The Importance of Editing and Revising

Posted by in Writing

When writing papers we often assume that as soon as we’ve reached that word count we’re finished. We save it, print it, and go. Easy, right? Unfortunately the answer is no; it’s not that simple, and that mindset tends to encourage procrastination until the last minute. This also will mean papers will be turned in with errors, unnecessary mistakes, and even unclear information. Instead, there is a vital step in writing papers that many students tend to overlook and that will help you turn in an awesome paper: editing. This involves more than just scanning over the word count and tweaking the first or final sentence. It includes taking significant time and determination to make the written assignment the best it can possibly be. Many people think it’s the professor’s job to edit. However, this is where students quickly learn why self-editing is so substantial, because professors don’t edit.

Instead of waiting until the night before or the morning of a due date to complete your assignment, plan ahead. Do this at least a few days prior to your deadline. Planning ahead gives enough time to edit and revise at least one or two drafts. By giving yourself a few days, you will not only escape the burnout from pulling an all-nighter, but you will also have time to have someone else take a look at it. Even the best of writers go through a lot of edits and revisions.

Before completing your first draft, it is important to have read over the requirements and guidelines of the assignment again and again to ensure you have incorporated exactly what your professor or teacher wants in the paper. Upon finishing the first rough draft, the next step is revising, which entails major organizational and structural changes. After that comes editing the paper. That is when you look for grammar, spelling, tense, and wording errors. For instance, in the first round of edits look only for grammar errors, on your second round read through looking only for spelling, and so on with the other areas. This will go faster than you might think and help really crack down on errors in your paper.  Of course, if you spot one or more of the other error areas go ahead and correct it. The point of only looking for one type at a time is to make sure you get the chance to actually look for each of them. After that, read your paper out loud to yourself or have someone else (or an electronic reader) read it to you. I have found this to be one of the most beneficial steps in the final stages of editing.

After you have personally revised your work, an additional person comes into play. Allow a friend or tutor to look over what you would have otherwise turned in as your final paper. They may be able to catch things you completely missed. If you have given yourself a few days for editing and revising, finding time to let someone else look over your paper should not be a problem.  It will only make your final paper stronger. While having a reliable person read over your work, also have them read the assignment to make sure they understand the concept and guidelines from the professor. Before you take their suggestions for final revisions, ask questions and be sure you understand what they mean in their edits or recommendations. Finally, re-read your final product, and then you are ready to go!

These editing suggestions are not supposed to stress or worry you, but are only suggestions for perfecting assignments from people who have been there. In conclusion, remember the first step is to make sure you understand the assignment, write a first draft, edit and revise it, and allow other reliable sources help you perfect it.