The Color Red

A red ink blot here. A red circle there. The markings of a professor’s thoughts are boldly seen. The arms of the student and tutor/fellow are completely extended out staring at a multi-marked paper. All there is to see is the essay’s bloody wounds visible throughout the whole paper. The color red brings the attention to the eye, but in the attention of error and disapproval. The usage of red ink to correct a student’s paper is frowned upon. Why? Is it that it is too harsh? Are we accustomed to learn that red markings mean incorrectness or negativity?

The attempt and latest trend to use softer colors that are more friendly and refreshing to the eye, such as teal, purple, and green, are being used more in classrooms. However, we are in the technological era, and it helps that we have access to computers and laptops in most of our classrooms that eliminate the option of the actual professors’ handwritten markings to butcher the thoughts and labor put into a paper.

With advanced programs such as Microsoft Word, we can now leave comments on the side of a paper. The side comments option allows the reviewer to provide explanations for the errors and feedback found in the essay, unlike a hard copy where there is a shortage of space to provide feedback.

There is the downside of receiving another person’s input and disagreeing with their opinion, but most of the time it is what makes us realize what more we can add, change, or remove. Without realizing how feedback from another set of eyes can be helpful, room for improvement becomes limited. It also allows writers to see what they have been working on, whether it is a student or tutor themselves.

As a writing fellow, it is crucial that we avoid pulling out any writing utensils having red ink when helping a student writer. Having the sight of red ink can bring back a student writer’s anxiety towards the writing process, cause them to procrastinate, become overwhelmed, and fall behind.

The red ink problem has been around for a long time. The National Council of Teachers of English published an article in March 1913 that discusses the negative aspect of red ink and does not want to see an ink drop of red on any papers.

Do other colors give a bit of comfort and relaxation? Or is it still an issue in today’s academic system?



  1. Hi Evelyn, I do agree that red ink provokes a feeling of defeat within not only an academic setting but also businesses. The color red is extremely dominant, and signifies failure. I personally like it when my professors use lighter colors like blue, black or green on my assignments. However, I am not a fan of the Microsoft Word corrections. I feel that it causes more work for the student than if the teacher had given suggestions for improvements on a physical copy of the assignment. Thank you.

  2. It is that standoff-ish intenseness of red that makes it such a great noticeable marking color. But you’re totally right, red ink markings awakens aggression, stress, and negative feelings. I do believe that it causes teachers to grade a bit harsh than usual.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll!

Are we aiding and abetting fraud?

On Writing as a STEM major