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Many successful writers agree that good re-writing is much more important than good writing itself. Even though it’s hard to evaluate your own work properly, you can’t avoid editing your papers. Nobody writes perfect texts from the first draft. If you want to write well, you only need to edit your first draft and write second, third, or as many drafts as you need.
To figure out how to edit papers properly, let’s take a look at the general principles and then get to the details.
Analyze the Structure of Your Text
First of all, give your paper a rest. Don’t touch it for a couple days so that you can see it from the fresh perspective. You must imagine yourself reading somebody else’s work and become a reader, not writer. If you don’t have much time because of a short deadline, you can just switch to another task for at least a couple hours or take a walk and stop thinking about the paper you need to edit.
- Many people like editing their works on a computer because it’s easy and fast. However, we suggest considering printing your papers so that you can distance yourself from it and pay more attention to details. Try to read the entire text without changing anything. Just note everything that you want to change. It’s really good if you read your work aloud. By doing this, you will easily track all ups and downs of your tone, checking if all punctuation marks are used correctly.
Try to imagine yourself as a someone from your audience. Keep in mind that your readers may not agree with you on certain things, they may lack knowledge on some subjects, so you have to explain all your points and make sure that your text is easy to understand. Be honest with yourself and answer a few important questions:
- Did you explain all specific concepts in an understandable way?
- Is your tone appropriate for this type of paper?
- Are there any boring parts of the text? How can you improve them? Can you get rid of them without sacrificing any important information?
- What is most noticeable about this paper?
Take a look at the structure of your text and analyze sentences within larger structures of your paper. You must make sure that your paper provides all necessary information about a topic and consider ridding of unnecessary parts. Check whether or not your text is written according to a proper classical structure, including an introduction, a body section, and a conclusion. You may want to add some extra paragraphs in case some of your points sound not clear enough.
Think about your tone and voice. You must choose the voice and the tone according to a type of your paper. For example, when writing content for a blog, your tone may be conversational. You may use relatively short sentences, making your text easy to read. On the other hand, if you’re working on an article for some academic journal, you must use formal tone and avoid using the first and the second person. You may also use some terms and anachronisms. We also suggest trying various software that analyzes readability.
Pay particular attention to the used tense. You shouldn’t switch between tenses frequently because it makes your text uncomfortable for readers. If you write about something that happened in the past, use the past tense. If you’re describing something that happens now, use the present tense. The same rule applies to the voice of your paper as well. For example, if you start your narrative essay with the first person, don’t switch to the third person, and vice versa.
Check Your Grammar and Style
First of all, you have to fix all grammar and punctuation mistakes. You shouldn’t, however, focus on grammar only. Make sure that all your statements are accurate. Make sure that you mention proven sources and actual data. Readers will evaluate your work depending on the facts used. If you make many statements without supporting them with facts, your audience won’t take such a paper seriously.
Read the entire paper out loud and note what sentences or phrases sound unnatural or too complicated. Rewrite them so that they sound clear and concise. There is a common mistake when people write subordinate clauses as separate sentences. If you made such a mistake, rewrite a sentence so that it includes a subordinate clause or get rid of this clause and write a new sentence that clarifies something about the previous one.
Make sure that all your paragraphs have clear points. Even though this advice is obvious, many writers forget that their texts must be meaningful, especially when trying to reach a certain number of words.