Editing is a necessary part of the writing process. When you edit what you write, you inevitably make it better. This is especially true when it comes to essay writing. Proofreading and editing essays can seem tedious, but it’s actually a simple task if you tackle it in an organized way. Just remember to do it slowly and check one thing at a time.
Step one: use a spell checker
Chances are you’ve used a word processor to write your essay. Most word processors have a spell-check feature. To start editing your essay, use the spell checker to check for spelling errors. Correct problems as you go along.
Then use the grammar checker in your word processor (if there is one) to check for grammatical errors. Most grammar checkers now look for use of commas, continued sentences, passive sentences, tense problems, and more. Edit your essay based on your judgment and grammar tips.
Step Two: Print the essay
It’s time to start hand-checking your essay. You can do this on your computer, but it’s better to print out a copy if you can. Errors will be easier to catch on paper than on a computer screen.
Step Three: Review your thesis statement
Start by reading your essay’s thesis statement. Is it clear and easy to follow? Is the content of the essay consistent with the statement? If not, consider changing the statement to reflect the content.
Step Three: Review the introduction
Make sure your introduction is short and detailed. It should be more than a statement of your intentions and opinions. The introduction should set the tone of your essay–a tone that will be maintained throughout. The tone should be appropriate to the topic and audience you want to reach.
Step Four: Check your paragraph structure
Check the paragraph structure in your essay. Each paragraph should contain relevant information and not contain empty sentences. Get rid of any sentences that seem a little out of place. Also check your transitional sentences. Your essay will look discontinuous if there is no clear transition from one idea to another.
Step Five: Review the Conclusion
The conclusion of your essay should refer to your thesis statement. It should also follow the structure and/or argument of your essay. Take extra time to hone your conclusion. It will be the last thing the reader sees and the first thing he or she remembers.
Step Six: Read your essay aloud
Next, read your essay aloud. Pause to read, as punctuation indicates. This will help you determine how your essay looks and sounds. If you hear something you don’t like, change it and see if it sounds better.
Step seven: manually check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Once the content of your essay has been rewritten, it is important to manually check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Your word processor will not catch everything. Carefully check for subject/verb consistency, tense sequence, plurals and possessives, fragments, continuations, and use of commas.
Step Eight: Feedback
If possible, have someone read your essay and offer suggestions for improvement. If you don’t have anyone to do it for you, do it yourself. Since you’ve already spent so much time reading, set the essay aside a couple of days before returning to it. This will allow you to critique it with fresh eyes.
Editing and proofreading tips
When writing your essay, make sure you have time to edit.
Follow the rules of your assignment. If you have been given a word count, abide by it.
Fact-checking. Fact-checking. Fact-checking.
For a more organized essay, create a plan before writing. When editing, refer back to your plan to make sure you have covered all the necessary points.
Proofread slowly. If you read too fast, it’s easy to miss mistakes.