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Ask Questions to Improve Your Writing: Home

Before submitting your papers, reflect on your writing. Ask questions. Here are some that you may consider.



•  Does a thesis exist and assert a main idea offering a strong, clear statement of a manageable topic?

•  Is the introduction interesting or attention-grabbing?

•  Does the paper contain a definitive beginning, middle, and end ?

•  Is paragraphing logical?

•  Does the conclusion rephrase the thesis and unify the paper's message?

•  Does the paper meet the assignment's requirements (e.g., length, mode, genre)?

•  Are topic sentences obvious and well supported?

•  Do ideas stay on-topic and correspond with the details of the thesis?

•  Are your descriptions or arguments logical and/or well researched ?

•  Are details fleshed out concretely with examples, illustrations, or research?

•  If required, are opposing or alternative views addressed?

•  Do paragraph conclusions avoid just trailing off and, instead, conform to the paragraph's topic sentence or unite the section in a meaningful way?

•  Do you use transitions between sentences and paragraphs?

•  Do you logically and easily move the reader from one place to the next?



•  Are words, phrases, and idioms correctly spelled and properly applied?

•  Does the paper avoid wordiness ?

•  Does the paper avoid overusing the same words , or their roots, within close range?  

•  Is the paper written in the required point of view (i.e., 1 st , 2 nd , or 3 rd person)?

•  Does the paper avoid using contractions, informal language, jargon, or slang ?

•  Does the paper contain unbiased, gender-neutral language (i.e., substitute humankind for man )?

•  Do sentences vary in length and type to avoid choppiness? 

•  Are coordination and subordination used satisfactorily throughout the paper (e.g., F or, A nd, N or, B ut, O r, Y et, S o -- FANBOYS)?

•  Are words, phrases, and clauses parallel (e.g., walking, jumping, skipping; NOT walking, to jump, skipping) ?  

•  Does the paper make use of strong verbs ?

•  Does the paper mostly use active voice (i.e., The boy ate dinner ) and sparingly use passive voice (i.e., Dinner was eaten by the boy) ? Note: this may vary based on the required purpose of your writing.

•  Do parts of speech agree (e.g., subjects and verbs , nouns and pronouns )?

•  Does the paper use proper tense (i.e., present, past, future) throughout?

•  Does the paper avoid fragments, comma splices, and run-on sentences ?

•  Does the paper contain proper use of end and internal punctuation, capitals, italics, underlining , abbreviations , hyphens , and numbers ?

•  Do indentation, headings, spacing, page numbers, etc. look professional and meet MLA , APA , or CSE style standards?

•  Does the paper include, introduce, and document credible sources , using in-text citations and a bibliography according to MLA , APA , or CSE style standards?