Effective writing in mass media, academic, and business settings demonstrates four primary virtues. It is clear, concrete, concise and correct.
The table below details my shorthand marginalia (written in the margins of your papers), indicating the comment’s topic. For example, if a passage in your essay demonstrates excellent concision, I might highlight the passage and add a comment like
|Clear||CL||Clear writing is straightforward, avoiding convoluted phrases or over-long sentences. It favors sentences written in active voice.|
|Concrete||CC||Concrete writing is specific and values the tangible. It uses the most precise word available in any given situation.|
|Concise||CN||Concise writing packs the most meaning into the fewest words. Concise sentences rarely depend on forms of “to be” like “is” and “are.”|
|Correct||CR||Correct grammar, mechanics, and format are baseline expectations for writing in any professional field, particularly in media-related industries. Perfection is the standard.|
Below are additional abbreviations that I use when marking drafts; most focus on correctness.
- Apostrophe error
- Comma splice
- Dangling modifier
- Sentence fragment
- This indicates a problem with organization, either in the development or coherence of the paragraph. Often, I will highlight the part of the paragraph that doesn’t fit and mark it “Org.”
- Plagiarism. Far too many college students do not understand plagiarism well enough to avoid committing academic fraud. Plagiarism is nevertheless a serious offense and will be treated accordingly. Students unsure of what constitutes plagiarism need to consult a writer’s handbook or the Writers’ Studio before submitting any written work for this class.
- Use the formatting standards codified by the Modern Language Association. These are presented in any writing handbook.
- Misplaced Modifier
- Mixed sentence construction
- Pronoun error
- Verb form
- Verb tense
- Sentence boundaries. Problems in this area include run-on sentences as well as fragments.
- Semi-colon error. Often, the writer should have used a colon instead.
- Structure. This indicates a problem in the sequencing of the essay as a whole. An academic essay typically includes an introduction, body, and conclusion, and each body paragraph relates clearly to what came before and after.
- Subject-Verb agreement
- Word choice