Understanding Writing Conventions
What Are Writing Conventions?
Is the phrase “writing conventions” a new one to you? You’re most likely to come across it in your student’s language arts assignments. The best explanation of writing conventions is that they are the elements that help make writing clear and understandable. When the audience can finish reading, without having to stop to try to figure out what was actually intended, the value of learning these writing conventions becomes clear.
For students, though, writing conventions aren’t always the most exciting part of language arts. That’s because they require learning certain rules and then editing one’s writing to make sure those rules have been followed.
The Main Writing Conventions
Although they may not be aware that the overall goal is to make what they write easier to grasp, students will get plenty of instruction in each of the convention areas. If your student is struggling in one or more of these areas, be sure to remind them the reason behind their study. Knowing the why behind conventions can often help young writers over the hump of frustration.
The key writing conventions include:
Spelling: Children start learning to spell even before they realize it. They learn letters, see words, and begin to recognize the letters in their name. As they continue through school, they learn the rules of spelling. They also learn that many of those rules get broken on a regular basis, creating new rules to learn. However, accurate spelling can make all the difference in life. Ask any employer how many resumes they’ve trashed simply because they were riddled with spelling errors.
Punctuation: Without punctuation, writing wouldn’t make much sense. Take the following sentence as an example. I didnt want to go but she told me I had to if I didnt I would never find out the truth Not too easy to follow, was it? Punctuation helps us to read something the way it is meant to be read. It helps us to know when to pause, when to read with more expression, and when to stop and start a new sentence. When we speak, we have multiple ways of making our meaning clear: rhythm, intonation, pausing appropriately. We don’t have that luxury with the written word, so proper punctuation serves that purpose.
Capitalization: Capitalization tells us when a new sentence begins (along with punctuation), when something is a proper name, or when something is a title. It helps us emphasize, or show the importance of certain words, and it helps us shorten long phrases into acronyms that take up less written space and are often easier to remember. The great news for students is that capitalization rules are hard and fast, so once learned, student’s shouldn’t have future struggles with them.
Grammar: Grammar is the structure of our language and how words are used to properly form a sentence. Again, there are plenty of rules to follow, and sometimes plenty of rules to break. However, using proper grammar allows you to get your point across to your readers in a way that makes it easy for them to understand. Examples of grammar elements that students need to know include:
- sentence and paragraph structure
- phrases and clauses
- parts of speech
- word choice
Learning Writing Conventions
Time4Writing provides practice in these areas. We have courses for elementary, middle, and high school writers that help to not only teach the writing conventions, but put them into practice so that the rules become natural for them. Click the links below to explore each of the eight-week online courses that can train your student to create writing that is clear, understandable, and readable – – now and throughout their entire life.
- Elementary Grammar Skills (Grades 2-5)
- Middle School Writing Mechanics (Grades 6-8)
- Middle School Writing Enhancement (Grades 6-8)
- High School Writing Mechanics (Grades 9-12)
Find even more writing conventions help, including a slideshow and printables, on our Writing Conventions Free Resources Page.