The Writing Center

Editing Checklist

  • Does this paper fulfill all requirements of the assignment?

  • Does this paper have a thesis? Is the thesis specific?

  • Does this paragraph have topic sentences at the beginning of each body paragraph? Do the topic sentences both connect to the thesis and introduce what I will be talking about in the paragraph itself?

  • Are there paragraphs that seem to be too long or too short? Are the paragraphs relatively similar lengths?

  • Have I examined my paper for excess repetition (of words, phrases, sentence constructions)?

  • Are there transitions between paragraphs?

  • Are there transitions between sentences?

  • Does the conclusion do more than simply repeat the introduction, or summarize my argument? Have I extrapolated anything meaningful? Have I explained to my audience why this paper is important to them?

  • If quotations have been used, have they been smoothly integrated into the text with my own sentence both before and after the quote, including signal phrases?

  • Have I properly formatted quotes over three lines (using indentation)?

  • Have I used an appropriate number and variety of sources (per the assignment requirements)?

  • Have I documented paraphrases and quotations appropriately, using an approved citation guide (MLA, APA, etc.)?

  • Does the paper have an original, meaningful title?

  • Have I included page numbers?

  • Have I maintained consistent use of verb tense?

  • Have I used strong verbs?

  • Have I used active and passive voice appropriately, given the field of writing?

  • Have I read the entire paper aloud, one word at a time, to check for simple errors?

  • Have I eliminated unnecessary words?

  • Have I carefully proofread the paper for spelling and punctuation?

Check for varied sentence structure and length: With a pen in your hand, read your paper out loud. At the end of each sentence, make a slash mark (/). Look at your sentences: are they very long? Very short? Mix it up!

Check for complete sentences: Starting from the last sentence in your paper, read it backwards, one sentence at a time. This helps you focus on a single sentence. Double-underline the subject and underline the verb for each independent clause. Make sure each subject has a verb. A sentence that starts with for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, although, as, because, or which runs a high risk of being a sentence fragment, so read it out loud to check if any additional words are needed or if it should be connected to the previous sentence. Be on the lookout for misplaced or absent commas that result in run-on sentences or comma splices.

Check pronouns’ referents: Draw a small square around each pronoun. Draw an arrow to the pronoun’s antecedent/referent. Check that your writing is clear and specific on who or what the pronoun is referring to (Does the reader know who they are? Can the reader easily know what you mean by it?). Check for singular/plural consistency.

Check transitional words and phrases: Draw a wavy line under each transitional word or phrase (moreover, in addition, on the other hand, etc.). You should have some transitions but not too many. Is each transitional word being used appropriately?

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