*Homework Guidelines for Mathematics*

Mathematics is a language, and as such it has standards of writing which should be observed. In a writing class, one must respect the rules of grammar and punctuation, one must write in organized paragraphs built with complete sentences, and the final draft must be a neat paper with a title. Similarly, there are certain standards for mathematics assignments.

Write your **name and class number** clearly at the top of at least the first page, along with the assignment number, the section number(s), or the page number(s). If you are not stapling or paper-clipping the pages together, then put your name or initials on all the pages.

Use **standard-weight paper**, not onion skin, construction paper, or otherwise abnormally thin or heavy paper.

Attach your pages with a paper clip or staple.

**Write out the problems** (except in the case of word problems, which are too long).

**Write legibly (suitably large and suitably dark)**; if the grader can't read your answer, it's wrong.

**Keep work within the margins**. If you run out of room at the end of a problem, please continue onto the next page; do not try to squeeze lines together at the bottom of the sheet. Do not lap over the margins on the left or right; do not wrap writing around the notebook holes.

Do not squeeze the problems together, with one problem running into the next. Use sufficient space for each problem, with at least one blank line between one problem and the next.

**Show your work**. This means showing your steps, not just copying the question from the assignment, and then the answer from the back of the book. Show everything in between the question and the answer. Use complete English sentences if the meaning of the mathematical sentences is not otherwise clear. For your work to be complete, you need to **explain your reasoning** and make your computations clear.

For tables and graphs, **use a ruler to draw the straight lines**, and clearly label the axes, the scale, and the points of interest. **Use a consistent scale** on the axes, and do a T-chart, unless instructed otherwise. Also, make your table or graph large enough to be clear. If you can fit more than three or four graphs on one side of a sheet of paper, then you're drawing them too small.

Do not invent your own notation and abbreviations, and then expect the grader to figure out what you meant. For instance, do not use "#" in your sentence if you mean "pounds" or "numbers". Do not use the "equals" sign ("=") to mean "indicates", "is", "leads to", "is related to", or anything else in a sentence; use actual words. **The equals sign should be used only in equations**, and only to mean "is equal to".

**Do not do magic.**** **Plus/minus signs, "= 0", radicals, and denominators should not disappear in the middle of your calculations, only to mysteriously reappear at the end. Each step should be complete.

If the problem is of the "Explain" or "Write in your own words" type, then copying the answer from the back of the book, or the definition from the chapter, is unacceptable. Write the answer in**your** words, not the text's.

Remember to **put your final answer at the end** of your work, and mark it clearly by, for example, underlining it. Label your answer appropriately; if the question asks for measured units, make sure to put appropriate units on the answer.. **If the question is a word problem, the answer should be in words.**

**In general, write your homework as though you're trying to convince someone that you know what you're talking about.**

Use standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"). Clearly indicate the number of the exercise you are doing. If you accidentally do a problem out of order, or separate part of the problem from the rest, then include a note, referring me to the missed problem or work. Do your work in **pencil**, with mistakes cleanly erased, not crossed or scratched out. If you work in ink, use "white-out" to correct mistakes.Write neatly across the page, with each succeeding problem below the preceding one, not off to the right.

Your work is much easier to grade when you have made your work and reasoning clear, and any difficulties you have should be noted next to the problem. More importantly, however, completely worked and corrected homework exercises make excellent study guides for quizzes and tests. If you devolop good habits while working on the homework, you will generally perform better on the tests.

For further information, review these examples of acceptable and unacceptable solutions, and this sheet showing neat and messy papers.

Based on "Homework Guidelines", http://www.purplemath.com/guidline.htm

Copyright © 1990-2011 Elizabeth Stapel, Used By Permission