Take a break from your writing, if only for five minutes. This will allow you to approach your paper with a fresh mind.

Read your paragraph s l o w l y from start to finish.

Next read it out loud and focus on the following:

Paragraph Topic and Main Idea

Is the subject of the paragraph limited or qualified in some way?  Did you use an adjective like older children to limit the subject? Or did you use a quantifier like many or most before the subject or a frequency adverb like usually or often before the verb?  Use one of these techniques to avoid overgeneralizations.  You may need to review techniques for writing .

Is the main idea you wish to make about your subject directly stated?  If so, write your topic sentence on a another sheet of paper. If you don't have a clear, directly stated main idea, write one down.

Does your topic sentence have a strong action verb?

Paragraph Clarity

On your fresh piece of paper, list under your topic sentence the major points that support it.  Does each major detail relate clearly to the topic sentence?  If not, omit the one that doesn't relate. 

If you are left with only one major supporting detail, decide if this one major point is broad enough to expand the paragraph with enough specific detail (such as an extended example) or if you need to add a second major supporting point.

Under each major point, list the more specific details that illustrate, explain, or analyze that particular idea. Ask yourself if all of the information given relates clearly and effectively to a particular idea. If it doesn't, strike it out. Can you think of other information that might relate?  If so, add it to your outline-in-revision. [This is how revision differs from editing. When you revise you change content by adding and omitting information to make your writing clear and concise.]

Does your paragraph have a clear conclusion that brings your ideas to closure? On the revision outline you have created by going through this process, write your concluding sentence.  Does it restate the main idea and/or summarize the major support?  Or would advice, a warning, an opinion, a prediction, or some other final comment better suit your writing purpose?  Based on your own answer to the question, keep or revise your conclusion.


Did you use a transitional word or phrase to move from one major point to the next and into the conclusion? If you didn't, think of  logical transitions or phrases that would signal the first major point, lead into the second, and clearly signal the conclusion.

Did you use other coherence devices such as personal pronouns to replace nouns or demonstrative pronouns to refer back to a word, phrase, or idea? 

Did you use synonyms or another grammatical form of a key word? If you find you have repeated words or phrases, use this technique or the previous one to avoid repetition.