10 Tips for Editing Your Paper

Many people find it boring to edit a paper. This is because editing a paper needs time and effort. You have to read through the paper several times. Again, it is not just about reading. You also have to read it slowly and critically to identify any mistake. While this sounds like a daunting task, it is very important. Editing can change a paper from being meaningless into something great. So it is as important as writing a paper. Most people underestimate the value of the editing process. It is until they submit a mediocre paper that they recognize its value. Therefore, to produce a perfect paper, you must be a good editor. We have provided a list of 10 tips for editing your paper. You can use these tips to produce a perfect paper.

Below have been voted as the best 10 Tips for Editing Your Paper

  1. Take a break before you start the editing process

After you are done writing, all you need to do is edit your paper. This involves reading through the paper to make sure it makes sense. Easy right? So, if you have edited any paper before, you know it is not easy.

There is this time I had an essay to complete and still wanted time to watch a movie. So, I sat down and wrote the essay. Immediately after finishing with the writing, I then started editing it. Finally, I submitted the work. After two days, I was free and found myself reading that essay. To my shock, the paper had very obvious errors. I couldn’t understand what went wrong. But now I do.

The worst mistake you can do is edit your paper immediately after writing it. But do you know why? Let us explain. When writing your paper, you have its ideal version in your mind. So if you edit immediately after writing, this ideal version will still be fresh in your mind. So, you will be reading that ideal version instead of what you have written. Your mind will then be reading what you want to see instead of what you are seeing.

What is the solution? Simple, take a break before you start editing your paper. The length of the break will vary. It will depend on the available time. It can however range from an hour to days or weeks.

After the break, you will come back with a fresh mind. This then is the best time to edit your paper.

  1. Differentiate between editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading are different processes. Editing focuses on paper content, structure, format, and tone. Proofreading focuses on minor issues such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. You should always start by editing the paper. Then, you can proofread it. But both processes are very important in the whole editing process.

  1. Read and re-read your paper

Read your paper several times. Firstly, start by reading it in your head. Then, read it out loud. This will help you identify any errors. It will also prepare your mind to get into the editing process.

You may consider changing the format of the paper. For example, you may consider printing it out.  Alternatively, you can change the text into a different font, size, and color. Either way, a new format will give you a new perspective. This will also make you more critical.

  1. Review paper organization

It is important to get the structure right. Does your paper have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion? These paragraphs should be appropriate. What does this mean?

You should have a strong thesis statement in the introduction paragraph. The body paragraphs should be arranged logically. Each body paragraph should also carry a single idea.

  1. Review the content

Make sure that your paper has quality content. Your claims should also be accurate. The paper should make a complete argument. The content should be relevant to the assignment. Make sure you have not gone out of the topic.

Also, ensure you have supported your points. Ensure that you have provided adequate evidence.

  1. Check the citations

During the editing process, ensure you have provided citations for ideas from other sources. Have you used quotes? Are these quotes properly cited? What about paraphrases? Are they properly cited?

Also, ensure the citations are in the required format. Some people make the mistake of using different citation formats in one paper. So check the required format and ensure you have used it correctly.

  1. Proofread your paper

Proofreading involves checking for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.

For spell checking, you can use spellchecks. But don’t just rely on spellcheck. This is because they miss improperly used words. You may start by running your paper through the spellcheck. Then, read through the paper to ensure your spellings are correct.

Firstly, read each paragraph out loud to check spellings in every sentence. Also, check out for grammar errors. Again, don’t over-rely on grammar checkers. They may not identify all errors.

Then, ensure you have used the right punctuation. This will make your sentences clear.

  1. Never be satisfied with the first draft

You should never make the mistake of being satisfied with the first draft. You need to create several drafts. Some people think the second draft is perfect. No! You need to edit your paper several times. You should edit the paper at least three times. More is even better.

  1. Seek support

Sometimes, seeking a second opinion is recommended. After you are done editing, ask a friend to read through the paper. Let them help you identify any mistakes. Editing is a process. You may not get it all correct. Let your friend read the paper slowly word by word. They should highlight any identified errors. Then, take time to correct the errors as you read through the paper again. You may also consider professional editing help online.

  1. Check the formatting of your paper

Start by checking the word count? Does your paper have the required number of words? Have you included page numbers? Does your paper have a title page? This will depend on the required formatting style. For example, while APA style requires a title page, MLA style does not.

If a table of content is required? Have you provided one? It is properly formatted?

Check the paper format? What font does your teacher require? Make sure that you have used it. Also check your margins and line spacing. Ensure you have followed your teacher’s instructions.


Editing a paper is part of the writing process. It changes an average paper into a great paper. We have provided a list of 10 tips to edit your paper. Use these tips to edit your next paper. This will play a major role in improving the quality of your paper. For students, this is a great way of improving grades.

Don’t worry if you struggle with the editing process. With time, you will become a better editor. Use resources around you to keep learning. For example, there are lots of articles on how to edit a paper. Read these articles and other relevant materials. Consider peer editing. This involves editing papers with a friend. You will learn a lot about editing from each other. You can also access professional editors online. Using these resources will be a great step towards becoming a better editor. Good luck.

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