Self-Editing Checklist

Overall Content

  • Have you reread the assignment to make sure you’ve answered all parts adequately?
  • Is your thesis clear, specific, and arguable? Does it provide an outline for the rest of the paper?
  • Is the tone and language of your assignment appropriate for the intended audience?
  • Do you use effective transitions between paragraphs and ideas to guide the reader through the paper?
  • Do body paragraphs have topic sentences that summarize the main point and content of the paragraph and correspond to the thesis statement?
  • Do you use concrete details and examples to support your claim and further explain how that evidence supports your claim?

Sentence Structure

  • Have you varied sentence structure and length?
  • Have you eliminated unclear or awkward wording?
  • Have you reviewed each sentence to eliminate run-ons and fragments?
  • Have you tried to eliminate wordiness by removing unnecessary words such as a lot or really?

Grammar and Usage

  • Do pronouns have clear and correct referents?
  • Have you eliminated any unintentional or incorrect shifts in tense?
  • Do all verbs agree with their subjects? Double check long and complex sentences.
  • Is your paper properly punctuated? Review usage rules if you’re at all unclear.
  • Is all spelling correct? Be careful of homonyms like your/you’re, to/too/two and there/their/they’re.
  • Are all quotes and paraphrases properly introduced and explained? Are they correctly cited both within the text and in a Works Cited page?


  • Have you replaced “to be” verbs (be, been, is, are, were, was) with stronger, active verbs?
  • Have you eliminated jargon, slang, clichés, and euphemisms in favor of more precise language?
  • Do you use active voice to increase directness? Use passive voice only where appropriate.
  • Have you eliminated repetition and redundancies? Read each sentence and ask yourself if it introduces a new information, ideas, or analysis. If it is simply restating old information, rewrite it or delete it.