William G. Tierney, Ph.D.

Wilbur-Kieffer Professor of Higher Education
Director, Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis

Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Waite Phillips Hall, Room 701C
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4037
Tel: (213) 740-7218
Fax: (213) 740-3889
Email: wgtiern@usc.edu
Bill Tierney's Unofficial Guides

Preliminary rules for writing

Everything must be perfectly typewritten. Have someone else proofread your work before you submit it. Always use the spell checker.

Papers have the following characteristics: double-spaced, 1" margins, no gaps between paragraphs, page numbers (beginning with page 1 on the first page of text).

Make sure citations and quotations are perfect. Be consistent in your footnoting and referencing.

Be sure to provide support for your statements (citations). Examples are always helpful. Do not employ quotes merely to lend credence to your views.

Provide the reader with an outline in your writing.

Parallelism: what is it, and how is it used?

Do not overstate your case (Colleges must produce dramatic change if they are to survive.).

Write simple, direct sentences. If there is a shorter way to write a sentence, do it! Do not write run-on sentences. Try to avoid using "ing" verbs.

Be conscious of what a paragraph is — usually more than 3 sentences and generally less than one page. Also, keep in mind that paragraphs contain only one idea.

Do not use sentence fragments. In scholarly writing we should only use complete sentences.

Do not split compound verbs, or subject and verb.

Always use "nor" with "neither."

When using "him/her, this, that, these, those," be sure to include the antecedent preceding the sentence.

Avoid using the following in formal writing:
contractions (can’t, won’t, misc.)
the passive voice
qualifiers (I believe, I think, I submit)
"there is / there are"
modals (would, could, should)
informal language and jargon ("that is; in so doing; as to…")

Avoid double negatives: "Graduate students should not presume that learning does not occur in the classroom."
Page last updated April 21st, 2005. Please send any comments or suggestions to the webmaster.