Skip to Main Content

Writing Resources

Academic Essay Checklist


  Did you review the prompt and the rubric?
  Did you ask the professor any questions that you had?
  Did you access the resources (course materials, campus guides, office hours, The Learning Center) that you needed?
  Do you know the essay's purpose (inform, convince, persuade, express, mediate)?
  Did you determine an organizational approach (chronological, sequential, or rhetorical)?


 1 inch margins
 Times New Roman
 12 point font

  The header

  is left-justified
  has your name
  has the course name
  has the professor's name
  has the date (Month Day, Year)

  No extra spaces between the header/title, title/body, or paragraphs
  Begin with a descriptive title about the content of the assignment and not the name of the assignment

  Title is centered in the middle of the page (not underlined, bolded, italicized, or in larger/different font)


  Does the topic(s) of this essay match the question in the prompt?
  Did you review the rubric to know how your writing will be assessed?
  Did you give your reader context and present more than one side of an argument?
  Did you support all of the claims you make with concrete evidence?
  Did you challenge yourself/audience, choosing a complex topic, and/or take a firm stance?

First Paragraph Acts as an Introduction

  Hook: grabs the reader's attention and prepares them for their reading experience (usually 1-2 sentences)

  Uses one of the following methods: anecdote, analogy, hypothetical, definition, example, quote

  Context: briefly introduces the ideas and topics you will be discussing in this paper (usually 2-3 sentences)
  Thesis: gives a summary of the argument and provides a map for reading the paper

  Who/what: this paper will be about (topic/issue)?
  How: this paper will be argued?
  Why: what you are arguing matters?


Body Paragraphs Follow the TEAR structure

  Every paragraph begins with a topic sentence (a summary of the information to follow)
  Followed by evidence (anecdote, analogy, hypothetical, statistic, example, direct quote, paraphrase)
  Followed by analysis (what the evidence means given the argument in the paragraph)
  Followed by relate back to thesis (what this paragraph means given the argument in the thesis)

  Transitions between paragraphs provide "flow":

in addition thus(ly) however
furthermore therefore nonetheless
moreover ultimately whereas


Last Paragraph Acts as a Conclusion

  Restate your thesis statement given the information you have now revealed to the reader
  Return to the hook from the beginning and provide a new spin on the information
  Leave the reader with "food for thought": practical advice, call-to-action, jarring statistic/information


  Complete a revision using one of the following methods:

  Global Revision: Read over with a peer to catch gaps in explanation
  Content Revision: Why is this important to the reader?
  Structural Revision: Read over with a pen and label each of the parts (hook, context, thesis, TEAR, etc.)

Editing Spelling, Grammar, Style

  Remove cliches: right path/road, judge a book by its cover. a picture is worth a thousand words
  Remove slang: thru, kids, extremely, definitely, totally, so into, going down, crib, vs., pros
  Remove "school voice" constructions: [is + (verb)ing]

is/are trying is/are arguing is/are hoping
is/are talking is/are writing is/are implying

  Remove generalizations [Use Ctrl+F to find and fix the following words]:

all everyone no one
always everything nobody
anyone never  
anything nothing  

  Remove all contractions [Use Ctrl+F to find and fix the following words]:

isn't weren't shouldn't he's
don't ain't wouldn't she's
can't it's could've that's
aren't they're should've who's
wasn't couldn't would've what's

  Remove all vague words [Use Ctrl+F to find and fix the following words]:

a lot actually really people
a little basically things society
little definitely stuff humans
big truly something feel
huge usually someone love
bad very somehow hate
good just somewhat ways


  Complete one of these proofreading techniques:

  Start from the end: By starting from the end, you have no choice but to focus on what each word says and how it adds to the paper. It gives you a new perspective on something that you have "hopefully" become very familiar with.
  Read your paper out loud: After reading and revising your paper multiple times, you can become too familiar with what you are saying, and your eye might skip over something because your brain will fill in what you were supposed to say. By reading your paper out loud, you are getting another sense involved, which may pick up on something you missed.
  Give it a rest: Sometimes, you just need to take a break from the essay. Leave it alone for a few days or hours. When you come back , your eyes will be fresh, and you can look at it with a renewed focus.
  Give it to someone else: Even if you leave the paper, read it out loud, or even backwards, you might just be too close to the essay. You cannot act like a reader if you are not objective. Giving it to someone else gives you the opportunity to see how it would be received by a reader.

  Complete a spelling, grammar, and style check [Start>Word Options>Proofing>Style and Grammar]

Academic Essay Structure

Academic Essays