Guide to Response Symbols

by Jennifer Borton


(Please ASK if, after you’ve read about the particular error in your blue Style Sheet booklet, you’re still unsure about what it means. My corrections are meant to help you improve your writing in general, not just your writing for my class.)

agr incorrect agreement between subject & verb or between pronoun & antecedent
anth anthropomorphizing (attributing human capacities or qualities to inhuman objects; e.g., “The theory says…”. Better: “According to the theory…”)
awk awkward phrasing
ca incorrect case (I/me, we/us, she/her, he/him, who/whom)
cg problem with congruity (includes incomplete/incongruous comparisons, shift in person, shift in number, shift in tense, etc.)
cit citation (reference) needed
comp finish the comparison (used less/more, higher/lower, etc. without saying less or more than what)
cont avoid using contractions in formal writing
d error of diction (incorrect word choice; e.g., affect vs. effect, its vs. it's, less vs. fewer, while vs. whereas or although, since vs. because)
da dangling elements (e.g., “In reading over my paper, it was clear that it needed some work.”)
inc incomplete sentence
mm misplaced modifier (e.g., “To measure self-esteem, the participants will complete…¿” Better: “To measure self-esteem, the experimenters will distribute…”)
mw missing word
ONW! omit needless words!
new paragraph needed
pl sentence is not parallel in form
poss possessive (incorrect apostrophe)
p.o.v. point of view (avoid writing in the 2nd person, i.e., don't use “you”)
prep don’t end a sentence with a preposition
punc problem with punctuation
pv use of passive voice
subj incorrect use of subjunctive (e.g., using “would” when you’re writing about the past)
t problem with verb tense
v. r. vague referent (e.g., use of “this” or “they” without a clear antecedent)

Guide to Psychology-Specific Corrections (including APA style)

alph alphabetize references in parentheses or alphabetize references in reference section
caps capitalize running head
males/females use “men” and “women”
part use “participants” instead of “subjects” when referring to humans (Often, I'll abbreviate participants as “Ps”).
sp no extra space needed (everything should simply be double-spaced)

Contact Information

Writing Center

Kirner-Johnson 152
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