A Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays

A Quick Guide to Editing and Proofreading a Composition

"Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it," says English author Zadie Smith. (lvcandy/Getty Images)
Editing is a way of thinking critically and reading carefully.
(C. Friend and D. Challenger, Contemporary Editing. Routledge, 2014)

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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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "A Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/checklist-for-editing-paragraphs-and-essays-1690358. Nordquist, Richard. (2021, February 16). A Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/checklist-for-editing-paragraphs-and-essays-1690358 Nordquist, Richard. "A Checklist for Editing Paragraphs and Essays." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/checklist-for-editing-paragraphs-and-essays-1690358 (accessed March 3, 2021).