First, let me say that I’ve never liked rubrics. Imagine art critics having to rate the world’s art by following a rubric written by some person or committee who meant well but was trying to objectify the judgment process into a list made for fools (which is to say, “fool-proof”). A good rubric to judge work that is not easily quantifiable will, therefore, be necessarily vague. So, having now gotten that off my chest, the following can serve as a set of guidelines for analyzing the quality of written assignments. Unfortunately, the points described in this rubric make more consistent sense to an experienced professor rather than to a student writer. Some more practical help might come from the checklist I often distribute in class.


  • Does the paper show that the author understands the assignment?
  • Does the author seem to understand which skills and techniques are necessary to complete the assignment successfully?
  • Does the paper show that the author understands the general significance of the course and the essay as part of the course?
  • Does the paper show that the author understands the reading assignments relevant to this assignment?


  • Does the paper give the impression that the author knows the subject matter and has made the information accessible to the reader?
  • Has the author focused the subject on a single, appropriate thesis?
  • Has the author reflected on how the assignment relates to “reality”?
  • Has the audience been targeted properly?
  • Is the purpose of the content clear?


  • Are the author’s intentions clearly expressed?
  • Are the methods or strategies used for developing the content clear?
  • Is the central idea sufficiently developed?
  • Is the organization of the paper logical and does it follow a clear sequence?
  • Are major and minor supports clearly defined to the reader?
  • Are introductions, transitions, and conclusions present, and are they clear and logical, and do they contain relevant information?


  • Is the wording appropriate to the audience and to the writer’s level of technical expertise?
  • Is the level of detail presented appropriate and consistent?
  • Is the overall tone or voice consistent and appropriate to the audience and subject matter?
  • Are the sentences structured effectively and correctly?
  • Are document design and presentation appropriate to the audience and subject matter?


  • Has the author used correct grammar and effective sentence structures?
  • Is punctuation correct?
  • Have factual claims been substantiated by properly citing references, and is there no plagiarism?
  • Is there a bibliography for all works cited within the paper?
  • Does the document fit the expected format, and is the appearance professional?