🧭 The Guide
SUNY Geneseo’s Writing Guide


The Guide is a writer’s resource aimed primarily at the SUNY Geneseo community. It is not a grammar or usage handbook, though its pages do treat some of the more common mechanical errors, wrestle with a few vexatious usage questions, and attempt to explode a few myths. The main purpose of The Guide is to set out, in very broad terms, basic principles of good composition for a particular genre of writing: the college essay.

Judgments about writing are necessarily bound up with aesthetic preferences—cultural, historical, and personal. In addition, judgments about academic writing inevitably reflect differences between disciplines. Even in a genre as narrow as the college essay, there is simply no single answer to the question, What is good writing? The Guide attempts to establish common ground for faculty and students at Geneseo, but it also represents individual and disciplinary diversity through its faculty and department style sheets, which as of 2008 reside on its new companion wiki. Geneseo faculty, staff, and administrators can obtain editing privileges on the wiki by emailing schacht at geneseo dot edu and requesting membership in the group writing-users.

Students should remember that an instructor’s style sheet or other requirements always take precedence over any advice offered in the main pages of The Guide.

The Guide first went online in 2000. An extensive 2003 revision added expanded discussions of race and language, gender and language, and the politics of linguistic convention within an entirely new layout. However, a good deal of inelegant and outdated code lingered. The present, 2008, version complies with W3C standards and aims for maximum simplicity, flexibility, and navigability. The new wiki should also make The Guide more useful to faculty by enabling them to edit their own pages and contribute to pages on particular issues of grammar, usage, and punctuation.

The Guide’s Creative Commons license permits you to copy, redistribute, transform, adapt, remix, and build on its content without restriction as long as you provide appropriate attribution to the authors and a link to the license.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Paul Schacht
schacht at geneseo dot edu

Celia Easton
easton at geneseo dot edu