Long abandoned margin codes for commenting on student writing
December 7, 2016 Leave a comment
Soon after I gave students the sheet below, a conversation with Keith Hjortshoj led me to abandon commenting in the margin in favor of what I now call Dialogue around written work. But, as a matter of historical interest, here are the codes I had developed to streamline my commenting in the margin.
Margin codes and abbreviations, Version 7 (June 1995)
By making comments in this form you have to identify and solve the problem. This way you will develop the ability to fix problems before your writing reaches the instructor’s desk.
|Code||Possible issues to be addressed|
|Actv||More active prose is needed. E.g., shorten sentences; passive -> active voice; “It is,” too much use of verb to be; verb-preposition composites (e.g., getting up, jump up)|
|Awk||Awkward construction of sentence or use of words. Rearrange or rephrase. Streamline.|
|Agent||Agents need to be specified. Make clear to whom you are referring. See also Diff.|
|Cite||Citation is needed or is incomplete.|
|Connect||Connection or transition (between sentences, paragraphs, sections) needed.|
|Const||Construction needs reworking. E.g., rambling or mosaic paragraphs; paragraph subdivision is needed or subdivision should occur in a different place.|
|Diff||Category needs to be differentiated. Claim is too grand and sweeping. E.g., replace “Man,” “we,” “society,” “the earth” by terms specifying the actual agents or place.|
|Fact||Is this factually correct? Overstated? Overgeneralized? More evidence is needed.|
|Gend||Fix gender problem. Inappropriate or unnecessary use of male pronouns, etc.|
|Gram||Grammatical problem. E.g., incomplete sentence, dangling participle, lack of verb agreement.|
|Logic||Work on the logic of development. E.g., there are holes in sequence of ideas and propositions, or something inserted out of place. Connections between points are unclear.|
|Meaning||Make meaning clear; explain. You haven’t said what you mean. Cryptic – say more.|
|Punc||Fix punctuation problem. (Consult Chicago Manual of Style)|
|Ref||Make referent clear. E.g., when “this” refers to something in the previous paragraph, spell it out.|
|Specific||Vague wording; loose expression. Make your point more precise, specific, or succint.|
|Sp||Fix spelling mistake. Make a note of it so you don’t repeat it.|
|Stream||Streamline. Reduce repetition, and redundant or unnecessary material.|
|Think||More thinking needed on this issue.|
|Topic||The point here is not clear. Why have you said this here? Is there one topic in this paragraph? Is there a topic sentence? Does this sentence connect with the paragraph’s topic? How does this paragraph contribute to the topic of your essay?|
[Words in brackets could easily be omitted.]
Words underlined with a squiggly line could easily be improved upon.
Points linked by a line => Consider them together in any revising you do. If the line has a squiggle in the middle, it indicates that the two points are in tension or apparently contradictory.
^ means something is missing.
X or words circled means this is incorrect