Many students often assume that writing a paper ends with completing the first draft. But this is an incorrect assumption. Writing is just half of the process; the other half is editing the paper. While it is tempting to submit a first draft, your chances of getting higher marks increases if you perform editing. But more than just helping ensure good grades, editing also helps you become a better writer. Even the most seasoned writers would tell you how indispensable editing is to writing. But editing is not just about looking for errors; it is a comprehensive process that involves improving all aspects of the paper. In this post, we look at some tips on how to edit your papers.
- Sit on it. Although editing is done after writing the draft, it does not have to come right after. It would be better if you leave your draft for a few days before editing it. This way, you can approach the editing process with fresh eyes. In other words, resting for a day or two will allow you to be better at finding ways to improve your essay as compared to starting immediately.
- Check the structure. When editing, pay particular attention to your paper’s structure. Remember that a paper is composed of three basic parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Ask yourself the following questions: Does the paper’s beginning provide good background information or context? Is the thesis statement clear and identifiable? Do the body paragraphs provide a good explanation of my thesis? Does the conclusion offer a good summary of the paper? Answering these questions should help you identify the parts that need more work.
- Check for transitions. A good paper is one that flows clearly and coherently. All parts should be related to each other and the paper should progress logically. When editing your paper, check if the discussion is easy to follow. You should also make sure that you arrange the information in such a way that each part builds upon or responds to the previous parts. For example, it makes no sense to present a refutation before a counterargument. A counterargument should be presented before a refutation, because the latter is a direct response to the former. Check if your paper has adequate transitions between main sections.
- Check for redundancy. In order to make your paper clear, complete, and understandable, it may be necessary for you to repeat some details. However, there are also instances when you may not be aware that you are restating information more times than necessary. While editing your paper, look for statements that are redundant. So how do you know if a statement is redundant? Try reading the section without the repeated information. If you can still understand that part without the repeated information, then chances are you can delete it without affecting the paper’s quality.
- Check for ambiguity. First drafts are rarely ever free of ambiguity. As you edit your paper, watch out for statements that are vague or confusing. Your approach to ambiguous sentences, of course, depends on the problem with the sentence itself. For example, if the sentence is confusing because it is too long, then splitting it into two or more shorter sentences should help clarify it. On the other hand, some sentences can be made clearer by looking for appropriate words that convey your meaning with precision.
- Check the format. Formatting is also an often overlooked aspect of a paper. During the editing process, ensure that your paper adheres to the citation style prescribed by the instructions. If the instructions do not specify a style, select one that best fits the paper. Most professors are not strict when it comes to formatting, but knowing the correct format for various citation styles is still useful because the importance of formatting tends to increase as the academic level gets more advanced.
- Avoid elevated language. Using technical language or jargon is sometimes inevitable, especially if your topic is on a specialized field or discipline. However, avoid using elevated language unless necessary. Remember, a principal goal of writing is making your reader understand the message you are conveying. Know who your audience are and set the language according to their level of comprehension. The rule of thumb is: if you can put it in simpler terms, do so.
- Ask a friend to read your paper. Another useful tip for editing your paper is asking a friend to read it. Though you may be keen in editing your own work, having someone else check your paper helps in identifying errors or weaknesses that you might miss. Ask someone you trust to review your paper and give honest feedback on how you can improve it.
- Seek professional advice. Asking for professional advice is another way to edit your paper efficiently. Most professors are willing to assist students with their writing. A lot of schools also have writing centers that guide students. If you do not have access to either, you may try professional editors. The internet has many companies that offer such services at reasonable prices. These professionals will not edit your paper for you; rather, they will read your paper and give you useful advice on how to improve its content.
- Perform a final proofread. Once you are feel that you are satisfied with your work, make sure that you perform one final proofread before submitting. You may ask, “why should I proofread again when I have already made extensive changes?” The answer is simple: in the heat of improving your paper, you might have made some typographical errors that you didn’t notice. A final proofreading gives you the chance to specifically focus on technical aspects such as spelling and punctuation. So walk that extra mile and find out how a final proofread can help you produce a polished paper; you will thank yourself later for it.
Editing your paper is sometimes a laborious and painstaking process. But it is also an essential step in effective writing. So give your paper the attention it deserves and see how editing can make all the difference - here is an editing checklist for you.