Editing your writing is a crucial part of the process. If you try to make your first draft perfect, it will distract from what is important and some good ideas might fall through the cracks
Editing is a skill that can be learned and used for all types of writing. We have an in-depth guide on how to edit any type of writing, which includes different styles of editing as well as advanced techniques. However, if you need to efficiently edit something you wrote such as a school paper or email then consider the following tips:
In this article, we will break down the process of self-editing. First, you should look for problems in your writing when reading a draft through broad and specific checklists. Then you can use expert tips to edit yourself if necessary
Self-editing checklist: What to look for
Spelling and grammar should be professional.
Proofreading only covers fixing typographical mistakes, whereas editing entails all corrections including spelling and grammar but also word choice clarity structure format tone more
You’ll also want to watch for two of the most common writing mistakes: incorrect verb forms and subject-verb agreement.
With the Grammarly writing assistant checking for spelling and grammar mistakes, you can focus on other aspects of your paper. With its word choice advice and clarity tips, it makes things easier by helping to identify all errors in a document automatically.
No unnecessary words
If there’s one rule to self-editing, it’s this: Remove any unneeded or irrelevant details.
Good writing uses only what’s necessary and nothing else. That doesn’t mean avoiding details but rather explaining the important facts as succinctly as possible so that they can be easily understood by a reader. For more help read our guide on how to avoid wasteful language in your writing
Clarity is above all. Your writing should be clear, it doesn’t matter how poetic your language if no one knows what y
Clarity is the most important factor in writing to be professional.
Writing should not only communicate a message that another person can understand, but it also needs to have an effective tone of voice so as not to confuse the reader. If you are too informal or use language incorrectly for your audience, they will feel alienated and lose interest quickly
Instead of using fancy words, use simple ones.
Big words can distract your readers, so smart writers save them only for when they’re absolutely necessary. If you can, use a small and simple word that’s easy to understand. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Short words are best”.
The tone of voice should be professional.
The number one thing to keep in mind when choosing your words is that they need to sound natural and appropriate for the audience you’re writing for, which means using language suited towards their needs and level of knowledge; this also extends into avoiding jargon or technical terms unless it’s necessary (e.g., if trying to get a point across). It can feel like there are too many rules though—how do we know what our own right choice will be? That’s why reading widely with an eye on how others use words before making them fit your personal style helps tremendously!
Sentences should be shorter, less than 20 words.
Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand because the reader won’t have a hard time digesting each word or phrase in a sentence. If you find long sentences when self-editing your work, try breaking them up into two separate ones for smoother reading comprehension without losing any of its meaning
Writing about a particular topic can be particularly boring if every sentence starts with that same subject. While t
Sentence structure variety.
One must not use the same sentence format one after another to keep things interesting and engaging for your readers, so vary up the length of time as well as style in which you present information or facts that are being given by using a different approach with each new statement.
Consistent verb tense.
The verb tense should remain consistent throughout a piece of writing. When doing self-editing, check that each active verb follows the same tense as other verbs used in your text.
In order to maintain consistency while editing it is best to keep all tenses the same and make sure they match with any previous or future verbs mentioned within a written passage.
Tone of voice should be consistent.
Likewise, make sure your tone stays the same throughout your writing by choosing an appropriate one before self-editing and revising to match it.
Don’t use clichés.
Avoiding them is boring and unimaginative, they make you sound like everyone else who has written a paper before you. Cliché wording does not inspire the reader to think about what’s going on in your brain when writing down these words because it’s been overdone so many times that people are numb from seeing those phrases over-used again and again clogging up their senses with boredom until eventually dying out of usage completely as more originalists replace old worn phraseology for new ones which will be used by future writers after us resulting in another cliché phenomenon occurring all over again repeating its cycle once every decade or two just long enough for someone to come along replacing our generation’s tired old stale language yet leading
Jargon should be avoided in writing, as it may confuse the reader.
This is due to jargon words that only people who are familiar with a particular field would understand. For example, oil rig workers know what a ginzel means but regular readers wouldn’t likely have any idea why they were mentioned or what their purpose was for being brought up without an explanation given by the writer themselves beforehand.
Hedging undermines your writing, so try to remove it when self-editing.
Hedging is language that seems uncertain or iffy like saying “I think maybe we should go” instead of letting’s leave.” Like the passive voice, hedging undercuts your message and makes you sound less confident than before.
Last, double-check that the formatting of your document is correct. Assignments may have criteria you’re not used to, like using the controversial Oxford comma , so make sure you haven’t forgotten them in a first draft .
If you’re completing an academic writing assignment, make sure to follow the formatting rules: pay attention to double spaces and indentations. Citations and quotations should be formatted according to MLA, APA or Chicago style; check which one is required beforehand.
The tone of voice in this passage can remain professional but could also include phrases such as “pay close attention” instead of just stating that it’s important for citations and quotes
How to edit your own writing: 5 self-editing tips
1. Stephen King’s ten percent rule
Stephen King, one of the best-selling authors in history gives advice on self editing. He recommends deleting ten percent when you edit your rough draft and provides examples to help with his explanation.
This loose rule echoes what we said above about unnecessary words. Good writing uses only the words that are necessary, so cutting ten percent of your first draft works to eliminate redundancies and word clusters for less redundancy in good writing.
2. Remember your audience
When editing your writing, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
Is this my voice?
Will my reader understand what I’m saying here?
Which phrasing would reflect better on me as a writer/student?
It helps to think about a person you know well as a stand-in for your general audience. If you don’t have anyone specific in mind, make up an imaginary person who resembles the average reader.
3. Read it out loud
Reading your first draft out loud can provide some new perspectives for you. Reading it silently triggers certain areas of our brain, but reading it aloud also helps with clarity as certain phrases do not make sense when read quietly
4. Sleep on it
Sometimes you need time to cool off before editing. It’s best if you take a break, whether that means getting enough sleep or doing something fun after writing the rough draft. If there isn’t enough time for this then at least try taking a small break in between self-editing sessions so your mind can relax and be refreshed when it’s finally edited thoroughly
5. Use editing resources
If all these self-editing guidelines seem overwhelming, there’s some good news: You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of editing resources to ease your burden like Grammarly that offers writing suggestions on both grammar and spelling while you write so you never miss a mistake.
Grammarly Premium’s features help you edit just like a real editor! It’ll point out redundancies, hedging, inconsistencies in tone and even plagiarism. Then it suggests better word choice to highlight areas for revisions—all with one click of the mouse or tap on your keyboard! Try it now so that both of us can work together as a team to create the best writing possible.