Make Your Editing Effective
People aren’t born essayists; they improve their writing skills through constant practice. However, it should be said that an essay doesn’t imply mere writing. The composing process includes a number of steps that must be taken before turning the paper in with confidence. Every essay starts with a plan and research. Then, the outline should be created and transformed into a draft. Lastly, the latter must be polished and revised thoroughly. As you can see, writing is just one of the crucial steps of the entire venture that ends with proofreading and editing (see “How to Write an Essay in Five Easy Steps” by Scribendi).
For many students, editing itself might be a more formidable obstacle than writing. Even experienced authors find self-correction challenging. The earlier you get better at essay writing, the better it is for your career and future perspectives. But, you live and learn. Perfection is a blurry construct, and you use and improve your writing skills throughout life. Certainly, there’s computer software that offers grammar and spelling check, but self-editing is still a priceless skill. To get better at it, we suggest you follow some of the essay editing tips we provide in this article.
Brief editing guide
First of all, editing presupposes attentive reading to highlight and correct mechanical, grammar, and stylistic mistakes. Wrong paper formatting and citation style both refer to the form of your writing, whereas logical fallacies — to its content. “Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students” by Stephen Bailey recommends a summarized three-step approach to essay editing.
You have to go through the whole essay just to get the general idea and impression without making any comments. This might be a little bit difficult, but try to focus on what you want to tell and make sure those points are easy to spot during the reading. The main checklist questions are:
- Does the essay meet the requirements of the assignment?
- Is the main point of the essay laid out clearly enough?
- Is the thesis statement reflected in the body of the essay?
- Are there any off-topic, missing, or contradictory parts?
- Is the conclusion convincing and definitive?
- Re-reading + editing
You should go through the essay once again from the very start, being ready to make notes. The task might become more complicated as you have to highlight any types of errors mentioned above and “weak” parts that demand reworking. The checklist of objectives goes as follows:
- Eliminate redundancy wherever you can
- Change passive voice to active voice if possible
- Remember to note the strongest and the most interesting parts along with the weakest ones
- Take care of transitions and connections both between sentences and paragraphs.
By reading everything one more time, you will complete the editing process and organize all your thoughts. This part should be done with a clear head because your task here is to find any missing elements and check all crucial parts of the writing once more. The questions you should ask yourself are:
- Is the essay structure logical and coherent?
- Is the style of your writing consistent throughout the paper?
- Does the essay evoke interest and make you want to read it?
- Are the references and footnotes properly integrated into the text?
- Is the essay formatted properly?
Also, it should be noted that proofreading and editing are not the same. Being focused on “visible” errors, proofreading is an essential but smaller part of the overall editing process, which deals with the flow and tone of the text, its content, and structure. The best essays emerge from the melting pot of editing. By the way, an online essay editing service is able to offer the kind of support that won’t disappoint you and will light up the way to better scores and greater academic results. Using advanced editing tools along with vast experience, competent editors can proofread and edit your essay to perfection. We firmly believe that you deserve only the best.
If traditional techniques don’t really work in your case, you should try to use some of the non-trivial editing life hacks:
- Change the editing format. Print your essay if it’s written on a laptop, and your tired brain might catch the mistakes you couldn’t spot before. Furthermore, it can be more pleasant to proofread a hard copy because you can use various highlighters to note the problematic spots, which can give we the feel of being a professional editor.
- Start reading from the end. It may seem strange, but it can let you climb up sentence by sentence, catching the subtle mistakes that you may have missed upon normal reading.
- Explore the range of available resources. Spend some time on familiarizing yourself with the all accessible sources of information such as special programs, workshops, mutual tutoring, etc. and never hesitate to use them for essay writing and editing.
- Read the paper aloud. It is one of the common ways to proofread your writing from a different angle. While doing so, you can spot some of the mistakes that you missed during the silent reading stage. Don’t be afraid to be awkward because the results won’t keep you waiting. You can read your essay out loud in front of a mirror, in an empty room, to your family members or close friend, or even to your pet. During that, you’ll definitely notice some of the problems hard to spot otherwise.
- Try to weed out the mistakes one by one. If it’s too complicated to find multiple error types in one go, read your essay once for each error type. It might take longer but is better for the revision accuracy.
- Assess each essay paragraph as an individual piece of writing. Each one of those must have a key sentence and supporting argumentation. If they’re not fully elaborated, keep on polishing them. Don’t forget to check the logical links between the paragraphs as well.
- Look at the requirements once more. It may sound boring, but rereading the essay guidelines given by your instructor can work a miracle. Students often follow their train of thought with such a passion that some of the initial directions might be neglected. Glancing through the requirements checklist one more time wouldn’t hurt.
- No inspiration whatsoever? When it happens, feel free to flip through a few voluminous compilations of essay masterpieces, such as “The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present” (by Phillip Lopate). Those are usually more creative and free-spirited than bare academic writing.
- Forget about your essay for a day or two (if possible)! There must be a break between the writing and editing steps. After spending lots of time on writing, some of the mistakes might look natural to you and be easily neglected upon revision. A few days away from your task can help you refresh yourself and edit the paper clear-headed.
Your mistakes are what make you human (errare humanum est). An essay is a cornerstone of writing as a lifelong learning process where struggling is inevitable, so be generous to give yourself a little credit. It’s known that experience is the result of errors, and one learns from one’s mistakes. Once you get into reading, writing, and mutual peer editing with pleasure, you’ll be one step closer to becoming a better writer.