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Revising and Editing an Essay

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After completing the first draft of an essay, finalize your essay by revising and editing it. Revising your essay precedes editing it.

Illustration of finalizing and essay by revising and editing it.

Revising involves considering the ideas, organization, and evidence you have used in your essay. Here are the things to check for when revising your essay.

  • Review the assignment for which you've written the essay and confirm that you have met all of the requirements.
  • Be sure your introduction is interesting and uses some sort of hook to grab the reader's attention.
  • Be sure your introduction includes a strong, well-written thesis statement in the form of a sentence that is not a question, and is written in your own words.
  • Be sure each paragraph has a clear, well-written topic sentence. All of the sentences in the paragraph must support the topic sentence.
  • Be sure each paragraph is relevant to your thesis statement.
  • Be sure you have used transition words or signal phrases between paragraphs to move from one idea to the next.
  • Be sure each paragraph contains three to five sentences and that the paragraphs are roughly the same length. If a paragraph is too short, consider adding more information, if it is too long, review what information can be removed.
  • Be sure information from outside sources is cited with in-text citations and citations on your reference or bibliography page.
  • Be sure your essay has a clear conclusion that pulls together the main points in your essay and restates your thesis statement.
  • Be sure your essay is properly formatted, using a consistent font and text size.

Once you have revised your essay, edit it to be sure there are no errors in writing mechanics. Here are the things to consider when editing your essay.

  • Use the spell check function in your word processing program to identify any spelling errors. The spell check function typically provides a list of correctly spelled words. Select the word that you intended to use.
  • Make sure you are using formal language. Avoid using texting shortcuts such as "u" instead of "you" or "wanna" instead of "want to."
  • Unless your assignment specifically allows for first person narrative, make sure you have not used first person pronouns such "I, me, we, or us."
  • Check to be sure that each sentence uses correct verb tense. Also, confirm that the tense remains consistent. If you begin the essay writing in the past tense, maintain that tense throughout.
  • Check the punctuation in each sentence. Make sure you have used commas correctly, and that each time you use a comma you can think of a specific reason or rule to explain why you've done so.
  • You may be tempted to use the grammar check function in your word processing program. However, keep in mind that this function does not take the context of your writing into account.

Careful revision and editing of your essay will help you attain a high grade.

All articles in the Language Arts category:

Building Vocabulary Capitalization Rules Choosing a Topic
Common Foreign Phrases Common Prefixes Commonly Misspelled Words
Confusing Pairs of Words Critical Reading Eponyms
Expository Writing Five Paragraph Essay Forming Plurals
Idioms Metaphors Number Prefixes
Parts of Speech Phonics Rules Proofreading
Using Punctuation Marks Reading Comprehension Reading Novels
Revising and Editing an Essay Similes Spelling Long Words
Transition Words and Phrases Useful Spelling Rules Using Quotation Marks
Word Identification Writing a Book Report Writing a Narrative Essay
Writing a Persuasive Essay Writing a Research Paper Writing Numbers
Writing Techniques Writing Terms  

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