DIY: Review Your Work

The questions below are designed to alert you to some easily overlooked writing
errors, prompt you to take a second look and make improvements. The bulk of these
questions deal with fundamentals of writing, while others address the clarity of a piece as a whole.

Did I identify and correct all typos?

  • Did I print out my piece and use a pencil or pen to circle typos?
  • Did I correct the typos I circled?
  • Did I save the corrections?

Is my spelling correct?

  • Did I double-check?

Is my work organized into paragraphs?

  • Do any of the paragraphs span more than eight lines or half a page of typed text?
  • What happens if I break down long paragraphs?
  • Do the paragraphs in the body of the piece relate to one another?
  • Do the paragraphs in the body of the piece transition clearly from one idea to another?

Do my paragraphs have a relevant topic sentence (either at the beginning or the end of the paragraph)?

  • Is the content of a particular paragraph related to the topic sentence?
  • Does my paragraph stick to one idea?

Did I present a strong introductory paragraph?

  • Does my introduction relate to the content of my written piece as a whole?
  • Does my introduction state a thesis or main idea?

Did I present a strong concluding paragraph?

  • Is my conclusion related to the content in the body of piece?
  • Does my conclusion present more than a restatement of my introduction?

Are all my sentences complete?

  • Do they contain a subject and a predicate?
  • Do any of my sentences start with words like after, because, so that, until, while, although, before, that, that is, when, who, as, if, though, where, which, as if, since, unless, whether, why?
  • Can I rewrite those sentences?

Does every part of every sentence have a subject?

  • Do my nouns and pronouns match in number and gender?
  • Do my sentences shift between singular and plural subjects within the same sentence?
  • Do my sentences shift point of view within the same sentence?

Do my subjects and verbs agree within my sentences?

  • Do my subjects and verbs agree in number and person?
  • If other words fall between the subject and verb of my sentence, do subject and verb agree with each other and not with the words that separate them?
  • Do my sentences shift verb tenses within the same sentence?

Did I use punctuation to help convey my message clearly?

  • Do I have very long sentences in my piece?
  • Can I use commas, a comma and a conjunction (and, but), a semi-colon or colon to break up the sentence?
  • What happens if I break the sentence into smaller full sentences?

Did I read the piece at least twice?

  • Out loud to myself? From a hard copy? With a pen or pencil in hand?
  • Did I stop to mark parts of the piece that were difficult to read or just didn’t sound right?
  • Did I read the piece out loud to another person?

Did I eliminate “empty words,” such as very, quite and really?

  • Repetitions?
  • Sentences that start with there is/are or that is?

Can I easily summarize my piece in one to two sentences without re-reading it?