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English Department

Writing Guidelines*

*adapted from the Greece Central School District’s Language Resource Guide

Common Sense Tips
1.      Use only blue or black ink for all written assignments
2.      Type all lengthy written assignments when possible
3.      Take pride in your work
4.      Proofread final copies of all written work
Proofreading Tip
1.      Don’t always rely on the spell check/grammar check on your computer.
2.       Always double check your spelling using a dictionary before AND after printing out your work.
Sentence Structure Tip
Use a variety of simple, compound, and complex sentences to give your writing variety. This will help you avoid writing in short, choppy sentences.
Important Revision Tips
1.      Stay in one tense- use the present tense when writing about literature.
2.      Omit “I” unless you are writing about personal experience.
3.      Omit “you” whenever possible to avoid directly addressing your reader.
4.      In essays, write the numbers one-nine using words (ex. three) and everything 10 and above using digits (ex. 100)
5.      Use “who” instead of “that” when referring to people.
6.      Do not begin a sentence with “so.”
7.       Underline titles of books and plays. Use quotation marks for poems, short stories, and movies.
Paragraph Structure
1.      Topic Sentence- states the subject of the paragraph
2.      Details with Vivid Descriptions- supports the topic sentence
3.       Concluding Sentence- summarizes the main point of the paragraph
Rules for Using Colons and Semicolons
1. after the greeting in a business letter
Dear Sirs:
Dear Mr. Freedman:
Dear Chairperson:
2. to introduce a list
You will need the following clothes for the camping trip: boots, gloves, a heavy jacket, scarf, and a hat.
3. between the hour and the minutes when you use numbers to express time
4:34 p.m.
4. to introduce a long direct quotation
At the press conference the president declared:
Times are getting better. The economy is starting to improve, more people are working, crime is down, reading scores are up, etc.
Notice that you don’t use quotation marks with a long direct quotation. Instead, you indent on both sides from the main text.
1. to join the independent clauses of a compound sentence together when you don’t use a comma and a conjunction.
Chorus meets every Tuesday; band rehearsal is on Wednesday.
2. in front of some conjunctions that join together two simple sentences into one compound sentence. In these cases, put a semicolon in front of the conjunction and a comma after it.
        I usually like pecan pie; however, today I don’t want any.
     Other conjunctions and phrases punctuated this way:
in addition
for instance
as a result
in fact
for this reason
that is
on the contrary
for example
on the other hand
3. in a series of three or more items when commas are used within the items
Appearing on tonight’s show are Brenda, the wonder frog; Tulip, the talking toucan; and Henrietta, the hip hippo.
Last updated on 12/10/2007
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