Online Writing Lab

Revision Checklist

When revising an essay, it is important to understand what types of problems need to be focused on.  Some essays may have a variety of problems, but not all of the problems that occur are of equal value.  For example, the lack of a clear thesis statement is a significant problem that often leads to other problems in the essay, while one simple grammatical mistake does not necessarily create further problems. 

Given this fact, it is important to focus on the most important elements when performing revision.  Also, keep in mind that addressing the most important problems will often solve some of the more minor problems.  Furthermore, it is possible to address more than one problem at the same time.  For example, when evaluating a body paragraph for full development, the writer may spot a few minor grammar errors that can be fixed at that time as well.

Here is a quick list of the most important elements in most essays:   

This list can be used as a basic checklist for most essays.

  • Does the essay fit the instructor’s guidelines?  It may be helpful to use the guidelines that were given as a checklist for the essay.
  • Is there an identifiable thesis statement?
  • Does the rest of the essay relate to or support the thesis?
  • Is there anything in the essay that doesn’t relate to the thesis?  If so, either this information needs to be removed or the thesis needs to be changed.
  • Are the body paragraphs fully developed? 
  • Is there a variety of evidence/examples offered throughout the essay?
  • Is the essay organized and are the paragraphs/ideas presented in a logical manner?
  • Are there grammar problems that occur frequently?  While even a few grammar problems can detract from an essay, it is particularly important to focus on the grammar problems that occur several times throughout the essay.
  • Is the essay in the proper format?