The Checklist (criteria for evaluating writing)

The Hartwick College faculty adopted The Checklist in 1979 as the criteria for evaluating competence in academic writing.  The criteria are in the form of questions, which may be addressed with regard to any piece of expository writing in order to guide revision and to evaluate its ability to meet a reader's expectations for clear, concise, effective prose.


1.  Is the paper's purpose made clear in the first paragraph?

2. Is the thesis or purpose evident throughout the paper?  Do the paragraphs relate to the main idea of the paper (relevance)?

3.  Does the paper have a discernible organizational pattern?

4.  Does the paper contain sufficient, convincing evidence for the thesis?

5.  Is the paper addressed to a specific audience?

6.  Is there a satisfactory concluding statement or paragraph?


7. Is the main idea sufficiently limited to need no more than one paragraph to convey?

8. Is the main idea expressed in a single topic sentence, or can be inferred from the paragraph itself?

9.  Does the paragraph contain sufficient support for the main idea?

10. Do all the supporting assertions relate to the main idea (unity)?

11.  Are the supporting details arranged in the most effective order (development)?  Is the topic sentence positioned in the paragraph to introduce the main idea at the best time?

12.  Do the sentences follow one from the other (coherence)?  Are the relationships among them apparent?


13. Is every sentence complete?

14.  Do the subject and verb agree in number?

15.  Are pronoun references clear?

16.  Is the sequence of the verb tenses consistent?

17.  Do the sentences show variety in length and structure?

18. Do the sentences exhibit parallel construction when called for?

19. Are the sentences free from misplaced modifiers?

20. Are the sentences free from wordiness?

21. Is the word choice precise and idiomatic?


22. Has the paper been proofread?

23. Do mechanical errors distract the reader and damage the credibility of the writer?