PROFESSOR GREENE’S HIT PARADE OF WRITING MISTAKES

I would love to grade your papers solely on the cogency and efficacy of your argument. However, as a student of good writing, I find myself intolerant of bad writing choices; not only does it imply a lack of effort not to proofread what you submit, but it also weakens your credibility as a scholar (and because of that, I will downgrade accordingly). This list represents some of my biggest pet peeves; it would behoove you to review this list and ensure that you do not fall victim to my angry red pen.

Formatting:

All papers should be double-spaced with 1-inch margins, typed in 12-point Times New Roman or similar serif-style typefaces (e.g. Garamond, Georgia, Palatino, Iowan Old Style, Baskerville).  Sans-serif typefaces (e.g. Arial, Avenir, Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica) and Courier/Courier New typefaces are not acceptable fonts for formal papers.

Spacing between paragraphs should be set at 0 pt.  In Microsoft Word, go to Format, then Paragraph.  Under Spacing, Line Spacing should be set at “Double,” and Before and After should be set at “0 pt.”

All papers should be paginated at the upper right-hand corner of each page with your last name and page number (Greene 2).

All papers should use a consistent citation style (Chicago Style or ASA Style Citations (parenthetical) preferred). Guidelines for these styles are available through the course’s Blackboard site, or available on http://lib.trinity.edu/research/citing/ASA_Style_Citations_4.pdf.

WANDERING PARAGRAPHS: A paragraph should contain a single idea/argument supported by a series of related sentences.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANY OF YOUR PARAGRAPHS BE ONE PAGE LONG!!  EVER!!!!!!  If you find that your paragraph extends beyond a single page, double check to make sure that you cannot divide the paragraph into two (usually you can!).

Grammar and Syntax Errors:

Incomplete Sentences. All sentences require a subject and a verb. The subject and verb should always agree. These points are not up for discussion.

Run-on Sentences. Many people get confused by a run-on sentence, it is when you just keep putting ideas together and trying to pass it off as a long sentence, if you have more than one independent clause in a sentence, you should either separate those ideas with a comma and a conjunction (and, but, or, yet) or you can separate it with a semicolon, which leads me to the next pet peeve.

Commas verses Semicolons. This is a very common writing error. Semicolons replace the comma and conjunction in a compound sentence; therefore, semicolons should only separate independent clauses (meaning two separate sentences). Semicolons can also be used to break up a long list of items, for example following a colon.

 Colons. There are many uses for a colon, but if you are attempting to set off a series of items, there must be a complete sentence on one side of that colon. I will demonstrate. You cannot expect me to read your paper with an improper use of the colon and do the following: be happy that you misused the colon, overlook that fact when I consider your grade, and reward you with a good grade.

Possessives verses Contractions. It’s not really a good idea to contract in formal writing. You’ve no reason to do so; possessive pronouns do not typically require an apostrophe.

They’re, there, their. They’re should be no confusion in these three words. In the first place, see the peeve up their (contractions belong in dialogue, not formal writing). This is a very basic and common grammatical mistake, it burns me when students confuse there theirs.

Faulty Parallelism. Many students do not know what faulty parallelism is. In writing a series or to use a compound verb, you should always make sure that the phrases in your series match.

Split Infinitives. [Infinitive: “to” + verb (e.g. to be, to do, to lower the grades of people who split infinitives] I know that many of you like to pointedly split your infinitives in order to firmly emphasize your point. But consider them akin to passing salt and pepper at the dinner table; to split an infinitive is to separate a married couple.

Excessive Passive Voice. Passive voice is despised by me. In high school, I was downgraded by teachers for every instance of passive voice in my writing. Arguments are weakened by passive sentences. They should be kept to a minimum by you.

Ending sentences with prepositions. I have no idea what this is about. Prepositions have objects; please make sure that your prepositions have a phrase that it belongs to.

Placing “Book Titles” in quotations. Think of the contents of a book or a magazine (or a record or a film) when you consider this rule. Anything inside the book should be set off by quotes (i.e. journal or magazine articles, chapters in a book). Anything on the outside should be italicized or underlined (book titles, magazine titles (e.g. Newsweek), album titles, film titles).

Irregardless vs. regardless. Irregardless of the fact that this word appears in the dictionary, it is not an acceptable word. Use regardless instead.

Making up words. The dictionary contains millions of wonderful words. As brilliant as you are, there is no need to creatize new words in your writing, when there are a gatrillion ways for you to expressinationate your argument.

Finaly, poorfread. You would bee amazed at how littel misstakes dylute the efikasy of you’re writing. Spelcheck does not catch everything so you shoulddo what you can to insure that your points hour clear and free of arrors.