Checklist for student essay writing such as grammar, punctuation, syntax
– Do not use first person plural (we, us).
– Make only one space after commas, periods, semi-colons and colons.
– Understand the meaning and use of the definite article (the) and the indefinite article (a, an).
– Do not use exclamation marks.
– Do not use first person singular (I) or personal opinions, except in personal statement or admission
– Do not capitalize common nouns.
– Avoid all forms of questions, including rhetorical questions.
– Do not use colloquial terms or expressions.
– Do not use empty adverbs such as basically, actually, really.
– Do not use hyperbole (great exaggeration) or hyperbolic words such as enormous, huge, magnificent,
glorious or other superlatives such as most obnoxious.
– Make sure all verbs agree with their subject in number (singular and plural).
– Make sure all prepositions agree with the verb (in English, most verbs have only one or two
prepositions that can be used (results in, not results to).
– Check all spellings.
– Check that all adverbs are in the right place (you cannot put an adverb inside an infinitive verb like
this: He tried to neatly write his name.)
– Do NOT use archaic words or terms. Young native English-speakers do not use these words. Some
are hence, whereby, nevertheless, henceforth, hereunder, abovementioned, therefore, thus.
Nowadays, these words are only used in certain forms of Colonial English.
– Do not use meaningless words as transitions just for their own sake.
– Use the present tense. Never use the future tense (will be), unless you intend to suggest the future.
– Do not use the present continuous tense as the main tense of the paper (is writing, are thinking). Use
the present: writes, think.
– Check punctuation: do not leave out any commas.
– Write short sentences: only one sentence for each concept.
– Do not start a sentence with a conjunction (and, but)
– Do not write useless words to make sentences appear grander or more complicated.
– Make sure each sentence makes perfect, clear and logical sense.
– Use a hyphen for compound words such as stress-free.
– Do not repeat words frequently within the same paragraph. Use a pronoun or a synonym to vary the
– Do not repeat the same concept, idea or thought.
– Do not use gender-specific words for general meaning (man, mankind, men, manhood, gentleman)
– Do not write lady when you mean woman.
– Do not use Latin abbreviations such as etc., i.e., e.g.; use what they mean in English: and so forth,
that is, for example.
– When paraphrasing, make sure the „synonyms‟ you use mean exactly the same as the word you wish
– Do not start a sentence with „As such.‟
– Never write „so as to‟ when you mean „to‟.
– Do not label paragraphs with Introduction, Conclusion or any other subtitle.
– Use the correct form and punctuation for in-text citations, according to the style choice.
– Make sure the thesis sentence appears in the first paragraph.
– Write a new, original title of less than nine words for each essay.
– Write the lecturer‟s question on the coversheet. Center your new title on top of the essay.
– Do not justify the text. Align it to the left only.
– Do not identify any keywords.
– Make sure you understand how to write and format a reference list.
– Understand the difference between an author‟s first and last names.
– You must state date of retrieval from the Internet.
– Always remove hyperlinks from URLs.
– Support each fact with an in-text citation.
– “Number of sources” means number of books, online texts or articles you need to reference. A paper
always needs many more in-text citations from the sources than just two or three.
– There is no need for page numbers for essays less than four pages.
– Headers are not necessary for short essays.
– Do not include an abstract for an essay shorter than five pages, or for an essay without sub-headings.
If you do not know the meaning of some of the words used here, such as rhetorical, common nouns, articles or hyperbole, look them up: you need to know what they are.