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Editing Checklist: Start Writing Like a Pro

Posted on 02 Sep 2020

5 min read
Editing Checklist: Start Writing Like a Pro
Editing Checklist: Main Writing Rules

Here’s an interesting fact: when you write something and come up with new ideas, you activate the left side of your brain. However, when you start editing the text, the right hemisphere takes over. When you attempt to write and edit at the same time, you engage both parts of the brain and start multitasking. It is better to separate writing and editing. This will help you to be more productive.      

In this article, we would like to focus on editing. The information below will help you to improve your writing process and develop new effective habits. If you want to edit your texts professionally, you need to think like an editor. Consider the following tips while revising your papers.

Simple Editing Checklist

  • Make sure that your paper meets the assignment requirements.
  • There should be a specific thesis in your paper.
  • Include topic sentences at the start of the body paragraphs. Make sure that these sentences are connected to your thesis. They should introduce the main idea of the paragraph.
  • Check if there are overly short or long paragraphs. The length of your paragraphs should be relatively the same.
  • Make sure there are no unnecessary repetitions of phrases or words in your paper.
  • Transition properly from one paragraph to another, as well as between sentences.
  • In the concluding part, do not just repeat the introduction or summarize the argument. Make a meaningful conclusion. Explain the importance of your paper.
  • If you use quotations, integrate them smoothly into the text. Insert your own sentences and signal phrases before and after the quotes. 
  • Format all the quotes properly, and don’t forget about indentation.
  • Make sure that you used various sources in your paper. Check if their number is appropriate according to the requirements.
  • Use an approved citation guide, such as APA or MLA, and properly document all the quotes and paraphrases.
  • Make sure that your paper has an original, relevant title.
  • Don’t forget to include page numbers.
  • Check the verb tense consistency.
  • Make sure that you use enough strong verbs.
  • Use active and passive voice properly, according to the field.
  • After you finish working on the paper, read it aloud. You should do it slowly, focusing on every word and checking if there are simple mistakes.
  • Eliminate unnecessary information, meaningless words, and phrases.
  • Proofread the paper carefully. Check it for punctuation and spelling mistakes.

Additional Tips

Pay attention to the length and varied structure of the sentences. Take a pen, and while reading the paper, make a mark (a slash, for instance) at the end of every sentence. Are these sentences too short or excessively long? You should try mixing it up.

Check if your sentences are complete. It is better to start reading from the last sentence and read it backward. It seems weird, but this method helps to focus on one separate sentence. Underline the subject once and the verb twice. Does each subject have a verb? If you find sentences that start with words but, and, for, yet, so, as, nor, or, because, although, and which – you likely have a sentence fragment. Consider inserting additional words or connecting such fragments to other sentences.

Check pronouns’ referents. First, circle each pronoun. Connect the pronoun to its antecedent/referent with an arrow. What or who is the pronoun referring to? Will the reader understand who “they” are and what is “it”? Pay attention to singular/plural consistency.

What about transitional words or phrases? Mark each transitional word and phrase (in addition, likewise, moreover, however, on the other hand, etc.) with a wavy line. Transition words are good but do not exaggerate. Use them appropriately, where needed.

Final Word

Improvement has no limits, right? The editing checklist will be of great help – you will easily identify even the smallest mistakes that professional writers are sometimes unaware of. Editing can be as engaging and creative as writing. Follow the simple tips we’ve gathered in this article and bring your writing skills to the whole new level. Good luck!


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