ESC Online Writing Center

Checklist for Thesis-Support Essay: Basic Expectations



  • Is there a main idea (thesis sentence) that focuses the information?
  • Does all of the information relate to and support that main idea?
  • Has the main idea been broken down into its parts (topic sentences), and are those parts indicated clearly in the essay?
  • Is the main idea actually a main idea and not just a topic? That is, is there a clear, assertive idea being presented about a topic?


  • Does the essay have a clear introduction-body-conclusion order?
  • Are the ideas in the body arranged in an order appropriate to their content (e.g., complexity, time, order of importance)?
  • Are the ideas in the body arranged in an order appropriate to the thesis, if the thesis indicates an order?
  • When moving from one main idea to the next in the essay's body, are the moves marked with transitions that show how the new idea relates to the receding idea?



  • Are all of the examples and explanations relevant to the thesis and topic-sentence ideas?
  • Is there enough evidence - are there enough main ideas - to support the thesis fully?
  • Are there enough specifics and details to fully explain each main or topic-sentence idea?
  • Are the examples and explanations specific and concrete enough so that the reader can understand them and relate them to real-world experience?



  • Is the language grammatically correct; does it follow accepted grammatical conventions so that a reader can understand it?
  • Is the language appropriate in style for the writing's purpose, audience and context (e.g., not too formal, not too informal, nor too technical or wordy)?
  • Is the essay written in the writer's own voice so that the language is "comfortable," clear and interesting to both the writer and the audience?


  • In research essays, is the information documented as needed?
  • Is the documentation format standard (MLA, APA or a designated format) and correct?
  • Has the essay been proofread, and is it free of distracting typos and errors?

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