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Editing and Revising Resources

Learn about self-editing strategies, how to work effectively with an academic editor, and tips for reviewing other people's writing

Editing effectively

Letter tiles that spell out editing tipsEditing focuses on correcting the details of a written draft, such as spelling mistakes, grammar, sentence structure, word choice, conciseness, and APA Style formatting.  Although writing always involves changing and improving the grammar, word choice, or structure of sentences, these edits become more important once most revisions are complete in order to complete the final draft. After all, there is little point editing many of the small details in a draft when entire sentences, paragraphs, or sections may be removed, replaced, or otherwise substantially revised. 

The next sections of this guide provide some general recommendations for self-editing or for either giving or seeking editorial advice on a draft where appropriate. Please ensure that you have the appropriate permissions from instructors before you work with others to either suggest or receive feedback on draft coursework.

Image credit: Shotkitimages via Pixabay

Why is editing your own work so challenging?

Do you find it easier to spot mistakes and correct others' writing than your own? If so, you're not alone: writers often struggle to see and correct the minor details in a document, such as the vocabulary, punctuation, order of words, and even the format of citations and references, especially when compared to their performance in peer-editing tasks (Abadikah & Yasami, 2014; Diab, 2010). Ironically, you may find that the more familiar you are with your own paper, the more difficult it becomes to notice mistakes or things you'd like to change in the text.

The editing tips in this guide will help you to see your writing as if you're reading it for the first time, and well as suggest strategies to help you look for specific issues in your draft. 

References

Abadikhah, S. & Yasami, F. (2014). Comparison of the effects of peer- versus self-editing on linguistic accuracy of Iranian EFL students. 3L: Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 20(3), 113–124. 

Diab, N.M. (2010). Effects of peer- versus self-editing on students’ revision of language errors in revised drafts. System. 38(1), 85–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2009.12.008

Editing tips

  1. Read your work out loud (or have it read to you) to catch errors. You’ll likely hear the errors or problems, even if your eyes are telling you the text is correct.
  2. Read the work backwards, sentence by sentence. Doing so will allow you to focus on the details of each sentence.
  3. If you are working with Microsoft Word, turn on the “Grammar and style” options in Word so that both spelling and grammar will be included during a spell check. See Microsoft's Check Grammar, Spelling, and More in Word for information. Please consider corrections from a computer program as suggestions and think carefully about them before changing your text.  
  4. Try the Writer’s Diet Test or the Hemingway Editor, both of which provide automated feedback on sentence-level conciseness.
  5. Where necessary, ensure you’ve secured all copyright permissions; see Copyright: Students for information.
  6. Use a checklist to help you remember what to check, such as: