Essay Marginal Notations

Checklist of Marginal Notations on Your Graded Work

Content (will read “C-2,” “C-5,” etc.)

  1. This is plot summary. You need to analyze, not summarize.
  2. You need more examples from the text to support this point.
  3. Do not state the obvious. Look for a fresh perspective.
  4. The logic here is not convincing; it shows a “logic leap.” You need to explain more clearly to your reader how you arrived at this conclusion.
  5. The literary work contradicts this conclusion. Please re-read the text.
  6. You must explain this conclusion in greater detail; you’ve just scratched the surface.

Organization (will read “O-4,” “O-7,” etc.)

  1. Your paper must have a title slanted toward your thesis.
  2. You need a thesis statement that presents a clear and strong opinion, claim or argument that can be debated.
  3. Your topic sentences should clearly relate to your stated thesis.
  4. Your body paragraphs are not organized in the same order that you promised them in your thesis.
  5. Body paragraph information should prove or explain the topic sentence.
  6. Your introductory paragraph should mention the title and author of the work you are discussing.
  7. Work your quotation into the text more smoothly.
  8. Do not use isolated or “orphan” quotations; every sentence should include some of your own writing.
  9. List the source or page number for this quotation.
  10. Use better transition here.

Style (will read “S-1,” or “S-4,” etc.)

  1. Your point here is unclear.
  2. This section has awkward wording. Reword it.
  3. This section is wordy. Be clear and concise.
  4. You need to combine these sentences to achieve a more sophisticated style.
  5. Avoid clichés.
  6. Avoid overuse of “be” verbs (state-of-being) verbs and helpers. Use vivid action verbs in their most active voice.
  7. Incorrect word choice.

Mechanics (will read “M-8,” etc.)

  1. Avoid sentence fragments.
  2. Avoid comma splices.
  3. Avoid run-on or fused sentences.
  4. Make sure subjects and verbs agree.
  5. Pronouns and their antecedents should agree.
  6. Pronoun reference is unclear.
  7. Correct spelling.
  8. Maintain verb tense consistency. Write in one verb tense unless a verb tense shift is necessary for clarity.
  9. Avoid use of second person (you, your).
  10. Use parallelism here.
  11. Use a comma after a long introductory phrase (5 words or longer).
  12. Use a comma after an introductory dependent clause.
  13. Use an apostrophe to show possession. Make sure not to confuse plurals and possessives.
  14. Use an apostrophe in all contractions. However, do not use contractions in formal academic writing.
  15. Capitalize important words in titles.
  16. Enclose titles of poems and short stories in quotation marks (rule for any literary work that is published as part of a larger literary work).
  17. Underline or italicize the titles of books, plays, and long poems (any work that will be published as a sole entity).
  18. Do not underline the title of your essay or enclose it in quotation marks.
  19. Avoid repetition.
  20. Use commas with items in a series.

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