Composition and Rhetoric
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Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Grammar
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    Education Standards

    Grammar and Style: Course Map & Recommended Resources


    How to Use This Guide

    This document is intended to highlight resources that can be used to address the topics of Grammar and Style in a First-Year Writing Course. This information could also be used in a Second-Year Writing Course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System via hyperlink.

    Course Map  

    The resources included here are intended to address the aforementioned learning objective. Specific sections of each resource have been paired with subjects in this guide. That said, many of these texts could also be used in whole. A shorter text like Robin Jeffrey’s About Writing or a handbook like Saylor Academy’s Business English for Success may be all that students with a strong background in English need. In other cases, a more comprehensive text, like the University of Minnesota’s Writing for Success, may be required to properly prepare students for college writing.

    Introduction & Learning Objectives


    In this section, style and grammar are addressed in three different senses. There is a Style Guide that covers audience awareness and clear written communications. That is followed by a guide to the most common Citation Styles (APA, MLA, and CMS). Last but not least, there is an in depth Grammar Handbook that comes with exercises and checklists for perfecting mechanics and assuring strong revision and proofreading.

    Learning Objectives

    This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

    1. Be aware of intended audience
    2. Use standard written English
    3. Communicate clearly and efficiently
    4. Overcome barriers to clear communications
    5. Format correctly
    6. Use the appropriate citation style with sources
    7. Avoid grammatical and mechanical errors

    Recommended Resources

    About Writing: A Guide by Robin Jeffrey

    • This text provides a brief overview of the basics necessary to succeed in first-and second-year writing, including quick reviews of grammar and citation styles.

    Business English for Success by Saylor Academy

    • While technically a “business writing” book, this electronic text contains some of the most efficient and effective explanations of grammar and style, making it a worthy handbook.

    Writing for Success produced by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing

    • This longer volume could serve as a complete first-year writing textbook and contains detailed sections on grammar, punctuation, and citation styles.

    The Word on College Reading and Writing by Babin, Burnell, and Pesznecker

    • The authors note that “This text isn’t meant to be a grammar and stylehandbook,” but they do provide a checklist for revising and proofing. This text also covers the basics of style, tone, and audience very well, and it contains strong sections on reading comprehension.

    Elements of Style by William Strunk

    • Strunk’s Elements of Style has been a favorite of English professors for roughly one hundred years now. There is perhaps no more compact yet complete guide to writing with style and without error.

    Online Writing Lab at Purdue University

    • One would be hard pressed to find a more thorough online resource than the OWL at Purdue website. It is an encyclopedia of sorts, offering English professors and students resources on all things style, grammar, and citation. The site also has exceptionally good resources for instructors who work with ESL students.  

    The Style Guide

    This section covers audience awareness and clear written communications.  

    1. “Determining Your Audience and Purposein The Word on College Reading and Writing contains five short sections -- “Audience;” “Purpose;” “Appealing to Your Audience;” “Exercises;” and “Tone, Voice, and Point of View.” These readings will enable students to understand Audience, Purpose, and Methods of Appeal. The exercises will allow students to demonstrate how they have internalized and mastered the material. In one exercise, students write letters to different fictional people in an attempt to get those people to give them $100. This effectively forces students to consider different audiences and appeal to those audiences for a specific purpose.

    2. “Style in Written CommunicationsandOvercoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication are short chapters in Business English for Success that address communications between professors and students, as well as other acceptable methods of communication in one’s personal and professional life. Colloquial, casual, and formal language are defined. These chapters end with exercises that require students to practice tone, voice, style, rewriting, and revising. In one case, students practice writing emails to their professors, which should serve them well.

    3. “Elementary Principles of Compositionhas influenced generations of essay writers by concisely covering the style required for successful collegiate writers (effective topic sentences, logical organization, active voice, concrete language, thoughtful editing, etc.). First-year students who read these treatise on style before writing their first essay will be well served. 

    Citation Styles

    This section covers the three major citation styles (APA, CMS, and MLA).

    1. “What is MLA, APA, and CMS? in About Writing: A Guide briefly breaks down citation styles by discipline and contains a brief guide to signal phrases, in-text citations, and works cited citations for each style. While short, this section should spark ideas for using citation styles correctly and seamlessly, and the length enables students to use the section as a checklist of sorts during the revision process as well.

    2. The Online Writing Laboratory (OWL) at Purdue is perhaps the most popular online source for all things APA, MLA, and CMS. From their main research page, students can find detailed instructions on how to format essays correctly, and deal with unique sources and situations while creating their works cited pages. This resource is lengthy, but it comes in handy when students want to use more obscure types of sources in researched essays.

    Grammar Handbook

    This section covers grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    1. The “Grammar and Style” section in The Word on College Reading and Writing is short--just three pages--but it may be perfect for students with a strong background in English who want or need a refresher. It contains efficient yet thorough checklists for proofing and polishing written assignments, though the only style addressed is MLA. Students can use these short lists to avoid common errors on the sentence level and to check their spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

    2. It is interesting to note that the Grammar Guide in The University of Minnesota’s Writing for Success is the same Grammar Guide that appears in Saylor Academy’s Business English for Success. This is not too surprising. Both texts are open educational resources that utilize materials others have created and made open access. What is telling, however, is that two institutions would pick the same grammar guide. This suggests it must be pretty good, and indeed it is. This complete grammar guide covers every aspect of grammar and concludes with a section of exercises that allow students to prove they have gained full command of the subject matter.