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Writing Process

The Writing Process: A Checklist

Because writing is a complex task, effective writing involves more than just sitting down and writing something. To do your best writing, work on your writing assignments in stages. Use this checklist to understand the process.


Plan the content and organization of the paper.

☑ Review and understand assignment instructions.

☑ Do initial research/thinking choose topic.

☑ Create a tentative thesis.

☑ Do further research/thinking.

Organize ideas.

Make an outline including thesis and topic sentences.


Write the ideas in sentences and paragraphs

☑ Develop body paragraphs each with a main point and evidence.

☑ Write introduction to interest reader and establish focus of paper.

☑ Write conclusion to summarize paper and explore implications.

☑ Create list of references used.


Further develop content and organization by asking yourself these questions as you revise.


☑ Identify the focus of your paper.

☑ Evaluate the thesis statement. Does it clearly state the focus you’ve identified?

☑ Mark parts of the paper that do not directly relate to the focus.


☑ Identify the topic sentence of each paragraph.

☑ Identify the paragraphs that serve as introduction, body and conclusion.

☑ Create an outline of the paper using the topic sentences.

☑ Reconsider and revise the order of ideas based on your review.

  • Does each section of the paper clearly link to the thesis or focus of the paper?
  • Is each section of the paper clearly linked to the section before it?
  • Are the paragraphs in a logical order?


☑ Mark up each body paragraph:

  • Circle each topic sentence and supporting point.
  • Underline the specific evidence for each point.
  • Put a star beside the explanation of the evidence that links it back to the topic sentence.

☑ Review your marked paragraphs to make sure each topic sentence is supported by main supporting points.

☑ Evaluate evidence:  

  • Are there any gaps or errors in logic which cause the support to be less than convincing? 
  • Are sources of information credible and documented? 
  • Is there sufficient specific evidence (e.g. examples, statistics, description, quotations) for each point? 

☑ Make sure the evidence is linked to the supporting points. 


Clean it up for handing in.

Language and Grammar

☑ Read the paper aloud, slowly, to yourself. Listen to the wording.

☑ Underline any part that sounds awkward or causes you to stumble while reading, and then review again to analyze those areas.

☑ List the most common types of errors that you know you have made in your writing previously. These might include these types of errors:

  • language errors that make meaning unclear
  • mistakes in grammar or word choice
  • mistakes in sentence structure or punctuation
  • sentences that could be worded more effectively

☑ Read through the paper looking for each error type on your list.

☑ Review and eliminate any biased language, shorthand, internet abbreviations and casual language.


☑ Revisit the assignment instructions concerning the required format. Check your page setup.

☑ Go through all citations checking order of information, capitalization, spacing and punctuation with the style guide.

☑ Check that the format fits with the assignment instructions and the required style.

☑ Read paper aloud one more time.

☑ Congratulate yourself! You've worked hard to make this an example of your best writing ability.


PDF iconThe Writing Process – A Checklist

What is Prewriting?

Prewriting refers to the ways you begin your writing project. It includes coming up with ideas, organizing those ideas, and planning your paper. Prewriting can help you think, save you time and produce better writing.

How do I do it?

You need to find the ways that work for you. You probably already use some prewriting techniques. For example, you might begin by thinking about your topic.

  • Talk about your topic. Expressing your ideas can help you develop your thoughts even if your listener doesn’t know anything about the subject. Getting your listener to ask you questions is especially helpful.
  • Write down your ideas. Start to make point form notes or lists of your ideas. Carry a piece of paper around with you for several days and write down ideas as they occur to you.
  • Research and read. Spend time reading and taking notes on the articles and books that you are using. Put brackets around your opinions and thoughts or use some other system to show which are your thoughts and which are the authors’ ideas.
  • Use a formal strategy for exploring ideas. There are a number of specific strategies for exploring ideas, and you may want to use several of them. Don’t worry about whether or not you want them all to end up in your paper. You’ll figure that out later.

What are some formal prewriting strategies or techniques?


What you will have at the end of several freewriting sessions may not be something that can be turned into a paragraph or an outline for your essay, but you are likely to have ideas to develop in your paper.

  • Write your topic at the top of a page.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write. *
  • Read over what you have written and underline any parts with interesting or useful ideas.
  • Write these ideas in point form at the top of a new sheet of paper, and then freewrite again.

*Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. If you can’t think of anything, write your last thought over and over until you have something else to write.

Clustering, or mind-mapping

This strategy helps you explore your ideas and expand on them.

  • Write your topic in one or a few words in the center of the page.
  • Write all the words that you think of when you think about that topic.
  • Write quickly, circling each word, grouping words around your central word, or connecting them to whatever word you associated them with.
  • When some new idea occurs to you, radiate it from the center word or from any word or phrase that the new idea flowed from.

Often, writers find that clustering helps them narrow their topic. Consider using the narrowed topic to create a new cluster.


Listing as a strategy for exploring ideas simply means writing down everything you can think of about your topic.

  • Don’t write in sentences; that takes too long.
  • Don’t worry about the order of the ideas, or whether some ideas are general and others are details. You can sort that out later. Include questions you have about the topic.
  • Don’t worry about whether what you’ve written is sensible or worded correctly – that part comes later. If you get stuck, go back to one of your ideas and elaborate on it.

image listing why when where who what and how questions


Categorizing is particularly useful for assignments in which some type of comparison is required and can also help you identify the views expressed by the authors of the articles and books you are reading, which may lead you to find the thesis for your own paper.  Below is part of one example which shows how categorizing can be used to compare ideas and keep track of your own responses.

Author A Author B My View & Questions
Who Needs Aid? Bottom billion of world’s pop. Needy countries should decide Who/where are bottom billion?

- aid doesn’t go to most needy

- World Bank not consulting countries

- WB demands on poor economies causing problems

- World Bank serves interests of donor countries trade for aid demands

- restructuring demands ruin economies of receiving countries

-  Would countries give aid if not attached to trade agreements?

- What are the aid-trade agreements?

Solutions - W. Bank should consult with the - poor countries should create a - Do poor countries trust

What comes next?

The purpose of all this is to help you think and get your ideas down on paper.  Try to schedule your time so you can leave your ideas and come back to them later, the next day, if possible.

Now that you have explored your topic, you will be clearer on the direction of your paper. Once you have finished, read your ideas over and look for the concepts you can explain or defend -- the ideas that could be the focus of your paper.  Try to write in one sentence the central idea you want to present to your reader.  It helps if you come up with several of these sentences, expressed slightly differently each time, so you can select the one you feel is the clearest.  This is your working thesis statement.

Printable pdf: PDF iconWhat is Prewriting?

Questions to focus your writing topic

Have you ever been stuck for what to write in a paper? Maybe you’re not sure where to start the paper, or maybe one section of the paper seems to lack enough content or support. The following questions will help you consider other angles to take, or some fresh ways to develop ideas you already have.

Can you describe something related to a possible topic or idea?

  • What is it? Who is/was involved? Where? When? How? How long?
  • Can you use your senses to describe it? What does it look like, sound like, feel like, smell like, taste like?
  • What details can you add? (specific names, places, dates, numbers)

How can you divide it into pieces?

  • What are several components or parts that make up your topic?
  • Can you divide your topic into a variety of types, kinds, or categories?
  • What are some of the different sides, ways of seeing, perspectives or points of view?
  • What are the relationships between your different categories or pieces?
  • How do they interact with each other?
  • How do they function together?

How is something the same or different from something else?

  • Can you think of another thing, event, person, or concept that is either similar to or different from your topic?
  • What is similar? How is it similar? In what ways is it similar? How is it different? In what ways is it different?

How did something change over time?

  • What are the steps in the process?
  • What is the story from beginning to end?
  • How did it develop, grow, improve, deteriorate, or stay the same over time?

Are there other opinions or positions about this topic?

  • Who would disagree with you about your topic or argument?
  • What different opinions or positions do people have on this topic?
  • Why would these people disagree?
  • What reasons would they give to argue their position?
  • What arguments would you make back?

What were the causes and effects?

  • How did something happen or why did it happen? What were causes or reasons?
  • Where did something come from or how did it start?
  • What motivated the outcome? What were people’s motivations to act in a certain way?
  • What happened as a result?
  • What were important consequences or results?
  • Who or what is affected in negative or positive ways?
  • What are the implications or possible good or bad outcomes?
  • What was the chain reaction of causes and effects?
  • Did some results or effects in turn cause other things to happen?
  • Were some causes/reasons the result of something else?

What patterns can you see?

  • What repeats several times?
  • What theme keeps coming up over and over?

Printable pdf: PDF iconQuestions to focus your writing topic

Organizing Your Ideas

Spending time during your prewriting stage to organize ideas can help you improve the flow of your writing and keep your writing focused on your thesis statement.

The prewriting stage involves not only coming up with ideas through research and thinking but also making an organizational plan for your paper. Often students move directly from getting ideas to constructing an outline, or even directly from getting ideas to writing their first draft, but the steps between getting ideas and drafting are essential.

Getting Started

There are two steps that come before organizing your ideas: gathering ideas and drafting a thesis statement.

Gathering ideas

Depending on the type of writing you are doing, your ideas may come from your own reflections on the topic, or it may include ideas from your research, classes and assigned readings. If you are working with notes, it’s helpful to begin by reviewing them to identify ideas you want to include.

Drafting a thesis statement

Let’s assume you have already gathered together some ideas that could go in your paper. If you are writing an argumentative essay, at this point, you may already have a thesis. If not, take time now to look at your ideas, give it thought, and write a tentative thesis.

Consult the specific Learning Centre handouts and/or your assignment instructions from your instructor for more information.

Steps to Organizing Your Ideas

Once you have a sense of your draft or working thesis, you are ready for the organizing stage. The following steps can help you organize and focus your writing, move you to your outline, and from there to your first draft.

Step 1: Select relevant ideas

With your tentative thesis in mind, go through your ideas and cross out the information that no longer seems relevant. (Tip: Don’t erase it completely. Keep it in case it turns out to be useful later on.)

Step 2: Group your ideas

Put the ideas that seem most closely related together. At this stage, you’re not worrying about the order of the ideas, just the group they belong with. How you go about grouping your ideas depends on the type of prewriting strategy you have used:

Working from a list of ideas: On the computer, you can simply move the ideas in your list around. If you’re using pen and paper, assign letters or some other symbol to the ideas. For example, items in one group might be all assigned “A,” items in another group might be labeled “B,” and so on. Another way to group the ideas could be to draw arrows to show the connected ideas.

Working from a Cluster Map: If you’ve used this strategy, you’ve already grouped your ideas. However, it’s important to look again and consider whether you still agree with the initial connections you made amongst ideas. Considering your working thesis and the ideas you took out because they no longer seemed relevant, do you need to rearrange your ideas and create different groupings?

Working from Freewriting: Underline the points in your freewriting that you want to include in your essay; then, work with these ideas as if they were a list as above. This is a bit messy, so, if you are working with pen and paper, you may want to write out the ideas as a grouped list.

Working from Categorizing: Once you have completed the selection step, you may find that you want to move some items from one category to another. For instance, if you have deleted some of the points in one category, the remaining points might then fit better in another category. Examine your categories with your working thesis in mind and ask yourself how you need to group them to support your argument.

Step 3: Expand ideas

At this step you look critically at your groups of ideas and identify any that lack sufficient support. You may be able to solve this problem simply by thinking about them and doing some more prewriting. However, you’ll probably want to reread your notes, and it’s quite possible that you will need to do some more research to fill the gaps.

Step 4: Order your ideas

This is the point at which you decide the order of ideas within each group, and the order you will use for the groups. First, you should examine the ideas to see if there is one or more general idea which the other ideas in the group support. If you have supporting details but nothing that states the major point they support, you may have to write the general idea at this point. Usually, each group becomes a paragraph, with your general idea as your topic sentence.  

Step 5: Check your thesis

Is it still a fit with what you intend to say, or have your ideas changed? You may find that you need to alter and clarify your thesis. This is often the case and taking the time to align your thesis with the direction in which your ideas have evolved will help focus your writing. It is much easier to write a paper when the relationship between your thesis statement and your supporting arguments is clear.

Step 6: Think about your conclusion

Your conclusion should be both a restatement of your thesis and a concise summary of your essay. Write your conclusion in point form so it can become part of your outline.

The Result

You now have an outline for your paper. It might be a bit messy, so you may want to re-copy it to make it easy to follow for the next stage, your first draft. Because you have thought about your ideas and worked through how they connect to each other and support your thesis, you are likely to find writing your first draft easier than you anticipated.

Printable pdf: PDF iconOrganizing Your Ideas

Two Types of Thesis Statements

The thesis statement tells your reader about the paper’s focus. This resource will describe characteristics of two general types of thesis statements:

The “Point-of-View” or Argumentative thesis: presents an argument or case to be made

The “Scope” or Explanatory thesis: outlines the scope of the paper

However, what different instructors require in a thesis statement can vary significantly, so first and foremost, be sure you find out from your instructor what kind of thesis statement is required. Your instructor may have additional criteria to consider.

The “Point-of-View” Thesis

The point-of-view kind of thesis is often required in papers for English, History, Political Science and Philosophy.

This type of thesis makes one main point which can also be described as the key insight you are explaining, the central argument you are putting forward, the case you are arguing, or the claim you are making. The purpose of your entire paper is to provide evidence and explanation that back up the thesis.

Characteristics of a “point-of-view” thesis


The first and often most important part of developing a suitable thesis statement is to make sure your topic and thesis stem directly from the assignment instructions for the paper. Read your assignment instructions carefully, and make sure that your thesis is closely tied to what the teacher is asking you to do. Discussing assignment instructions with other students, with the instructor, and with a tutor can help you make sure your thesis is suitable.  A second way to improve suitability of a thesis is to make sure it connects to key concepts you are learning in the course.

Specific, focused and/or limited

The thesis needs to focus your paper on a specific piece, aspect, or side of a general topic. Ways to focus or limit a thesis include limiting the topic to one specific group of people (adolescents), to one time period (Trudeau’s second term in office), to one geographical location (the library at Hastings and Main), to one specific character (Hamlet), to only the problem or to only the solution. Any number of these limiting factors can be combined to make the thesis specific.


You need to be able to provide a well-developed set of supporting paragraphs for your thesis. This means that you need to have enough material to fully support the thesis you have chosen. If you are not able to find enough research, or you don’t have enough examples, reasons, expert opinions/quotations, facts, and explanations to fill up the size of the paper that you need to write, then you might have chosen the wrong topic. At the same time, if you have too much material for the size of the paper you were assigned, you need to further limit your thesis (see characteristic #2 above) so that the paper doesn’t turn into a book.


This means that you have a point to make that is worth making. Your main point or central idea should not be so obvious that most readers will already know what you are going to discuss or explain in the paper. Instructors do not want to read through points that are already common knowledge. They want to see that you have gained a more complex understanding of the topic than what people not in the course could come up with on a coffee break.


Your thesis should be important to the audience that would normally read these kinds of papers (your instructor and maybe your classmates). In other words, it needs to be about what the audience will take seriously or care about. If your audience can say “So what?” or “Why does that matter to us?” you might not have a significant case to make, or you may need to clarify the significance of your thesis to your audience. Try to anticipate their “so what?” question.

The “Scope Thesis”

For some assignments, the writer is not expected to take a point of view. Instead, they are expected to answer a series of questions or give information about a topic. These types of assignments are most common in Nursing, CFCS and Business courses.

For these types of assignments, the thesis states the subject of the paper or what the paper is about. Sometimes it may even include a short list of sub-topics included in the paper. For example, “This paper explores the challenges faced by people with bipolar disorder and suggests strategies communities can take to assist them.”

What characteristics should a “scope thesis” have?

Be short and clear

Be suitable to the assignment instructions

Identify a scope that is feasible considering the length of paper assigned

What should you avoid when writing a thesis statement?

✗ A question

✗ Statements of fact that need no further support or proof

✗ A detailed list of everything in your paper

Where do you put the thesis statement?

In a short paper, the thesis is often placed as the final sentence of the first paragraph, often called the introduction. However, an instructor may ask you to place your thesis in the first sentence of the introduction.

printable pdf: PDF iconTwo Types of Thesis Statements

Creating an Outline 

This resource uses a very simple content and essay structure to show you a process you can use to create an essay outline starting with a topic for your essay and then building in the supporting ideas below it.

The Basics

Developing an outline before you write your paper helps you make sure that your essay is organized and that the content is relevant. If you think through an outline before you start, you generally have a stronger paper which needs less revision and takes less time to write.

Keep it simple

It is much easier to check that your essay is organized properly if all points are short. You can always combine points and change your wording later as you write your essay. Write out full sentences only for the thesis and topic sentences. For the rest, just make notes. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling at the outlining stage.

Stay on track

Outlines allow you to easily see if all your points are organized and relevant. To do this, check that each point in your outline clearly supports your thesis statement.

Back it up

When you make your outline, you need to consider whether you have included enough specific evidence to support your ideas. This evidence can include specific facts, quotes from experts, statistics and logical reasoning. Always ask yourself why, how, what, when, where, and who. The more specific your evidence is, the better your essay will be.

The Thesis Statement

The very first step in making your outline is to create a thesis statement.

What is your general subject?

What question would you like to answer? What animal makes a good pet?

Your answer, or your draft thesis: Cats are excellent pets.

Once you have your draft thesis statement, think of a number of reasons why (how, what, etc.) this is true. (Back it up!)

Why are cats excellent pets?

  • They are independent
  • They are loving
  • They can reduce stress

Now let’s put it all together; your complete thesis statement is:

Cats make excellent pets because they are independent, loving, and relaxing.

The Structure of the Outline

The outline is a simple structure of how you will organize your essay. This example uses and introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

The introduction

In this simple essay structure, your thesis statement will become the last sentence of your introduction paragraph. Check with your assignment instructions for details about how to format your introduction and conclusion.

The body paragraphs

Use each of your reasons as the topic sentence for a separate body paragraph. Ask yourself how each point relates to your thesis.

  1. Topic sentence: Cats are independent pets.(Why does being independent make an excellent pet?)
    1. Can go away for the weekend and the cat is fine by itself (Back it up with specific details!)
      1. Just have to leave food and water for it (Why/how else does being independent make cat excellent pets?)
    2. Don’t have to take it for a walk
      1. Get their exercise by hunting birds
    3. Doesn’t need a bath (Back it up. Ask yourself who, why, when, where, what, or how.)
      1. Lick themselves clean
  2. Topic sentence: Cats are loving.(How does being loving make cats excellent pets?)
    1. Keep you company (Back it up.)
      1. A cat may curl up on your stomach while you are watching TV. (Use sources to back up your own thoughts.)
      2. “The companionship between a cat and its owner is a grand thing.” (Brown, James “I’m not Alone” 1979, p. 23)
    2. Make the owner feel special
      1. Old age homes introduce pets to give the patients a companion who will always love them back
  3. Topic sentence: Cats can reduce stress. (How does this relate to your thesis statement? How/why/when does reducing stress make cats excellent pets?)
    1. The purring is soothing
      1. Like listening to your favorite CD
    2. Owner doesn’t have to worry about the pet
      1. Cat is happy being alone (Use sources to back up your own thoughts.)
        1. “While monitoring the stress levels in 50 cats, Dr. Wong found no significant difference when the cats were left by themselves for the weekend” (Hanna, 2002, p. 47)
        2. Only have to make sure they have food and water and a clean litter box
    3. “Cats have been found to reduce stress in both children and adults” (National Pet Magazine, 1999, p.18)


Some essays will need a concluding paragraph. The conclusion usually brings the reader back to the thesis statement in some way.

Printable pdf: PDF iconCreating an Outline

Outlining a Multi-Point Paragraph

There are many ways to organize academic paragraphs. This resource is about one of the most basic, the multi-point paragraph. In a multi-point paragraph, the topic sentence (main idea) is supported by a number of main points. Specific evidence and explanation are provided for each main point.

Parts of a Multi-Point Paragraph

Topic Sentence

The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence has two parts: the topic (what the paragraph is about) and the controlling idea (what you have to say about the topic). The topic sentence is usually the first or second sentence in a paragraph.

The Main Points

The main points explain why you believe the topic sentence is true. Most often there are 2 to 4 parallel points such as a number of reasons, a number of similarities, a number of categories or a number of steps in a process. Each new point is often introduced with a transition like “first,” “second” or “third.”

Evidence and Explanation

The support for each main point is the evidence and explanation. The evidence might include facts, statistics, quotations, anecdotes, logical argument, examples, elaboration, description or definition. For a research paper, the evidence generally comes from research sources. The second part of giving support – explanation – is crucial because the reader needs to be told how the evidence supports the point that the writer is making. The purpose of the evidence and explanation is to prove the truth of the main point.

Concluding Sentence

The concluding sentence restates the topic sentence, using different words. For long paragraphs, it may also restate the main points in the paragraph. The concluding sentence is not always included, especially when the paragraph is part of a longer piece of writing.

Example of a Multi-Point Paragraph

The Learning Centre is a busy place. One reason is that many students come to the Learning Centre to get tutoring help. They come for help with writing, study skills, and course concepts. Often there are five to ten tutoring pairs working together in the Learning Centre at any one time. Another reason the Learning Centre is so busy is that many students like to use the available computers. They write papers, do research, check their email, and use Blackboard. So many people want to use the computers that there are often people standing around waiting for a free computer. Finally the reception desk is often busy. People come to the desk to make and change appointments, to ask for resources, and to ask for information about the Learning Centre. people often have to line up to get help at the front desk, especially when classes have just ended. Taken together, then, the tutoring, the computers, and the front desk all contribute to making the Learning Centre a very active place.

This simple example of a multi-point paragraph shows how such a paragraph is often organized. Can you identify components of the paragraph above?

  • Find the topic sentence (or main idea) of the paragraph. Why did you choose this as the main idea?
  • Underline each point that is used to support that main idea.
  • Put a * by the evidence and explanation for each of the points.

You can check the next section to see how your answers compare.

Planning a Multi-Point Paragraph

A good way to plan a multi-point paragraph is to make an outline. This is the outline made before writing the example paragraph. This helps you to focus on which points to use, what evidence you have and how you can explain the connection between the evidence and the points you are making. Once you are satisfied with the organization of the outline, use it as a guide to write your paragraph.

Topic Sentence: The Learning Centre is a busy place.note explaining how paragraph points come together

Main Point 1: Many students come to get tutoring help

Evidence and Explanation:

  • Help with writing, study skills, math, and course concepts
  • Usually 3-5 tutoring pairs working in the LC so busy

Main Point 2: Many students want to use the computers

Evidence and Explanation:

  • Write papers, do research, email, and use WebCT
  • Often all computers full; students wait for a free computer

Main Point 3: Lots of people come to the reception desk

Evidence and Explanation:

  • Make and change appointments; get information
  • Especially between classes; often line-ups

Concluding Sentence: The concluding sentence was not used here because it is a short paragraph.

Creating a Paragraph

Use this guide to try making an outline of a paragraph with three main points on a topic of your own with these components:

Topic Sentence:

Main Point 1:

Evidence and Explanation:

Main Point 2:

Evidence and Explanation:

Main Point 3:

Evidence and Explanation:

Printable pdf: PDF iconOutlining a Multi-Point Paragraph

Revising and Editing Your Writing

Revising improves the quality of your academic writing. When you edit, you find opportunities to develop your work further, and you find problems to correct. This handout suggests an approach you can use to maximize the improvement to your paper.

There are 6 steps to the AFOSEP* revising and editing process. After you review your draft at each step, make any changes to your paper before moving on to the next.

(Revising Steps)

Assignment Instructions

Reread the instructions and your paper. The most common reason students lose marks is not following instructions!

  • Do the content and organization fit the assignment instructions?


After identifying the focus of the paper, read the paper over, considering whether each idea is related to the focus. Consider removing parts that do not directly relate to the focus.

  • Is the main focus of the paper stated clearly?
  • If you are writing an essay, is the focus stated in a thesis statement with the qualities of a good thesis?
  • Is there any information in the paper which is not clearly related to the focus? (unity)


A good strategy for doing this is to make a simple outline from the paper. Identify the thesis and the topic sentences. Look for the links between ideas. Add any missing links. Reconsider the order of ideas.

  • Does the paper have an introduction, body, and conclusion (as required in the instructions)?
  • Does each paragraph have a topic sentence?
  • Does each section of the paper clearly link to the thesis or focus of the paper?
  • Is each section of the paper clearly linked to the section before it?
  • Are the paragraphs in a logical order?


Mark up each body paragraph by circling each topic sentence and supporting point. Then, underline the specific evidence for each point. Put a star beside the explanation of the evidence that links it back to the topic sentence. Then consider the key questions for Support.

  • Is each topic sentence supported by main supporting points and evidence?
  • Is there sufficient specific evidence (e.g. examples, statistics, description, quotations) for each point?
  • Does the paper explain the evidence and link it back to the point being supported? A frequent teacher comment in marked papers is “Explain!” or “Develop!”
  • Are there any gaps or errors in logic which cause the support to be less than convincing?
  • Are sources of information credible and documented?

(Editing Steps)

Editing the Language

Read the paper aloud, slowly, to yourself. Listen to the wording. Analyze any part that sounds awkward or causes you to stumble while reading.

Consider mistakes you commonly make. List your most common types of errors. Read through the paper looking for each error type.

  • Are there language errors that make meaning unclear?
  • Are there language errors that make it difficult for the reader to understand?
  • Are there mistakes in grammar or word choice?
  • Are there mistakes in sentence structure or punctuation?
  • Are there sentences that could be worded more effectively?


Go through all citations checking order of information, capitalization, spacing and punctuation with the style guide.

Revisit the assignment instructions concerning the required format. Check your page setup.

  • Are there detail errors in citations/bibliography?
  • Are there formatting errors?

* Adapted with permission from a rubric developed at the Washington State University Writing Center.

Printable pdf: PDF iconRevising and Editing Your Writing