Updated June 2023
I developed a checklist for good writing based on the 6 Traits of Good Writing, created by the Northwest Writing Lab (now Education Northwest). These questions help you find opportunities to improve your own writing and offer actionable feedback on someone else's. We use it here at The Word Factory and with all our content marketing, training and coaching clients.
The Traits of Quality Writing
Here's my take on the 6 traits:
- A main idea that serves the purpose and is relevant to your audience.
- Evidence, explanations and examples that support the main idea and address audience questions, concerns and objections.
- Descriptions that that show, not just tell.
- A clear and meaningful purpose and call to action.
- A beginning that entices the audience to read more.
- An ending that compels readers to think, feel and/or do.
- Logical and easy-to-follow organization.
- A voice and resulting tone that is appropriate to the subject and resonates with your audience.
- A voice that sounds like a real person.
- Strong feelings and honest statements.
4. Word Choice
- Strong verbs that show how actions are performed.
- Words that make ideas more speciﬁc and are meaningful and memorable.
- Jargon when necessary and explained as needed.
- Appropriate language for purpose and audience.
5. Sentence Fluency
- Start sentences in different ways.
- Use different lengths and structures.
- Structure sentences to make the meaning clear.
- Rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and other “effects” used appropriately and effectively.
- Correct spelling, including proper nouns.
- Punctuation that makes the writing easy to understand.
- Proper usage, particularly of technical terms.
- Grammar that makes the writing easier to understand (may not always follow rules).
Want to invest becoming a better writer?