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Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions




What is a basic checklist of revising and editing needs?










& Sentences




Editing the
Small  Stuff



Also See "Spell and Grammar Check" in the "What Is 'Revising'?" chapter.



This chapter is both a revising checklist and a a summary of the other chapters in this section.  The most effective use of this chapter is as a checklist for you to follow as you revise your rough draft paper before turning it in.  Good revision takes time, so you can best use this chapter if you allow at least a week between finishing your rough draft of your paper and turning in the final draft.  Revision also works best if you work at it for just a few hours at a time when you are alert, rather than in one big chunk of time overnight or all day.  Before you start revising, skim through this checklist and make a rough estimate of how much time you will need to spend on each major step in the list.

      A. Contents of Your Paper

1. Your Paper's Introduction: Does your introduction state your subject; your main argument or purpose; and your own idea, method, or theory for analyzing it? If your subject is a reading, have you included sources (author, article title, and source of article)?  If you must write a well developed introduction, does it have some of your best detail in it--a quotation, fact, or story, possibly your best in the whole paper?

2. A Summary after the Introduction?: If a summary section is required immediately after the introduction, do you have the correct length?  If required, is it part of the same paragraph as (or a separate paragraph in) your introduction?  Does your summary briefly, fairly, and accurately summarize all of the important points of the subject as if the summary were a smaller mirror image of the subject?  If your summary is supposed to be of a main reading to which you are responding, have you described the author's points in a completely fair, balanced, objective manner?  If your summary is supposed to be of your own paper, have you summarized your main point and all the main parts of your paper simply and efficiently?

3. Body Sections: Do you have the required number of body sections?  If your instructor doesn't specify the number, do you have at least three sections?  If he or she wants you to make a series of points, do you have at least five to seven sections?  Does each section have a thorough development of its ideas and supports? Are your ideas clear to the kinds of readers you would expect to have, beyond your instructor?  If you are responding to a reading, do you frequently state the author's name and offer his or her idea, so the reader knows what the author is saying, before you then present your own idea?

4. Supports/Proofs: Do you have adequate supports for—proof of—your main ideas? Do ideas and supporting details connect clearly and logically?  If you are writing arguments, do you have a clear argumentative structure (the most simple of which is to offer an idea or opinion and then several reasons why it is true)?  If you are responding to a reading, do you frequently offer direct quotations from the author?  Do you then offer a strong number of supporting details (see "5" below)?

5. Supporting Details: Do your body sections have sufficient details of the kinds your instructor expects?  If your introduction and conclusion are supposed to be well developed, do they also have good details--usually your most interesting or applicable in the whole paper?  If your details should be descriptive, are you sufficiently specific?  Do you use such detail-enhancing devices as the five W's of journalism, the five senses, and dialogue or interviews? If your details should be researched sources, do you use enough quotations and/or paraphrases to support your ideas well? Do you "sandwich" your quotations: do you adequately introduce and conclude them by explaining what they mean in relation to your paper and how they connect to your other ideas in that paragraph or section?

6. Conclusion: Does your conclusion briefly refer again to your subject, your main argument or purpose, and your own method of analyzing? Does it offer your own final opinion or evaluation of the subject?  If you must write a well developed conclusion, does it have some of your best detail in it--a quotation, fact, or story, possibly your second best in the whole paper?

7. Style and Tone: Are your choice of words and phrases, their rhythm, and the emotional feeling they establish appropriate for a typical audience for this kind of paper?

8. Reading Out Loud: Have you read your final draft out loud to a listener (or to yourself) to see if your ideas are sensible and clear without the need to read something twice or further explain? When you read out loud, do the tone and style sound appropriate?

9. Asking Someone Else to Read: Have you asked someone else to read your final draft silently? Do your ideas, meanings, and organization work as well for your silent reader as they do for you or as they did when you read the paper out loud? What are this silent reader’s constructive suggestions?


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      B. Organization

1. Title: Do you have an original title that is a word or brief phrase?

2. Introduction: Do you have a short (one-paragraph) introduction? Does it need an underlined subtitle?

3. Summary: If required, do you have a summary contained in one paragraph of more than 100 words? Does it need a subtitle?

4. Body Sections: Do you have the required number of body sections? Does each have more than one paragraph? Do your body sections need subtitles?

5. Topic Sentences: Do you have a topic sentence at the beginning of each body section? Is it a sentence that summarizes or describes the purpose of the entire body section, not just that of the first paragraph?

6. Conclusion: Do you have a short (one-paragraph) conclusion? Does it need a subtitle?


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      C. Paragraphs and Sentences

1. Paragraph Size and Number: Are there sufficient paragraphs (more than one per body section) to make your ideas easy to read? Is each paragraph neither too short (generally, you need at least two sentences) nor too long (you should have no more than 150-200 words in most short papers)? Do you vary the lengths of your paragraphs to create greater reader attention?  Do you avoid having too many short paragraphs?

2. Paragraph Development: Does each longer paragraph have a mini-introduction—a sentence or two clarifying or announcing what the paragraph is about? Does the logic flow from general idea and explanation at the paragraph's beginning, to particular detail and/or example in the latter part of the paragraph? Do most longer paragraphs each have a sentence or two in the end offering a summary, result, or conclusion? Do you occasionally connect longer paragraphs with short ones to increase reader attention?

3. Sentence Structure: Is each sentence structured correctly without comma splices (comma faults), fuses, or fragments? Do you use long, introductory phrases sparingly and avoid over- complex sentence constructions that might leave many readers confused? 

4. Sentence Length: Do you use a reasonable number of long sentences and mix them with those average and short in length?  Do you avoid a large number of short sentences-- thus creating a choppy reading experience--by combining some shorter ones with those before or after them? 


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      D. Editing (Small Stuff)

1. Editing Backward: Have you edited your paper backward, sentence by sentence, to help you lose awareness of content and better focus on grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

2. Spelling: Have you used spell check? Have you read your paper backward out loud, sentence by sentence, to discover misplaced words, incorrect tenses, and other common spelling and word-choice problems? Have you checked your paper backward for incorrect words that spell check will not highlight: for example, misspellings like "to" instead of "too" and editing problems like "I am going to town" instead of "I goes to town"?  

3. Punctuation: Have you checked your paper backward using a punctuation guide to help you correct common punctuation errors?

4. Quotations: Have you punctuated each quotation correctly? Have you introduced most quotations with last names of authors, or with titles, as recommended in both MLA and APA styles (or as appropriate in the style you are using)? Have you placed the author’s last name before or after each quotation, and the page number after in parentheses?

5. Paraphrases: Have you given credit for every idea belonging to a specific author? Do your paraphrases use your own words almost exclusively without quotation marks? Have you provided each author’s last name before or after, and each page number after, much as you would if quoting? (Note: MLA paraphrases usually are introduced with a name or title, as are quotations. However, APA paraphrases usually have no name or title before them and place the author’s name after.)

6. Bibliography: Have you used a handbook (not just a sample paper) to correctly space, indent, and order the entries and their contents on a separate bibliography page called "Works Cited" (MLA) or "References" (APA) (or according to whatever system you have chosen to use)?

7. Typing: Have you double-spaced with page numbers and the required margins (if your instructor does not specify size, use 1")? Are you using 12-point type that is dark and easily read? Do you have a title (or title page, if required)?  Is your bibliography on a separate page?


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C. Revise/Edit

Click on any chapter below:


14. What Is "Revising"?

15. Peacock Sentences

16. Peacock Punctuation

17. Punctuation Review

18. 5 Special Methods

19. Typing/Printing

20Revision Checklist




 Related Links in

  5. Choosing Words

  6. Making Sentences

  8. General Editing

  9. Spelling

10. Punctuation

11. Grammar Guides

13. Help for ESL/NNS

15. Writing Books & Tutors

19. Visual/Other Design                


Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Images courtesy of Barry's Clip Art, Clip Art Warehouse, The Clip Art Universe, Clipart Collection, MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live, School Discovery, and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.



















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