A Writer’s Resource for Students and Teachers


Key to Codes


A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   L   M   N   P   Q   R   S   T   V   W 


Abb: abbreviations, symbols and slashes

Ad: adjectives and adverbs

Agr: pronoun-antecedent agreement

Apostrophe rules:

    Ap: possessives

    Ap.C: contractions

    Ap.I: “its” and “it’s”

    Ap.J: joint or individual possession

    Ap.Pl: possessives of plurals

    Ap.S: singular noun ending in “-s” or “-z”

     Ap.T: use curly apostrophes

    Ap.W: plural words and letters, not numbers, abbreviations or dates

    ApX: misuse of apostrophe

Art: articles


Bib: bibliography form

Br: brackets

BrT: typography

BrX: use brackets sparingly


Capitalization rules:

    Cap: capital letters

    Cap.F: first word of a sentence

    Cap.N: title as name (“Mom,” “mother”)

    Cap.D: directions (“go south,” “the South”)

    Cap.T: titles of books, etc.

    Cap.G: deities (“God,” “the gods”)

    Cap.X: misuse of capitals

Comma rules:

    C: commas

    C2nd: additional comma needed

    CA: before “and,” “but” (independent clauses)

    C.Ad: coordinate adjectives

    C.App: appositives

    C.Cont: contrasts

    CD: dialogue (I said, “Hello”)

    CDA: direct address

    CDN: dates, numbers, etc.

    CE: ending/concluding element

    CI: introductory word group

    C.Inter: interrupting elements

    CQ: tag question (“am I?”) or command

    CS: comma splices

    C.Ser: series

    C.Tr: transitions

    C.Wh: “who,” “whom” (nonrestrictive)

    CYN: “yes,” “no,” interjections

Misused commas:

    CX: misused comma

    CXA: compound elements

    CX.Ad: cumulative adjectives

    CX.Conj: after conjunction

    CXE: before subordinate clause/restrictive element

    CXI: short introductory elements

    CX.MP: with modifiers and possessives

    CXO: before object, complement, list

    CXQ: certain quotations

    CX.SV: between subject and verb

    CX.Th: indirect statements, quotations with “that”

Creative Writing rules:

    CWA: action

    CW.Ad: adjectives and adverbs in creative writing.

    CW.Arch: archaic English

    CW.Ch: characterization

    CW.Cl: avoid creative writing clichés

    CW.Con: consistent style and tone

    CWD: introducing dialogue

    CWP: plot and conflict

    CW.SDT: show, don’t tell

    CWVT: avoid present tense in narrative

    CW.Vul: vulgar language

Ch: choppy sentences

Circ: circular reasoning

Cit: in-text citations

Cl: clichés

Col: colons

Col.X: misuse of colon

Comp: incomplete comparisons

Cont: contractions


D: dash

Deg: comparative, superlative degree

Dangling or Misrelated Modifers:

    DM: dangling/misrelated modifiers

    DM.Ad: adverbs and adjectives

    DM.Ap: appositives

    DMP: participles and gerunds

    DMT: dangling transitions

    SqM: squinting modifiers

DR: Documentation responsibilities

DT: typography of dash (dash—like this)

DX: use dashes sparingly


Ell: ellipsis

Ell.T: typography of ellipses

Ell.X: avoid ellipses

EP: end punctuation

Essay rules:

    EC: conclusion

    EGen: generalizations

    EI: introduction

    EPara: paragraphs

    ER: think of your readers

    ET: title

    ETh: topic and thesis

    ETrans: transitions


Fl: flabby sentences

FN: footnotes

Fr: fragments

FS: fused sentences


G: glossary of usage

G.1: write the rule, not just “G” or “Glossary.”

Ger: possessive with gerunds


h/s: reference to gender (“he” or “she”)

Hdg: heading (Manuscript Form)

HP: hanging prepositions

Hwtg: handwriting (Manuscript Form)

Hy: hyphens with compounds, prefixes

Hy.E: divide words at the end of lines to make margins and spacing regular

Hy.T: typography

Hy.X: misuse of hyphens


Id: idioms, idiomatic prepositions

Ind: indentation (Manuscript Form)

Inf: informal, slang, regionalisms

Int/Ref: “-self” pronouns

Inter: artificial interruptions

Irr: irregular verbs

Ital: italics

Ital.T: typography

Ital.X: misuse of italics


J: jargon, pretentious language 


Writing about Literature:

    LA: refer clearly to the author

    L.An: anachronism

    LB: do not boast

    L.Bkgd: omit unnecessary background

    LC: place commas carefully 

    L.Ch: call characters what author calls them

    L.Con: provide context

    L.Doc: use secondary sources with care

    LF: vague analogies of form and meaning

    LI: avoid the irrelevant “I” and “me”

    LO: avoid mystery openings 

    L.Org: avoid mechanical organization

    L.Pre: beware of imposing preconceptions

    L.Punc: do not comment on the punctuation

    LR: do not repeat “in/of the poem/story/play”  

    LRC: do not repeat what was said in class

    L.Sh: do not rely on the “this shows that” pattern  

    L.Sp: misspell author’s name, misquote title

    L.Sum: avoid plot summary and paraphrase

    LT: avoid dull titles

    L.Terms: misuse of literary terms

    L.Th: make your thesis interpretative

    L.Tone: maintain an objective tone

    LVT: use present tense in writing about literature

    L.Wdy: avoid wordy transitions

LV: change linking verbs to action verbs

Ly: adjectives ending in “-ly”


Manuscript Form rules:

    Hdg: heading

    Hwtg: handwriting

    Ind: indentation

    Mat: materials

    MF: manuscript form

    MFP: punctuation

    MFQ: quotations

    MF.Sp: spacing

    MFT: title

    MF.Ty: typeface

    Mrg: margins

    Pg: pagination

Poetic Meter:

    M: meter

    MA: awkward phrasing

    MO: monosyllables

    MP: padded lines

    MC: avoid artificial pronunciation

    MSS: sentence structure (one-line clauses)

MQ: misquotation

Mx: shifts and mixed constructions

MxM: mixed metaphors

Mx.Q: pronoun shifts with quotations


N: numbers

Neg: double negatives


Par: parallelism

Paren: parentheses

Paren.X: use parentheses sparingly 

Part: participial endings (“–ed”)

Perf: past perfect

Pg: pagination (Manuscript Form)

PrepX: redundant prepositions (“rise up,” “start out”)

Pro sh: pronoun reference shifts

PV: passive voice

Pronoun Case:

    PC: case (“I,” “me,” “my,” etc.)

    PCA: compounds (“he and I,” etc.)

    PCC: comparisons (“as old as I,” etc.)

    PCL: linking verbs (“This is she”)

Poetry rules:

    PD: diction

    PF: formatting poems

    PLE: line and sentence breaks

    PLL: line length

    PP: punctuation

    PSS: loose sentence structure

    PTh: theme and idea


Quotation Marks:

    QM: quotation marks

    QMD: dialogue

    QMLQ: long (extracted) quotations

    QMP: punctuation (periods, etc.) with quotations

    QMT: typography

    QMW: words, letters, numbers, abbreviations

    QMX: misuse (to indicate irony)

    QQ: quotations within quotations

Quoting rules:

    Q.Br: brackets

    QC: introduce with a comma

    Q.Ch: other punctuation changes

    Q.Col: introduce with a colon

    QD: documentation (parenthetical citation)

    QEB: citing electronic texts

    Q.Ell: omissions (ellipses)

    QEP: alter end punctuation

    QI: introducing quotations

    QLQ: long quotations

    QN: enumerating citations (e.g., 149-51)

    QND: citing drama

    Q.No: introduce with no punctuation

    QNP: numbering short and long poems

    QP: quoting poetry

    Q.Punc: punctuation with quotations

    QV: vary handling of quotations



    Red: redundancy

    Red abs: comparatives, absolutes, intensifiers

    Red pro: pronouns (“his reason for his decision”)

Ref: pronoun reference

Rep: repetition

RO: run-on sentence

RX: awkward rhymes, jingles

Rhyme in Poetry:

    Rh: rhyme

    Rh.2L: penultimate syllable unstressed

    Rh.A: awkward phrasing

    Rh.Dif: adjacent sounds different

    Rh.Sch: rhyme scheme

    Rh.Str: last stressed syllable

    Rh.Tr: true rhyme

    Rh.W: weak words, only for rhyme


SC: semicolons

SCX: misuse of semicolon

SDT: show, don’t tell

SFG: foregrounding research sources

Sh: pronoun reference shifts

SI: split infinitives

Sim: simplify complicated sentences

Sp: spelling checklist

SqM: squinting modifiers

Subject-Verb Agreement:

    SV: subject-verb agreement

    SVA: “and” and “or”

    SVC: complements

    SV.Col: collective nouns, numbers, titles

    SVI: inversion (“there is/are,” etc.)

    SVP: indefinite pronouns (“any,” “each,” etc.)


T: titles (punctuation: “The Raven,” Hamlet)

Th: “that” needed for clarity    

Ty: typo


Var: vary sentence patterns

VI: intransitive verbs 

Voc: meaningless and lifeless words

VS: subjunctive mood (“if I were you”)

VT: verb tense

VTR: transitive verbs


Wdy: wordiness

WF: wrong form of a word (“evilness,” “a dominate team”)

Wh: “who” and “whom”

WW: wrong word