Also see Grading
Directions, Audience, Purpose
- For any assignment, make sure you follow whatever directions are given. This
may include the paper format, source citations, and bibliography.
- Consider your intended audience. Determine what they probably already know about your topic and how to engage them to further their knowledge.
This helps to determine your main purpose in writing.
Criteria for grading
In addition to particular assignment directions, writing instructors consider
the following elements in evaluating an essay.
Controlling idea or thesis
This is the main point, the argument or thesis that controls and
unifies your paper,
sometimes stated directly near the beginning of your work.
Supporting evidence must be substantive, specific, accurate, and relevant to your thesis.
Writers use one or a combination of methods for
organizing essays. Paragraphs may vary in length and number, but each one must serve a clear purpose in your paper. Transitions
in your organization come naturally if you maintain the focus on your main point.
These words connect paragraphs and sentences as repeated key words, synonyms, or references to
time, space, or logic.
- Grammar and Punctuation
If you know you need help, make an appointment with a tutor, 508 854-4287.
Use online resources such as
For help in choosing the right words see Revising Poetry.
To be sure word usage is appropriate to your subject use a dictionary such as Merriam-Webster Online.
Drafting and Proofreading
- Read the essay out loud during your drafting process, or have someone read
it to you.
- Proofread a printed copy and edit before you pass in the paper.
Citations and Bibliography
- Use citations to credit your source whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, present statistics, or use another person's interpretation.
- Follow the correct style guide for the
particular discipline for any sources you use.
disciplines, the MLA (Modern Language Association) format for any in-text citation is the author's last name followed
by the page number. Use the title of the work if the author is not named and
just the page number if you identify the author in the text of your paper. The
basic format is: (Smith 21). See
- Additional information for Internet sources in a bibliography (titled Works
Cited) includes the
date you accessed the site and the URL.
- Follow the sample papers and examples of Works Cited entries in your
Think of your reader as someone who needs a new or deeper understanding of the story, poem, or play you're interpreting. Think of your paper as an argument to convince your reader to accept your interpretation. You will have to present evidence from the work to prove your analysis.
Writers generally use present tense when referring to the ideas and characters
in a literary work; if you refer to actions that happened before the main action
of the story, past tense is acceptable. Be sure that the meaning is clear if you
need to shift from one tense to another.