Paper submission checklist

by John Bandler

Here is a checklist for students to use before submitting their paper or other written assignment. It can also be used by anyone submitting a written product, whether to a school, potential employer, client, etc. For best results, review this checklist as you write the paper.

I have had the privilege to teach students (our next generations of doers and leaders) for many years now, including at the law school, graduate, and undergraduate levels. I do so as an adjunct, and I am not a full-time educator, nor do I consider myself an expert writer. Writing is difficult for me -- sometimes painful -- and requires many edits and proofreads until it is acceptable. Still, I have had a tremendous amount of practice writing, including two books, many articles, plus writing as needed as a lawyer and previously a police officer (lots of reports).

I also have read thousands of written student submissions, and had many conversations with students on the topic. I believe this checklist can be of great assistance to improve the final product.

Writing Checklist

  1. Read (and reread) the paper assignment instructions.
  2. Read (and reread) any feedback or individualized guidance for prior submissions.
  3. Read John's article How to Write a Paper
  4. Does the organization of the paper make logical sense
  5. If the paper is about law, consider discussing the law early in the paper. Meaning after your introduction, then you state what the law is, with appropriate reference and citation to legal authorities (Constitution, statutes, regulations, case law). After stating what the law is, you can go into other areas more deeply.
    • Further to the above, if the paper is about the law, or legal analysis, consider organizing the paper according to IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion). Or use IRAC's cousin, CRAC (Conclusion, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion).
  6. The first paragraph (or two) should introduce the paper for the reader.
  7. The last paragraph (or two) should conclude the paper (and not break new ground).
  8. Academic integrity, doing your own work, and putting in your own effort is essential.
  9. Ensure the paper is entirely your own work, and properly cited and quoted where required.
  10. Ensure you have not taken someone else's work and changed some words to merely make it appear different.
  11. Do you understand and can you explain everything you wrote?
  12. Do not review any other student papers, past, present or future.
  13. Did you properly quote and cite where appropriate?
  14. Did you properly cite where appropriate?
  15. Read (first hand) the relevant portions of every source quoted or cited.
  16. Do several edits (drafts) of the paper, with time in between each review.
  17. Do a final read through, reading aloud if necessary.
  18. Review capitalization. A Title of a Paper Should be in Title Caps. Proper nouns should be capitalized, including the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment. If it is not supposed to be capitalized, it should not be.
  19. Review spacing. Ensure there are no extra spaces or missing spaces. There is a space after punctuation like periods and commas.
  20. Review word choice. Choose and understand each word used. Try avoid using a ten-dollar word when a one-dollar word works. Avoid legalese. Be kind to reader. Be careful about acronyms and initialisms.
  21. Review sentence structure. Read aloud if needed. Try to make each sentence clear, with a point, be kind to the reader, with appropriate length.
  22. Review paragraph structure. Each paragraph should have one topic, with appropriate length (not too long). A paragraph cannot run on for an entire page. New paragraphs should either have an extra line break, or be indented.
  23. Longer papers may need headers for different sections. Don't put a header at the very the bottom of the page. Only very long papers need a table of contents.
  24. Only a very long paper needs an abstract or an executive summary.
  25. The start of the paper needs a paper title, date, author name, and course name and instructor name.
  26. The filename should be appropriate and relevant for the submission and for version control (keeping track of versions).
  27. The submission electronic format should be appropriate for the platform (e.g. PDF, DOCX, but avoid Apple Pages).
  28. The paper needs page numbers (bottom right preferred).
  29. The paper length (pages/wordcount) needs to be appropriate for the assignment.
  30. Make sure you put in good continual effort and read the above and are ready to submit it.
  31. Submit to the proper place (right place on the right learning management system (LMS) platform).
  32. Double check to confirm the submission went through properly.

Conclusion

This checklist can help you to improve your writing submission, no matter what the purpose of that writing is. Remember that writing requires effort, editing, and practice.

If the list seems overwhelming, then resolve to improve your writing one step at a time. Before you know it, all of those steps have added up and you are an excellent writer.

Additional Reading & Learning

This page is hosted at  https://johnbandler.com/paper-submission-checklist. Copyright John Bandler, all rights reserved.

A copy of this article might someday be available on Medium (I'll post the link here when it is) (though it won't be kept as current).

Page posted 12/20/2021. Last Updated 07/20/2022.