Writing and Revising Checklist


  • Does the first paragraph clearly and efficiently introduce the topic and present the thesis?
  • Does the thesis statement set forth an argument or a statement of fact? Could someone potentially disagree with your thesis? If not, you have probably set forth a statement of fact.
  • Is your argument specific, or general?
  • Does your thesis matter to you? Would it matter to other members of the class?
  • Does the thesis give the reader a sense of what the structure of the paper will be?


  • Look at each paragraph. What is its main idea or point? Is that point clearly stated at the beginning? Does the topic sentence serve as a "mini-thesis"?
  • Is the topic sentence a statement of fact? If so, revise!
  • Does the topic sentence support and work with the thesis statement of the paper?
  • Does each paragraph flow logically from the preceding paragraph and into the succeeding paragraph? Does the topic sentence provide a transition that clearly and explicitly connects the point of the preceding paragraph to the point of the present paragraph?
  • Are the quotations introduced clearly and integrated smoothly into the paper? Are there any free-standing quotations?
  • Do you perform close reading of every passage you quote, and do your close readings clearly and explicitly support your larger argument, both within the paragraph and in the paper as a whole?
  • How does the draft hold together? Are there places where the argument feels rushed or unclear? Does the essay lose its focus or shift its focus at any point?
  • Does the essay contain any unnecessary summary?
  • Are there instances of vague language? (Look out for buzzwords: "certain," "specific," "different," "various," "many," "true," etc.) Whenever possible, be specific.


  • Does it advance the paper by considering its stakes -- by suggesting how your argument relates to larger issues of interest to you and your readers?
  • Or is it merely repetitive?


  • Does the essay successfully address the specific subject it sets out to analyze?
  • Does the essay interpret the text, or merely paraphrase and/or summarize? Have you merely translated what the text says, or have you analyzed how the text means what you think it means?
  • Does the essay fully develop the thesis it sets forth in the beginning?
  • Are there alternative ways the paper could be structured in order more effectively to argue the thesis?
  • Does the thesis need to be changed to reflect the actual argument of the paper?
  • Is there a Works Cited list in proper MLA format?
  • Are there any long and convoluted sentences that should be divided in two (or even three)?
  • Did you run a spellcheck and proofread carefully?