CUPS – What Does it Mean and How do I Use it?

Creative writing tips

When you have finished writing a piece of creative writing, the first thing you should do is read it all back to yourself. It is very helpful to do this aloud (if you can), or you can also read it in your head.

The reason why this is important is for you to pick up on any mistakes you have made. There are many mistakes writers can make in a piece of writing, including spelling, grammatical, or incorrect punctuation.

One thing to remember when you are reading back through your writing is the ‘CUPS’ acronym. This can help you find common errors throughout your writing and correct them before you have to hand your work in.

What does CUPS stand for?

CUPS stands for:

  • Capitalisation
  • Understanding
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling


Throughout your writing, you should have capital letters in several areas. You should have them at the beginning of every sentence and at the beginning of every proper noun. Also, every time you write ‘I’, it should be capitalised. You may have to look out for this a lot if you have written a piece of writing in the first person, as you probably would have used ‘I’ a lot.

Go through every sentence and make sure all of your capital letters have been used where they should be – and make sure there aren’t anywhere they shouldn’t be.


This is important as you want everything you have written to make sense. Imagine yourself as the reader instead of the writer for a second while you go back over your piece of writing – can you understand everything? Does everything make sense?

This can cover everything from storylines to missed or repeated words. If you have missed any details from your storyline, that means that your reader will be confused, make sure you add them in. If you have missed or repeated words in sentences so that they don’t make sense, adjust them accordingly.


Punctuation is so important in your piece of creative writing. Ensure that you have used the appropriate punctuation at the end of every sentence (full stops, question marks, exclamation marks) and that you have used commas correctly.

This is where reading aloud can help – you can detect sentences that run on for too long with insufficient punctuation if you are out of breath by the end of them! Also, ensure that your dialogue has been punctuated correctly. Remember to start a new line for every new speaker and use quotation marks correctly.


By reviewing your writing, you should be able to pick out any spelling errors you might have made. This also includes any use of homophones such as ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ or ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.

Using the CUPS acronym, you should be able to remember the key areas that need checking when editing your work. So bear that in mind the next time you have finished a piece of creative writing!

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