Editing is a necessary part of the writing process. Editing consists of checking the paper's structure, content, organisation, and general flow of the ideas. With editing you ensure your writing is clear and understandable to readers.
Here are some tips to follow when editing:
- Firstly, have a timeout - give yourself some time between writing your essay and coming to edit it. This way you'll be refreshed and not so immersed and close to your work that you no longer see mistakes.
- Print out the paper - for most of us seeing words on paper is more clear than seeing them on the screen. In addition, seeing them on another format provides some useful detachment.
- Check the structure at the headings and subheadings level - are the headings and subheadings covering what they are supposed to be? Are the titles correct?
- Check the structure at the paragraph level - is every paragraph making a point? Are the paragraph ordered logically?
- Check the structure within the paragraphs - is the flow logical? Are you sign posting accordingly?
- Read your paper out loud - this helps ensure the sentences sound correct, as sometimes sentences can sound different to how they are read by your eyes.
- Pruning - Are all your words/sentences important? Are they necessary or simply taking up space? Are they too long or over-complicated? You want each word to be meaningful, you do not want to say what you can say in one sentence, with three or four. Be concise.
- Check for the right word - is the meaning of the word you're using truly conveying what you want it to? Use clear, precise and concrete language. Try to avoid vague language. Be specific. For example, have you used adverbs appropriately (probably, or maybe are relevant when discussing your own opinion, but stating "many scholars probably think..." is not appropriate, in this instance you would need to be more specific, referencing scholars' names and articulating their actual views).
- Check for sweeping statements or generalisations - the more specific you can be, the more grounded your arguments will be. Try to avoid broad, over-generalised terms.
- Check for repetitive use of words or ideas - for example, if you find you are using the same sort of transitional words or words to introduce a quote, think about how you could change this to make your vocabulary more informative and interesting.