Rules for writers, Tenth edition - Diana Hacker, Nancy Sommers 2021

Rules for writers, Tenth edition - Diana Hacker, Nancy Sommers 2021

Preface for instructors

A process for writing

Exploring, planning, and drafting

Assess your writing situation

Explore your subject

Draft and revise a working thesis statement

Draft a plan

Draft an introduction

Draft the body

Draft a conclusion

Writing paragraphs

Focus on a main point

Develop the main point

Make paragraphs coherent

If necessary, adjust paragraph length

Choose a suitable strategy for developing paragraphs

Revising, editing, and reflecting

Use peer review: Give constructive comments

Learn from peer review: Revise with comments

One student’s peer review process

Approach global revision in cycles

Revise globally by making a reverse outline

Proofread and format the final manuscript

Sample student revision: Literacy narrative

Reflect on your writing; prepare a portfolio

Academic Reading and Writing

Reading and writing critically

Read actively

Outline a text to identify main ideas

Summarize to deepen your understanding

Analyze to demonstrate your critical reading

Sample student writing: Analysis of an article

Reading and writing about multimodal texts

Read actively

Summarize a multimodal text to deepen your understanding

Analyze a multimodal text to demonstrate your critical reading

Sample student writing: Analysis of an advertisement

Reading arguments

Read with an open mind and a critical eye

Evaluate ethical, logical, and emotional appeals as a reader

Evaluate the evidence behind an argument

Identify underlying assumptions

Evaluate how fairly a writer handles opposing views

Writing arguments

Identify your purpose and context

View your audience as a panel of jurors

Build common ground with your audience

In your introduction, establish credibility and state your position

Back up your thesis with persuasive lines of argument

Support your thesis with specific evidence

Anticipate objections; counter opposing arguments

Sample student writing: Argument


Prefer active verbs

Choose the active voice or the passive voice, depending on your writing situation

Replace be verbs that result in dull or wordy sentences

As a rule, choose a subject that names the person or thing doing the action

Balance parallel ideas

Balance parallel ideas in a series

Balance parallel ideas presented as pairs

Repeat function words to clarify parallels

Add needed words

Add words needed to complete compound structures

Add the word that if there is any danger of misreading without it

Add words needed to make comparisons logical and complete

Add the articles a, an, and the where necessary for grammatical completeness

Untangle mixed constructions

Untangle the grammatical structure

Straighten out the logical connections

Avoid is when, is where, and reason … is because constructions

Repair misplaced and dangling modifiers

Put limiting modifiers in front of the words they modify

Place phrases and clauses so that readers can see what they modify

Move awkwardly placed modifiers

Avoid split infinitives when they are awkward

Repair dangling modifiers

Eliminate distracting shifts

Make the point of view consistent in person and number

Maintain consistent verb tenses

Make verbs consistent in mood and voice

Avoid sudden shifts from indirect to direct questions or quotations

Emphasize key ideas

Coordinate equal ideas; subordinate minor ideas

Combine choppy sentences

Avoid ineffective or excessive coordination

Do not subordinate major ideas

Do not subordinate excessively

Experiment with techniques for gaining special emphasis

Provide some variety

Vary your sentence openings

Use a variety of sentence structures

Try inverting sentences occasionally

Tighten wordy sentences

Eliminate redundancies

Avoid unnecessary repetition of words

Cut empty or inflated phrases

Simplify the structure

Reduce clauses to phrases, phrases to single words

Choose appropriate language

Choose an appropriate level of formality

Avoid jargon, except in specialized writing situations

Avoid most euphemisms and doublespeak

In most contexts, avoid slang

Avoid sexist and noninclusive language

Avoid biased language

Find the exact words

Select words with appropriate connotations

Prefer specific, concrete nouns

Take care with idioms

Do not rely heavily on clichés

Use figures of speech with care

Use the right words. (Glossary of usage)


Repair sentence fragments

Attach fragmented subordinate clauses or turn them into sentences

Attach fragmented phrases or turn them into sentences

Attach other fragmented word groups or turn them into sentences

Exception: A fragment may be used for effect

Revise run-on sentences

Consider separating the clauses with a comma and a coordinating conjunction

Consider separating the clauses with a semicolon, colon, or dash

Consider making the clauses into separate sentences

Consider restructuring the sentence, perhaps by subordinating one of the clauses

Make subjects and verbs agree

Learn to recognize the standard subject-verb combinations

Make the verb agree with its subject, not with a word that comes between

Treat most subjects joined with and as plural

With subjects joined with or or nor (or with either . . . or or neither . . . nor), make the verb agree with the part of the subject nearer to the verb

Treat most indefinite pronouns as singular

Treat collective nouns as singular unless the meaning is clearly plural

Make the verb agree with its subject even when the subject follows the verb

Make the verb agree with its subject, not with a subject complement

Ensure that who, which, and that take verbs that agree with their antecedents

Treat words such as athletics, economics, mathematics, and news as singular, despite their plural form

Treat titles of works, company names, words mentioned as words, and gerund phrases as singular

Make pronouns and antecedents agree

Take care with indefinite pronouns (anybody, everyone) and generic nouns

Treat collective nouns as singular unless the meaning is clearly plural

Take care with compound antecedents

Make pronoun references clear

Avoid ambiguous or remote pronoun reference

Avoid making broad references with this, that, which, and it

Do not use a pronoun to refer to an implied antecedent

Avoid the indefinite use of they, it, and you

To refer to persons, use who, whom, or whose, not which or that

Distinguish between pronouns such as I and me

Use the subjective case (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) for subjects and subject complements

Use the objective case (me, you, him, her, it, us, them) for all objects

Put an appositive and the word to which it refers in the same case

Following than or as, choose the pronoun that expresses your meaning

Use the objective case for subjects and objects of infinitives

Use the possessive case to modify a gerund

Distinguish between who and whom

Use who and whom correctly in subordinate clauses

Use who and whom correctly in questions

Use whom for subjects or objects of infinitives

Choose adjectives and adverbs with care

Use adjectives to modify nouns

Use adverbs to modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs

Distinguish between good and well, bad and badly

Use comparatives and superlatives with care

Avoid double negatives

Choose appropriate verb forms, tenses, and moods

Choose correct forms of irregular verbs

Distinguish among the forms of lie and lay

Use -s or -es endings on present-tense verbs that have third-person singular subjects

Do not omit -ed endings on verbs

Do not omit needed verbs

Choose the appropriate verb tense

Use the subjunctive mood in the few contexts that require it

Multilingual Writers and ESL Topics


Use effective verb forms and tenses

To write a verb in the passive voice, use a form of be with the past participle

Use the base form of the verb after a modal

To make negative verb forms, add not

In a conditional sentence, choose verb tenses according to the type of condition expressed in the sentence

Become familiar with verbs that may be followed by gerunds or infinitives

Articles (a, an, the)

Be familiar with articles and other noun markers

Use the with most specific common nouns

Use a (or an) with common singular count nouns that refer to “one” or “any.”

Use a quantifier, not a or an, with a noncount noun to express an approximate amount

Use no article with nouns that refer to all of something or something in general

Use no article with most singular proper nouns; use the with most plural proper nouns

Sentence structure

Use a linking verb between a subject and its complement

Include a subject in every sentence

Avoid using both a noun and a pronoun to play the same grammatical role in a sentence

Avoid repeating a subject, an object, or an adverb in an adjective clause

Avoid placing an adverb between a verb and its direct object

Distinguish between present participles and past participles used as adjectives

Place cumulative adjectives in an appropriate order

Prepositions and idiomatic expressions

Become familiar with prepositions that show time and place

Use nouns (including -ing forms) after prepositions

Become familiar with common adjective + preposition combinations

Become familiar with common verb + preposition combinations

Paraphrasing sources effectively

Avoid replacing a source’s words with synonyms

Determine the meaning of the original source

Present the author’s meaning in your own words


The comma

Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction joining independent clauses

Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase

Use a comma between all items in a series

Use a comma between coordinate adjectives not joined with and

Use commas to set off nonrestrictive (nonessential) elements, but not restrictive (essential) elements

Use commas to set off transitional expressions and other word groups

Use commas to set off nouns of direct address, the words yes and no, interrogative tags, and mild interjections

Use commas with expressions such as he said to set off direct quotations

Use commas with dates, addresses, titles, and numbers

Unnecessary commas

Do not use a comma with a coordinating conjunction that joins only two words, phrases, or subordinate clauses

Do not use a comma to separate a verb from its subject or object

Do not use a comma before the first or after the last item in a series

Do not use a comma between cumulative adjectives, between an adjective and a noun, or between an adverb and an adjective

Do not use commas to set off restrictive (essential) elements

Do not use a comma to set off a concluding adverb clause that is essential for meaning

Do not use a comma after a phrase that begins an inverted sentence

Avoid other common misuses of the comma

The semicolon

Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined with a coordinating conjunction

Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression

Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation

Avoid common misuses of the semicolon

The colon

Use a colon after an independent clause to direct attention to a list, an appositive, a quotation, or a summary or an explanation

Use a colon according to convention

Avoid common misuses of the colon

The apostrophe

Use an apostrophe to indicate that a noun is possessive

Use an apostrophe and -s to indicate that an indefinite pronoun is possessive

Use an apostrophe to mark omissions in contractions and numbers

Do not use an apostrophe in certain situations

Avoid common misuses of the apostrophe

Quotation marks

Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations

Use single quotation marks to enclose a quotation within a quotation

Use quotation marks around the titles of short works

Quotation marks may be used to set off words used as words

Use punctuation with quotation marks according to convention

Avoid common misuses of quotation marks

End punctuation

The period

The question mark

The exclamation point

Other punctuation marks

The dash



The ellipsis

The slash



Use standard abbreviations for titles immediately before and after proper names

Use abbreviations only when you are sure your readers will understand them

Use BCE, CE, a.m., p.m., No., and $ only with specific dates, times, numbers, and amounts

Abbreviate units of measurement used with numerals

Be sparing in your use of Latin abbreviations

Plural of abbreviations


Follow the conventions in your discipline for spelling out or using numerals to express numbers

Use numerals according to convention in dates, addresses, and so on


Italicize the titles of works according to convention

Italicize non-English words used in an English sentence

Italicize words mentioned as words, letters mentioned as letters, and numbers mentioned as numbers


Become familiar with the major spelling rules

Differentiate words that sound alike but have different meanings


Consult the dictionary to determine how to treat a compound word

Hyphenate two or more words used together as an adjective before a noun

Hyphenate fractions and certain numbers when they are spelled out

Use a hyphen with the prefixes all-, ex- (meaning “former”), and self- and with the suffix -elect

Use a hyphen in certain words to avoid ambiguity

Check for correct word breaks when words must be divided at the end of a line


Capitalize proper nouns and words derived from them; do not capitalize common nouns

Capitalize titles of persons when used as part of a proper name but usually not when used alone

Capitalize titles according to convention

Capitalize the first word of a sentence

Capitalize the first word of a quoted sentence but not a quoted word or phrase

Know your options when the first word after a colon begins an independent clause

Grammar Basics

Parts of speech









Sentence patterns


Verbs, objects, and complements

Subordinate word groups

Prepositional phrases

Verbal phrases

Appositive phrases

Absolute phrases

Subordinate clauses

Sentence types

Sentence structures

Sentence purposes


Thinking like a researcher; gathering sources

Manage the project

Pose questions worth exploring

Map out a search strategy

Search efficiently; master a few shortcuts to finding good sources

Write a research proposal

Conduct field research, if appropriate

Managing information; taking notes responsibly

Maintain a working bibliography

Keep track of source materials

As you take notes, avoid unintentional plagiarism

Evaluating sources

Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of a source

Read with an open mind and a critical eye

Assess web sources with special care

Construct an annotated bibliography

Writing Papers in MLA Style

Supporting a thesis

Form a working thesis statement

Organize ideas with an informal plan

Consider how sources will contribute to your research paper

Citing sources; avoiding plagiarism

Understand how the MLA system works

Understand what plagiarism is

Use quotation marks around borrowed language

Put summaries and paraphrases in your own words

Integrating sources

Summarize and paraphrase effectively

Use quotations effectively

Use signal phrases to integrate sources

Synthesize sources

Documenting sources in MLA style

MLA in-text citations

MLA list of works cited

MLA information notes (optional)

MLA format; sample research paper

MLA format

Sample MLA research paper

Writing Papers in APA Style

Supporting a thesis

Form a working thesis statement

Organize your ideas

Consider how sources will contribute to your research paper

Citing sources; avoiding plagiarism

Understand how the APA system works

Understand what plagiarism is

Use quotation marks around borrowed language

Put summaries and paraphrases in your own words

Integrating sources

Summarize and paraphrase effectively

Use quotations effectively

Use signal phrases to integrate sources

Synthesize sources

Documenting sources in APA style

APA in-text citations

APA list of references

APA format; sample research paper

APA format

Sample APA research paper

APPENDIX: Models of professional writing

Answers to lettered exercises


Writing papers in APA style

Sample APA research paper


Models of professional writing

Glossary of usage

Answers to lettered exercises