Taken from the South High School Student Handbook

Your teachers have compiled the following  guidelines to help you produce your best written work for every class.  Each of your teachers may also give you additional requirements for your work.



Write your heading in the upper right-hand corner.

Name                       Jennifer Rebel
Course/Period          American History, Block A
Date                         September 14, 2003


Write an appropriate title as the first line of your paper.  For example:

Review Questions, p. 345
Imagery in Byron's "Man and Nature"
Properties of Gases: Lab Report

Handwritten Work

Observe left margins provided and leave a three-fourth inch right margin.  Be sure your penmanship is neat andlegible.

Word Processing

Use easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Geneva, Palatino, Courier, and Helvetica.  Script-style fonts are not acceptable.  Size 12 fonts should be used for the body of your work; titles and subtitles may be larger.  Margins should be one inch on all sides. 


Plagiarism is stealing.  A writer must never take another writer's work or ideas and claim them as their own.   Whenever you employ some other writer's insight or information, you must give that writer credit.  Students who plagiarize another person's work are subject to failing the assignment, the project, and the course.


See MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) stylebooks for current use of citations.  Even if the informatioin you present is in your own words, if it is not common knowledge, you must credit your sources.

Writing Guidelines

Preparation:  Employ a focused process when you write.  Collect and focus your thoughts (pre-write), generate an initial version of your writing (draft), improve the draft (revise), and prepare the paper for submission (edit/proofread). Design a plan for our writing based on a clear thesis statement.  Understand the nature of the writing assignment, whether its prupose is informative, persuasive, narrative, descriptive, or expository. 

Organization:  Strive for logically sequenced writing focused on a central topic.  Be sure to support your ideas with examples.  Give special attention to introductory and concluding paragraphs..  See "A Model 5 Paragraph Essay" below.

Thesis statement:  A thesis statement is the most improtant part of the paper.  A thesis statement should accomplish two things: it should let the reader know what to expect and focus the writer's skills and tools. The rest of the paper should support the thesis.

Paragraphing:  Present your ideas logically in separate, unified, and coherent paragraphs.

Sentence Form:  Use complete sentences.  Check  your writing sor sentence fragments and run-on sentences.  Vary the length and structure of  our sentences. Construct sentences so that your meaning can not be misunderstood.

Diction:  Strive for precision in word choice.

Usage:  Check for correct grammatical usage including subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, and consistent use of tense.

Spelling:  Check your paper for misspelling of common words.  Cehck possessives and contractions for correct usage of the apostrophe.  When using Spellchecker, remember that the correct word in the wrong context may result  in a spelling error.

Punctuation:  Check each sentence for correct use of commas, colons, semicolons, quotation marks, and end punctuation.

Capitalization:  Capitalize the first word of every sentence and all proper nouns.

Proofreading:  Carefully proofread you work and, of possible, ask a proficient writer to check it for you.  Check errors marked on papers returned to you to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly.

A Model 5-Paragraph Essay

Paragraph 1

Sentence  1        Thesis Statement
Sentences  2-4    Topic Sentences
Sentence 5          Concluding Sentence

Paragraphs 2-4

Sentence 1          Topic Sentence
Sentences 2-4      Supporting Detail
Sentence 5          Conclusion

Paragraph 5

At least four sentences which review and summarize the discussion of the paper. 

Student Writing Checklist: Polished Piece

(Adapted from Authentic Assessment, Grant Wiggins)
  • My paper has a definite purpose, which is clear to the reader.
  • My title indicates my point or slant and creates interest.
  • I had a specific audience in mind as I wrote and revised.
  • The details and word choices paint the right picture, give the right feel, and make my point.
  • I can explain why I placed each punctuation mark as I did.
  • Each paragraph contains a clear idea.
  • My opening sentences catch the reader's attention.
  • I checked each sentence to make sure it was complete.
  • I organized sentences and paragraphs to make the paper fluid.
  • The transitions are smooth.
  • The paragraph divisions are appropriate.
  • The ending is effective in wrapping things up.
  • I read the paper aloud or had others  read it to catch awkward, confusing language or mechanical errors.
  • The paper is typed.

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