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Write: Editing


It is better to write something that is imperfect and spend time revising it, than to waste time trying to produce something that is perfect first time round. Editing improves the standard of a piece of writing. It is an interactive process where you critique and revise. 

Typically, editing looks at:

  • The overall logical structure of the idea you present.

  • How well you stick to the question.

  • How well the content is linked and flows.

  • Whether appropriate information is located under appropriate headings.

  • Whether the argument makes sense.

  • How clear your argument is.

  • The length of sentences and the use of words.

It is more than proof reading. Proof reading refers to the specific job of checking the spelling, grammar and formatting. This is best done in the last stage of the editing process.

If you plan to have editing time you will get a better result because your teacher will find it easier to read your writing. Some students don’t like editing because they prefer the creative process of writing and don’t like critiquing their own work. Others like editing because it improves the quality of their writing.

It is a good idea to write and edit in a different location. Print out your writing so you can work on a paper copy away from your computer. Make clear notes on your paper copy and don’t rely on your memory. Read your writing several times from start to finish. If you only concentrate on specific paragraphs you may lose sight of the overall flow of your argument and miss where you repeat ideas or information.

Ask yourself two questions when you are editing:

  • What did I try to do and did I do it? You need to show that you are clear about what you intended to do in your writing. This question makes you critique how things went.

  • What am I trying to say and do I say it? It is very easy to think that you have explained something, only to find that you haven’t fully done that. It can be useful to read aloud or talk to a friend and attempt to explain what you did and what you found. Will the reader find your argument believable?

Some parts of your writing may be really good but check whether they directly relate to the question. If they don’t it is better to remove them - be ruthless. Look for consistency eg

  • Do you use the same tense throughout?

  • Is the formatting the same?

  • Is the referencing consistent?

  • Do you spend a balanced amount of time on each point?

Add signposts for the reader. These are sentences that provide clarity eg

  • 'This paragraph will discuss…'

  • 'This argument concludes with…'

  • 'This section has shown that….'

Link different sections to guide the reader through the writing by using sentences like:

  • 'In the previous section I …'

  • 'This section has looked at the user’s point of view. The next section explores …'

Links can look forward and back, reviewing what has been said and introducing what is about to be said.