Ling 575

Guide to Writing Analyses

This page presents some general guidelines for the written assignments. A written analysis is graded on the basis of its content, mechanics and formatting. The content is the most significant factor in assessing an analysis and will count for 80 to 90% of the grade. However, mechanics and formatting are also important, and can make the difference between an A and a B. I address each of these components in turn.


The analysis should address the problem(s) fully and concisely. The analysis should be succinct (i.e., to the point) and logically constructed (i.e., each part should be clearly related to the preceding and following parts. You should make sure that your analysis maintains its focus and does not discuss irrelevant details. You should also be sure to supply enough information to enable your reader to understand your argument without the need to read your mind. You should try to avoid vague or nonspecific language and analyses. Compare the following examples:

Example of a clear presentation:

The child acquired labials stops (/b/, and /p/) before the alveolar fricative (/s/) (see Appendix 1).

Example of an unclear explanation:

The child acquired several stops and a fricative (see Appendix 1).

Remember that you are demonstrating your ability to understand the procedures/theories and apply them to a specific data set.


The appendix or appendices should also be clear, self-contained, and well-organized. One of the most important lessons in an introductory acquisition class is learning how to organize data to make the analyses easier. It is to your advantage to create appendices that are clear and well-organized to save you time and make your report more effective.

Mechanical Issues

Mechanical issues include such matters as incomplete sentences, the lack of subject verb agreement, an overuse of the passive voice, ambiguous pronouns, spelling and punctuation. Such problems distract the reader’s attention. If the analysis is hard to read due to mechanical errors the overall quality of the work becomes questionable. This is the time to develop good writing skills that will serve you well in your professional career. Make sure you use a spelling checker on your final draft.

Formatting Issues

You should try to make your written assignments as uniform as possible. Where you include references to the literature, you should format your references in the same style. Now is a good time to learn the LSA style for citing references.