February 16

How to Edit an Essay: The Complete Guide For College Students


As a student, you should strive to improve your essay writing skills. So, in this guide, you’ll learn how to edit an essay to make it free of error, more academic sounding, and relevant to the prompt.

We know how intense the writing process can be, but one thing you can do to improve the quality of you essay is to spend enough time editing it.

Taking time to go through your essay after writing can be the difference between scoring high grades and not performing well. So, spend a few extra minutes to edit your essay before you send it to your professor.

In this guide, we share some effective tips that will help you edit your essay and make it more comprehensive and readable than it currently is.

Keep reading to learn more:

Key Takeaways

The following is a summary of how you can edit an essay to create a concise final draft for submission:

  • Check your essay to make sure you’ve given it the right structure
  • Make sure your sentences and paragraphs are of the right length.
  • If you’ve used a complicated language in your essay, make adjustments from the introduction all the way to the conclusion.
  • You should check and remove repetition of words and ideas from your essay.
  • To be consistent with your spelling, use a spellchecker such as Grammarly to spot and correct typos.

How To Edit An Essay: 7 Effective Tip to Help You Proofread Better

If you can, do write your essay early and leave some time for editing. This way, you can edit the essay with fresh mindset.

Check out these 7 tips for editing an essay. They’ll help you proofread better and turn your essay from good to great.

1. Get the Structure Right

Start editing by looking at the essay structure. Think about the main points you have made and see if the supporting casts contribute to building your write-up towards a more logical conclusion.

You may have arranged points in the order they occurred to you, but the order may still need checking.

So, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Do points flow logically from one to the next?
  • Would the essay be more interesting if you wrote the point closer to the top than in the middle of the essay?
  • Have you written too much information in the beginning when the points should be closer to the end?

Even with a fantastic argument, you need to get the structure right to ensure you present your points as effectively as possible.

2. Check Sentence and Paragraph Lengths

Another thing you want to keep an eye on when editing your essay is long sentences.

Long sentences are difficult to read and can be confusing, hard to follow, and equally boring. As you edit, try to keep sentences to 2 or 3 clauses maximum. Also, keep your essay paragraphs to a maximum of 4 sentences.

You can also go through your text and rewrite sentences to tighten your wordings up. If the essay has long sentences, find ways of rewording them to communicate what you are trying to put across more concisely.

3. Avoid Complicated Languages

Even though you are writing a college-level paper, it’s still important to use simple words that readers can understand.

The thing is:

You will not pass off as a more intelligent person if you use complicated words for simple terms. Opting for big words in the places where a simple one would be more suited can appear pompous and contrived.

So, use clear and concise language and avoid being pretentious or too verbose. It doesn’t mean that you should avoid using complex words completely. You only need to choose situations carefully and avoid overdoing them. 

4. Watch Out for Repetition of Words and Ideas

You can easily repeat yourself and not have a clue about it, but you can easily spot this when going through your work for the second time.

While reading your essay, look for potential repetitions of ideas and delete them.

Also, look for places you have belabored the point. You risk undermining your argument strength if you over-elaborate it. It may seem as though you are struggling to find facts to support your argument. Sometimes, a simple, brief, and clear statement is all you need to back up your argument.

Also, check for repetition of words in the same paragraph and sentences. While you can repeat common words like “of” and “the”, you should avoid using the same connecting words repeatedly.

5. Don’t Rely Entirely on Spellchecker

A spellchecker such as Grammarly may help you spot and correct rid of basic errors, but there are certain misspellings the software cannot spot.

There is no denying that it can highlight wrong spelled words and typos, but it cannot tell you when you have used some words wrongly. The best thing to do is to read the text word-by-word and try to determine whether you’ve used the words correctly.

6. Spotting typos

Reading your work backward is among the best ways to spot typos and edit your essay. That’s because it gives you a new outlook on what you have written, something that makes it easier to spot obvious errors.

It is more effective than if you read the text in the order you wrote it, as you already know in your brain what to expect.

Start reading the last sentence and continue going in a reverse until you come to the start of the essay.

You can also have a printout of your essay and circle or underline the errors and later correct them with the help of your computer. Reading a printed version of the document is easier than when it is on-screen. Also, it enables you to read each word with your pen to ensure you don’t skim over any errors.

7. Be Consistent with Spelling

Some words can be spelled two or three different times, and that’s why you have to be consistent with the type you use.

One way to do this is by changing the settings of your Word Processor and set the spellchecker to highlight the spelling version you don’t want to use.

If you use UK English, set the default language in your word processor to reflect this, so you are consistent with the type of English you use.

Final Thoughts

A great piece of write-up can turn out ugly by simple and annoying mistakes. Avoid this by going through your work after you finish writing.

Set aside some time for editing, so you don’t have to do it immediately after you finish writing.

This gives you fresher eyes with which to look at possible errors. Sometimes, the best thing is asking a professional to look at your work. These companies can also help you with writing your work from scratch and turning it in on time. 


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