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10 Tips to Know How to Edit an Essay

September 01, 2021

Every student should learn how to edit an essay. Essay writing is among the skills they'll be using extensively throughout their student years, and they need to master this process. And, while some feel that research and content writing are crucial, editing an essay is equally as important. Why? Because you can’t submit your essay without previously  reviewing what you’ve written, make alterations, improve it, and perfect it.

So, learning how to edit your essay is something you should take seriously since it's a necessity for submitting nothing but high-quality, professionally written essays. 

Below, you’ll find our ultimate students’ guide with 10 simple points for editing your essays successfully.

How to Edit Essays in 10 Simple Steps

The steps listed in our guide will teach you how to edit your paper and guide you through this process slowly and patiently. Follow each step and turn it into the essay editing routine!

1. Separate Writing From Editing

Writing and editing your essay should be two different phases in the process of essay creation. You don't want to link these two together and try doing it all at once. Instead, you should take a break when you finish writing and before you start editing.

This is because your brain needs to rest from all the information it's just processed during the writing phase, to look at the essay with a fresh eye.

So, if you could, do the editing the next day, or at least wait a couple of hours. This will help you:

  • look at the essay objectively
  • focus on its weak spots 
  • detect mistakes

Separate writing from editing to get the best results from each stage.

2. Check Your Structure

When one is editing college essays, one has to do it in several phases. That means you’ll read the entire essay repeatedly, at every turn focusing on a new perspective and new aspect of your essay.

The first thing you want to check is the structure. 

Read your essay top to bottom and think about:

  • how you organized the sections
  • how you have  listed the arguments
  • how you have developed your hypothesis, theories, and questions

Constantly ask yourself whether that's the best order possible or there's a better way you could've organized the essay. You may even find essay writer help online if this process gets overwhelming for you. Create new outlines and try out different structures while editing to find the winning combination.

3. Trim Long Chunks of Text

You want your essay to be informative and well-researched, but you don’t want it to be too hard to read. Sentences and paragraphs that are too long and complex might easily wear down the reader. 

So, when you are editing your essay, focus on this aspect as well.

You need to:

  • detect too complex and long sentences and paragraphs
  • divide them into smaller chunks
  • remove redundant and repetitive words

Break down your essay as much as you can to create a dynamic and easy-to-read structure. Even if you pay for research papers, you may still do the editing part on your own, to adjust the writing style to your personal preferences.

4. Don’t Overdo the Language

We know you are not a professional editor for essays, but you still have to walk the extra mile to polish your college essays to perfection. And, using overly complex and technical vocabulary is a pitfall so many students fail to avoid.

Just because you are writing an academic text doesn't mean you should choose pompous and complicated vocabulary. On the contrary, you should make your essay as clear and concise as possible.

So, do another edit reading, and at that point try to:

  • highlight complex words that have simpler synonyms
  • recognize complex phrasing and sentence formatting
  • simplify everything that could be simplified

So, instead of saying “we were able to conduct research” you could say “we researched”. Or, instead of “undertaking” say “research”.

Aim for simplicity.

5. Don’t Repeat Ideas

Some students who don’t yet have a lot of experience with essay writing and have to practice editing essays, focus too much  on meeting the word count for the essay that it may cost them their essay quality. They do their best to write more words in the essay, that they repeat ideas.

So, you need to do a check to ensure that’s not the case with you. If you think this task is too much for you, you could request cheap essay writing help online, and ask somebody else to do it for you.

Just remember- once is enough for you to state a fact or idea. Do not repeat the same sentence four times, using synonymous words and phrases. Be clear when you say it and move on to the next idea.

6. Remove Empty Words

Some words serve no actual purpose in your essay. They're there to decorate and embellish your content, but they carry no specific or valuable meaning.

These words have to be removed by editing essay. 

Those are words such as:

  • very
  • rather
  • basically
  • practically
  • somewhat
  • may
  • seem

So, substitute them for something more specific. For instance, instead of “very painful” you may say “excruciating”.

7. Attribute Quotations

Watching quotations isn’t a question of stylistic but rather of technical editing. You should follow the rules of proper quotation attribution and do it as recommended by your university.

So, here’s how to edit essay quotations. Read your essay looking for ideas and sentences you borrowed from another author and check:

  • if you stated it’s a direct quote
  • if you included it in your reference list, bibliography, or a footnote
  • if you formatted the reference properly, following a referencing style your university is requiring

Once you finish reading, you’ll be sure there are no hidden mistakes in your quotation, and you won’t be accused of plagiarizing anyone’s ideas.

8. Remove Exclamation Marks

Academic writing and exclamation marks don’t go hand in hand. Exclamation marks have nothing to do with your formal academic tone and style of writing, so do not use them in your essays.

Use them when you are making a direct quotation and rewriting it from another source. Other than that, a simple period will do the trick.

9. Proofread Several Times

Once you are sure you’ve got the content quality, structure, and organization right, do a proofreading check. Proofreading refers to finding and removing mistakes such as:

  • spelling
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • inconsistency in vocabulary, formatting, tenses

You can proofread using numerous strategies:

  • reading aloud 
  • switching essays with a colleague and proofreading for one another
  • using spell and grammar checkers online
  • getting essay proofreading  help online

It would be best if you combine these strategies and use more than one, to guarantee an essay is accurate and mistakes-free. The important thing is there’s no room for any mistakes when you’re editing college essay.

10. Stay Objective

Finally, there’s the last thing to do when editing your essay: Learn how to take a step back from your essay and look at it objectively.

Some students fall in love with the first version of their essay, due to the amount of time and effort they’ve invested in writing it. But, one have to take an objective look at the essay and be able to critically assess every point.

So, read it with your professors in mind, and don't get too tied up in your first essay draft.

Now You Know How to Edit Your Paper

When learning how to correct an essay, every step of the process will take some time and energy. You’ll need to focus on the mistakes, detecting improvement options, and making every part of the essay better. 

But, as you gain experience, essay editing will become a simple routine you apply to all your essays. So, use our ultimate students’ guide as your practice mentor, and start working on establishing your essays editing routine.