University of Rochester

Revising the Paper

Questions to Ask Yourself When Revising an Essay:

(from Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing About Art, inside cover)

  1. Have I studied the object with sufficient care so that I understand what qualities in it caused my initial response, and have I studied it with sufficient care so that I have deepened or otherwise changed that response?
  2. Is the title of my essay at least moderately informative?
  3. Is the opening paragraph interesting, and by its end, have I focused on the topic?
  4. Is the work of art identified as precisely as possible (artist, material, location, date, etc.)?
  5. Do I state my point (thesis) soon enough—perhaps even in the title—and do I keep it in view?
  6. Is the organization reasonable? Does each point lead into the next, without irrelevancies and without anticlimaxes?
  7. Is each paragraph unified by a topic sentence or topic idea?
  8. Are generalizations and assertions about personal responses supported by references to concrete details in the work?
  9. Are the sentences concise, clear, and emphatic? Are needless words and inflated language eliminated?
  10. Is the concluding paragraph conclusive without being repetitive?
  11. Are the dates and quotations accurate? Is credit given to sources? Are photocopies of works of art included and properly captioned?
  12. Are the long quotations really necessary? Can some be shortened (either by ellipses or by summarizing them) without loss?
  13. Has the essay been proofread? Are the spelling and punctuation correct? Is the title of the essay in proper form? Are the titles of works of art--other than architecture--underlined? If there are any footnotes, are they in proper form?