You may think that once you've written the essay that your work is done, but sadly this is not the case. Editing an essay can be tough, but it also has the ability to completely transform your essay for the better! Editng can truly make or break an essay, so keep reading and discover some of the top tips to ensure you are editing as effectively as possible.

1. Structure

Make sure the structure of the essay that you are writing fits with what the assignment is asking for. Make sure that your finished product is a logical extension of what was asked of you. Furthermore, the order of your body paragraphs can really strengthen an essay. Pay attention to the transitional sentences in your essay to make sure that your essay is logical and easy to follow.

2. Two Short Sentences Are Better Than One Convoluted One

Sometimes when thoughts are strung together into long sentences without breaks, the entire meaning can become unclear. Having struggled with awkward run-on sentences through most of my writing career, I finally found that short and sweet sentences tend to be much more effective and to-the-point. Sentence variation is important, so when I think my sentences might be too unclear, I will run them by someone else to see if they can understand what I am saying.

3. Repetition

Similarly, while going through the motions of writing an essay, you may not notice your writing becoming repetitive (you could be repeating ideas or even specific words or phrases too much - Wordle can help make you aware of the latter). Taking a break from the paper for a day or two can help solve that. With a clear mind, you can go back to your paper and will be in a better position to edit similar sentences together, allowing you to hone your repetition and leaving a clear argument that flows.

4. Pay Attention To Commas

When editing and correcting papers, I have found that there are two groups of people who use commas incorrectly: those who use too many, and those who use too few. I am a former member of the “too many” camp, so I know that this can be a problem. The trick to editing comma usage is to read the paper out loud and place a comma where you take a pause in the sentence.

5. Format Properly

Essays have to look great too! Usually your teacher or professor will give you strict outlines on what is necessary for the formatting of your paper. If they have not given you any instructions, I have learned that consistency is the important thing. Consistency when formatting your paper means that you use only one citation style (MLA, APA, or Chicago*) and you use the same font throughout. Other points of consistency could include whether you bold face or italicize for emphasis, or whether you italicize or put quotation marks around book, journal, or film titles. The more consistent your formatting, the more professional your paper looks.

*If you have further questions about how to cite in these styles consult Purdue OWL’s website.