Editing is an extremely important part of the writing process. When you begin editing, remember that it’s not just about fixing spelling mistakes. It’s about polishing up the whole project, tightening up paragraphs and making your ideas transparent.
Here are 7 great steps to editing your own work
1) Print out a copy – Once you’ve finished typing up your work, adjust the document so that the pages have wide margins that you can write in. Print out a copy and leave the writing task for a while. A few hours is good, but a whole day is even better. When you decide to come back to it, use a different color pen to make corrections, mark things that need to be removed, and write in things that you want to add.
2) Abbreviations and Acronyms – These are excellent as they save both the writer’s and reader’s time. However, you should make sure that you’ve defined each abbreviation in brackets when you first use it (apart from the really obvious ones USA, UK, Dr., Ph.D etc). The abbreviation can then be used with the safeguard that readers unfamiliar with it are not confused.
i.e. The APC gene (adenomatosis polyposis coli) has been linked to cancer. The APC gene normally regulates how often a cell divides. In cancer patients, the APC gene allows the uncontrolled growth that causes cancer tumors.
i.e HWAA (How to Write Almost Anything) is a is a fantastic resource for any writing project. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned writer, the HWAA system will help you in every step of the way.
3) Diction (your choice of words) – To make the right choices, keep in mind who your audience is. If you’re writing a technical report for school, make sure you use the jargon you’ve been taught, to show your understanding. If you’re writing web content for the general public, get rid of jargon and select words that any Average Joe can understand. Diction aids your readers’ understanding.
4) Punctuation – The best way to check for correct punctuation is to read your work out loud. Long winded sentences may need to be divided into two or three sentences or you could use a conjunction or semicolon to separate them. Did you notice that That sentence is a bit long and is more readable this way “Long winded sentences may need to be divided into two or three. You could also use a conjunction or semicolon to separate them.”
5) Grammar – Make sure sentences are complete and contain a subject and a verb. Tenses are also something you need to watch out for. It’s not rare to see a writer incorrectly jump from one tense to another in the very same paragraph!
6) Which brings me to the issue of paragraphing. Paragraphs help to structure your ideas. You can use the TEE ( Topic sentence, Explanation, Example) acronym when analyzing your paragraphs. The example part is pretty flexible, depending on your topic. It’s vital for technical topics.
7) Accuracy – It’s really important to check that any dates, names, figures and statistics are correct. This can easily be done by calling up an appropriate organization, a quick search on google, or referring to books at the library.
Once you think you’ve finished the writing process, another useful tip is to get someone else to read it. Let them ask questions if they don’t understand a particular point. This probably means that you haven’t explained it well in your work.
Written work expresses your ideas when you’re not there to explain them yourself. In order to convey the message to your readers clearly, it’s important to edit well. Your readers want to enjoy your work. Proofreading can help them do exactly that, without the distraction of errors.