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Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays

A Quick Guide to Editing and Proofreading a Composition

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Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays

Arthur Quiller-Couch on Style: "Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it--wholeheartedly--and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings."

After revising an essay (perhaps several times) until we're satisfied with its basic content and structure, we still need to edit our work. In other words, we need to examine our sentences to make sure that each one is clear, concise, forceful, and free of mistakes.

Use this checklist as a guide when editing paragraphs and essays.

  1. Is each sentence clear and complete?

  2. Can any short, choppy sentences be improved by combining them?

  3. Can any long, awkward sentences be improved by breaking them down into shorter units and recombining them?

  4. Can any wordy sentences be made more concise?

  5. Can any run-on sentences be more effectively coordinated or subordinated?

  6. Does each verb agree with its subject?

  7. Are all verb forms correct and consistent?

  8. Do pronouns refer clearly to the appropriate nouns?

  9. Do all modifying words and phrases refer clearly to the words they are intended to modify?

  10. Is each word in the essay appropriate and effective?

  11. Is each word spelled correctly?

  12. Is the punctuation correct?

See also:
Revision and Editing Checklist for a Critical Essay

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