When completing a written assignment, drafting a final paper or posting to an online discussion forum, you want to ensure your writing reflects the ideas you are trying to convey. The key to effective writing is clear thinking; you must have clear thinking in order to deliver clear communication so readers understand your messaging.
Here is a must-have writing checklist that will help you express your thoughts in a coherent, cohesive, and engaging manner. Use this checklist to make necessary edits and revisions to your writing, enabling you to submit the best piece of writing possible.
The checklist will also help you engage with your audience when posting to the discussion forum.
1. Articulate a clear purpose for writing.
You want to make sure the reader instantly knows why you are writing – What will your writing serve? What do you want the reader to know by the end of the essay, paper, or forum? What is the purpose of the written piece, and what does the writing offer? Be clear and consistent in your messaging.
2. Stay on topic.
Don’t digress or write on a tangent. Develop content that demonstrates an understanding of the material that stays on topic. Writing off topic not only distracts the reader but also takes away from the valid ideas you are trying to make.
3. Avoid run-on sentences and “fluff” words and phrases.
Get to the point. Don’t fill up the page or blank spaces with words that don’t add value to the discussion or to the paper you are writing. Keep the language concise and consistent, avoiding those never-ending sentences.
4. Engage the reader by providing interesting insights and evidence.
Refer to the textbook to cite evidence and verify information from other sources such as journals, articles, etc. Integrate these ideas directly into your writing and provide the reader with intellectual acuity. Make connections to textual evidence, demonstrating a level of mastery on the subject.
5. Organize your writing so it is logical to the reader.
There should be a natural beginning, middle, and end to your piece of writing. There should also be a well-balanced rhythm and sequence; keep the pacing consistent throughout and organize your writing into sections so that it is logical to the reader – this will help maintain a distinct fluidity to your writing.
6. Properly cite your references.
Be sure to reference an appropriate style guide throughout your writing. All references should be properly attributed and cited in a required style format, such as APA or MLA. Reference Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab for a complete MLA Style Guide and APA Style Guide.
7. Check your spelling and grammar.
We rely so heavily on a text editor, but often a text editor may miss some grammar or spelling mistakes. When drafting a piece of writing, consider using a site such as Grammarly that may catch some hard-to-spot errors.
8. Review the formatting of your work before you submit.
Make appropriate changes as needed to the font style, font size, headings, line spacing, etc., to give your writing a complete and polished presentation.
9. Reference a rubric for writing.
A rubric is the perfect way to make sure you completed every portion of the assignment. Referencing a rubric will help ensure you hit the mark on every aspect of the written assignment. Read the post on using a rubric to improve your grade for more details.
Do you need assistance with your writing? Thomas Edison State University offers registered students access to SmartThinking, an online tutorial service (free of charge!) that connects students with a live professional tutor. Visit 7 Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Online Course for more information.
Written by Heather Russino