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.
- 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.
Tools and resources
- Camosun College Research Essay and Report Writing Guide
- Camosun College Library Citations and Style Guides
- Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab
- Hacker Guide–Research & Documentation Online (Diana Hacker)
- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Thesaurus
- Camosun Student Success Centre:
online learning skills guides