Hege Library & Learning Technologies

Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

The A Paper

In its treatment of subject, the A paper:

  • makes an unusually perceptive response to the assignment, teaching the reader something of value
  • engages its topic in a comprehensive, original, and probing way
  • may display passionate curiosity.
  • features thinking characterized by mature complexity and by awareness of the larger significance of ideas (key words here include "implication," "ramification," "interrelationship," "metaphor").

In its organization, the A paper:

  • has a fresh, original organizing principle that sparks the entire paper
  • has a clear and well supported thesis
  • is clearly focused throughout, with all pieces fitting smoothly
  • progresses clearly (e.g., logically or intuitively or with cumulative force)
  • flows seamlessly by virtue of paragraph unity and unobtrusive transitions
  • imparts an overall feeling of wholeness and unusual clarity.

In its content, the A paper:

  • brings the main point to life with arresting examples and details
  • provides solid, convincing, unbiased evidence
  • weaves expert opinion, where required, seamlessly into the writer's own text.

In its style, the A paper:

  • features vigorous, concise, graceful language, reflecting nuance and passion
  • contains inventive, sometimes memorable word choice
  • uses mature, lively, emphatic and varied sentences, clearly linked
  • has appropriate, effective rhythm
  • compels the reader with its authentic, sure voice
  • possesses an appropriate, engaging tone that enhances the writer's purpose
  • has strong, effective energy.

In terms of rules and conventions, the A paper:

  • shows mastery of most of the grammar and usage conventions of standard American English (i.e., the paper is free of fragments, comma splices, run-ons, errors in agreement, and the like)
  • is free of spelling errors
  • properly uses the MLA guidelines for bibliography and in-text citation.