Many of you may have come directly from high school.
You may have made high grades in your writing courses there, and expect to make
high grades here. However, to do so you will probably have to work much
harder than you did in high school.
Others are returning to
school after a long time. In any case, you need to become familiar with the
grading guidelines that your English instructor will use in evaluating your
paper. Your instructor will reward papers as exceptional ("A" or
"excellent") very good ("B") or average ("C" or
"OK"). Poorly written work
receives a grade of "D" ("Pass"), while clearly failing work receives an
One of the goals of English
is to give you the tools necessary to produce exceptional, "A" papers
in all your University courses. The following rules are designed to help you to achieve that
print out these simple rules and follow them in all your writing. More than three rule
violations in any one assignment for this course will normally mean an automatic rewrite.)
THREE BIG RULES!
- Do not use "you"
or "your" in any writing for this course, unless instructed to
- No contractions (don't,
isn't, won't, it's, etc.) are allowed on any written assignments for this class,
either online, handwritten or computer printed, except in quotes or in
situations where informal writing is customary, such as in
- When referring to a person,
use "who," not "that." For example, you might
write about "a soldier who was killed in Iraq," but never write "
that was killed in Iraq." If you use
"that" for a person, you are calling him or her a thing, and
disrespecting that person.
OTHER IMPORTANT RULES:
- No smileys or online-style
abbreviations (@, BTW, w/, etc.) are allowed in any writing (except where customary, such as in e-mail messages).
- Do not begin sentences with
“Well,” “Hey,” "I figure that," "See," or
other “chatty” expressions. This is too low a style for college writing.
- When writing, never begin
your conclusion with “In conclusion,” or “To conclude,” "to
sum up," or
anything similar. This is a sure sign of an immature writer.
- This is an "English"
class. For this reason, all work submitted should be written in American
high-middle style academic English. If you include non-English quotes, please be sure that
your audience (normally the instructor and / or your fellow classmates) understand the
language in question, or provide an English translation in the text.
See also the Index of Forbidden Words,
which lists some common English words that are not allowed in normal
Do not use "man" or
"mankind" to refer to humanity, which obviously includes
women as well as men. Do not use "he" to mean someone whose
gender is not known (e.g., "
when I assign a student a paper, he
should write it carefully"). You may use "he/she,"
"she or he," or something similar. In some classes, the use of
the singular "they" to mean a person whose gender is not known
IS allowed. (However, be aware that some professors do not allow this.)
"God" is always
capitalized if you are a religious believer. Any pronoun used to refer
to the divinity is also capitalized. (Example: Believers might write,
"Our God is in His heaven, where He reigns forever.")
If you are a nonbeliever, you have a choice to capitalize or not, as you
prefer, but you must be consistent. Generally writers do not capitalize when referring to divinities
in whom they do not believe (Example: "Zeus was the god of lightning
and thunder"). Sometimes writers capitalize "God" even when
they are nonbelievers, out of respect for their readers. However, if
you are a religious believer and fail to capitalize
when needed, you are insulting your own faith.
When referring to a number of
people or objects, "several" means a few (usually less than
twenty), and "many" means a large number. (E.g., "Several
people can ride in a van. Many people are alcoholics in the United
States.") Do not use "several" when you mean
When talking about a subject,
use "about" or "on," not "over." (Example: "I wrote a
paper about the Civil War," not "
I wrote a paper over the
Civil War.") Use the word "over" only to mean
"above," or "on top of." (Example: "I threw a
tarp over my bike.")
When referring to African
American people, the word "Black" is capitalized. The reason
for this is that in this case, "Black" refers to a nationality
or ethnic group, just like "Hispanic," "Romanian," or
"Apache." The word "white," when used to refer to
"Caucasians" need not be capitalized, since "whites" are
not a nationality or ethnic group ("whites" can be American,
Mexican, Iraqi, or whatever). When "black" is used to refer to a
skin tone, or to the black race in general (all the black people in the
world), it is not capitalized, since, just like "white," it does
not refer to a nationality or ethnic group, and the imaginary colors of so-called
"races" are not capitalized. (Optional alternate rule:
Capitalize both "Black" and "White" whenever referring
to ethnic backgrounds.)
- The "Spanish"
people are the citizens of Spain. "Mexicans" are the
citizens of Mexico. When you refer to people of Spanish-speaking heritage
in general, the preferred term is "Hispanic."
("Latino" is also used in some parts of the USA, but less often in Texas.) Do not use "white" as the opposite of
Quoting in your papers from other
scholarly sources is normally encouraged (except in personal expressive
writing). However, quotes should not exceed 400 words. Whenever you quote anything
(words or information) from another source in your writing you must put
the words in quotation marks, and say where the words or data came from.
If you fail to do this, you may be accused of plagiarism (cheating) and
may receive penalties up to and including failing the course or worse. You
must clearly indicate within the text (by a citation, reference, or other
method) where the information or words came from--just listing the sources
at the end of the paper in a Works Cited or Bibliography list IS NOT
UTEP has a strict policy against
harassment or discrimination, which will be fully enforced in this class. No
racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory language is allowed in
class, or in any writing assignment, written communication or online
posting for this class.
You have academic freedom
in this class, which means that, subject to the limitations above, your
work in this class will be judged on the quality of your writing, not on
the opinions or standpoints that you express.
NOTE: All formal writing assignments must be
computer printed or submitted electronically (via e-mail or online
posting).. Handwritten work is
normally acceptable only for first drafts or in-class writing practices. Work
submitted electronically must be in a format compatible with MS Word, such
as .doc, .rtf, .htm, .pdf or .txt. Work submitted in .wps, .wpd, .sxf, .tex,
or other non-compatible formats will NOT BE ACCEPTED. Work turned in on
digital storage media (flash memory chips, diskettes, floppies, CD-ROM's, Zip
disks, tape, etc.) will not be accepted.
O.W. rev 1/2010
Information on this website applies only to courses taught by Owen