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Universal Keys for Writers
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Universal Keys for Writers

Table of Contents

Writing: Communicating and Presenting Ideas

I. Writing an Essay

1. Thinking, Reading, and Writing
a. Thinking critically, reading critically
b. Writing critically
c. Weighing options: Standard English and alternatives

2. Defining the Task
a. Determining purpose
b. Understanding requirements
c. Writing for an audience
d. Choosing the right tone
e. Planning the steps in the process

3. Generating, Shaping, Focusing Ideas
a. Keeping a journal
b. Freewriting
c. Brainstorming, listing, and mapping
d. Joining e-mail conversations
e. Using journalists' questions and formal prompts
f . Finding and refining an essay topic
g. Formulating a thesis--and why you need one
h. Providing evidence and support
i. Preparing a proposal or outline

4. Drafting, Revising, and Editing an Essay
a. Tips for writing drafts
b. Managing drafts and files
c. Analyzing and revising your drafts
d. Using feedback and peer review
e. Writing and revising collaboratively
f. Working on a title
g. Overcoming writer's block
h. Using computer tools (and knowing their limitations)
i. Editing and proofreading
j. A student's drafts

5. Developing and Structuring Paragraphs
a. Writing a paragraph: the basics
b. Formulating a topic sentence
c. Writing a unified paragraph
d. Developing paragraphs and essays
e. Strengthing coherence with links, parallel structures, and transitions
f. Drafting an introduction and a conclusion

II. Writing in All Your Courses

6. Writing an Argument
a. Evaluate an argument critically
b. Select a topic
c. Formulate an agruable claim (thesis)
d. Support the claim with reasons and concrete evidence
e. Identify and appeal to the audience, and establish common ground
f. Refuting opposing views
g. Think critically about your argument, and ask Toulmin's four questions
h. Check your logic
i. Basic argument structures
j. Visual arguments
k. Sample arguments: A student's essay and a letter in a community newsletter

7. Writing about Literature
a. Reading and analyzing literature
b. Types of assignments
c. Tips for writing about literature
d. Common conventions in writing about literature
e. Ten approaches to analysis
f. Recognizing and analyzing figurative language
g. Writing about prose fiction
h. Writing about poetry
i. Writing about drama
j. Students' essays on literature

8. Writing across the Curriculum
a. Different styles for different disciplines
b. Writing in the humanities and arts
c. Writing in the sciences, medicine, and mathematics
d. Writing in the social sciences
e. Interdisciplinary courses
f. Community service learning courses
g. Preparing oral reports
h. Preparing a portfolio

9. Writing under Pressure
a. Essay exams
b. Terms used in essay assignments and short-answer tests
c. Short-answer tests
d. Assignment deadlines

III. Writing with Technology and Writing for Work

10. Designing Documents and Using Word
a. Word processing programs, software, and Web sites
b. Tools for revising and collaborating
c. Features of Microsoft Word for college writing
d. Typefaces, color, headings, lists, and columns
e. Visuals: tables, graphs, charts, and illustrations
f. Design principles: brochures, newsletters, and flyers
g. Formats for college papers (hard copy)

11. Communicating Online
a. Writing for online readers
b. E-mail netiquette and style
c. E-mail discussion lists, newsgroups, Web forums, and bulletin boards
d. Chat rooms, MOOs, and MUDs
e. Web-enhanced courses, distance learning, and virtual classrooms

12. Writing Online for Academic Purposes
a. The nature of hypertext
c. Posting academic writing online

13. Designing a Personal Web Site
a. Planning and organizing
b. Tips for Web site design
c. Useful resources for site design
d. Sample student Web sites

14. Writing for Employment
a. Preparing your résumé: length and format
b. Preparing your résumé's content
c. Preparing an electronic résumé
d. Writing a job application (cover) letter
e. Writing after the interview

15. Writing in the Work World
a. Writing business letters
b. Writing business memos
c. Preparing business presentations: PowerPoint and other tools

Sentences: Accuracy and Style

VI. Common Sentence Problems

16. How a Sentence Works
a. Parts of speech
b. What a sentence is, needs, and does
c. The basis of a sentence: subject and predicate
d. Phrases
e. Independent and dependent clauses
f. Sentence types
g. Building up sentences

17. Top Ten Sentence Problems: A Checklist

18. Sentence Fragments, Run-ons, and Comma Splices
a. What is a fragment?
b. Identifying and correcting a phrase fragment
c. Identifying and correcting a dependent clause fragment
d. Identifying and correcting a fragment resulting from a missing subject, verb, or verb part
e. Identifying and correcting a fragment consisting of one part of a compound predicate
f. Using fragments intentionally
g. Identifying run-on (or fused) sentences and comma splices
h. Correcting run-on sentences and comma splices

19. Sentence Snarls
a. Avoid fuzzy syntax
b. Position modifiers appropriately
c. Avoid dangling modifiers
d. Avoid shifts in mood, pronoun person and number, and direct/indirect quotation
e. Make subject and predicate a logical match: avoid faulty predication
f. Avoid faulty predication with definitions and reasons
g. Avoid using an adverb clause as the subject of a sentence
h. Include all necessary words and apostrophes
i. State the grammatical subject only once
j. Use parallel structure

20. Verbs
a. Verb basics
b. Forms of regular and irregular verbs
c. Verbs commonly confused
d. Do, have, be, and the modal auxiliaries
e. Time and verb tenses
f. Present tenses
g. Past tenses
h. -ed endings: past tense, past participle forms
i. Avoid unnecessary tense shifts
j. Tenses in indirect quotations
k. Verbs in conditional sentences, wishes, requests, demands, and recommendations
l. Passive voice

21. Subject-Verb Agreement
a. What is agreement?
b. The -s ending
c. Words between the subject and the verb
d. Agreement after a linking verb
e. When the subject follows the verb
f. Tricky subjects
g. Collective nouns
h. Compound subjects with and, or, and nor
i. Agreement with indefinite pronouns and quantity words
j. Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives (this, that, these, those) as subject
k. Possessive pronouns as subject
l. Agreement with a what clause as the subject

22. Pronouns
a. Use the correct forms of personal pronouns (I or me?)
b. Use appropriate possessive forms of pronouns (my or mine?)
c. Make a pronoun refer to a clear antecedent
d. Make a pronoun agree in number with its antecedent
e. Avoid gender bias in pronouns
f. Be consistent in your perspective
g. Use the pronoun you appropriately
h. Use standard forms of intensive and reflexive pronouns
i. Use who and whom and whoever and whomever correctly

23. Adjectives and Adverbs
a. Use correct forms of adjectives and adverbs
b. Know when to use adjectives and adverbs
c. Use adjectives after linking verbs
d. Use correct forms of compound adjectives
e. Know where to position adverbs
f. Know the usual order of adjectives
g. Avoid double negatives
h. Know the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs
i. Avoid faulty or incomplete comparisons

24. Relative Clauses and Relative Pronouns
a. Use and appropriate relative pronoun: who, whom, whose, which, or that
b. Make the verb agree with the antecedent of a subject relative pronoun
c. Check agreement in relative clauses after one of and the only one of
d. Distinguish between restrictive and nonrestrictive relative clauses
e. Check relative clauses beginning with quantity words (most of, some of, one of)
f. Take care when a relative clause contains a preposition
g. Know when to use that as relative pronoun
h. Position a relative clause close to its antecedent
i. Avoid using a pronoun after a relative clause to rename the antecedent
j. Use where and when as relative pronouns when appropriate

V. Punctuation, Mechanics, and Spelling

25. Periods, Question Marks, Exclamation Points
a. Period
b. Question mark
c. Exclamation point

26. Commas
a. Two checklists--comma: yes, comma: no
b. Comma before a coordinating conjunction, connecting independent clauses
c. Comma after an introductory word, phrase, or dependent clause
d. Commas to set of an extra (nonrestrictive) phrase or clause
e. Commas with transitional expressions and explanatory insertions
f. Commas separating three or more items in a series
g. Commas between coordinate evaluative adjectives
h. Commas with a direct quotation
i. Special uses of commas
j. When not to use commas: nine rules of thumb

27. Semicolons and Colons
a. When to use a semicolon
b. Semicolon between independent clauses
c. Semicolon between clauses or items in a series containing internal commas
d. When not to use a semicolon
e. When to use a colon
f. When not to use a colon

28. Apostrophes
a. Two checklists--apostrophe: yes, apostrophe: no
b. -'s to signal possession
c. Apostrophe with a plural noun ending in -s
d. Apostrophe with contractions
e. -'s for plurals only in special instances
f. The difference between it's and its

29. Quotation Marks
a. Guidelines for using quotation marks
b. Introducing and ending a quotation
c. Quotation marks in dialogue
d. Double and single quotation marks
e. Quotation marks around titles of short works, definitions, and translations
f. When not to use quotation marks

30. Other Punctuation Marks
a. Dashes
b. Parentheses
c. Brackets
d. Slashes
e. Ellipsis dots

31. Italics and Underlining
a. Italics or underlining for titles of long, whole works
b. Italics or underlining for main entries in a list of works cited
c. Italics or underlining for names of ships, trains, airplanes, and spacecraft
d. Italics or underlining for letters, numerals, and words referring to the words themsleves, not to what they represent
e. Italics or underlining for words from other languages
f. When not to use italics or underlining

32. Capital Letters, Abbreviations, Numbers
a. Capital letters
b. Abbreviations and acronyms
c. Numbers

33. Spelling and Hyphenation
a. Checking spelling
b. Plurals of nouns
c. Doubling consonants
d. Spelling with -y or -i
e. Internal ie or ei
f. Adding a suffix
g. Words frequently misspelled
h. Words commonly confused
i. Multinational characters: accents, umlauts, tildes, and cedillas
j. Hyphens

34. Online Guidelines for Punctuation and Mechanics
a. Punctuation in URLs
b. Underscoring, underlining, and italics online
c. Capital letters online
d. Hyphens online
e. Asterisks and abbreviations online

VI. The 5 C's of Style

35. The First C: Cut
a. Cut repetition and wordiness
b. Cut formulaic phrases
c. As appropriate, cut references to your intentions
d. Cut redundant words and phrases
e. Cut material quoted unnecessarily

36. The Second C: Check for Action
a. Ask "Who's doing what?" about subject and verb
b. Use caution in beginning a sentence with there or it
c. Avoid unnecessary passive voice constructions

37. The Third C: Connect
a. Use consistent subjects and topic chains for coherence
b. Place information at the end of a sentence for emphasis
c. Explore options for connecting ideas: coordination, subordination, and transitions
d. Perhaps begin a sentence with and or but
e. Connect paragraphs

38. The Fourth C: Commit
a. Commit to critical thinking
b. Commit to a point of view
c. Commit to an appropriate tone
d. Commit to a confident stance

39. The Fifth C: Choose Your Words
a. Word choice checklist
b. Use a dictionary and thesaurus
c. Use exact words and connotations
d. Monitor the language of speech, region, and workplace
e. Use figurative language for effect, but use it sparingly
f. Avoid biased and exclusionary language
g. Avoid pretentious language, tired expressions (clichés), and euphemisms

VII. For Multilingual Writers (ESL)

40. Culture and Language
a. English and Englishes
b. English and ESL: difference, not deficit
c. Multilingual writers at work

41. Language Learning and Error
a. Learning from errors
b. Language guide to transfer errors
c. False friends (confusing cognates)

42. Nouns and Articles
a. Categories of nouns
b. Uncountable nouns
c. Basic rules for articles
d. The for a specific reference
e. Which article? Four basic questions
f. Proper nouns and articles

43. Verbs and Verb Forms
a. The be auxiliary
b. Modal auxiliary verbs: form and meaning
c. The infinitive form after verbs and adjectives
d. Verbs followed by -ing verb form used as a noun
e. Verbs followed by either an infinitiv or an -ing verb form
f. -ing and -ed forms used as adjectives

44. Word Order and Sentence Structure
a. Inclusion of a subject
b. Order of sentence elements
c. Direct and indirect object
d. Direct and indirect (reported) quotations and questions
e. Dependent clauses with although and because
f. Unnecessary pronouns

45. Prepositions and Idiomatic Expressions
a. Idioms with three common prepositions
b. Adjective + preposition
c. Verb + preposition
d. Phrasal verbs
e. Preposition + -ing verb form used as a noun
f. The difference between get used to and used to

46. Frequently Asked ESL Editing Questions
a. When do I use no and not?
b. What is the difference between too and very?
c. Does few mean the same as a few?
d. How do I know when to use been or being?
e. How do I distinguish most, most of, and the most?
f. What structures are used with easy, hard, and difficult?
g. How do I use it and there to begin a sentence?
h. Which possessive pronoun do I use: his and her?

Researching: Finding, Using, Documenting Sources

VIII. Using Sources to Write a Research Paper

47. Planning
a. The requirements of the task
b. The organization of the task
c. Making tentative schedule
d. Basic, primary, and secondary sources
e. Statement of purpose
f. From topic to research questions to working thesis

48. Finding Sources
a. Library and Web: a merger
b. Basic reference works: bibliographies, biographical sources, directories, dictionaries, and others
c. Indexes, databases, and informational Web sites
d. Keyword searches
e. Searching for books and print periodical articles
f. Online searches and search engines
g. Searching for materials available online
h. A student's search

49. Evaluating Sources
a. How to read source material critically
b. How to recognize a scholarly article
c. How to evaluate works originating in print
d. How to evaluate sources originating on the Internet
e. How to develop junk antennae

50. Using Sources
a. What is plagiarism?
b. What is documentation?
c. How to avoid plagiarizing
d. What to cite and document
e. Keeping track of sources and taking notes
f. Setting up a working bibliography
g. Summarizing and paraphrasing
h. Quoting
i. Introducing source material and indicating the boundaries of a citation

51. Writing the Research Paper
a. Putting yourself in your paper
b. Driving the organization with ideas, not sources
c. Making use of an outline
d. Guidelines for writing research paper drafts
e. Writing research papers in the disciplines
f. Research paper resources in 27 subject areas

IX. Documenting Sources: MLA Style

52. MLA Style of Documentation
a. Two basic features of MLA style
b. MLA author/page style for in-text citations
c. Guidelines for the MLA works-cited list
d. Examples of entries in MLA list of works cited
e. When to use footnotes and endnotes
f. Students' MLA papers

X. Documenting Sources: APA, CBE/CSE, Chicago, and Columbia Styles

53. APA Style of Documentation
a. Two basic features of APA style
b. APA author/year style for in-text citations
c. Guidelines for the APA list of references
d. Examples of entries in APA list of references
e. Notes, tables, and figures
f. Student paper, APA style

54. CBE/CSE Style of Documentation
a. Two basic features of CBE/CSE citation-sequence style
b. CBE/CSE in-text citations
c. Guidelines for the CBE/CSE list of references
d. Examples of entries in CBE/CSE list of references
e. Sample CBE/CSE list of references
f. Student paper excerpt, CBE/CSE style

55. Chicago Style of Documentation
a. Two basic features of Chicago style
b. Chicago in-text citations and notes
c. Guidelines for Chicago endnotes and footnotes
d. Examples of entries in Chicago notes
e. Sample Chicago endnotes and bibliography
f. Student paper, Chicago style (endnote and footnote styles)

56. CGOS Columbia Guide to Online Style) Style of Documentation
a. Two basic features of CGOS style
b. CGOS in-text citations
c. Guidelines for entries in CGOS bibliographic lists: humanities and sciences
d. Examples of entries in CGOS bibliographic list: humanities and sciences
e. Student paper excerpt, CGOS humanities style

57. Glossary of Usage

58. Glossary of Grammatical Terms


List of Boxes and Notes

Correction Guide

Common Editing and Proofreading Marks

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