You might as well try these tips. What have you got to lose besides getting a higher grade and feeling good about yourself, getting wonderful praise from your family, plus bragging rights to your friends?
Easy and Quick Editing Tips
1. READ YOUR PAPER OUT LOUD
- Once you finish your paper, even if you are a procrastinator, if you leave just enough time to read your paper out loud you will be able to catch a whole bunch of small errors that you may have not noticed before. This doesn't take long and it will be worth it. You will catch things that spell check in Word can't. Of course I also suggest you don't do this somewhere public, you may look a little funny, but if you don't care what other people think then go for it!
2. HAVE A FRIEND READ YOUR PAPER
- Seriously, have a friend, boyfriend, rommmate, parent, sibling, or even your teacher read over your paper once you finish it. Even if you have already edited it yourself, having a fresh set of eyes can really help. Don't be nervous about asking for help, I loved it when my friends asked me to read over and edit their papers, I was honored, especially being an English major and all. If you have that English major friend don't feel bad about taking advantage of that.
3. PRINT YOUR PAPER AND MARK IT UP
- Don't always do all your editing from the computer. I know that this may waste ink, which is an expense a college student can't really afford, but it will be worth it. I always find it a lot easier to catch mistakes while reading it from a piece of paper than on the computer screen. Plus, it is probably better for your eyes anyway.
4. READ YOUR PAPER THE NEXT MORNING BEFORE TURNING IT IN
- If you just finished that horrible 10 page research paper you proabbly are not in the right mind set to edit it right away. Just put it aside and look it over once before turning it in. Taking some time away will help you notice things that you may not catch after you have been writing that stupid annoying paper for five hours. Also, if you happen to be a procrastinator, I've been there, then you may be up late at night finishing your paper before it is due the next day. Once you finish take a power nap and then edit it before going into class. Just make sure you leave at least an hour before class for editing.
5. LOOK OVER THE OTHER PAPERS YOU HAVE WRITTEN FOR THAT CLASS
- If you are currently writing your 5th paper for a class I'm going to guess that you have gotten some feedback from earlier papers you have written from your professor, at least from a good professor anyway. Take a look at those papers. You may be continually making a small mistake over and over again and with that knowledge you will be able to look for it in your current paper. Perhaps you forget transitions or always have hanging quotations. If you still have those other papers, take a look at them, knowing what your teacher looks for when grading papers is helpful.
Some things to look for when editing your paper
- Grammar (punctuation, fragments, etc.)
- Repetitive Words
- Check to make sure your thesis statement matches your conclusion
- Good Transitions
- Hanging Quotations
- Be consistent with how you refer to places, people, etc.
- Any specifications given by your professor including word length, title, answering the prompt, etc.
You may not have the time to look for all of these things or perform all of these tips, but remember that doing something is better than doing nothing.
Feel free to share any comments you may have or to give your own editing tips in the comment section below.