Thoughts on the Student Essays for the August 25 Class


            I want to give you a few thoughts on your essays.  These are designed to help you improve your writing as well as to comment on my editing style. 

Essay Guidelines

            First, please follow the class guidelines for each assignment.  Last week’s guidelines were posted at:


but some of you failed to prepare an outline.  As a result, we will discuss preparing an outline in this week’s class (see below).  Second, I added page breaks to your essays.  The essays did not need page breaks, but the corrections are much easier to read with many page breaks.


            For most or all your essays, I have used double spacing to make the essays easier to read and edit.  I also have changed the font on some of them.  For future essays, I will ask you to follow these guidelines:

            1) use double spacing (in Microsoft Word, click the “Paragraph” group and select double spacing

           2) use Times New Roman 12 point font.  This is also done to make the editing easier.  Do NOT use Simsun font for anything.

Red ink

            Remember, I have been an editor for many years and I have had a reputation for using “a lot of red ink” even before I started editing for non-native English speakers.  If you see that I have made many changes to your essay, please think of them as suggestions.  Even if English were your native language, I would make many changes.

Active / passive voice

            For one person, I made many comments about the use of active and passive voice. That is an advanced concept, so we will not discuss it in detail here.  I list it alphabetically on my website, where you can find many other useful suggestions:


Guidelines for your next essay

Preparing an outline

           I have not yet prepared the guidelines for the next essay, but I will require an outline!  The outline below is for use in our discussion during the class for Aug. 25.

I: Introduction - basic outline concepts.

            A: Use of letters and numbers.

            B: Sequence of letters and numbers: I, II, III, IV, V, etc.; A, B, C; 1, 2, 3; a, b, c.

II: Body of your paper or outline.

            A: Letters from large to small.

                        1: How numbers are used.

                                    a: How small letters are used.

                                    b: Incorrect use of numbers and letters.

                        2: Keeping things in sequence.

            B: Moving from an outline to an essay.

            C: Use of the “little things.”

                        1: Punctuation

                        2: Spacing

                        3: Capitalization

III: Conclusion: why little things are important.