Table of Contents
- Tips For Editing An Essay - With Examples
- What Is The Purpose Of Editing An Essay
- An Example Of The Editing Process For Essays
- Step 1: Take a break and come back with fresh eyes
- Step 2: Review the overall structure and flow
- Step 3: Evaluate paragraph structure and coherence
- Step 4: Refine your language and sentence structure
- Step 5: Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors
- Step 6: Seek feedback from others
- About The Author
For many of us, the writing side of an essay is hard enough. The last thing we want to do once we’ve just scrambled our way to the word count is to have to read over those thousands of words.
But the reality is, editing is the most important part of the writing process. It’s where the writer has the opportunity to step back, think and reflect on what they’ve created. It’s the process that allows them to consider whether they’ve achieved their goals and met the submission criteria. And it’s where they get to add those finishing touches to polish that essay until it shines.
In this guide, we’ll look at why they’re important first before diving into an example of an approach you can take to editing your essays. We’ll also answer some burning editing questions.
What Is The Purpose Of Editing An EssayThe purpose of editing an essay is to polish it so that it’s more engaging and elevates it to the quality you need to get the best grades possible.
As we’ll explore in more detail below, the process of editing an essay involves refining written work to ensure you effectively communicate your points through structure, flow, coherence, grammar, syntax, punctuation (like commas), and spelling.
Achieving clarity is one primary reason for editing an essay. Removing ambiguity and refining language enables writers to precisely communicate their ideas and prevent reader confusion.
According to William Zinsser's "On Writing Well," editing involves examining work with a critical eye to identify strengths and weaknesses and ensure clear and effective writing. You can’t achieve that if you don’t edit!
Another benefit of editing an essay is improving the organization and logical flow of ideas. The act of writing the first draft enables a writer to organize thoughts, making essays more readable and accessible to readers.
In "Writing Tools," Roy Peter Clark emphasizes the point that editing allows writers to choose the best sequence of ideas, arguments, and evidence to support their claims. That’s how you achieve the best results.
An Example Of The Editing Process For EssaysOne of the biggest challenges writers face when it comes to editing is knowing the best process to follow. It’s important to remember that there’s no single correct way to edit a piece; it’s just whatever works best for you.
With that said, it can help to take a more objective and logical approach to edit. Here’s an example of a step-by-step process that you may find useful:
Step 1: Take a break and come back with fresh eyesAfter finishing the essay, take a break. Forget about the essay and clear your mind. The idea behind this is to allow you to edit your essay with fresh eyes. You’re more likely to spot errors and inconsistencies, for example. In "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers," Renni Browne and Dave King recommend taking a break for several days to gain a fresh perspective. Stephen King also famously recommended about 2 to 4 weeks.
Step 2: Review the overall structure and flowBefore you do anything else, read through your essay and assess the overall structure and flow. Ensure that your thesis statement is clear and supported by relevant evidence. As Roy Peter Clark notes in "Writing Tools," examine whether your essay follows a logical sequence of ideas, arguments, and evidence to make your point.
Step 3: Evaluate paragraph structure and coherenceAs you read through your piece, you should also check that each paragraph has a clear purpose and develops your argument. In "The Elements of Style," Strunk and White recommend that writers ensure that each paragraph contains a single topic and that they revise or eliminate paragraphs that stray off-topic, especially if the word count is tight.
Step 4: Refine your language and sentence structureOn your next read-through, you can begin to move line by line, this time looking to achieve concise and precise language that communicates your ideas clearly. Strive to eliminate unnecessary words, passive voice, and excessive adjectives. In "On Writing Well," William Zinsser emphasizes the importance of using precise language, stating that "clutter is the disease of American writing."
Step 5: Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling errorsOne of your final rounds of edits should involve proofreading your essay. This is to check for any grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors that may have slipped through the net. You can use online tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to identify errors and improve the readability of your essay for free. In "The Chicago Manual of Style," editors recommend that writers proofread their work multiple times to ensure that they catch every error.
Step 6: Seek feedback from othersShare your essay with a trusted friend or mentor and ask for feedback. In "The Writer's Portable Mentor," Priscilla Long recommends that writers seek feedback from others and use it to improve their writing. Listen to constructive criticism and use it to refine your work.
As you can see, editing an essay is a vital process that involves reviewing and refining the structure, coherence, language, and grammar of the written work in different stages.
Following a step-by-step guide like this can help make a potentially chaotic process more orderly, which will hopefully improve the quality of your writing, not just for essays but for all types of editing, like novels.
About The AuthorRichie Billing writes fantasy fiction, historical fiction and stories of a darker nature. His stories often explore real-world issues in fantasy lands.
When not writing, Richie works as an editor and digital marketer and teaches creative writing both online and offline, as well as speaking at events and conventions like Fantasycon.
Most nights you can find him up into the wee hours scribbling away or watching the NBA.
Find out more at www.richiebilling.com