Dr. Debora B. Schwartz
English Department, California Polytechnic State University



Paper has a title that identifies work / author and topic / claims made

Scope of essay is appropriate – not too broad or insufficient material for paper length

Essay takes interpretive position based on close reading (textual analysis), not just summary/description
Premise of paper makes sense (claims are defensible)

Paper presents a logical argument in support of its premise/claims

Important ideas/concepts are addressed

Textual evidence is well chosen; important passages needed for argument are included

Textual evidence is followed by analysis (interpretation of quoted passages)

Introduction avoids generalities; gets to point (no hook!); provides context/direction

Intro explicitly articulates claims supported in body of essay

Essential background info included; essential concepts and terms are clearly defined

Purpose of each paragraph is clear; paragraphs are unified and coherent 

Transitions between paragraphs are logical

All necessary steps in argument are included (no leaps in logic)

There is adequate textual support for each step in argument

Points are made in logical order (e.g. most general/simple/obvious to most specific/complex/subtle)

Summaries are provided only to make a point

Paper is of appropriate length for assignment

Concluding paragraphs are emphatic, relevant, logical

Margins, line spacing and other formatting follow paper guidelines

Citations are woven smoothly into your prose (e.g. no fragments, clear pronoun references)

Sources are documented consistently and accurately parenthetically and in Work Cited listing

Evidence is properly quoted (slashes between verse lines, indented block quotations, final punctuation)

1st & 2nd person references are avoided (whole paper is your thought; present it in a neutral way)


Refer to this list for explanation of correction codes in the text of your paper. [When used with brackets, code indicates that the problem occurs throughout the bracketed section.]

[ ? ] 
Unclear. Sentence or paragraph in brackets does not make sense as constructed. Rework for greater clarity.
Paragraph. New thought--open a new paragraph; OR, paragraph is too long; try breaking it here.
Adjective. ADJ?=is this adjective necessary? (Unnecessary adjectives are "window dressing."  Use them only if they are the focus of your point.)
Adverb. ADV?=is this adverb necessary? ((Unnecessary adverbs are "window dressing."  Use them only if they are the focus of your point.)
Antecedent. Pronoun lacks clear grammatical antecedent (ambiguous pronoun); OR, pronoun does not agree with grammatical antecedent, e.g. Everyone (a SINGULAR antecedent) got their (a PLURAL pronoun) paper back.
Awkward. Reformulate.
Basic Grammar. Error in e.g. possessives; adj. vs. adv; definite vs. indefinite vs. no article; subject vs. object pronouns; verbal forms; etc.  (NOTE: To form possessive of singlular noun ending in “s” add ’s; add only if final s indicates plural noun) 
Capitalization is used inappropriately; OR, necessary capitalization is omitted.
Dead Wood. Unnecessarily wordy, repetitive or redundant. Rework for greater concision; eliminate unnecessary words.
[ FP ] 
Faulty Parallelism. Sentence(s) in brackets misconstructed due to lack of parallelism between elements. Rework.
Sentence Fragment. Sentence in brackets is grammatically incomplete or lacks main subject/verb clause. Rework.
Preposition. Preposition is not used correctly; OR, wrong preposition chosen; OR, preposition needed.
Punctuation. Correct punctuation. With few exceptions (see MLA Handbook), ONLY grammatically complete sentences (subject and verb) are separated by periods, semi-colons or colons (and NOT by commas).
Passive Voice. Rework sentence to use active rather than passive verbal forms. ("He says," not "it is said that")
Unclear Reference. Vague--what do you mean? NB: in formal expository writing (unlike everyday speech), don't use "this"/"that"/"these"/"those" as pronouns (alone, without a following noun). Instead, tell me, "this what"?
Run-on Sentence, often from inappropriate use of comma where period, colon or semicolon is needed (“comma splice”)
Split Infinitive. Do not put adverb (or "not") between "to" and verb (wrong: "to swiftly go"; right: "to go swiftly")
Spelling. Word misspelled.
Subject/Verb Agreement. Verb doesn't agree with subject in person or number (e.g. he are; they is); rework.
Tone. Tone is inappropriate (i.e chatty or colloquial, e.g. in vocabulary or use of 1st/2nd person references)
Underlining needed; or, underlining used inappropriately. Remember to underline: titles of full-length works (but not of your paper); words in languages other than modern English. PLEASE USE UNDERLINING only, NO ITALICS
Verb Tense. Incorrect use of verb tense. (Remember that as a rule, the PRESENT TENSE is used in literary analysis. Past tense is appropriate only for limited use, e.g. to make a point about historical context, or to explain an event that took place prior to the events recounted in the work.)
Word Choice. Word/idiom is used incorrectly; OR, word is oddly chosen--are you sure you said what you meant?; OR, diction (word choice) is inappropriate for topic and assignment (slang, vulgar, colloquialisms, etc.)

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