How to Self-Edit an Essay: Guide All You Need to Know

Self-editing an essay is a crucial stage of your writing process. An appropriate amount of time spent refining your essay will save you time when you hand it to your professor. This post explains why self-editing is essential and what type of text you should edit.

Where to Start?

Self-editing is the act of proofreading your essay and finding errors before submitting it. A proofread essay by an essay writer should follow this necessary process before handing in the paper. Whether writing a short essay or a full-length book, self-editing is needed.

How to Self-Edit Your Essay

It is essential to self-edit your work. This is because it helps identify problems in your writing. For example, some students tend to use too many commas, thus making the sentence confusing.

Also, some writers struggle with grammar and spelling issues. You can hire an editor to edit your work to avoid such errors. Another alternative is reading more books and articles about self-editing and how to self-edit an essay.

Benefits of Self-Editing Your Essay

Aforementioned, self-editing is an intricate part of your overall writing style. Here is a breakdown of some benefits of self-editing to expect:

1. It helps you become better at writing

Becoming a better writer may seem like an obvious point. However, the more you edit your work, the better you will become at spotting errors in your writing. It gives you an overview of the overall work before putting pen to paper. You will also learn from your mistakes and improve as a writer overall. Writing is similar to any other skill: the more you practice, the better you will get at it.

2. It makes your work more coherent

Coherence is key to good writing, whether writing fiction or nonfiction. This helps readers understand what you are trying to say (even if what you are saying is fictional). When reading through your work after finishing a draft, make sure everything makes sense.

It helps you save time. Getting an editor from a professional essay editing service is a great idea.

3. It helps you find errors

The primary purpose of editing any paper is to help you find mistakes in grammar and spelling. Doing this on your own allows you to do just that. Also, it is a great way to learn how to write better in the future.

4. It helps you save money

Essay editing will cost far less than hiring someone else to do the work for you. This is often a good reason for many students to choose this option over hiring an editor to write essays.

How to Self-Edit Your Essay: Tips and Tricks

Several techniques apply to your essay edit. Below are essential tips from experts on how to self-edit an essay:

1. Read your essay with a purpose

It is hard to find mistakes when reading a page or two of your writing and thinking about it as a whole. This is where a purpose comes in handy. For example, when editing the grammar and punctuation of your essay, read your content with those things in mind. Read and look for transitions between paragraphs and ideas to get coherence.

2. Read the essay aloud

Reading aloud will help you catch errors that may not be obvious when reading silently. It also gives you a chance to hear how your words sound and how they fit together. You are more likely to notice awkward phrasing or too-long sentences when you listen to the spoken rather than see them on the page.

3. Read backwards

Reading backwards helps avoid distractions by the meaning of what you wrote. Instead, you can focus on making sure each word sounds right and is spelt correctly. You may even find that you deleted a word or two without realizing it.

4. Take breaks

Breaks can help you clear your mind. Therefore, you see things with fresh eyes after coming back. This can help you spot any holes in your reasoning or places where you might have gone off track from the essay’s main idea.

5. Check for wordy phrases

You may think that using more extended, complicated words makes you sound intelligent. Unfortunately, it takes away from your writing style. You want to make the process as painless as possible for the reader. Therefore, choose simple words over fancy ones. Read aloud to see how it sounds.

6. Remove distracting or confusing details

Remove any scene or part of the essay that does not fit with the rest of your message. Think about what each story brings to the table. Cut it out when it does not contribute to your overall goal.

Essay Editing Checklist: Important Things to Look For

Many errors are common as we all slip up on occasion. Here are some things to watch for with your edit essay:

Spelling and grammar

Check for any spelling or grammar errors. Do not solely rely on the spellchecker to catch everything. Some words are spelt wrong but are still recognized as valid words. For example, “form” instead of “from.”

Unnecessary words

Look for unnecessary words in your sentences and paragraphs. Try to use as few words as possible to get your message across. Take any sentence out when it does not add anything to your message.

Clarity

When using a word that is unclear to you, it probably won’t be clear to your readers. Look for these types of terms and replace them with simpler ones. Always use simple language, even when it is not the most elegant way of saying something.

Motivation for Writing a Paper

Passive voice

The passive construction is when the subject is being acted upon by someone or something else. The passive voice appeals to a formal and academic audience. It can also be awkward at times, mainly when overused.

Consequently, try to keep your writing active. Active voice means that the subject acts in the sentence (e.g., the student is skipping class). Passive voice means that the subject has something done to it (e.g., the student missed class).

Repetition

Suppose you use a word once, fine. However, when using it twice, see if you can find a different way of saying the same thing. Consider rewriting the whole sentence or paragraph to avoid using the same word three or more times.

Clichés

These words and phrases have been used so much that they have lost their meaning. Examples include “at the end of the day,” “it’s a no-brainer,” and “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Try finding another way of expressing your thoughts rather than using them. Alternatively, cut them out altogether.

Wordiness

Most writers tend to be wordy at first. This is because they have so much they want to say. Try reading your work aloud. Try to see any places where you can shorten it without losing meaning. This is often the case with long sentences strung together with commas and semi-colons (reread those carefully).

Sentence structure variety

Good writing includes sentence structure variety. However, your sentences don’t need to be extremely lengthy or complex. Your reader might find your work boring or confusing when all sentences are lengthy. Likewise, you could use a lot of very long sentences with multiple clauses and commas. However, using it too often might make your reader lose interest and struggle to follow along.

Self-Editing Tips for Your Essay

You will likely have many ideas when beginning the essay writing process. You may have a strong thesis statement or even a topic already in mind. However, these ideas are not always the most well-crafted and may not be appropriate for the audience of your essay. Here are some standard steps that you can follow to self-edit your essays.

Remember your audience

The first step is determining your audience before writing your college essay. Please consider who will be reading the essay and what they want from it. How much do they know about the topic? Are there any specific words or phrases that need defining? It is important to remember that writing an academic essay for school may not be appropriate for writing an essay for a blog post.

Stephen King’s ten per cent rule

According to Stephen King, who wrote On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, you should reduce every first draft by ten per cent before submitting it. This means cutting out unnecessary words, sentences, or paragraphs and may even mean deleting a whole section if it doesn’t suit the text.

Listen to your essay

Listening to your essay is one of the essential aspects of self-editing. It allows you to catch mistakes that you may not see when reading your material. Reading aloud will help you spot confusing or awkward passages while also giving you a chance to hear how well your writing flows. You can record yourself reading aloud. Alternatively, ask a trusted friend to read it for you.

Check for consistency

Make sure that each sentence makes sense within the context of your paper. Also, the tone remains consistent throughout all sections of the essay. Pay attention, particularly to transitions, which connect ideas and give your reader an easy way to follow along. When a transition does not sound right when you read through it, you should probably change or delete it altogether.

Clarity

Essays are written to persuade or inform readers. Make sure all time taken to write the essay will be transparent with the point you are trying to get across. Also, ensure a clear introduction body paragraphs are organized into a logical order—lastly, a conclusion to drive home your message.

Create a compelling story

Your essay must have a clear theme that is present throughout the piece. A central storyline should develop in each paragraph and carry through from the introduction to the conclusion for narrative essays. Each paragraph should support your thesis statement when writing an expository essay. Your sentences should connect back to this central idea. Therefore, your reader understands how the paragraphs fit together into one cohesive whole.

student-writing-contest

Evaluate your essay’s structure and organization

Strengthen the organization of your paper by making sure that there is a clear introduction, body, and conclusion to each paragraph. The most standard way to accomplish this is by creating a simple outline or a bulleted list of topics covered in the paper.

Final Takeaway

A self-edited essay is an essential tool for any student. Ensure you do not cut yourself off too soon. Also, try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect essay. There will always be others on a similar topic, or even competing with yours. Read the material carefully, check grammar and spelling mistakes, proofread, and add new material when needed.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the CEO of BioEnergy Consult, and an international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biogas technology, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. Salman has participated in numerous national and international conferences all over the world. He is a prolific environmental journalist, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. In addition, he is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability through his blogs and portals. Salman can be reached at salman@bioenergyconsult.com or salman@cleantechloops.com.
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