English Composition 1
To help you revise your papers, you should consult the assignment descriptions on the Essay Assignment pages, paying special attention to the grading criteria for each essay that you revise.
The following checklist should help you focus on specific aspects of your papers to consider as you revise. However, you should also think of other ways that you might make your papers stronger as you are revising.
Thesis and Introduction
- Do the first few sentences
of your introduction effectively get the attention of your readers and make them want to
- Do the beginning sentences
of your introduction logically and smoothly lead up to your thesis statement?
- Do you present a
one-sentence statement of your thesis that (1) identifies your subject, (2) identified the
main ideas presented in your paper, (3) clarifies how the ideas are logically related, and
(4) conveys the main point of your paper?
- Do you avoid listing the
main ideas of your paper in separate sentences in the introduction?
Organization and the Support and Development of Ideas
- Do you begin each body
paragraph with a clear topic sentence that gives you some specific point(s) to develop or
- Is the main idea or ideas
of each topic sentence a major aspect of your thesis, as conveyed by your thesis
- Is each body paragraph
focused on supporting and developing the main idea or ideas conveyed in the topic sentence
for the paragraph? (Delete any material that does not belong in the paragraph, any
material that is not clearly related to the main point(s) conveyed in the topic sentence.
If that material is important, consider revising the topic sentence or using the material
in a different paragraph.)
- Is each claim presented in
your body paragraphs supported with ample evidence? (Add support as needed.)
- Do you explain how each
piece of evidence logically supports a specific claim? (Add explanatory comments as
- Is your paper
"balanced"? Have you avoided using very long paragraphs and very short
- Is the significance of
quoted material clearly explained?
- Do you remind readers of
the main point of the paragraph by making logical connections between material within the
paragraph and the main idea or ideas stated in the topic sentence for that paragraph?
- Is there a logical
progression of ideas within paragraphs and from one body paragraph to the next? What is
the logic behind the order you have chosen for the different parts of the paragraph and
for the order of the paragraphs?
- Do you use transitional
words, phrases, or sentences to take readers smoothly and logically from one idea to the
next and from one sentence to the next?
- Do you end body paragraphs
with logical transitions into the next body paragraph?
- In the conclusion, do you restate (but not
repeat) the thesis statement and leave readers thinking about the importance of the ideas
you develop in the body of the paper?
- Do you use a variety of
sentences throughout your paper? (Notice how each sentence begins and how long each
sentence is. If necessary, rewrite or combine sentences for more variety.)
- Could any of your
sentences be rewritten to convey ideas more effectively or more clearly? Do any of your
sentences seem a bit awkward, causing you to pause and reread the sentence to understand
the meaning? (If so, rewrite those sentences.)
- Do you maintain a
consistent tone throughout the paper?
- If the paper should be
written in a formal voice, do you avoid using references to the first person
("I," "me," "my," etc.), avoid using contractions
("cant," "hes," "its," etc.), and avoid
slang or other informal language?
- Do you avoid relying
heavily on abstract, vague, or general diction?
- Do you avoid common stylistic weaknesses, such as the use of cliches and wordy expressions?
- Are most of your sentences
written in the active voice?
- Do you use a variety of
words and avoid repeating the same words many times in your paper?
- Are there smooth and logical transitions
from one idea to the next and from one sentence to the next?
Use of Quotations
- If you use quotations, are
all quotations copied exactly as they appear in the original source (with necessary
changes indicated with brackets or ellipses)?
- If you use long
quotations, can you shorten the quotations by eliminating parts of the quotations that are
not vital to the point you are proving?
- Are all quotations
integrated smoothly and logically into your own sentences, with no quotations standing
alone as complete sentences?
- Do you use the correct
punctuation, if punctuation is necessary, as you introduce quotations? (See the handout on
quoting for more information.)
- Do you place punctuation
marks in the right place for all quotations? Make sure all commas and periods are used
correctly inside of quotation marks, "like this," and not incorrectly outside of
quotation marks, like this".
- Is the correct context
conveyed for all quotations?
- Are words in your paper
that are copied from sources properly placed within quotation marks?
- If necessary, have you cited sources
correctly and documented the sources correctly on the "Works Cited" page?
- Is your paper in the
correct format, double spaced with 12-point fonts?
- Do you have the proper
heading on each paper?
- Does each paper have a
- Have you proofread your paper carefully to
eliminate all errors? (See the handout on identifying and correcting errors for more