Chapter 4: Structuring, Paragraphing, and Styling

Deeper Reading: “I Need You to Say I”

Kate McKinney Maddalena

“I Need You to Say ‘I’: Why First Person is Important in College Writing” by Kate McKinney Maddalena can be found here.

One of the rules that many writers have heard throughout high school is that in an academic essay, “I”, signifying the presence of your own voice, is not appropriate. Maddalena offers a counterargument to that anti-I perspective in this essay. She provides a thorough explanation of all of the reasons if, when, and where first-person references might actually enhance your writing. She also explains why and how first-person references could weaken it. Knowing how and when to use your own “I” is a big step in finding your voice as an academic writer. If you find yourself struggling to differentiate your authors’ ideas from your interpretations or analyses of those ideas, this is an article that can clarify how to do so more effectively.

This article was originally published on, an Open Textbook Project. The site features many articles about writing and composition that may be useful to you.



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