4 Simple Steps to Writing a Good Thesis Statement

What is a Thesis Statement Exactly?

A thesis statement is a single sentence that explains the argument you want to present in a paper. It is most often located in the first or second paragraph of your paper. If your paper is a tree, the thesis statement is the single seed it grows from.

You Mentioned an Argument? Do I Have to Argue?

Most academic outlets expect that you will present an argument. It is not sufficient to simply report what you have read. You must take it a step further and come to a conclusion based on the information you have gathered. This conclusion is your thesis and your paper is your defense of the thesis.

Tip: If you are not sure if your paper needs a thesis, ask your instructor.

Ok, so How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?

Follow our easy steps.

Step #1: Research First

Students often make the mistake of coming up with a thesis before doing any research. A better method is to begin with research in your field of study and look for patterns or themes. Not only does this make proving your thesis easier, it also prevents you from tunnel vision that could result in your arguing a thesis that is not true.

Step #2 Inspiration List

As you research, write down any ideas or themes that you notice as you go along. Look for subjects that are recurring, interesting or controversial. As an example, let’s say you are researching street art and graffiti you might write down the following:

  • Some people love street art and others think it is vandalism.
  • Certain cities seem to attract street artists more than others.
  • Street art and graffiti are not considered the same thing.
  • More visible and public areas are prized by street artists.
  • Street art can be viewed for free.

 Tip: Keep track of where you found your most compelling research; it’s not crazy to start building a works cited page in MLA or an APA reference page this early. It just means that once you are ready to write your thesis statement, you’ll already have everything you need to build an outline for the rest of your paper.

 Step #3 Get Creative

Take a look at your inspiration list and try to draw a unique conclusion that you have not already read about. When it comes to papers, creative ideas that can be supported by strong evidence are optimal. Based on our list, we could reasonably argue that:

Street art is the most accessible modern artform. 

#4 Test It

If you can answer yes to all of the following questions, your thesis statement is ready.

Could someone reasonably dispute your thesis?

Someone could argue that the sky is green, but it is not reasonable.

Is your thesis provocative or compelling?

Interesting ideas make reading more fun for your grader, which means a better grade for you.

Is there enough research to support your argument?

A thesis is only as good as the research it is built on. Make sure that there’s enough credible information to support your research paper topic.

Is your thesis statement simple to understand?

If your statement is too long or meandering take some time to edit down to a more basic version.

Remember: a thesis statement is a research-based opinion. Keep it clear and concise and you are on your way to a strong final paper.

Want guidance on your writing? Looking for a quick plagiarism or grammar check? Or maybe you need to build citation in Chicago Manual of Style or another format. Try BibMe Plus today for help with all of it!

6 Tips to Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Job or Internship

Ahhh, it’s summer. It may be break time for most, but you have ambitiously taken on a summer job or internship. Congrats! It can provide a great opportunity to prepare for life after college as long as you make the most of your experience.

Summer jobs and internships aren’t just about putting cash in the bank—they’re also about learning what you’d like to do professionally and developing skills that enhance your education.

Here are six tips for ensuring that your summer job or internship is worthwhile, both for you and for the company at which you’re working.

If you have to write articles, lessons, or reports for your summer job or internship, it never hurts to have an extra proofread of your drafts. That’s why BibMe Plus offers a grammar checker to help spot errant grammar and potential mistakes before anyone else (like your manager) does.

1. Set Goals For Yourself

Before the summer begins, write out a list of what you hope to achieve from your job or internship. Come up with 1-2 tangible skills you’d like to develop by the time the summer ends, and share these goals with your employer. Feel free to add on to this list throughout the summer, or revise if you find yourself assigned different tasks than what you initially accepted to be doing.

Bonus: Propose or keep track of projects you can potentially add to your portfolio at the end of the internship. For example, published articles if you are studying journalism, or lesson plans you drafted as a student teacher.

2. Find Tasks to Do

It’s good to listen to your manager, but being proactive can also pay off. Especially if you find yourself sitting around scrolling through social media for the umpteenth time. Take the initiative to talk to your boss about what else you can be doing to help out and, if possible, make suggestions based on what you’ve seen at the company and what your capabilities are.

3. Be Positive

As an intern or summer employee, you may find yourselves tasked with mundane things like grabbing coffee, cleaning the file cabinet or updating an Excel spreadsheet. When asked by a superior to do these things, cheerfully agree and ask if there’s anything more you can do. Take every opportunity that comes your way gladly. Seize whatever opportunities you’re given and go above and beyond the call to show your full potential.

4. Make Connections

Now’s the time be chatty. At your job or internship, introduce yourself to as many people as you can to help grow and develop your professional network. Add your supervisor and others from your company on LinkedIn, and think about who you’d be able to use as a reference or have write a recommendation letter for you. After you graduate, these connections could prove instrumental in finding a job.

5. Take Notes

You probably aren’t going to remember every single thing you’ve worked on over the course of the summer off the top of your head—and that’s OK (and normal). Jot down notes at the end of each week about what you did and what you liked/disliked. Later, this will be helpful when revising your resume and figuring out whether you’d like to do something similar after graduation.

6. Ask for Feedback

Although it’s valuable to self-reflect on your own performance, it’s perhaps more helpful to receive feedback from your superiors. Schedule a chat with your manager to discuss what you’ve been doing well and where they see room for improvement. As someone who is more experienced in the industry, your boss will be in a good position to assess your performance.

Citing work for your job, internship, or class? Don’t stress! Visit BibMe.com for help easily creating APA citations, a works cited page in MLA, in-text citations and more!

The Four Kinds of Plagiarism a Plagiarism Checker Can Catch

You’ve probably heard from your teacher that plagiarizing can lead to serious academic consequences. Plagiarism is the act of copying or including information from someone else’s work in your own paper without giving that person proper credit. Thankfully, there are tools available to help you make sure you haven’t committed plagiarism, such as the plagiarism checker located right here on BibMe.

So what kinds of plagiarism can these tools catch? Read on for some details and tips.

1) Copy and pasted sections

Students frequently copy information from an online source and paste it into a draft of their paper. Sometimes this is done on purpose, but it can also be an accident, as the student may just want to use the snippet for organizational or research purposes. The problem is, it becomes very easy to forget to remove, change, or cite sources before handing in the paper. Plagiarism checkers, however, can detect this type of plagiarism, whether it was intentional or not.

2) Uncited quotes

Quotes are frequently used as evidence for an argument in research or literary analysis papers. What can be tricky, however, is remembering to properly cite each quote, no matter how small. It can be easy to forget to write these down, and a plagiarism checker is a great resource to check for any missing citations near quotation marks in your paper.

3) Uncited links

Websites can be great places to start research on a topic, giving you a wealth of information almost instantaneously. Be mindful that you can’t just copy a link into your paper as a reference, however. These do not count as proper citations, and must be formatted correctly in MLA style, APA, or any other format your teacher asks for. Plagiarism checkers can flag these links and suggest that you create a citation for them.  

4) Accidental

Not all plagiarism is deliberate. Often students simply forget to include proper citations, or they mistakenly include copied text in their paper. These accidents can unfortunately be very harmful to your grade and academic record. Thankfully, plagiarism checkers can be a second line of defense, along with careful note-taking so you don’t lose track of sources.

Want to check your paper for possible plagiarism? Check out the Plagiarism and Grammar Checker on BibMe! This fantastic tool is a student’s best friend, as it can help to check for instances of plagiarism, provide instant grammar improvement suggestions, and let you add any forgotten citations directly into your paper.

Wrapping up a paper? Try BibMe’s grammar and plagiarism check!

Summer Book List for People Who Hate Reading

If you’ve spent the school year wading through The Odyssey or surviving Dante’s Inferno, you might be tempted to limit your reading to Twitter now that school’s out for the summer. But long layovers and lazy days at the beach are perfect opportunities to turn on your tablet or pick up a paperback and indulge in some reading that’s a little lighter than that stats textbook you hope to never see again.

Here are seven suggestions, ranging from new novels to collections of modern short stories, essays, and other selections that can be consumed in a single sitting. Warning: pick one up, and you might start hoping for rainy days and cancelled plans.

If you have a short attention span…

Fresh Ink – Edited by Lamar Giles

On sale: August 14, 2018

This anthology includes writing from 13 of the nation’s best-known young adult authors, but will appeal to readers ranging from age 12 to 99 according to Random House, its publisher. Produced in partnership with the non-profit We Need Diverse Books, Fresh Ink features 10 short stories, a graphic novel and a one-act play that touch on timely topics including acceptance, gentrification, and coming out.

If you’re craving a juicy thriller…

Tell Me Lies – By Carola Lovering

On sale: June 12, 2018

This debut novel is a coming-of-age tale told in alternating points of view by a couple locked in a toxic romance. Lucy Albright knows there’s something off about charming, complicated, and oh-so-attractive Stephen DeMarco. But she can’t quite seem to kick her addictive attraction through college and their post-college years in New York City—even when the connection might lead to dire consequences.

If you love a good essay…

Look Alive Out There – By Slone Crosley

Published: April 3, 2018

Slone Crosley is considered a modern master of the witty one-liner. Reviews of her latest essay collection indicate she’s continued that signature style in Look Alive Out There, where essays cover everything from mountain climbing to mortality. Those who enjoy her humorous voice but prefer subjects that seem a little more like dessert than the main course might try her first book of best-selling essays, I Was Told There Would Be Cake. Another bonus: these personal pieces might sharpen your essay-writing skills, helping you wow teachers and admissions officers long after summer’s over. (Don’t forget to give it a polish by running it through BibMe’s grammar checker!)

If you can’t stop reading the news…

The Hate U Give – By Angie Thomas

Published: February 28, 2017

This best-selling book might seem more fact than fiction considering it’s about a teen, Starr Carter, who witnesses her unarmed childhood best friend being shot and killed by a cop. The event sets off a collision between Starr’s weekday world, a majority-white private school, and the poverty-plagued urban neighborhood where she lives. So, although it’s classified as a young-adult novel, The Hate U Give covers some heavy topics—no surprise given the fact it takes its name from the acronym behind rapper Tupac Shakur’s profane and profound THUG LIFE tattoo. A movie version of the novel is scheduled for release in October, so read it before it hits the screen!   

If you wished books still came with pictures…

Come Again – By Nate Powell

On sale: July 31, 2018

Artist and author Nate Powell shared the 2016 National Book Award for March: Book Three, the last book in a series created by Powell, Andrew Aydin, and U.S. Congressman John Lewis chronicling two pivotal years in the civil rights movement. Come Again, Powell’s first solo graphic novel in seven years, doesn’t cover such weighty subject matter, but still showcases the author’s vivid approach to character-driven comics in a fictional tale of two families grappling with some long-hidden secrets within a 1960s-style “intentional community” in the Ozarks mountains.

If you loved The Hunger Games…

The Darkest Minds – By Alexandra Bracken

Published: October 22, 2013 (paperback)

In the not-too-far-away future, a mysterious disease wipes out 98 percent of America’s 10- to 17-year-olds. The ones who survive all have unique abilities that scare the government enough to imprison them in “rehabilitation camps.” But some manage to escape to go in search of East River, a haven for special survivors like them. The Darkest Minds is the oldest book on this list, but a movie based on the dystopian thriller is slated for release in August and stars Amandla Stenberg, best known for playing Rue in another futuristic film based on a best-seller—The Hunger Games.

If you need a good laugh…

Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity, and Tomfoolery – By Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal

Published: October 10, 2017

This book by the team behind the YouTube talk show Good Mythical Morning features stories and photos from Rhett and Link’s lifelong tomfoolery-fueled friendship as well as charts, illustrations, and activities designed to get you “laughing more, learning more, and never taking yourself too seriously” according to the description on the book publisher’s page. Highlights include Character Building: The Board Game and a list of grownup merit badges you can earn. If one of them is “Read a Book for Fun Over the Summer,” you can check it off the list.

If you need to get the skinny on how to cite a book or create an annotated bibliography, check out BibMe’s other resources—not to mention our easy (and free) citation generator!

Become an Internet Search Ninja With These 5 Advanced Tips

Don’t let the simple, stark white, ad-free homepage of Internet search engines deceive you. They have the potential to convince a novice user that it’s a basic research service. The truth is, it is anything but basic. Google, along with Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines, has the ability to turn millions of unwanted search results into a refined set of options. How? With some simple tricks and hacks included in this article.

Continue reading to unlock the magic and become an Internet search ninja! If you’re searching for information for a research paper, don’t forget to start citing sources (usually in MLA format or APA style). It’ll help you keep track of what you found and save you the headache of trying to remember and cite information later.

Hack #1: Use Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words added into search strings to help narrow, broaden, or refine results. The three words used for this function are and, not, and or.

When to use Boolean operators:

  • when you want two or more keywords included in the search results
  • when you want to exclude certain words from the search results
  • when you want to account for similar terms and broaden your search

To combine two search terms, place the conjunction AND in between both words or phrases. The results will show websites that include both terms in the page’s content.

Cell phones AND brain cancer

Chicken AND waffles

To exclude certain words from the search results, add the adverb NOT before the term you’d like to exclude. The results will show websites that do not include that term in the results.

Meatballs NOT pork

This search will display sites that include information about meatballs, but the word “pork” is not included anywhere on the page.

Note: Google does not recognize the term “NOT.” Instead, use a hyphen before the word you’d like to exclude.

Meatballs -pork

To account for similar keywords and synonyms, place OR between words. The results will show websites that include one word or the other.

democracy OR commonwealth OR self-government

Hack #2: Related Websites

Ever feel as though you’ve found the perfect website and you’d love to see others like it? Try adding the word “related” into the Google search bar, follow it with a colon, and add the site you’d love to see a clone of.



Hack #3: Synonym Searching With ~

If your searches don’t seem to be producing what you were expecting, you no longer need to head back to the search bar to try out similar keywords. Take away the effort of substituting and modifying your keywords by inserting a tilde (~) before one of your search terms. This symbol, used before a word, prompts Google to search for synonyms.

Side effects of ~pain relievers

This search string will search for side effects of pain relievers, side effects of painkillers, side effects of pain medications, etc.

Hack #4: Search by Date Range

It’s possible to search for articles from a specific date range. This feature is especially handy if you’re looking for an article published on a particular date or you’re looking for updated or newly released articles.

Google provides the option to search for posts, articles, or websites published in the past hour, past 24 hours, past week, past month, past year, or, you can define a custom date range.

To use this feature, search as you normally would, and at the top of the results page, click “Tools.” Use the drop down menu under “Any time” to choose a date or date range.

Hack #5:  Search for a specific word in the title

If you’re attempting to locate articles, posts, or websites that have a specific word or words in the title, it’s possible in Google with the intitle command. Type intitle, add a colon directly after it, and add your search term. Google will only display results that include that specific word in the title.

Back to the Future intitle:Michael J. Fox

This search will display articles about Back to the Future, with Michael J. Fox’s name in the title.

Diabetes intitle:candy

Search results will display articles about diabetes, with the word candy in the title.

Now that you’ve learned some nifty Internet search hacks, try them out! Use these tricks and tips next time you have a big assignment or when you’re simply searching for fun. They’ll save you time and energy, which is always appreciated.

The Mysterious (but Awesome) Invisible Web

If you’ve done a research paper before (we bet you have) then you know there are a TON of different types of sources you can use to conduct research. This can make it difficult to zero in on relevant information. Using the same search term over and over again tends to just bring up the same old results.

But what if there was a side of the Internet that was somewhat hidden, yet contained valuable information on your topic? Good news: there is! It’s called the “Invisible Web,” and it’s not as scary as it sounds.

What is the Invisible Web?

The “invisible web” might sound like a mysterious weapon, or a book you have to read for class, but it’s actually much cooler than that. The term “invisible web” refers to sources, like databases, that search engines do not have direct access to, or cannot display results for.

For example, if you were to type in the word “cat” into Google, you would most likely see a list of pages from the visible web, such as Wikipedia, with information about cats. What you wouldn’t see, however, is the information about cats contained in databases.

Databases usually have curated content that is fairly credible and relevant to your research topic. However, you wouldn’t normally have access to or find this content via the visible web since databases generally block software “spiders,” employed by search engines, that search the web for page results. Tip: Teachers love it when you include databases in your works cited page or APA reference page.

How Can I Access the Invisible Web?

Don’t worry, the invisible web may be “hidden,” but it is not completely inaccessible! You can access information from databases by searching with very specific terms. Here are some of the best places to start:

For government sources: USA.gov

This is the official web portal for the US government. It contains a wealth of information and lists of places to find sources such as historical government documents and photographs.

For topics in the humanities: Voice of the Shuttle

Originally a web project created by scholars at the University of California, this site is a concise guide to reliable sources in the humanities, such as Philosophy, Anthropology, and History,

For topics in the sciences: Web of Science

This subscription service provides direct access to research publications, and houses access to over 18,000 scientific journals.

Want more? Visit your local public library or school library website to see what databases they offer to their patrons. Many offer access to databases you’d otherwise have to pay for. If you have trouble finding or using databases, find a librarian to help you out—they’re the best!

Why Should I Use it for Writing Research Papers?

Using the invisible web for your research paper will help your work stand out. While it is pretty simple to type in a keyword into a search engine, it shows initiative when you expand your search to other sources. You will also reduce the risk of repeating the same references as your classmates!


Easily cite sources as you research, then scan your paper for errors with BibMe Plus’s grammar and plagiarism checker. Spot potential errors, find quotes that may need to be cited, and start building a stronger paper today!

Adverbs: To Use or Not To Use?

Hemingway abhorred them. Stephen King famously quipped, “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” If there can be such a thing as a controversial part of speech, adverbs probably are it.  

On the one hand, adverbs can be useful tools to enhance your writing. They can convey important information about how something is said or done, which can completely change the meaning or add more layers of significance. On the other hand, adverbs can clog up writing, become repetitive, and turn into shortcuts that cover up for lazy writing elsewhere.

So, should you use adverbs? We’ll look at both sides and let you decide!

Adverbs: The Case In Favor

Adverbs are like the spices in your kitchen cupboard: you can do without them, but if they’re used in the right amount, they can elevate the end product from “just fine” to exciting.

In essence, an adverb is meant to enhance the context around a verb – typically an action verb – by adding information about how an action is performed.

 The ideal teaching candidate will communicate ideas efficiently.

Please speak slowly – German is my second language and I can’t always keep up.

 They also can modify adjectives, usually by denoting degrees or emphasis.

 The new graduates were extremely happy.

When used properly, adverbs genuinely enhance or clarify the meaning of verbs, adjectives, or sentences. On a larger scale, they might create tension, foreshadowing, or suggestions about a character.

 For instance, let’s say there’s a character who performs a morally shady action and whose motivations are, at that point in the story, a bit murky. If they perform that action verb “slowly” or “deliberately,” that might suggest to the reader that they’re enjoying the villainous action. If they perform that action “hurriedly” or “distractedly,” that same action suddenly might be cast as something the character finds distasteful or is being forced to do.

They can also reflect priorities, as in the “job listing” example above. Being able to communicate “efficiently” draws focus to that qualification, implying its importance as opposed to other qualities not named.

Used sparingly and with specific goals in mind, adverbs can be a real asset to your writing. And yet many successful writers still disparage them as the root of all writing evil. Why?

Adverbs: The Case Against

At some point, you’ve probably read a paragraph like this:

She quickly locked the door.

 “Do we actually think we can pull this off?” she said doubtfully. She looked up at him worriedly. His face creased suddenly.

 “We have to,” he said, quietly but certainly.

That was annoying to read, wasn’t it? That’s a prime example of how adverbs can clutter up writing and produce the exact opposite effect the writer wants.

When we look at many adverb examples, we often see instances where writers use adverbs as a sort of shortcut to “spice up” writing that could be much more concise. Instead of using words that carry their own connotations, writers often use adverbs as the quickest way to add description to a sentence.

Compare the above adverb examples to something like this:

“Do you actually think we can pull this off?” she asked. Her voice was trembling almost as much as her hands were, and she avoided his gaze.

 A crease appeared on his face.

 “We have to,” he muttered.

 The second version – though perhaps not exactly cliché-free either – avoids a bunch of adverbs while also giving us more information in the implications of the words. “Muttered,” for instance, gives us a sense that perhaps the male character is reluctant or cynical, rather than the muddled “quietly but certainly.”

There are also instances where adverbs add information that already is in the sentence.

“Give that back!” she shouted menacingly.

He sidled down the corridor sneakily.

 “Shouted” already implies a degree of menace or anger, while “sidled” implies a sneaky action, making “sneakily” redundant. They’re not technically incorrect, but they’re not strong writing.


You don’t need to strip your writing of all adverbs, unless you really want to. But just like it’s always a good idea to check for proper use of MLA style or APA format, check for adverb usage! A good rule of thumb is to try to eliminate around a third to half of the adverbs from your first draft. Use them sparingly, and you’ll find yourself with interesting yet concise writing!


6 Tips for Writing Better Facebook Posts

by Amanda Cross

How do you create a Facebook post that gets engagement, showcases your best skills, and doesn’t create a cyclone of regret later? Keep reading for some excellent advice on how to write Facebook posts you can be proud of!

1. Always check for spelling and grammar

Text or internet speak is different from incorrect grammar. It’s one thing to write “LOL”— write “lagh out lod,” and that’s what your followers are going to be doing. Before you send any Facebook update, you should take some time to look through your post. (Remember that if you have to edit a post after publishing it, Facebook will let everyone know.)

Read through your post word-for-word, correct any spelling and grammar errors, and then hit “Post.” Never post as soon as you finish writing something!

Here are some common mistakes you might make:

  • Using the wrong homophone: “To,” “too,” and “two” may sound similar, but they have different meanings. Same with “there,” “their” and “they’re.” Even seasoned writers mistake similar-sounding words, so make sure to review for these.
  • Misusing apostrophes: Apostrophes indicate possession or the omission of other letters and numbers. If you’re talking about multiples of something, you don’t need an apostrophe (for example, “free popsicle’s in the quad!” is incorrect).
  • Misspelling words: Before you become the subject of an “autocorrect fail” meme, double check for misspelled words.

If you want to make sure your post is airtight, run it through BibMe’s grammar checker!

2. Don’t go on too long 

The more characters you use to make a point, the more room for error. Plus, there’s more chance for you to go off-topic or lost the audience’s interest. While Facebook doesn’t currently put a word limit on status updates, try to keep your posts short and sweet. Your friends are probably too busy to read long rants anyway.

3. Add images or videos to grab friends’ attention

The Facebook feed doesn’t have an end; it keeps going as long as the reader continues scrolling. That means it’s easy for your friends to scroll right past your updates. A great way to grab their attention is to incorporate eye-catching visuals. Add an image, a collection of images, or a video to spice up your status updates. Facebook has a ton of additional tools to help grab your audience’s attention, such as GIFs and polls, which you can also use to your advantage.

4. Be valuable

When people see your Facebook posts, they’re forming a judgment about what you have to offer them. When you create valuable content, you create an excellent reputation for yourself online. Share content that enriches the lives of your friends. Here are some examples of valuable content:

  • Funny or inspirational quotes
  • Lessons you’ve learned
  • Study tips
  • Scholarship information
  • Companies hiring
  • Free/discounted things you’ve found
  • Hot takes on current events or hyperlocal events
  • Suggestions for things to buy based on your personal experience

It doesn’t matter what you choose to focus on; your page could be all about the latest video game news, cryptocurrency, or makeup! You just need to find a group of people who are interested in the topic that you intend to discuss.

5. Use the grandma rule

Remember that no social media content is created in a bubble. Beyond the question of where the data is stored, someone can easily take a screenshot of your post and hang on to it.

The gray areas become a lot more black-and-white when you follow the grandma rule: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother (or someone you hold in high esteem) to see. Would you be embarrassed if they saw the Facebook post you are about to make? If so, don’t post it.

6. Include a question to the audience

The final way to write better Facebook posts is simple: include a question to the audience.

If you want your friends to like your posts or comment on them, you need to let them know that. Otherwise, they’ll likely react to your post in their heads and keep scrolling. Help them out with a quick discussion starter. You may even want to leave your answer to the question in a comment to get the conversation started.

You’re now ready to tackle Facebook with a fantastic post that will get your friends talking. Happy posting!

When your social media break is over, get back into study mode by learning how to do a works cited page and how to write an annotated bibliography!  

The Proper Noun We Always Forget to Capitalize

It’s easy to let a proper noun slip past your “shift” key while writing. There are some trademarked words that just seem so…generic. Check out this list and never be fooled by a proper noun masquerading as a common noun again.

Can you pass me a Kleenex?

In a haze of pollen, it’s easy to forget that Kleenex is actually a brand name, and thus a capitalized proper noun. Blow your nose on a tissue, however, and you won’t have any such concerns.

I need to make a Xerox.

This one is quickly becoming obsolete, but we still make copies from time to time. That’s right—copies. Xerox refers to the company that makes the machines, so should be capitalized as a proper noun. (Which also means that technically, you can’t use it in Scrabble. Good luck using up all those X’s.)

Who’s up for Frisbee in the quad?

When you get together a game of Ultimate, you’re throwing around a capital-F “Frisbee.” That flying plastic disk is a trademark of Wham-O, which kindly reminds you on its website: “If your disc doesn’t say Frisbee® – it is not real!” And don’t you forget it.

Grab me a Coke from the fridge, please.

This soft drink has become so ubiquitous, it’s easy forget to capitalize it when writing. But as Pepsi fans will remind you, Coke is just one brand of cola, thus necessitating a big “C” like all other proper nouns.  

Ugh, how long do I have to wait on hold listening to this terrible Muzak?

Yep, those sleepy strings you hear in elevators and waiting rooms everywhere was actually the patented creation of Mood Media. As this article explains, the company created Muzak in the 1930s in order to get people in a more spendy mood while they shopped. Beware the power of the bland.

Spell check should catch any errant lowercase proper nouns, but it’s even better to learn them by heart. You wouldn’t want to offend one by forgetting to capitalize it, rendering it nothing but a common noun.

Here’s a bonus: words that used to be proper nouns, but became plain ol’ common nouns through continued use. Perhaps one of these origin stories will spark an idea for your next
research paper.

Take the Motorstair to the 3rd floor

Before the Otis Elevator Co. relinquished its trademark on the word, other escalator manufacturers called their products the Motorstair, the Electric Stairway, and Moving Stairs.

I’ll pack you some soup in a Dewar flask.

The thermos, known generically as a “vacuum flask” or “Dewar flask” after its original inventor, has a long and complicated history. After a trademark war in the Mad Men era, a court declared “thermos” a generic term. The Thermos Company is still alive and kicking, though, and we can bet their employees never suffer the indignity of cold coffee.

Call me (clamshell) maybe

Hang on tight for this throwback: The term “flip phone” was once patented by Motorola, which manufactured the first of these 90s-era gems, known generically as clamshell phones. No need to capitalize flip phone anymore—just make sure you don’t exceed your minutes.

Learn more about all kinds of nouns, common and proper, and make sure your writing is capital-A “Amazing” with BibMe’s grammar checker!  

It’s vs. Its: What’s the Difference?

The English language is a tough business. So much so, it’s unimaginable to have mastered all its intricacies. (See what I did there?)

Determining whether to use “it’s” or “its” is an essential building block of good writing, but it’s easy to let this little word topple your Jenga tower. Even the most seasoned writers are apt to forget an apostrophe every now and again. (That’s why even experienced writers can benefit from an online grammar check like the one right here on BibMe!) 

Take the following text message exchange:

A: When do you want to see that superhero adventure movie no one can stop talking about, the superhero adventure movie to END ALL SUPERHERO ADVENTURE MOVIES???
B: Its playing at 8 tonight. Wanna go?
B: *it’s
B: *it’s playing at 8 tonight
B: That was all autocorrect. I know the difference between it’s and its, I swear. PLEASE YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE MEEEE.

Ok, maybe things aren’t always this dramatic. But knowing the difference between a regular ol’ pronoun and a possessive pronoun is essential for understanding English grammar (and using it to express yourself in writing). Especially when it comes to that tiny, impossible-to-define, root of all description: it.

When do you use “it’s” and when, “its”? We hope this comic will help set the record straight.

What's the Difference Between It's and Its? Cartoon - BibMe blog

Bonus: here’s a practical tip for making sure you’re using the right form of it’s: run the “it is” test

If you’re not sure whether to put in the apostrophe, see if your version of “its” works as two words: it is.

It is nice out.
I’m sure it is going to work.

In these instances, “it is” can be replaced by

It’s nice out.
I’m not sure it’s going to work.  


For the other version, take these sentences:

Put the toy back in its place, won’t you please.
The robot took its sweet time making my dinner.

You wouldn’t say “the robot took it is sweet time,” now, would you? There you go: no apostrophe needed.

Not sure your paper is free of rogue apostrophes, reckless subject verb agreement, or other wilding grammar errors? Take our free grammar check for a spin!

 Illustrations by Liv Bishop