Thompson Rivers University

A Self-Editing Checklist for ESL Writers (Levels 4 & 5)

  Posted on: July 15, 2015

5 Stages of Error Correction in ESL Writing

  1. Find the error. Then circle or underline it.
  2. Identify the type of error, e.g., a verb tense error or article error etc.
  3. Determine why it is incorrect.
  4. If necessary, find an explanation for the error. Search online or use a reference text.
  5. Correct the error.

Use the following 6 Cs’ checklist to improve your writing assignment:


☐ Check for your most common punctuation and grammar errors.

☐ Check for spelling and page formatting errors.


☐ Use academic words, not slang; check with a tutor if you are unclear about the correct usage of a word.

☐ Use bulleted or numbered lists for a series of items that cannot be included in a single sentence.


☐ Use one idea per sentence; do not exceed 15 sentences per paragraph.

☐ Check if your essay is within the required word limit.


☐ Check for parallelism in sentences and lists.

☐ Use consistent terms across the essay; for example, if you use ‘teacher’ in the first instance, do not use ‘professor’ or ‘faculty’ in other sentences.


☐ Use time signals to indicate a logical sequence of events, e.g., First, Second, Third.

☐ Ensure that your introduction ends with a thesis statement and each paragraph has a topic sentence and concluding sentence that logically connects to the next paragraph.


☐ Ensure that the essay is divided into three parts: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

☐ Check if sources have been correctly cited in APA or MLA format.

Checklist adapted from ‘Writer’s Checklist’ by CTRKS team at the World Bank, Chennai, India. Modified by Meena Balachandran.