Writing checklist: Communicating your ideas clearly
Two dozen ways to improve your writing (said a bit facetiously)
Southern Nazarene University emphasizes writing all across its curriculum. We've
sometimes used the phrase "writing across the curriculum" to describe the
commitment of the entire faculty to helping students become articulate writers. Following good
grammar rules is important in that process.
Student papers in Howard Culbertson's classes will be graded
on writing technique and grammar as well as content. Before you turn in an assignment, go over
it carefully. View each writing assignment as a chance to improve your ability to express yourself
clearly and effectively.
Do you like irony? If so, here are two dozen tongue-in-cheek writing rules. Use this
humorous checklist to eliminate writing problems.
- Don't use no double negatives.
- About them sentence fragments.
- Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
- Between you and I, case is important.
- Do not submit writing assignments in email or phone text format -
- Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
- Use your apostrophe's correctly. Omit the apostrophe when its not needed.
- Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
- Of course, if any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb
- Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences of 10 or more words,
to their antecedents.
- A writer must not shift your point of view.
- Avoid clich‚slike the plague. They're old hat. So, go around the barn at high
noon to avoid clich‚s and colloquialisms.
- Do not be redundant and keep repeating yourself; do not use more words than
necessary; eliminate the superfluous in your writing.
- One should NEVER generalize.
- Be more or less specific.
- And avoid starting sentences with a conjunction.
- Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
- Don't use commas, that are not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be
enclosed in commas.
- Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed. So, take the bull by the hand
and avoid mixing metaphors.
- Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
- Be careful to use the write homonym.
- DO NOT use multiple exclamation points and all caps to EMPHASIZE a
- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement. Understatement is always
the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
- Proofread your writing to see if you any words
In a more serious tone . . .
Essay evaluation checklist: Does your written assignment measure up?
A rubric for grading papers . . . and for improving them before handing them in
While this list was developed for use at the college level, it can also be useful for high
What are teachers looking for? Use this checklist to evaluate your writing before submitting
- If the instructions call for a title page, do you have one?
- Is your name on the paper?
Organization and development
- Did you follow all assignment directions?
- Would your introduction entice a reader to start reading and to continue?
- Does your thesis or main point clearly shine through?
- Is the essay appropriately written for the audience you have in mind (even if that audience is
just the course instructor)?
- Do thoughts and ideas unfold orderly and logically?
- Do any sentences seem out of order or unrelated to the ones immediately before
them? If so, do some re-writing to give your line of reasoning a natural flow.
- Are paragraphs well developed without being too long?
- Are important points illustrated by examples?
- Does the content indicate original thinking and reasoning?
- Is there a satisfactory concluding paragraph?
Grammar and technique
- Are sentences clear, mature, and smooth?
- Are there any confusing or unclear words?
- Have you correctly used homonyms such as its/it's, their/there, here/hear?
- Has punctuation been checked for errors such as unneeded commas, comma splices
and run-on sentences?
- Have you checked your diction or manner of expression to make sure it is appropriate and
not too colloquial?
- Have you checked for agreement between pronoun antecedents or references and the
pronouns being used?
- Have you checked for misspelled words? Don't forget that sometimes spell-checkers
sometimes suggest wrong words. So, make sure when you click "replace" that you are inserting
the correct word.
- Are all resources properly cited?
Here is a "money-back guarantee" for you: The conscientious use of this rubric as a
checklist prior to turning in a written assignment will improve your grade.
-- Howard Culbertson
Additional writing help
"The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver." -- Probers 25:11
(Common English Version)
How to write well for assignments in my
classes: Improving your
criteria Exam study
guides Fixing writing
problems Working / studying in
groups Listening to
lectures or even sermons One bite at a
What is a syllabus
Want better grades?
seminar Volunteering overseas for a
year Are the heathen
lost? Answers to an oft-asked question 10/40
Window explanation and map Do you have a
missions call? African
martyr's commitment Mission trip
fundraising Ten ways to ruin your mission
trip PowerPoint presentations used in classes
and other venues Nazarene Missions International