Student Handbook

5. Writing Guidelines

5.4. Writing Tips

Although writing style only represents a small portion of the grading criteria for the assignments, clear writing is essential to adequately express ideas. As such, unclear writing can impact a student's overall grade. We recognize that our students come from diverse educational backgrounds/levels and may have limited experience with academic writing. 

To help students, we have included some basic general tips for improving writing:

  • Use consistent verb tense
  • Ensure “parallel construction” 
    • e.g., “The students completed assessments, participated in workshops, and met individually with their coaches throughout the program.” Here, all verbs fit with the beginning of the sentence (i.e., “The students” completed, participated, met)
  • Watch for single/plural agreement
    • You can’t have a plural noun (e.g., “participants, "one of your team”) and a singular pronoun (e.g., "his")
  • Minimize use of footnotes (e.g., 2 max. per page); create a reference list or endnotes if necessary
  • Avoid biased language (i.e., gender, ethnic, disability, age)
  • Be concise – it’s better to find simpler ways of saying things than to shrink fonts and margins to accommodate extra text within a limited number of pages
  • Proofread – after the assignment is finished, students may find it helpful to let it sit and return to it later to proofread or to engage the help of a study partner to proofread the paper; sometimes reading a document out loud is the best way to identify errors. 

For further resources, check the Course Resource database and/or Sandra Collins’ Professional Writing in the Health Disciplines.