan Cain. "Death from Below: Our Summer of Shark Attacks," by Brian Phillips. "Mind Over Mass Media," by Steven Pinker. "History That Makes Us Stupid," by Andrew Bacevich. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
16. Reading Literature: A Case Study in Analysis.
Strategies for Analyzing Literature and the Arts. Approaches to Literary Analysis. "Four Ways to Talk about Literature," by John Van Rys. Analyzing a Poem. "Let Evening Come," by Jane Kenyon. "'Let Evening Come': An Invitation to the Inevitable," by Sherry Van Egdom. A Poem to Analyze. "My Last Duchess," by Robert Browning. Analyzing a Short Story. "A Clean Well-Lighted Place," by Ernest Hemingway. "'A Clean Well-Lighted Place': Emotional Darkness," by Julia Jansen. Analyzing a Film. "The Revenant -- A Brutal Masterpiece," by James C. Schaap. Literary Terms. Poetry Terms. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
17. Strategies for Argumentation and Persuasion.
Understanding Arguments. Sample Argument: "No Mercy," by Malcolm Gladwell. Structuring Arguments. Engaging the Opposition. Arguing Through Appeals. Making and Qualifying Claims. Reasoning With and Supporting Claims. Identifying and Avoiding Logical Fallacies. Fallacies Revealed: "Executive Deception," by Kathleen Dean Moore. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
18. Arguing for Positions, Actions, and Solutions.
Strategies for Constructing an Argument. Sample Argumentative Essays. "Mother-Daughter Relationships: Harmful or Helpful?" by Sara Wiebenga. "Remedying an E-Waste Economy," by Rachel DeBruyn. "The Prison Problem," by David Brooks. "Why Removing the Jefferson Davis Statue Is a Big Mistake," by Al Martinich and Tom Palaima. "In Africa, AIDS Has a Woman's Face," by Kofi Annan. "The Gravest Threat to Colleges Comes from Within," by Scott Bass and Mary Clark. "Fatherless America," by David Blankenhorn. Writing Guidelines. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
A. Taking Essay Tests.
Reviewing for Tests. Forming a Study Group. Consider the Testing Situation. Taking the Essay Test. Writing Under Pressure: The Essay Test Quick Guide. Taking an Objective Test. Tips for Coping with Test Anxiety.
B. Writing for the Workplace.
Writing the Business Letter. Writing Memos and E-mail. Applying for a Job.
C. Preparing Oral Presentations.
Organizing Your Presentation. Writing Your Presentation. "Save Now or Pay Later," by Burnette Sawyer. Developing Computer Presentations. Overcoming Stage Fright Checklist.
D. Writing for the Web.
Web Page Elements and Functions. Developing a Web Site and Web Pages. Writing for Different Internet Environments. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Outcomes Checklist.
19. Getting Started: From Planning Research to Evaluating Sources.
Papers with Documented Research: Quick Guide. The Research Process: A Flow Chart. Getting Focused. Understanding Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources. Developing a Research Plan. Writing a Research Proposal. Exploring Information Sources and Sites. Conducting Effective Keyword Searches. Engaging and Evaluating Sources. Creating a Working Bibliography. Developing a Note-Taking System. Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Source Material. Avoiding Unintentional Plagiarism. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
20. Conducting Research: Primary, Library, Web.
Planning Primary Research. Conducting Surveys. Analyzing Texts, Documents, Records, and Artifacts. Conducting Interviews. Making Observations. Becoming Familiar with the Library. Searching the Catalog. Using Books in Research. Using Reference Resources. Finding Articles Via Databases.
21. Building Credibility: Avoiding Plagiarism.
Developing Credibility Through Sources Use. Recognizing Plagiarism. Understanding Why Plagiarism Is Serious. Avoiding Plagiarism. Avoiding Other Source Abuses. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
22. Drafting Papers with Documented Research.
Reviewing Your Findings. Sharpening Your Working Thesis. Considering Methods of Organization. Considering Drafting Strategies. Using Source Material in Your Writing. Sample Research Paper: Humanities Essay. "'Chipping Away' at Our Privacy?" by Lucas Koomans. Sample Research Paper: Science IMRAD Report. "The Effects of the Eastern Red Cedar on Seedlings and Implications for Allelopathy," by Dana Kleckner, Brittany Korver, Nicolette Storm, and Adam Verhoef. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
23. MLA Style.
MLA Documentation: Quick Guide. MLA Format Guidelines. Guidelines for In-Text Citations. Sample In-Text Citations. Quick Guide: MLA Works Cited. Sample Works-Cited Entries. Sample MLA Paper. "The Consequences of Childhood Staples: Do Barbies and Disney Princesses Do More Harm Than Good to Girls' Self-Esteem?" by Annie Sears. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
24. APA Style.
APA Documentation Guidelines. APA Format Guidelines. Guidelines for In-Text Citations. Quick Guide: APA References. Sample Reference Entries. Sample APA Paper. "The Silent Sibling: How Current Autism Intervention Affects Typically Developed Siblings," by Julia Sweigert. Critical Thinking and Writing: Applications. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
25. Understanding Grammar.
Noun. Pronoun. Verb. Adjective. Adverb. Preposition. Conjunction. Interjection. A Closer Look at the Parts of Speech.
26. Constructing Sentences.
Using Subjects and Predicates. Using Phrases. Using Clauses. Using Sentence Variety.
27. Avoiding Sentence Errors.
Subject-Verb Agreement. Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement. Shifts in Sentence Construction. Fragments, Comma Splices, and Run-Ons. Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers. Ambiguous Wording. Nonstandard Language. Quick Guide: Avoiding Sentence Problems.
28. Marking Punctuation.
Period. Ellipsis. Question Mark. Comma. Semicolon. Colon. Hyphen. Dash. Quotation Marks. Italics. Parentheses. Diagonal. Brackets. Exclamation Point. Apostrophe.
29. Checking Mechanics.
Capitalization. Plurals. Numbers. Abbreviations. Acronyms and Initialisms. Basic Spelling Rules. Commonly Misspelled Words.
30. Using the Right Word.
31. Multilingual and ESL Guidelines.
Five Parts of Speech. Understanding Sentence Basics. Sentence Problems. Numbers, Word Parts, and Idioms. Targeting Trouble Spots.

New to this edition

  • Thirty NEW sample essays, 12 students and 18 professionals, offer fresh perspectives on relevant, current topics -- from human empathy for whales to cyberbullying. Perfect for discussion, these essays will also inspire students' writing. New professional writers include Susan Sontag, Amy Tan, Atul Gawande, Malcolm Gladwell, Ernest Hemingway, David Brooks, Melissa Pritchard, Reshma Memon Yaqub, Brian Phillips, Maria Konnikova, Susan Cain, and James Kilmore. New student writers tackle topics such as family violence, cultural identity, face blindness, e-waste, and privacy in a surveillance age.
  • An ENHANCED Chapter 17, "Strategies for Argumentation and Persuasion," strengthens instruction in argumentative writing. The chapter now includes attention to the contrast between Toulmin and Rogerian approaches to argument, along with a sample argument by Malcolm Gladwell and a fallacy-focused essay by philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore.
  • A NEW Chapter 18, "Arguing for Positions, Actions, and Solutions," also strengthens instruction in argumentative writing. It integrates and streamlines material that had previously been presented in separate chapters. At the same time, the chapter offers more instruction on the principals involved in forms of argumentative writing, along with new sample essays that cluster around campus controversies, environmental challenges, and social institutions (including the family).
  • NEW activities and projects help students fully engage with readings, complete their own writing, and extend their learning through critical thinking. After each sample essay, "Reading for Better Writing" questions now ask students to connect the reading to their own life and experiences, show comprehension of the content, study writing strategies within the piece, and brainstorm related topics and approaches for their own project. End-of-chapter activities now extend students' learning through applications such as Photo Op, Wise Words, Living Today, Public Texts, Writing Reset, and Major Work.
  • Fully UPDATED documentation as presented in the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition, gives students the instruction they need to understand and implement the major changes to the MLA system. The new system is introduced through an easy-reference quick guide, presented through clear examples, and modeled in new student essays.
  • REORGANIZED chapters in the reader and the handbook offer a more logical progression in concepts for instructors and students. In the reader, the analytical modes follow a sequence from lesser to greater thinking complexity: definition, classification, process, comparison-contrast, and cause-effect. In the handbook, instruction now begins with the foundational matters of parts of speech and sentence structure before moving on to sentence errors, punctuation, mechanics, and usage.
  • This edition features enhanced MindTap® annotations that identify opportunities for integrating digital resources into your class.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 1305959108 | ISBN-13: 9781305959101)

This detailed manual provides sample syllabi, course guidelines, in-class exercises, and chapter objectives to assist instructors in teaching the course.

MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Van Rys/Meyer/ Vandermey/Sebranek's The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching  (ISBN-10: 1305959043 | ISBN-13: 9781305959040)

MindTap English for Van Rys/Meyer/VanderMey/Sebranek's for The College Writer, 6th Edition is the digital learning solution that helps instructors engage and transform today's students into critical thinkers. Through paths of dynamic assignments and applications that you can personalize, real-time course analytics, and an accessible reader, MindTap helps you turn cookie-cutter into cutting-edge, apathy into engagement, and memorizers into higher-level thinkers. As an instructor using MindTap, you have at your fingertips the right content and unique set of tools curated specifically for your course, all in an interface designed to improve workflow and save time when planning lessons and course structure. The control to build and personalize your course is all yours, focusing on the most relevant material while also lowering costs for your students. Stay connected and informed in your course through real-time student tracking that provides the opportunity to adjust the course as needed based on analytics of interactivity in the course.

Student Supplements

MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Van Rys/Meyer/ Vandermey/Sebranek's The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching  (ISBN-10: 1305959043 | ISBN-13: 9781305959040)

It’s 1 AM, there are 20 tabs open on your computer, you lost your flashcards for the test, and you’re so tired you can’t even read. It’d be nice if someone came up with a more efficient way of studying. Luckily, someone did. With a single login for MindTap English for Van Rys/Meyer/VanderMey/Sebranek's for The College Writer, 6th Edition you can connect with your instructor, organize coursework, and have access to a range of study tools, including e-book and apps all in one place! Manage your time and workload without the hassle of heavy books! The MindTap Reader keeps all your notes together, lets you print the material, and will even read text out loud. Need extra practice? Find pre-populated flashcards and the entire eBook in the MindTap Mobile App, as well as quizzes and important course alerts. Want to know where you stand? Use the Progress app to track your performance in relation to other students.