Annotated Gradesheet

This is an annotated version of Andrew F. Wood's gradesheet, offering links to useful resources (many from the Purdue OWL) designed to help you write well.

The annotated gradesheet is a DRAFT document. I welcome your recommendations for its improvement (especially if you spot any typos).

I also invite you to check out a small but growing collection of pointers I've begun to gather at Wood's Writing Guide.

Note to students submitting work: Because of the many ways that a browser can display an HTML document, you may not submit this page as your gradesheet. Use the PDF gradesheet instead.

And remember: I'm happy to discuss exceptions to any of these rules/tools during the draft-phase of your work.

Questions, edits, recommendations, or broken-link reports? Email me:


Basics - Assignment Accomplish the learning goals of this paper described on the syllabus, explained in classroom conversations, and elaborated in supplemental emails.

Advice on deadlines: Tighten and backdate your deadlines, plan on multiple drafts before submission, and schedule an office hour visit for individual consultation (not editing).


Basics - Format Use double-space, 12-point Times New Roman, one-inch "ragged-right" aligned margins.

Exception: single-space name, course, and paper title on first page.

Number all pages.

Don't append a title page.

Set line spacing to avoid empty rows between indented paragraphs.

Advice on margins: Use the table edges of your PDF gradesheet as a margin guide.

For sustainability purposes, you are encouraged (but not required) to use recycled paper

2 Basics - Length Limit three lines above or below page range.
3 Organization - Forecast Preview each major section of your paper in a single sentence placed within your introduction paragraph.
4 Organization - Review Summarize each major section of your paper in a single sentence placed within your conclusion paragraph.

Organization - Topic Sentences Forecast main idea in a topic sentence (per paragraph).

Class-specific note: I expect you to place topic sentences at the beginning of your paragraphs. Exceptions may be made, but only after consultation with me (prior to assignment deadline).


Organization - Body Sentences Employ a subject and verb. Avoid fragments.

• Review OWL's resource on fragments to learn more.


Organization - Paragraph Length Avoid mini-graphs or paragraphs exceeding a page.

Class-specific note: As with the class rule on topic sentences, exceptions to the rule on paragraph length may be made, but only after consultation with me (prior to assignment deadline).

• Review OWL's resource on paragraphs to learn more.


Organization - Transitions Develop a justification to shift from paragraph to paragraph.

Class-specific note: Never begin or end a paragraph with quoted material.

• Review OWL's resource on transitions to learn more.


Evidence - Course Readings As assignment requires, include meaningful quotations (and/or paraphrases with citation) from readings.

• Review OWL's resource on quotations to learn more.


Evidence - Non-course Readings Attach highlighted photocopies from quoted and/or paraphrased pages.

Unless otherwise directed, do not use "internet only" sources.

Duplicate citations do not contribute to minimum research requirements.


Evidence - APA In-Text Citations Only include author, year, and (when quoting) page or paragraph number.

Here is an example: Wood (2006) states, "evidence is important" (p. 99).

Here is another example: "Evidence is important" (Wood, 2006, p. 99).

Block-quote excerpts exceeding 40 words.

Class-specific note: Do not include article title or extraneous information about authors.

• Review OWL's resource on in-text citations to learn more.


Evidence - APA Reference Page Append APA style (Sixth Edition) reference page.

Class-specific note: Reference pages do not count as part of page limit.

• Review OWL's resource on APA style to learn more.


Editing - Grammar and Spelling Ensure that your work meets professional standards.

Class-specific note: Visit Writing Center and COMM Center as needed.

• Review OWL's resource on grammar to learn more.


Editing - Apostrophes Attend to this oft-misunderstood punctuation mark (especially the difference between "its" and "it's").

Do not use apostrophes for dates (1900s), plural numbers (figures 8s), or abbreviations (IOUs).

• Review OWL's resource on apostrophes to learn more.


Semicolons Relate independent clauses. Differentiate comma-using elements.

• Visit my blog-post on semicolons to learn more.


Editing - Quotation Marks Place commas and periods inside quotation marks.

Example: "Edit carefully," Wood said, "and pay attention to detail."

• Review OWL's resource on quotation marks to learn more.


Editing - General Mechanics Use periods, commas, colons, capitalization, and other tools correctly.

Do not capitalize theories.

Avoid exclamation marks.

• Review OWL's resource on punctuation (including a special resource on capitalization) to learn more.


Prose - Clich�s and Hackneyed Phrases Some phrases are overused - deader than vaudeville; avoid them like the plague.

Note: a clich� in quotes is still a clich�.

19 Prose - Active voice Avoid wordiness, puffery (eg., "use" vs."utilize"), or awkward construction. Employ direct prose.

Prose - Empty modifiers Avoid words like "extremely" and "very."

Class-specific note: Exceptions may be made, but only after consultation with me (prior to assignment deadline).