Writing a paper? Writing anything that Steve Snow is going to grade?

Do

  1. Have a clear thesis.  Make sure the reader understands your argument.
  2. Present the central points of the paper clearly and logically, and support them with evidence gained from the readings and/or research.
  3. Use a fluent writing style.  Most importantly: a. Use one main idea per paragraph.  b. Make clear the relationship between the paragraphs; c. Employ clear transitions from one paragraph to another, with a connection between each point of argument and those that come before and after; d. Use direct quotations only to illustrate or underline your explanation, not to substitute for it.
  4. Follow a recognized citation style.

Don’t

  1. Commit grammatical, spelling or other mechanical errors.  (I will lower the grade if there are these types of errors.  You will receive a low grade if you don’t adequately proofread your paper.)
  2. Double-space between paragraphs.
  3. Confuse “it’s” with “its”; “their” with “there” with “they’re”; “your” with “you’re,” or make similar errors. (See Ten Flagrant Writing Mistakes, below).
  4. Have excessively wide margins.
  5. Make up your own citation style.
  6. Forget to end questions with a question mark.
  7. Skim the reading and/or conduct minimal research and hope to disguise this in the paper.
  8. Commit plagiarism (i.e., try to pass off someone else’s work as your own).  If it is a direct quote, put quotation marks around it.  If you use unattributed material from the internet, I will find the source and report you to the Academic Honesty Committee.


Ten Flagrant Writing Mistakes

(from zdnet.co.uk)

#1: Loose for lose

No: I always loose my keys.

Yes: I always lose my keys.

#2: It’s for its (or god forbid, its’)

No: Download the HTA, along with it’s readme file.

Yes: Download the HTA, along with its readme file.

No: The laptop is overheating and its making that funny noise again.

Yes: The laptop is overheating and it’s making that funny noise again.

#3: They’re for their for there

No: The managers are in they’re weekly planning meeting.

Yes: The managers are in their weekly planning meeting.

No: The techs have to check there cell phones at the door, and their not happy about it.

Yes: The techs have to check their cell phones at the door, and they’re not happy about it.

#4: i.e. for e.g.

No: Use an anti-spyware program (i.e., Ad-Aware).

Yes: Use an anti-spyware program (e.g., Ad-Aware).

Note: The term i.e. means “that is”; e.g. means “for example”. And a comma follows both of them.

#5: Effect for affect

No: The outage shouldn’t effect any users during work hours.

Yes: The outage shouldn’t affect any users during work hours.

Yes: The outage shouldn’t have any effect on users.

Yes: We will effect several changes during the downtime.

Note: Impact is not a verb. Purists, at least, beg you to use affect instead:

No: The outage shouldn’t impact any users during work hours.

Yes: The outage shouldn’t affect any users during work hours.

Yes: The outage should have no impact on users during work hours.

#6: You’re for your

No: Remember to defrag you’re machine on a regular basis.

Yes: Remember to defrag your machine on a regular basis.

No: Your right about the changes.

Yes: You’re right about the changes.

#7: Different than for different from

No: This setup is different than the one at the main office.

Yes: This setup is different from the one at the main office.

Yes: This setup is better than the one at the main office.

#8 Lay for lie

No: I got dizzy and had to lay down.

Yes: I got dizzy and had to lie down.

Yes: Just lay those books over there.

#9: Then for than

No: The accounting department had more problems then we did.

Yes: The accounting department had more problems than we did.

Note: Here’s a sub-peeve. When a sentence construction begins with If, you don’t need a then. Then is implicit, so it’s superfluous and wordy:

No: If you can’t get Windows to boot, then you’ll need to call Ted.

Yes: If you can’t get Windows to boot, you’ll need to call Ted.

#10: Could of, would of for could have, would have

No: I could of installed that app by mistake.

Yes: I could have installed that app by mistake.

No: I would of sent you a meeting notice, but you were out of town.

Yes: I would have sent you a meeting notice, but you were out of town.

Story URL: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/itmanagement/0,1000000308,39273376,00.htm

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3 Comments

Filed under Courses

3 responses to “Writing a paper? Writing anything that Steve Snow is going to grade?

  1. The word, as you’ve used it in your harangue about graded writing, should be “Internet” (not “internet”) since it is a proper noun.

  2. A “harangue” is a lengthy and aggressive speech. I’d like to think I stayed away from that in the post above–but it’s in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

    The following is from Wikipedia.

    “Since at least 2002 it has been theorized [passive-voice alert!] that Internet has been changing from a proper noun to a generic term. Words for new technologies, such as Phonograph in the 19th century, are sometimes capitalized at first, later becoming uncapitalized. […]

    Capitalization of the word as an adjective also varies. Some guides specify that the word should be capitalized as a noun but not capitalized as an adjective, e.g., “internet resources”.

    Usage examples

    Examples of media publications and news outlets that capitalize the term include The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, The Times of India, Hindustan Times. In addition, many peer-reviewed journals and professional publications such as Communications of the ACM capitalize “Internet”, and this style guideline is also specified by the American Psychological Association in its electronic media spelling guide.

    Since the advent of the ‘dot-com’ era, a significant number of publications have switched to not capitalizing the noun “internet”. Among them are The Economist, the Financial Times, The Times, the Guardian, the Observer and the Sydney Morning Herald.”

  3. Mark F.

    Please accept my apologies for the tone of my comment of 24 August 2010. I regret having made it at all.

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