Essay Editing Guide
Thomas Jefferson believed editing was important. He once told his daughter, “Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.” One of the most important parts of writing an essay is revision or proofreading. Here are some tips to edit an essay or term paper:
- Have you followed the instructions for the essay?
- Are the margins and spacing set correctly?
- Check for unity in the essay. Have you used transitions from paragraph to paragraph?
- Have you used a hook or an attention-grabber to introduce the essay?
- Do you have a well-written thesis statement? Do these transitions help the essay to flow smoothly?
- Have you supported all your main points or topic sentences?
- Does the first sentence of each paragraph outline what the essay is about?
- Does the conclusion give a take-away point or thought to the reader?
- Have you removed any clich's from the essay or term paper?
- When reading the essay, does it make sense? Are there any parts of the essay that does not make sense? Read the essay out loud.
- Does the evidence in the essay support the thesis statement and topic sentences?
- Are there any examples or anecdotes that support the thesis statement?
- Does the sentences flow smoothly? Does each paragraph lead to the next in an overall support of the thesis statement?
- If an acronym is used, is it spelled out the first time?
- Are there any spelling mistakes? Read each word and each if it is the correct word used. There are many words that the spell checker will not find as wrong such as they're, their, there.
- Have you used quotation marks on both sides of the citation? Some students remember to put one quotation mark but not the other one. For example, “Sharon ran the race without looking back, but she was disqualified (Moore 1952). Notice one of the quotation marks is used, but not the other one. This is a common mistake.
- Have you checked to make sure the punctuation is correct? Are commas used where they need to be used?
- Have you put your name on the essay? Does it need a title page?
Use to for revising your custom essay and research paper. Carefully check to see if you have made any errors and correct these. Many writers suggest writing the rough draft of an essay, and then letting it set for a few hours or days. Go back to it and read it out loud. Check for any mistakes in the flow of the paragraphs. Check for any punctuation mistakes as you read it. Check to make sure the essay makes sense.
Another suggestion writers make is to have someone else proofread the essay. Encourage them to be honest. Writers say that if their peers fail to tell them about mistakes, the editor will more than likely put it in the refusal pile. While corrections may stem to hurt someone's feelings, it is far better to show them their mistakes. Ezra Pound once stated, “Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.” While most students are not professional writers, the fact still remains that essays should not only be accurate with the evidence it provides but it, also, should be clear of any mistakes.