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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Essay Checklist

copyright 2008 by Gary L. Pullman

Use this checklist to make sure that you have written the most effective essay you can write. If you are able to answer "YES" (honestly) to each statement, you have done the best that you can do. Any statement t which you must answer "NO" shows you where you need to spend more time editing and revising your essay. Therefore, a "NO" response isn't bad. It's good, because it is helping you to see where you can improve your essay and, therefore, your grade.
  • In the upper left corner of my essay's first page, on line one, my name appears; on line two, my instructor's name appears; on line three, the course name appears; and on line four, the assignment's due date appears.
  • In the upper right corner of each page, my last name and the appropriate page number appears in a header.
  • My essay is typewritten in 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • My essay is left justified.
  • My essay is double spaced throughout (within and between paragraphs).
  • I have maintained one-inch margins at the top, bottom, and both sides of my essay.
  • My essay's title is centered at the top of the first page.
  • My essay's title focuses on the essay's topic.
  • My essay's title is interesting and captures the reader's attention.
  • My introductory paragraph uses an historical review, an anecdote, a surprising statement, a quotation from a famous person to capture my reader’s attention and make him or her want to read more of my essay.
  • My introductory paragraph does NOT apologize for my being a beginning writer, nor does it apologize for my not being an expert about my topic.
  • My introductory paragraph does NOT directly state my purpose, by writing something like “In this paper, I will. . . .” or “The purpose of this essay is to. . . .”
  • My essay does NOT start with a dictionary or an encyclopedia definition.
  • My introductory paragraph ends with my thesis sentence.
  • My thesis is NOT a statement of fact.
  • My thesis states an opinion that is open to discussion.
  • My thesis deals with a significant matter.
  • My thesis is specific, not general, and clear, not vague.
  • My thesis is made up of three related points.
  • Each body paragraph in my essay starts with a topic sentence.
  • The topic sentences refer to the points in my thesis, in the same order in which these points were made in the thesis.
  • I have used an adequate number of specific examples, comparisons, contrasts, quotations, statistics, explanations, and process analyses, as appropriate, to support and develop (provide evidence for) my topic sentences.
  • I have used appropriate transitions to show the nature of the relationships (cause-and-effect, chronological, comparison, contrast, exception to the rule, example, explanation, etc.) among my ideas.
  • My concluding paragraph restates my thesis (states it again, but in different words than I used to state it in the introductory paragraph).
  • My concluding paragraph issues a call to action, if appropriate, or provides another, effective closure for my essay.
  • My essay contains no misspellings.
  • My essay contains no usage errors (“to” or “two” instead of “too,” for example.)
  • My essay contains no punctuation errors (For example, I have made sure that commas and periods appear inside closing quotation marks but that semi-colons and colons appear outside closing quotation marks.)
  • My essay contains no fragments.
  • My essay contains no comma splices.
  • My essay contains no run-on sentences.
  • My essay contains no fused sentences.
  • My essay reflects the best writing of which I am capable.
Note: If your essay includes references to external sources, such as articles in newspapers, magazines, or journals; books; Internet articles; interviews; or other materials, you need to cite and document each and every such item. Refer to the Checklist for Research Papers post. For a sample essay that follows these guidelines (except for the indenting of paragraphs and double spacing, which cannot be replicated in this blog), refer to the "Sample Five-Paragraph Essay" post.

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