When grading papers I sometimes use abbreviations to indicate areas for improvement/correction. Here is a guide to help decrypt my comments. Sometimes a comment will point to a specific sentence; other times I will write it in the margin or at the bottom of the page to indicate a general issue with your writing in that section.
I also sometimes use these abbreviations to indicate where you have done something well: for example, “Good RT!” = you relate the material to the text well; “Good PJ!” = you have provided appropriate justification for the point you are making, etc.
Grammar and Sentence Construction
See Writing Guides for tips.
“IN” or “frag”: The sentence is incomplete (or more specifically, a sentence fragment). Make sure your sentences have a clear subject and predicate.
“RO”: The sentence is a run-on. If you are expressing more than one idea, you should generally use more than one sentence. If the ideas are closely related, you can put them together, but only with the appropriate punctuation (: ; —) or connective (and, or, but, yet…).
“CS”: The sentence involves a comma splice, making it a specific type of run-on sentence. A comma cannot grammatically connect two complete and independent clauses. See RO.
“Commas”: In general, your use of commas results in incorrect sentence structures. (See IN, RO and CS.)
“MM,” “DM,” “PS”: Misplaced modifier, dangling modifier and parallel structure problem. These are all issues with sentence clarity — see the Writing Guides for detailed help.
Composition and Clarity
“Cut” or word: The bracketed sentence/section is extraneous, unnecessary for answering the question. Sometimes I will cross out a word because it is either used inappropriately or doesn’t add anything significant to the sentence.
“Rep”: You have repeated yourself. Make sure that each sentence adds something new to what you’ve already argued/explained.
“EX?”: An example would be helpful to clarify your point.
“OW”: Use your own words to explain this point rather than merely relying on a direct quotation or close paraphrase of the text to be self-evident.
“WC”: Your word choice is awkward or inappropriate. The word you are using doesn’t make sense in the context. You may be using a non-exact synonym or a word with a similar spelling. Dictionaries help here! Language that is too informal for a college essay may also be inappropriate for that reason. Sometimes I will offer a suggestion for a different word/phrase to use.
“PJ”: Provide justification. You have made a claim that does not explain itself. What is your reason/evidence in support of this claim?
“RT”: Relate the point you are making to the text. This indicates a place in your writing where it would be appropriate, or even necessary, to make a connection to one of the class texts. Identify the concepts, terms or arguments in the text that would help to elaborate upon or support your point.
“ET”: Explicate the terms you are using. When using a key term or concept, make explicit what the term means. For example, if this is a term that has been defined or explain in a special way in one of the texts for the course, it is usually important to provide this explanation in your own words when invoking the term in your writing.
“Elab”: The explanation you’ve given is a good start, but it is incomplete and in need of elaboration. Develop the explanation further by adding more specific detail about the idea in question and/or by connecting the idea to other ideas that are significantly related to it.
“Clar”: Clarify the point you are making. Lack of clarity may sometimes result from grammatical imprecision (see above), or you may need to provide more specific details to remove ambiguity about what you want to express.
“NR”: The point you’re explaining is not relevant to the question. Usually this means that you have gone on a tangent, or you have started to explain a different, though related, argument rather than focusing more narrowly on the argument at hand.
“SI”: You have given a strained interpretation of the text. It is not evident that the author means what you say he/she means. If you have to twist a lot of the author’s words or add a lot of ideas that aren’t clearly in the text, chances are there’s a more plausible interpretation that you’re missing. Of course, sometimes you will have to add ideas to make sense of the text. When it is not obvious that the author holds these ideas, you should offer textual evidence (quotations) that point in the direction of your interpretation.