This page is meant to give you different editing strategies to help revise your writing. Editing usually comes after you have made significant revision to a first draft of writing. When writers edit, they focus on the larger structure of the writing, coherence, expanding sections and paragraphs, adding evidence to support claims, and making sure sentences clearly communicate what they are meant to communication to the reader.

Double-Check Thesis Statement

Read your assignment prompt again, and then read your thesis statement. Does the thesis directly respond to the assignment? Does it answer the question(s) of the prompt? Does it address the assignment? 

Make a Checklist 

After you’ve finished a draft, go back to the assignment prompt to make sure that you’ve done all the things that your assignment asks you to do. Using the prompt, make a checklist of all the parts of the assignment, and then use that checklist to make sure that your draft has done all these things. 

Add Transitions 

Read the last sentence of each paragraph and then the first sentence of the next paragraph. Can you add words like Additionally, Furthermore, Similarly if the ideas of the paragraphs are similar? Conversely, can you add words like Conversely, However, Even though if the ideas are different? 

Reverse Outlining 

After you’ve completed a draft of your essay, circle your thesis statement, then read each body paragraph and write down the main idea of each paragraph in the margins. Once you’ve outlined your essay, ask yourself: Does my essay move logically? Do all the paragraphs relate to my thesis? Do any of the paragraphs seem off-topic or out of place? Am I missing any important points that I could write a new paragraph to address? Rearrange or revise any paragraphs that seem out of order or off-topic. 

Highlight Claims & Evidence 

Using a highlighter or a highlighting tool in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, go through your essay and mark all your claims in one color and your evidence in another. (A claim is a statement that the reader much be convinced is value or true.) After you’ve highlighted both things, first look for claims without evidence. Where do you need to add support? Next, look for paragraphs with minimal amounts of evidence. Where can you add more support?

Introduce Quotations 

Your voice should be the first and last voice the reader hears when you quote someone else. Look at all your quotations in the essay and make sure that you have introduced them well. Do your readers know who’s speaking in the quotation? Do they know where the quotation comes from? And finally, do that understand why the quotation matters to your argument? If not, add this information to help your reader understand the quotations in your essay. 

Add Topic Sentences 

Read through each body paragraph and try to add a sentence at the beginning that captures the main idea. Look for paragraphs that begin with quotes and write a topic sentence that captures the main idea or claim. 

Add Thesis Links 

Add a sentence at the end of each body paragraph that relates the claim of the paragraph to the essay’s thesis. Why is this smaller point important to the essay’s overall argument? Look for paragraphs that simply end with a quote. Add summary sentences that help the reader explain how the paragraph fits into the essay’s thesis. 

Expand Existing Paragraphs 

Ask how and why questions. Read through each sentence and see if there is more to say about any statements or claims that you are making. A good observation or idea is rarely explained in one sentence. Asking these questions, even when you think you’ve explained yourself, will help you be detailed, descriptive, and more analytical. 

Also, look for places to add more evidence—quotations, examples, outside support. 

Add New Paragraphs 

Look for paragraphs that contain more than one idea. If you have a paragraph with two or three different ideas, these ideas are usually underdeveloped. Break each idea into its own paragraph and add evidence and explanation to expand them into fully formed paragraphs. 

Vary Sentence Length 

Look for overly long or complicated or short and incomplete sentences. Use long sentences to show connections, shorter ones for emphasis. Try beginning some sentences with the subject, and begin others with introductory phrases. 

Look for Overly General Words 

Good arguments are specific. Be on the lookout for overly general or absolute words such as Always, Never, All, None, Impossible, No. These words make claims overly broad and easy to refute. If you find yourself using these words in your claims, see if there is a way to rewrite them to qualify your claim. 

Works Consulted

  • The Writing Center. The Writing Center at George Mason University, 2017. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017. 
  • UNC Writing Center. The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, 2014. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017. 
  • Transition Words. Transition Words, 1994. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.