Grading Codes in use by Prof. Schlabach


This list overlaps with the one inside the back cover of The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers Ė but provides additional codes and explanations.


Faulty abbreviation 90


Misuse of adjective or adverb 40


Error in agreement 27, 35


Ambiguous. Usually marks pronouns that do not refer clearly to a previous noun. Sometimes marks a phrase that can be read different ways.


Apostrophe needed or misused 603


Inappropriate word 8


Awkward construction. This is like SS but may not actually be wrong grammatically.


Use capital letter 86


Error in pronoun form 33


Missing source citation or error in form of citation 103-38


Colloquial. The phrase or wording may be all right in conversation, but sounds too slang for formal writing.


Be more concise 13


Coordination needed 2


Comma splice 48 Marks places in which you have used a comma to join together two phrases when either a semi-colon or an entirely new sentence would be better.


Add details 7


Misuse of dictionary. Somewhere back in high school a teacher told you to start an essay with a dictionary definition. But now weíre in college studying history, philosophy and literature, and we should be noticing that words do not have timeless or singular meanings. Donít trust Webster! The dictionary definition is probably not wrong, but it may still mislead you -- especially if the meaning of the term or idea in the work or period of study is precisely what you are being asked to examine!


Dangling modifier 46


Emphasis lacking 3


Use of the verb "feel" when "believe," "think," "judge," etc. would be more accurate. We live in a culture where subjective feeling often reigns. But human hearts and minds can do more than feel! If you are talking about emotions, fine, but even then you should consider a wider range of feeling verbs.


Sentence fragment 47


Fused sentence 48


Error in use of hyphen 85


This is when you are using 1st person singular ("I," "me") more as a crutch or out of habit than from necessity. Yes, there are times when 1st person can be appropriate, even in formal writing, but unless you learn to avoid it, you wonít recognize when it is necessary. The following phrases are almost always signs that you are using 1st person as a crutch: "I feel... [or believe, or think]," "I will show that...."


Incomplete construction, usually a sentence fragment. This hand-out is full of them, but hey, it doesnít claim to be an essay.


Italicize (or underline) 88


Impersonal use of "you." I.e., you arenít really addressing anyone in particular (the way I am addressing you in this hand-out) but are referring to "one," any person. Donít, you hear.


Use lowercase letter 86


Misplaced modifier 44


Meaning unclear

no cap

Unnecessary capital letter 86


Error in use of unbers 92


Error in puncuation 52-69

∂, para

Start new paragraph


Paragraph length. I.e., you could have helped your reader by finding a way to divide the paragraph into two or more shorter paragraphs, but didnít.


Paragraph unity. I.e., the paragraph should be a discreet unit of thought but is not.


Paragraph unity and length. Both of the above!

pass, pv

Ineffective or unnecessary passive voice 16, 26 Example: the cat was bitten by the dog. Passive voice is sometimes appropriate, but I mark it in situations where you do not need it. Passive voice ends up deadening your language and often hides who is doing the action, or even the true nature of the action itself.

pn agr

Error in prounoun-antecedent agreement 35


Quotation technique. Either your prose does not flow smoothly with the quotation you are using, or punctuation is inappropriate. 103-38


Error in prounoun reference 37


Unnecessary repetition 15


Run-on (fused) sentence 48 Even if the sentence is grammatically correct, you would have done your reader a favor by breaking it up into two or more shorter sentences.


Misspelled word


Be more specific 7, 12


Sentence structure problems. The sentence may be illogical, ungrammatical, or just plain contorted.


Refers to places where you have let your anxiety and perspiration seep into your writing by speaking self-consciously about the process you are going through in writing, the problems you had doing the research, etc. Write about your subject, not yourself! By the way, really good writing does not need to announce that "in this paper I will show,..." or "I have now demonstrated that...." (There are exceptions; some kinds of writing may require these prose outlines to guide the reader. But too often they are crutches upon which otherwise able scholars rely too much.)


Error in verb tense 21


Misuse of your thesaurus (or thesaurus-like feature on your word processor). Maybe Iím wrong, but I have a sneaking suspician here that you turned to your thesaurus for a better word, but didnít really know the definition of the word you found there. A thesaurus is a great tool, but like any tool, you have to know how to use it or you might get hurt.


Transition needed 163


Underline (italicize) 88


Error in verb form 18

vb agr

Error in subject-verb agree3ment 27


Verb tense inconsistency. As in: "Jane went to the store. She walks in." Usually I mark a few inconsistencies and get tired of them, so you should look for more. By the way, it really is easiest to keep verb tenses straight if the past stays in the past tense. But at least be consistent!!

w, wordy

Wordy. Many words when one will do; long words when short ones will do. Often abstract words when concrete ones are available.


Word choice, i.e. a poor one.


Wrong word


Faulty paralellism 4

Close up space


Separate with a space


Transpose letters or words


Something missing


Solid underline on rubric indicates affirmation

Squiggly line on rubric indicates problem