Editing Checklist

When revising and editing your assignment, ask yourself:

Have I answered the question or task as fully as possible?

  • What is my thesis/ central proposition/ main assertion?
  • Do I make a clear argument or take a position about the topic? Do I state that position in my introduction?
  • Does my introduction or opening paragraph prepare the reader for what follows?

Is my essay clearly structured?

Are my paragraphs clearly connected and coherent? 

  • Does each paragraph begin with a topic sentence?
  • Do the sentences flow smoothly and logically from point to point?
  • Does each sentence clearly follow on from the one before?
  • Does each paragraph state its case clearly and completely, or should there be more evidence/ detail?
  • Are there adequate transitions between sentences and paragraphs? Are transitions varied or are they all the same kind?
  • Are all examples and quotes relevant to and supportive of my answer?
  • Are facts and opinions supported with examples or explanations where necessary?

Is my written expression appropriate?

  • Have I used direct and clear language?
  • Have I explained my ideas clearly and explicitly?
  • Have I kept my audience in mind? Have I said all I need to say so that my reader can understand, or am I assuming they will 'know what I mean'?
  • Have I written complete, grammatically correct sentences?
  • In long sentences, have I separated related ideas with commas or semicolons for easier understanding?
  • Is my use of tenses correct?
  • Have I used non-discriminatory language?

Have I fully referenced my sources of information? 

  • Have I referenced all the words, ideas and information sources I have used in my assignment?
  • Have I used a consistent referencing style?
  • Is there a clear distinction between my thoughts and words and those of the author(s) I've read and cited?
  • Are quotations properly introduced?
  • Are they accurate?
  • Are they formatted correctly?
  • Do the quotations add evidence or provide an authoritative voice, or am I letting the author(s) speak for me? Would writing it in my own words be more effective?

Have I remained within or exceeded the set word limit?

I don't have enough words: 

  • Have I fully answered the question or task?
  • Do I need to read more? Should I include more information or discussion?
  • Have I provided enough evidence to support my argument/s?

I have too many words:

  • Have I included only relevant information?
  • Is there any unnecessary repetition in my assignment?
  • Is my written expression as clear and concise as possible, or is it too 'wordy'?

Have I proof read and revised my assignment for errors?

  • Have I checked my spelling? Have I read through my assignment and not just relied on a computer spell checker?
  • Is all my bibliographical information correct?
  • Have I used correct punctuation? Have I ended every sentence with a full stop?

Is my assignment well presented?

  • Does the presentation follow any guidelines set by my lecturer or school?
  • Have I included a cover sheet? (assignment cover sheets are available from your school office)
  • Have I made sure my assignment is legible? Is it typed or written neatly?
  • Have I used double-line spacing?
  • Have I numbered pages and used wide margins?
  • Have I kept an extra copy?

Further reading

Barnett, S. and Cain, A. 1997, A Short Guide to Writing About Literature, Harper Collins.

Cuba, l. 1988, A Short Guide to Writing About Social Science, Harper Collins.