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The Writing Centres

Editing Checklist and Tools

When editing, proofread aloud. If possible, have someone else read over your paper. Use grammar and documentation reference books to double-check the rules.

Content and Organization

  • Make sure your topic is clear and specific.
  • Know your audience. Use an appropriate and consistent point of view and level of language.
  • Introduce the main points of your paper in a thesis statement.
  • Present the main points in a logical and effective order.


  • Develop a single idea in each paragraph.
  • State the main point of each paragraph in a topic sentence. (your claim)
  • Use concrete details and examples to support your claim (evidence).
  • Explain how your evidence supports your claim (analysis).
  • Provide effective transitions between paragraphs.

Sentence Structure

  • Vary sentence structure and length.
  • Eliminate sentence fragments and run-ons.
  • Change awkward or unclear modifiers.
  • Express parallel ideas in parallel form.


  • Make sure verbs agree with their subjects.
  • Make pronoun references clear and correct.
  • Eliminate confusing shifts in verb tense.


  • Use quotation marks and citations correctly. Check MLA or APA style.
  • Use colons, semicolons, and commas correctly.


  • Check spelling in the dictionary. Don't rely on a computer spell-check!
  • Use apostrophes correctly.
  • Capitalize words appropriately.


  • Strive for an active and lively style. Avoid passive voice.
  • Avoid unnecessary and vague words. Simplify and be precise!
  • Stay away from clichés, jargon, and slang expressions.
  • Eliminate contractions.

Adapted from: Essay Essentials. Norton, Sarah and Brian Green. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1991.

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