- Review your paper with a fine-toothed comb for content, flow, and formatting.
- Give yourself some time between finishing the first draft and revising your paper. You want to have the freshest eyes possible when editing.
Revising your paper is a crucial step in the paper-writing process. Your first draft may not be all that clear, or may contain missing words. Now is the time to go over your paper with a fine-toothed comb to check for content, flow, and formatting. Go ahead and print out a draft of your paper (it’s easier to edit a physical document rather than words on a screen) and have at it!
You are a better editor if your eyes are fresher, so give yourself some time between writing your paper and editing it. The worst time to edit your paper is right after you write it. That is when your mind is already full of what you’re trying to say. Waiting some time to edit your paper will allow your mind to clear a bit, so you’ll be approaching your essay more like the teacher will be approaching it–as a new reader.
To help you get a fresh perspective on your paper, you may want to try reading your paper out loud, reading it backwards word-for-word, and/or changing the font on your paper so that it looks new to you.
When editing, it’s also useful to get help from others. Ask for feedback from your teacher or an adult or peer who is a good writer. Additionally, go over your teacher’s comments on your previous essays. What comments did he/she make? Does your new paper make the same mistakes?
Go through each of your paragraphs, one by one, and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the main idea of this paragraph?
- Is it clearly stated?
- Is it supported with factual evidence?
- Are there helpful transitions that give your reader ‘cues’ to guide them through your points?
- How does this paragraph relate to the ones around it?
- Does this relation make sense?
- Are there transitions between paragraphs to make sure that the link between major ideas is clear?
- Is there any clutter (words that don’t add anything to your paper or obscure your meaning) in your paragraph?
- Is the paper properly formatted (Times New Roman font, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins)?
- Are the parenthetical citations/footnotes done correctly?
- Is this paragraph written in the correct academic tone?