Writing 3 - Editing

If you’ve followed our previous guides on the writing process you should have decided upon a logical order in which to structure your writing and have a draft piece of writing that is easy for readers to follow.

You are now ready to make it even clearer through efficient editing.

This will result in a more polished piece of academic writing with no errors.

As with the writing process, you should edit in stages.

Woman reading a book at library

1. Start with the bigger picture - review the text as a whole

Read right through once from beginning to end thinking about structure and clarity.

Do not become wrapped up in one word, one sentence, or paragraph. Is it clear? If not, could it be improved by re-thinking its stucture, or by providing ‘signposts’ for the reader? (Look-up linking words and phrases in study guide books or study guides in the library)

Is there enough relevant content, evidence, examples, explanation? Does it have a clear conclusion?


2. Individual sections then individual paragraphs 

What is the key topic of sections and the key point of each paragraph? Why is this topic (or point) interesting? Why is it important?

Think of two or three important elements which you researched. Have you found new or interesting data or ideas? Why are these useful or significant? What are the implications for the future? Have you told your reader?


Check the ‘links’ between paragraphs. Are they clear? Do they help lead the reader through your writing?

Manage time – before you start decide how long to edit for. Do what you set-out to do then stop, walk away and let it rest before coming back to do more.

Pencil lying on writing paper

3. Sentences

Keep most short and simple (15-20 words). Very long sentences are hard to write and (more importantly) hard to read.

Use a variety of sentence lengths: put only one major idea into a sentence; put important ideas in short sentences for impact. Are the links between sentences clear? Do you need a connecting or ‘linking’ wordto help the reader?



4. Style and proof reading 

Look at your choice of words. Are there any slang words or informal phrases? Have you used any contractions (didn’t, isn’t, can’t)?

Are you writing in the ‘third person’? (‘I’ or ‘my’ may only used in ‘reflective writing’).

Now check your punctuation is correct. See your module’s presentation and referencing guidelines.

Check numbers, dates, abbreviations, citations, capitals, italics, typeface, size of font, headings, spacing, references.

Check your spelling. Check it again. Ask someone to proof-read or read it out loud. Correct it...then check it again!