Capital Letters

Capital letters are used with:

  • the first word in a sentence or direct quotation
    • They like hamburgers.
  • names of persons and the word “I”
    • Jerry, Jill and I went shopping.
  • names of particular places
    • We like to go to the Abbey in Ely Center.
  • names of the days of the week, months, and holidays
    • Christmas falls on December 25 every year.
  • names of commercial products
    • Our copy machine is made by Xerox.
  • names of organizations such as religious and political groups, associations, companies, unions and clubs
    • Many people are members of the National Association of the Deaf.
  • words in titles of books, magazines, newspapers, articles, stories, poems, films, television shows, songs, papers that you write
    • Gallaudet Today is an informative magazine.

However, a word like a, an, the, but, for, and is not capitalized unless it is the first word of the title or the first word after a colon.

Perspectives on Deafness: A Deaf American Monograph was edited by Mervin D. Garretson.

On the Green is an in-house Gallaudet publication for faculty and staff.

punctuation marks


The two main uses of the apostrophe are:

  • to show the omission of one or more letters in a contraction
    do + not = don’t
    is + not = isn’t
    that + is = that’s
  • to show ownership or possession
    Ellen’s books
    Dorothy’s pen
    Howard’s hands


Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks when you want to show the exact words of a speaker or writer. Place all commas and periods inside of the quotation marks.

Incorrect: “The only dumb question”, the instructor said, “is the one you don’t ask”.
Correct: “The only dumb question,” the instructor said, “is the one you don’t ask.”


Use quotation marks when you want to quote or show the titles of short stories, novellas, articles, chapter titles in books, poems, television shows, songs, and papers that you write.

Incorrect: I read the poem The Tyger, the other day.
Correct: I read the poem “The Tyger,” the other day.



Use italics or underline to show the titles of books, magazines, newspapers, plays, art masterpieces, and long musical compositions.

Incorrect: The novel, “Gone with the Wind,” was extraordinary.
Correct: The novel, Gone with the Wind, was extraordinary.
The novel, Gone with the Wind, was extraordinary.



Commas often show a pause in a sentence. There are nine main uses of the comma:

  • to separate items in a series
    • I like swimming, summer, and vacations.
  • to set off introductory material
    • First, let me explain our cut policy.
  • on both sides of words that interrupt the flow of thought in a sentence
    • The Tutorial Center, a division of the School of Undergraduate Studies, is a place where students can get one-on-one help.
  • between two complete thoughts connected by and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet
    • I love to watch basketball, but I do not play it.
  • to set off a direct quotation from the rest of a sentence
    • According to I. King Jordan, “Deaf people can do anything — except hear.”
  • in dates
    • April 6, 1976
  • in addresses
    • My address is P.O. Box 250, Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C., 20002.
  • in the openings and closings of letters
    • Dear Judith, . . . Sincerely yours, Ellen

Writing a Summary

To summarize an essay, article, or a book, you should

  • Not include your own thoughts on the matter.
  • Describe the essay as objectively as possible, whether you agree with it or not.
  • Read about paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting in your handbook before you begin your summary. You must understand the differences between paraphrase, quotation, and plagiarism.

So a summary is intended to highlight objectively the main points of another writer’s work. Although written in your own words, the summary does not include your opinions of the piece you are considering. Since the summary eliminates those details that are not needed to convey the major points, it is naturally shorter than the original. In general, a summary is from one fourth to one half the length of the original.
The problem we all face when attempting to summarize a piece of writing is figuring out what to include and what to leave out. Below are some tips on how to choose material to include in your summary.

  • Cross out the less important details.
  • Underline topic sentences and key ideas.
  • Take notes on those key ideas–jot down the information that clarifies the topic sentence, for example.

When you summarize, you might try following these steps:

  • Read the piece for understanding first. Never summarize as you read the article for the first time.
  • Before you begin to write, check the topic sentences and key words (words that are underlined, italicized, or capitalized). These will clue you in on main ideas.
  • Jot down the organization of the original and follow that pattern in your summary.
  • Check your summary to be sure you have been objective. Your opinions are not part of the original
  • Check your summary to be sure that you have properly documented any words or phrases that you have taken from the original.
  • Identify your summary and its source. Some instructors will ask that you do this as part of the title of the piece; others will request a footnote.

Formal letters

Writing formal Letters

Formal letters have six parts:

1. The Sender’s Address:  The heading can include your address and the date. 
2. The receiver’s address: The address of the receiver
3. The Salutation (greeting): This usually begins with Dear_________.  The blank is for the name of the person or Mr/Mme if you don’t you are writing.  After you write the person’s name/Sir/Mme you put a comma ( , ) .
4. The Body: The body of the letter is the information you are writing in your letter.
5. The Complementary Close:  In the closing the first word is capitalized and you put a comma after the last word.
6. Your Signature: This is your name. It goes under the closing

Some examples of closings are:

Yours sincerely,
Yours faithfully,

Sender’s address

Receiver’s address
Salutation (greeting),

Complementary Close,

Informal letters

Writing Friendly Letters

Friendly letters have five parts:

1. The Heading: The heading can include your address and the date.  In casual, friendly letters your address is not necessary.
2. The Salutation (greeting): This usually begins with Dear_________.  The blank is for the name of the person you are writing.  After you write the person’s name you put a comma (,) .

3. The Body: The body of the letter is the information you are writing in your letter.
4. The Closing: In the closing the first word is capitalized and you put a comma after the last word.
Some examples of closings are:

Your friend,
Very truly yours,
5. Your Signature: This is your name. It goes under the closing.


Salutation (greeting),


Writing as a process

(For Advanced leaners or teachers)

Writing as a process :
There are mainly 5 steps in the writing as a process:

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION – How do I get ideas in the first place?
conduct an interview based on your topic
media – radio, tv, internet
film – movies and documentaries
visual art – observing or creating
discussion and brainstorming
responding to literature
role playing
personal interest inventories
class interest inventory

TIPS – What ways can I prewrite?

free writing
image streaming (transplant yourself
to another place or time and describe
from a first person point of view)
brainstorming – individually or as a group
graphic organizers
topic or word chart

NOW THAT IT’S TIME TO WRITE . . . What do I do?

Whatever you call it, it is still the same thing. 
Get a working copy of your paragraph or paper
so that you have something to work with.


* Name, class and date on top right hand corner of all pages
* Number all your pages
* One staple in the top left hand corner
* Double space
* Margin to margin
* Single sided
* Pencil or pen (depending on teacher preference)
* Line space at end of page


Be selective in the ideas that you include.  You don’t have to include
everything that was in your prewriting!  Pick your best ideas. 
Make sure they relate to each other and your topic.
Don’t stop once you start writing.  Revising and editing
come later.  Just let the ideas flow. 
Don’t count words, ask your teacher how long it should be or when
it is done.  When YOU feel that you have completed your ideas,
you are then ready to go to the next stage.
HOLD IT!  Before going to the next stage, make sure you have
enough content to work with.  If you feel that you are lacking content,
go back to your prewriting for more ideas and details.

Revising is . . .

making decisions about how you want to improve your writing
looking at your writing from a different point of view
picking places where your writing could be clearer, more
interesting, more informative and more convincing.


A.R.R.R. –  This method allows you to make four types of changes.

What else does the reader need to know?
Is the information in the most logical and most effective order?
What extra details or unnecessary bits of information are in this piece
of writing?
What words or details could be replaced by clearer or stronger expressions?

R.A.G. – Read Around Group
~ General Rules for Read Around Groups ~

3-5 writers per group in varying ability
Make sure there are no names on the pieces of writing. 
Student work is to remain anonymous.  Photocopies work well. 
In each group, everyone reads each paper once.  Nothing is written
on the papers. This is the first read.  It is written to get a general idea
about what has been written.
During the first read, on a separate piece of paper,
each person puts them on a scale of 1-4. 
(4 – outstanding, 3 – above average, 2 – acceptable, 1 – insufficient)
Students also write comments about each piece for later discussion
with the group.
Students discuss why they assigned the score that they did.
Staying in the same group, students then revise the anonymous work
during a second reading. Students can a) read each paper and mark
suggestions on it or  b) read the piece as a group and mark the
group’s suggestions on each paper.

A.R.M.S. – Add, Remove, Move Around, Substitute

REVISING TIPS – Ask yourself these questions . . .

Can you read it outloud without stumbling?
Does every word and action count?  There should be a reason why a
character acts or speaks in a certain way. 
Is the series of events logical? Do they relate?
Is it clear what your goal or your main character’s goal is throughout the piece of writing?
Are vivid/descriptive words used to describe characters and/or events?
Is your train of thought clear?  Are there any tangents?
Do you use a variety of verbs throughout the piece?  (Something instead of “SAID”)
Is it wordy and redundant?  Are you using the same words and phrases
over and over again?
Is there a catchy introduction?  Does the conclusion leave the reader thinking?
Do supporting details support only the topic sentence of that paragraph?
Are transitional devices used throughout?
Is there a strong hook, thesis and lead-in?
Is proper format followed throughout?
Are all sentences complete or are there sentence fragments?
Is a vivid mental picture created in the reader’s mind?



Editing is . . .

sentence structure
subject/verb agreement
consistent verb tense
word usage


Self Edit
Read your own work backwards.
Read the last sentence, then the second
last sentence, etc.
Does each sentence make
sense when you read it on it’s own? 
Do you see or hear any errors in the sentence?
Peer Edit
Take your friend copy and try to correct it.
Your friend will do the same with your paper.

Be sure that every sentence has two parts :
subject (who or what)
predicate (what’s happening)
Use sentence combining words:
and, but, or, yet, so
who, whom, which, that, whose
because, although, when, if, where
and others
Use periods and commas where necessary
but do not overuse.
Do not overuse the exclamation mark!
Use a dictionary to check spelling.

Final draft
Blue or black ink pen or word processed
Centre title on top line with a line space that follows
Name, class and date in top right hand corner
Margin to margin
Indent and/or leave a line space for paragraphs
(depending on teacher preference)
Leave a line space at the bottom of the page
Single sided
Single spaced
Neat – no scribbles or overuse of liquid paper!
Number the pages
Staple in top left hand corner
If asked for all stages of the writing process, hand in
in this order:
* good copy
* rough copy with evidence of revision and editing
* prewriting
Include marks sheet or rubric if one was given

Essay planner

Answer the following questions. They will help you organize your essay.
What is the topic of your essay? _________________________________.
Why are you writing this essay?(to inform,to entertain,to persuade,etc.)
List several key facts that you want to cover in this essay.
What do you want the readers of this essay to have learned or think about?
Read over this paper and write your essay.