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Essay Editing: Foolproof Steps to Do It Right

Essay Editing: Foolproof Steps to Do It Right

Monday March 27, 2017,

4 min Read


You wrote an academic essay, research paper, case study, or any other kind of coursework assignment. Now what? Do you just submit the content? That’s a risky decision. A single flaw will ruin the impression you want to make.

Remember: there is no good writing without editing. The good news is: it’s not hard to make that effort. Here's the list of 10 tips professional essay writers from EssaysOnTime recommend to follow to guide you to successful editing.

1. Leave Some Space Between the Writing and Editing Stage

If you start editing the paper as soon as you complete it, you won’t be able to spot all flaws. You just wrote this piece and everything seems perfectly fine. You’re too enthusiastic about finishing the paper, so you can’t criticize your own work.

All writers take a “cooling off” period after completing the first draft. After that, they are able to see the work with a fresh pair of eyes. The mistakes and logical flaws become more obvious.

2. General Editing: Read!

Start by reading the entire paper and take notes on the site. Are there any gaps in the logical flow? Did you forget to reference a source or support an argument with facts? Don’t start editing at this stage. Just take notes and you’ll get back to them after the thorough reading process.

3. Polish Out the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the carrier of the whole piece. It has to be strong and precise. These are the questions to ask when looking at the thesis statement:

● Does it make a clear claim?

● Is the claim specific enough? It shouldn’t be broad.

● Is the claim too obvious? It shouldn’t be; since an obvious claim doesn’t intrigue the reader.

● Is it based on an objective point of view that can be proven?

These guidelines will help you improve the thesis statement.

4. Are the Arguments Strong?

Now is the time to pay attention to the notes you took during the first stage of editing (the reading part). How can you make the arguments stronger? Is there a weak argument that needs more facts to sound believable? If that’s the case, reference another source or include a quote. That quick fix will instantly make the paper more authoritative.

5. Pay Attention to the Organization

An essay is usually consisted of five paragraphs: introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should make sense on its own, but it should be connected to the previous and following paragraphs, as well as with the thesis statement.

Are the paragraphs properly organized? Does each body paragraph contain its own argument supported by facts? If that’s not the case, you’ll have some editing to do.

6. Simplify!

Simplicity is an important element of strong writing. When you have a clear point to make and you’re confident in your arguments, you don’t need big words from the dictionary to sound smart. Make sure the sentences are clear! If there’s excessive or complex wording, edit those parts.

7. Format the Citations

Did you cite all sources you used? If you failed to do so, you’ll be in serious trouble called plagiarism. You have to cite all sources according to a specific formatting standard, such as Turabian, APA, or MLA.

If your professor recommended a style, study the guidelines and make sure all sources are cited and formatted well.

8. Correct the Grammar

You’re not done yet, but you’re close. Do another read and focus not only the style and logic, but on the grammar. Is there improper use of homophones, such as than/then, you’re/your, affect/effect, or there/their/they’re? These mistakes are easy to make when you’re typing fast.

If there’s too much passive voice in your essay, you’ll want to turn it into active. Passive voice makes you look insecure.

Make sure the grammar is flawless before you proceed to the next step.

9. Search for Misspelled Words

Finally, it’s time to focus on each individual word. Do a final reading, even if you’re sure that everything is fine at this point. You might come across misspelled words that need a fix.

10. Still Not There? Get Help!

You’re not sure you edited the piece well? You had trouble with the citations and organization of paragraphs? It’s okay. There’s a final remedy that works for all students: hire a professional editing service or ask a friend to give you a hand. When you get an unbiased opinion, it will be easier for you to improve the weak points in your writing.

There you have it; the quick and easy guide to proper editing. Don’t forget to leave some space between the writing and editing process, and pay attention to every single detail when you start editing. It’s not as hard as it seems.