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5 Self-Editing Tips to Strengthen Your Writing
In most academic or business assignments, it’s not enough to just write a text and rest on laurels. After all, the first version of the text is always a draft. To make it informative and easy to understand, put it in order – edit it. You can’t show it to the reader right away; an editor should look at the draft first. However, when hiring a professional editor is not an option, you have no choice but to edit yourself.
Sometimes editing and proofreading take longer than the actual writing. After all, any article and text can be improved indefinitely – there is no limit to perfection! Though, to make everything look and read perfect, you may not have enough time. Our 5 self-editing tips will help you speed up your work and gain the same or even better output than a professional editor.
TIP #1. EVALUATE THE SUBJECT, PLOT, AND STRUCTURE OF THE TEXT
To help you evaluate the essence of your text, that is subject, plot, and structure, we offer you to answer two very important questions:
- Does the text correspond to the required format?
If you wrote a book review – is it definitely a book review, or your reflections on the problem, sarcasm about the author’s talents, a story about what you read is better or worse than this book? If you made a feature article, does it definitely have a full description of the problem, main topic, figures and facts, an introduction, and a summary? If you wrote a news text, is it definitely about an event?
Each format has its own requirements and standards, and when starting editing, the first step is to determine whether these requirements and standards are met. If yes, go to the next question.
- Is your text readable? Is it broken into chapters and paragraphs?
If not, do it! No one will read a page entirely covered with text! Firstly, it is critically important for your readers: their eyes get tired quickly; their heads start to buzz looking at a solid text. Secondly, this is an extra load for the brain: after going through the subheadings inside the text, the brain quickly grasps the essence and highlights what is fascinating, necessary, and unknown to it.
TIP #2. DO THE FACTUAL TEXT ANALYSIS
It’s time for fact-checking. Check whether all dates, facts, names and nicknames, numbers, data are correct.
Verify everything that can be attributed to facts. Did you mention a person in your text? Check the spelling of this person’s name, position (if applicable), and in general look at Wikipedia or the person’s account in social networks, personal websites, etc. You will get assessed by the correctness and clarity of factual information in your text.
Only after doing factual checking, we can move on to grammatical and punctuation errors!
TIP #3. CORRECT GRAMMAR AND LANGUAGE MISTAKES
Now that you have fixed the basics, it’s time to go into details. Namely, check the grammar and language used. At first glance, you can do that with your own eyes and knowledge. However, we recommend using some of the online checkers; even the simple but powerful Google Docs grammar checker can do miracles to your text.
TIP #4. SIMPLIFY
This tip has a short name on purpose – often, it is harder to make a short and clear text, as compared to a lengthy and vague one. Strive to be crisp in your thoughts and eliminate any redundancies. Every text can be easily reduced by 20%, however, with a little effort, that percentage can be significantly increased.
Start with getting rid of parasite words and jargon. Those are unacceptable in academic and especially business language. Also, ensure your text doesn’t contain too long sentences and heavy paragraphs. If needed, break those into several pieces.
TIP #5. PRINT OUT YOUR TEXT FOR THOROUGH CHECKING
When you have corrected all possible and impossible logical, grammar, and other mistakes and virtually memorized your text by heart, there is still one effective technique left to boost your self-editing results. That is – print out your text. Paper version changes our perception and helps to look at our text from a different perspective. The result will be several or dozens of unnoticed mistakes and misprints, possibly big structural and logical changes too.
If you have never tried this last method before – do that immediately! We promise you will be pleasantly surprised by how much deeper you will see into your text compared to the electronic version.