A helpful essay writing checklist

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety when completing essay assignments for university is to stay organized. There are many different methods that can be used to do so; one of the best and simplest ways to begin is to create a checklist.

Your checklist should cover each stage of writing your essay, and for each element, you can include a date that you expect to complete it. Here’s one way to set up your checklist:

  1. Topic
  2. Choose a general topic for the essay.

  3. Thesis Statement
  4. Develop a strong thesis statement to serve as the basis for your essay.

  5. Research
  6. Find appropriate sources to defend your thesis. Take notes as you read, and organize your reference list as you go.

  7. Develop supporting ideas
  8. Depending on the length of the essay, choose a number of main supporting ideas which you will use to defend your thesis. A one page essay might have three or four, a five page essay might have nine or ten.

  9. Organize your research into supporting idea categories.
  10. Sort your notes so that you can easily access the supporting sources for each category.

  11. Create a basic outline
  12. Create a basic outline for the essay. It should look something like this:


    • Thesis statement
    • Summarize supporting ideas
    • Transition to first body paragraph

      Body Paragraph #1

    • State supporting idea
    • Use sources with citations to link supporting idea to thesis statement
    • Transition to next body paragraph
    • Repeat as needed for each supporting idea


    • Restate thesis statement
    • Resummarize supporting ideas
    • Strong concluding sentence
  13. Write a rough draft of the body paragraphs
  14. Always begin your essay by writing the body paragraphs. You may wish to make changes in your outline at this point, and it will save you having to rewrite the introduction and conclusion too extensively.

  15. Write the rough draft of the introduction and conclusion
  16. Now that the body paragraphs and essay structure are finalized, write the introduction and conclusion paragraphs.

  17. Edit
  18. Read over the essay looking for ways to improve flow, sentence structure, and organization. Make these corrections.

  19. Proofread
  20. Read over the essay again (if possible, have a friend help) and look for grammatical and spelling mistakes. Correct these mistakes.

  21. Format
  22. Be sure your essay is formatted according to requirements. And you’re done!

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