Academic writing comment bank for improving academic writing

eMarking Assistant toolbar can quickly provide feedback and improve academic

eMarking Assistant toolbar can quickly provide feedback and improve academic writing skills

The following comment bank can be loaded into eMarking Assistant to help you provide feedback on academic writing and thus improve academic writing skills. When you have loaded it in to eMarking Assistant you can easily insert the comments when you are grading

This academic writing feedback comment bank will help you quickly provide feedback on academic writing.

The comment bank can be imported into eMarking Assistant which provides a convenient way of inserting these comments when providing feedback on academic writing. There is one row for each comment with the following columns:

  • the comment name  which should be less than 31 characters made up of a category, then a “-“, and then the specific comment e.g. pagenumbering-position
  • the body of the comment which could include anything you can insert into a Word document e.g. formatted text, links, lists of points, images, tables, sounds etc.

A free 30 day trial and video demonstrations of eMarking Assistant is available from

Comments you can use when grading academic and providing academic writing feedback which is an effective way to improve academic writing skills

Name Content
.eMarking-info for students eMarking information for studentsYour paper or assignment has been electronically marked and it may contain the following types of comments and feedback (as shown in the following figure):

  • comments shown in the margin or at the bottom of the page;
  • Word revision marks shown in the text in a different colour;
  • highlighting in the marking rubric or the marking sheet for the performance standard that best describes your work
  • general comments at the end of your assignment
  • audio or video feedback which you can replay by clicking the speaker icon

showing word track changes and comments

If you can’t see the comments or the revision marks you may need to use the following options to display the comments or revision marks (the options will be different in different versions of Word):

  • in Word 2007 or later: Review tab > Tracking group > Show Balloons, show Final Showing Markup, and select options under Show Markup
  • in Word 2003 or earlier: View menu > Reviewing toolbar > show Final Showing Markup and select options under Show Markup

If you are still not able to view these comments, you should contact your marker and request a PDF version of your marked assignment. More information on eMarking Assistant including video demonstrations, FAQs, and a free 30 day trial are available from:

acadWrit-needed You should use an academic writing style in this work. Academic writing is characterised by the use of academic words, academic structures, and academic conventions (see for more information).
acadWrit- bad paraphrase Paraphrasing or summarising a reference is more than changing several words in a sentence and including it in your work. While there are no strict rules, you should use a direct quotation if you are using more than 4 or 5 exact words from a source. See for more information
acadWrit-attention to detail In academic writing it is important to attend to detail (e.g. correct capitalisation) as mistakes will erode your credibility.
acadWrit-avoid personal Academic writing is generally (but not always) is expressed using impersonal language that avoids the use of:

  • personal pronouns e.g. “I”, “we” , “our”
  • personal judgements e.g. “I believe”
  • emotive words e.g. “repulsive”

For more information see or

acadWrit-avoid verbosity It is usually a good idea to make your academic writing as concise as possible. You can often remove redundant words without changing the meaning of the sentence. The following resources will assist you:

How could this be written more concisely?

acadWrit-colloquial This is a colloquial expression and thus should be either placed in quotes or not used in academic writing.
AcadWrit-first person Formal academic writing generally focusses on the research rather than the researchers e.g. “The results indicate  …” rather than “We believe the results indicate …”. You can however use the first person when referring to yourself or your co-researchers. See for more details.
acadWrit-general guidance Academic writing has specific conventions and style and it is important that you are able to use these in your work studies. I suggest you look at the Academic Writing pages within knowledgeGarden at: USQ’s Learning and Teaching Support Unit, (LTSU) developed ALSonline  to support online students. You can contact them and get one to one assistance with your academic writing and research skills.
acadWrit-need reference here You should have an intext reference here and a corresponding entry in your reference list.
acadWrit-plagiarism This appears to have been plagiarised from:?–?Plagiarism is a serious form of academic misconduct and there are serious consequences.  You should look at to make yourself aware of:

  • Plagiarism Explained
  • Examples
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Detection and Consequences
  • Frequently-asked Questions
  • Additional Resources

I will write more about this in the comments section at the end of your assignment.

acadWrit-quote not connected Before you include a quote you must clearly say how or why it relates to your argument. A series of disconnected quotations will erode the strength of your argument.
acadWrit-rhetorical quest It is generally best not to use too many rhetorical questions in academic writing. You should be providing the answers supported by examples and evidence. Please look at for suggestions on academic writing.
AcadWrit-tense agreement Ensure that verb tense (past, present and future)  is consistent e.g. “My sister runs to work last Thursday” should be “My sister ran to work last Thursday”. See or for exercises based on tense agreements
acadWrit-unreliable ref This may be an unreliable source to support your argument. More reliable sources will strengthen your argument and less reliable or dubious sources can weaken your argument. More information on  evaluating sources is available at:
acadWrit-use of first person It is best not to use first person or personal opinions in academic writing. There is more information on this at: could this be expressed without using the first person?
acadWrit-use of formal words This would be better expressed using formal, technical or specialised language that is typically used in academic writing. Technical language is often more precise and concise. How could you state this in a more technical way? For a comparison of formal and informal text see and could this be expressed in more formal academic language?
confusedWd See for a list of commonly confused words
  • “It’s” is a contraction of “it is”
  • “Its” is a possessive pronoun meaning “something belongs to it”


  • There is a place or a direction e.g. the dog is over there
  • Their refers to something that they own e.g. their car
  • There is a contraction of “they are”


content-too short or too long Your paper (excluding appendices and the references) should be within 10% above or below the suggested word length. It is a good idea to use the Word count function in your word processor and list the word count on the assignment cover page.
convention.points & head no . Points in a list or headings are generally not sentences and thus do not need a full stop.
convention-acronyms CAPS Acronyms are always capitalised e.g. CD-ROM, MSN. Some have slipped into the language to the extend that this no longer applies e.g. Qantas
convention-in full 1st time You should spell out this abbreviation in full the first time it is used.
emarking-Word revision marks Changes to this section have been recorded using Word “track revisions”. You can use options in the show dropdown menu to look at any of the following. This is useful to show the original and the revised version and the way it has been changed.
Format-page order Pages in  the manuscript should be in the following order (see section 8.3, pp. 229-230)

  • Title page: including, title, running head, author byline, institutional affiliation, and author note. This is page 1
  • Abstract: start on a new page and numbered 2
  • Text: start on a new page and numbered 3
  • References: start on a new page
  • Tables: start each on a new page
  • Figures: start each on a new page
  • Appendices: start each on a new page
format-para break You should use a blank line between paragraphs or indent first line of each paragraph so it is clear where the paragraph breaks are.
format-professional pres It is good to see the professional presentation of this assignment with a coverpage and table of contents based on styles … well done.
format-suggest coverpage It is generally worthwhile preparing a professional cover page that gives the name of the paper, the course, and your name. If you are given a word limit you should also include the number of words in the assignment (excluding appendices and references).
format-using lists Using bullets or numbered lists is one way of introducing a little visual variety into your presentation and it makes is easier to quickly scan the document and see the structure.
msword-auto width-height tables It is generally better to allow Word to automatically set table and column widths and heights. If you set absolute width and height some text may be hidden depending on the viewer’s computer and fonts.
msword-better use You should look at the knowledgeGarden page on suggestions for effectively using different features of Word.
msword-grammar and spelling Please use the spelling checker and grammar checker in Word to identify possible problems. Right click on the red and green underlining in Word to identify possible grammar and spelling errors e.g. below there are problems with spacing.
msword-headers and footers and Please use headers, footers and page breaks in Word and this will mean that you will not have this type of problem.
msword-indent It is best to use the margins within the Word ruler to control the indenting rather than add spaces or tabs to the start of the line.This button turns paragraph marks on so you can see spaces and tabs. The following paragraph uses indent markers
msword-keep with next If you use PAGE BREAKS (INSERT > BREAK > PAGE BREAK) and KEEP WITH NEXT (FORMAT > PARAGRAPH > LINE BREAKS > KEEP WITH NEXT) in Word you will avoid these types of problems with pagination.
msword-line spacing In Word you should not press the “enter” key at the end of each paragraph. To get double spacing use the FORMAT menu > PARAGRAPH > LINE  SPACING
msword-make clickable links It is usually a good idea to make links clickable. In Word you can do this by highlighting the text then INSERT > HYPERLINK or if the text is a fully formatted link starting with http:// you can just press space and the link will be automagically formed.
msword-outline, headings, toc If you use outline mode in Word (VIEW > OUTLINE) and headings you can get Word to automatically generate a Table of Contents (INSERT > REFERENCE > TABLES > TABLE OF CONTENTS) with page numbers and links.
msword-page breaks Once you learn about page and section breaks in Word you will not have this problem with things being on the wrong page.
msword-paste to check spelling This contains simple grammar and spelling mistakes. An easy way to scan web pages, blog posts or forum messages for spelling mistakes is to paste it into a Word document (you might want to use EDIT > PASTE SPECIAL > UNFORMATTED TEXT to speed up the paste) and then use Word’s spelling and grammar checker.
msword-position picture inline There are two main ways to positional images in the text in WordThe first anchors it to a position on the page and the second floats up and down as you add to delete text … the second way (inline) is generally best and you can set this by Right clicking the picture >  FORMAT PICTURE > POSITION > INLINE.  This will stop the text and the picture being in on top of each other.
msword-show invisible chars Clicking the reverse “P” will display invisible characters such as space, tab or the return character at the end of paragraphs. This will often help you to sort out formatting difficulties if you can’t see these invisible characters e.g. the following 4 lines will look exactly the same  when invisible characters are not shown but they will behave differently when you format them. They are formatted using:

  • Multiple spaces
  • Multiple tabs
  • Single tabs and the ruler
  • A hidden table


Option 3 and 4 are probably the most flexible when you are designing a table or a document.

msword-tabs and ruler Use of Tabs on the ruler in Word and/or setting the first line indent will avoid these types of problems.
msword-TABS tables for layout It is generally better to use the TABS on the ruler or even a table (with or without the border showing) to align elements in this type of layout.
msword-unexpected macro I was surprised to see a message that this document contains a Word macro. There are many good reasons why you might have a Word macro in your document but it is probably a good idea to tell the reader of the document what the macro is and what it does. Without this information people will disable the macro and thus not see the functionality you might have included in the macro.More information about Word macros is available from or
msword-using list structure Using the numbered and bulleted list structure in Word will help to make the structure of your ideas easier to see. These also add to the visual interest of the page and make the text much easier to read if it is ever put online.
msword-using tables to Using a table (with the borders hidden or shown) is one way of laying out multicolumn page layout within Word or controlling where information is shown on the page.
msword-word count If you have been given a word limit it is a good idea to show the number of words (excluding cover page, references, appendices) on the cover page
para-long & many ideas There are many separate ideas in this paragraph and this makes it more difficult for the reader. The OWL has some good information on paragraphs at or and the following pages (click NEXT at the top right) are also worth looking at.How would you break this into several paragraphs?
para-not logical structure The sentences in this paragraph are not logically ordered. Generally a topic sentence will be followed by sentences that elaborate or provide supporting evidence and end with a concluding sentence. See for more information.
para-struct with topic sent What is the main idea in this paragraph? The main idea should be in the topic sentence, which is generally the first sentence. After this, you can expand or support the idea with reference to the literature. Structuring your paragraphs in this way helps the reader to know what to expect and see where the augment is going. See for more ideas on paragraphs.
para-too short Avoid breaking paragraphs where there is no natural division in the thought. Successions of extremely short paragraphs tend to fragment ideas and one-sentence paragraphs should generally be avoided. See and
Punch-apostrophe The apostrophe has three uses:

  1. To form possessives of nouns e.g. “the cat’s tail”
  2. To show the omission of letters e.g. “don’t” instead of “do not”
  3. To indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters e.g. “mind your p’s and q’s”
punct -comma Use a comma to separate items in a list of 3 or more items (see section 4.03 pp. 88).e.g.remember apples, oranges, and bananas.
punct -comma Use a comma here items (see section 4.02 pp. 88).
punct -double or single quote marks Use single quotes to signify the presence text that was quoted in the original quoted text (see section 4.08, pp.92)e.g.smith (1999) found “the ‘placebo effect’,…”
punct -double quote marks Use double quote marks around text quoted directly from a source, to introduce an ironic comment, slang or coined expression, to surround the title if used in text, or mark materials used in a test (see section 4.07, pp.91)
punct -period Use a period to complete a sentence, with Latin abbreviations (e.g. a.m.), or initials (see section 4.02, pp. 88). Do not use periods with capital letter abbreviations, web addresses, or measurement abbreviations (see section 4.02 pp. 88).
punct-apostrophe Used to indicate:

  • the possessive form e.g. the person’s head
  • indicate missing letters in a contraction e.g. “I’m” for “I am”


punct-apostrophre This is an incorrect use of an apostrophe, which is used to:

  • to form possessives of nouns
  • to show the omission of letters
  • to indicate certain plurals of lowercase letters

The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a good explanation of these issues at  and exercises at

punct-colon-semicolon You have incorrectly used a colon or semi-colon here. Colons are used to introduce lists and semi-colons are used to before connective words such as “therefore”. See for more information and an activity.
punct-comma You have incorrectly used a comma here. See for more information and an activity.
punct-general This is an incorrect use of a <?insert the punctuation mark here?>. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a good explanation of these issues at
sentence-fragment This is a sentence fragment because it lacks an essential part of the sentence. Sentence fragment can usefully be fixed by changing the punctuation. How can this be rewritten to be a complete sentence. See the section starting at for more information on sentence fragments. How could you rewrite this sentence?
sentence-runon This is a run on sentence because it contains more than one idea. Run on sentences can generally be repaired by inserting full stops. How can this be rewritten to avoid the run on sentence. See the section starting at for more information. How could you rewrite this sentence?
sentence-sub-verb agree The subject and verb in this sentence do not agree in number or person. See for exercises on subject – verb agreement. How could your sentence be rewritten?
stages-proofreading Proofreading is an important stage of assignment preparation. When you proof your work you should check for the following issues:

To slow yourself down when proofreading, place a ruler under each line and read the text line by line. Look for the slips you know you often make. The OWL at Purdue has suggestions you can use to make your proofreading more effective


structure-bad transition How do these two paragraphs relate? Generally you should tell the reader what the connection is and then develop that connection throughout the paragraph.
structure-no conclusion Every essay needs an ending to convey a sense of closure. Your conclusion does not necessarily have to summarize your entire essay; it should, however, reinforce the point you are making in your essay and perhaps place your argument into a larger perspective. Be sure to signal the beginning of your conclusion, and beware of introducing a totally new point in your conclusion.
structure-no organisation The organisation of your paper is not clearly organised to help the reader. Use a clear pattern of organization. Consider such strategies as stating a thesis and then giving a number of supporting arguments; stating a problem and then examining one or more possible solutions; stating a course of action and weighing its advantages and disadvantages; or stating and then refuting a series of arguments against your thesis.There are many acceptable patterns; just be sure that the one you choose suits your material, groups related ideas together, and gives your readers the information they need to understand every point as they come to it.
structure-not logical The ideas in your paper should be organised into a clear, logical and coherent structure.  This clear logical sequence controls how  paragraphs are ordered in paper. For more information see the section that starts at and pages that follow when you click the next link
structure-not related It is not clear how this is related to the thesis of your paper. It is not enough that all your ideas and arguments are relevant to your general subject. The reader must understand how they clarify and support your overall argument or thesis.
structure-ordering It is not clear why you have ordered the paragraphs in this way. More information on structuring your argument is available from
student-learning centre I also STRONGLY suggest that you contact and work with someone at The Learning Centre or other services provided by the Learning and Teaching Support Unit (LTSU) at USQ. The URL is   These people have experience helping students to succeed in tertiary study and you should take advantage of their services.
word-easily confused Do not confuse words such as to and too, effect and affect, then and than, and, there and they’re. Check such words when proofreading as they are easy to confuse.
word-wrong word This is not the correct word in this sentence. Make sure that you are using the correct word in the sentence.
writ-bias Avoid bias in language concerning race, disability or sexuality. See for specific guidelines on avoiding bias (see APA 6th Ed. pp. 70-77)
writ-economy of expression Where possible write as concisely as possible. Short sentences are easier to understand than long sentences and remove redundant words whenever possible (see APA 6th Ed., section 3.08, p. 67). See also
writ-precision & clarity Make sure that your writing is precise and clear by choosing words carefully and avoiding unnecessary jargon (see APA 6th Ed. p. 67). See also

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