Teacher Bulletin | Volume 12

Appropriate for grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Return to Volume Contents

6 + 1 Traits of Writing

A number of different writing frameworks exist for instructional and assessment purposes.  Adopting a common framework gives teachers and students the advantage of using a shared language to talk about writing.  This unit will focus on one such framework, 6 + 1 Traits of Writing.  Based on research by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) in Portland, Oregon, six criteria were initially identified to delineate the essential qualities of writing; the seventh was later added.  The main characteristics of writing that this model addresses are: 

  1. Ideas:  Ideas make up the content of the piece of writing—the heart of the message.

  2. Organization:  Organization is the internal structure of the piece, the thread of meaning, the logical pattern of the ideas.

  3. Voice:  Voice is the soul of the piece.  It’s what makes the writer’s style singular, as his or her feelings and convictions come out through the words.

  4. Word Choice:  Word choice is at its best when it includes the use of rich, colorful, precise language that moves and enlightens the reader.

  5. Sentence Fluency:  Sentence fluency is the flow of the language, the sound of word patterns—the way the writing plays to the ear, not just to the eye.

  6. Conventions:  Conventions represent the piece’s level of correctness—the extent to which the writer uses grammar and mechanics with precision.

  7. Presentation:  Presentation zeros in on the form and layout—how pleasing the piece is to the eye (Culham, 2003).