Chapter 20: REVISION CHECKLIST
What is a basic checklist of revising and editing
and Grammar Check" in the "What Is
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.
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. 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
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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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
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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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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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
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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