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How to Edit a Paper

Editing is a necessary step in writing any kind of paper. Whether it’s one page, or one-hundred pages, you need to check your written work for errors and inconsistencies. That’s why we call the first version of any paper a draft – to recognize immediately that there’s room for improvement. Also, teachers are allowed to take points off of your grade for poorly edited work, even if this means only simple punctuation errors. It doesn’t seem fair, but you have to present a paper that represents your skill in writing, not simply in providing raw data.

How difficult can it be to edit a paper? You read it closely, correct mistakes and change anything that sounds awkward. Then you check the formatting and citations. Not so difficult, right? Well, maybe this method works shorter works, but with longer or more complicated works, you have to be more creative. We’ve selected a few great tips to help you successfully polish your paper.

Editing Tips

There are a lot of things you have to check for when editing a paper. Checking for grammar and spelling mistakes are the obvious steps, but you should also pay attention to consistency in writing style, vocabulary and punctuation. You must also be sure that bibliography is in order. Moreover, you need to make sure that all task-requirements for your particular assignment are fulfilled.

The main point of editing is to make sure your style is consistent. This means eliminating awkward or imprecise words and making certain that the information you present corresponds to the appropriate sections of the paper: introduction, argument, and conclusion. Also make sure that your title corresponds to the topic and sounds original and complete. The bibliography is also important.

Check to be sure there are no odd or missing entries, that all references are listed according to the rules, and placed in the right order.

  • Take a breather. Don’t start editing right away. Put rest time in your schedule, so you can get some distance from the text. Otherwise, it will be harder to spot errors.
  • Find a quiet spot, somewhere with the least background noise. You’re almost finished with the paper, so the last thing you need is any kind of distraction.
  • Read your work aloud. It may seem odd, but don’t be embarrassed about your voice. When you hear the text, it’s easier to pinpoint mistakes and find sentences that don’t sound right.
  • Use editing tools. In most word processors (i.e., MS Word, OpenOffice Writer, Google Docs), you can track corrections and leave comments. When you complete the paper, you can go review the pieces you’ve changed and either agree or disagree with them. No valuable text will be lost.
  • If you see any grammar or punctuation mistakes, correct them right away; don’t wait until all the editing is done. You’ll still have enough errors to correct when proofreading the paper.

Editing is also a skill. The more you practice it, the more effective you’ll become in adding finishing (and winning) touches to your work. There’s nothing more worthy of an A+ than a paper with flawless technique.

Unconventional Means

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of text you really need to delete. You like how it sounds, but it doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the paper. One thing you can do is create a separate document with “deleted scenes.” Include the name of your paper in the title. This way, you can return to the “deleted” text if needed or use it in another work.

You can also read your paper to somebody and get their opinion on your style and the general flow of the text. This part of editing is very important for creative writing, speeches, and argumentative essays where you need to get a specific point across.

Another option is to hire a professional editor, who can easily evaluate your paper and make the necessary changes. For example, the writers at always edit their papers as part of the process. They have deep experience in improving students’ papers. You can get their help and make your paper error-free in a matter of hours.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even for small tasks. You’re still learning, and the best way to learn is through example.

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