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How to self-edit an essay

How to self-edit an essay in 20 Minutes

After writing your paper, you should never submit it to the examiner without editing. You need enough skills to assist you proof read your paper before handing it to your lecturer. There are various guidelines on how to self-edit an essay. These steps apply to all types of writing whether conference journals, academic journal or course work.

Editing your college essay is important because it assists you to check for mistakes and correct them. You can find several grammatical mistakes or omissions that need to be rectified. Submitting a paper without editing may make you lose several marks. You need to spare at least 20 minutes of your time to proofread your work and correct mistakes accordingly.

This paper has a step by step guide on how to self-edit an essay before submitting it for marking. There is no way you can expect a friend to assist you in editing your work in an exam set up. This means that proofreading skills is a must for all college students.

Check your requirements

It’s very demoralizing for you to score poorly simply because you missed out on some instructions. The first thing that a tutor looks at while marking your paper is following of instructions. You can realize very late that you missed a step and you begin to struggle the last minute to fix the mistakes. It’s better to begin editing your paper by double checking the instructions.

After you find out the instructions, it’s advisable to make a checklist of all the requirements. You need to check on the topic under discussion, style guide requirement, formatting requirement, word count and page requirements, specific sources, data or framework, and the number of sources you need just to name a few.

Once you have the requirements, it’s good to go through your draft and see whether you have fulfilled them. Meeting the requirements shows the examiner that you took time to go through the question. Some college tutors may reject your paper if they discover that you have missed on nearly all the instructions.


The Reverse Outline

In the reverse outline, you edit your entire work or content to make sure that all your sections flow together. The reverse outline editing also ensures that what you have written supports the main point. This can assist you to take notes on an important or difficult paper.

You can achieve this goal by hand writing on the left hand margin or on a separate piece of paper. You can also create an outline in your word processor in a separate window from your document.

In case of a thesis, you will be required to type your statement on top of your outline. It’s advisable to bold this statement and put it in large fonts. Your paragraphs should move your arguments forward in a clear manner.

You also need to make number lines for each paragraph. You need to provide a short summary of the paragraph in each number. You should also provide an outline heading for each section of your paper. Clearly show the background, introduction, method, analysis and conclusion in your reverse statement.

You should sum up your main points in not more than ten words. The relevance that each paragraph has to the paper should come out clearly in those few words. You need to be specific with each description that you provide.

You can mark any paragraph that doesn’t appear to flow with the subsequent paragraphs in a different color. This can assist you in moving the entire paragraph to its rightful place within the text. Paragraphs that are redundant or similar to other paragraphs need to be marked with a different color. You should be able to do away with such paragraphs to avoid unnecessary repetitions.

From the above description, you cannot learn how to self-edit an essay unless you know the process of coming up with a reverse outline. Go through this process and if you need clarifications you can seek assistance from your lecturer or an editor.



Content editing

Content editing is an important stage as you seek to understand how to self-edit an essay.This is where most students believe that editing work commences. In content editing, you need to have your to do list from step one and your reverse outline from step two. This means that content editing is a continuation of step one and two. You should also look at the requirements checklist from the introductory part.

You need all these because you can delete an important requirement yet you need to stay on track. Therefore, you need to keep on referring to your requirement list. It’s advisable to open your original work and save it as a copy for editing purposes. You need to keep your original work safe because you can accidentally delete something and need to refer back to your original draft.

Secondly, you need to make a game plan for you to self-edit your paper properly. Look at your to-do list and all the marks you made on your reverse outline, and decide on the steps that are easy or difficult to handle. Start with the easier ones because you can easily undo them if the results don’t impress you.

It’s better to split large paragraphs into two or merge smaller ones. It’s hard to move a paragraph from one section to the other because it has to flow with the other section. It’s also extremely difficult to rewrite a paragraph for it to make sense.  Always save any changes that you have made on your paper while editing to avoid wasting time redoing the task.

You need to go through your plan and edit your content while keeping in mind your objectives. It’s good to be updating your reverse outline as you finish editing each paragraph. You need to ensure that your edited work flows well with your content in your reverse outline.

Finally, it is advisable to go through your requirements once again after you are done with your editing. You need to take time to learn how to self-edit an essay in 20 minutes especially when it comes to content editing. Never submit a paper for review by your tutor before going through this step thoroughly.


Format Editing

Once you are done with your content, it’s good to make sure that your paper looks nice in readiness for presentation. Formatting your paper includes citation style, captions for tables and figures, margins, style and font face. You need to unsure that your format tallies with your requirements and your to-do list. In some instances, you may be told to format down the margin or follow the citation requirements.

You need to make sure that you follow the required style up to the end. In case you are not sure of anything, you need to go back to the guidelines and remind yourself of some basics. In case you have not been given a specific style, you can choose the one that is common to your discipline.

It is not advisable to try and edit everything at the same time. It’s advisable to do your editing step by step as you check for any errors in your work. Some formats like setting the margins can be done easily and apply to the whole passage.

While formatting your paper, you will be required to check your in-text citation, set your citation heading styles, check your font style and face, set your page number, footer and header information and set the size of the margin. You should also format your bibliography or list of reference at this point.

Final Proofreading

This is the last stage as you try to understand how to self-edit an essay. You can make several changes on your subsequent drafts that you will need to proof read. Even though you can fix any typological errors you come across as you edit the other sections, you still need to do the final proofreading.

You can have a colleague or tutor to have a look at your paper after you have gone through it. You can also get an editor to go through your work to provide an additional eye to your work. The final proofreading should search for any spelling mistakes, grammar check and flow of your work.

In case you run short of time, you can elevate this challenge by proofreading your paper in reverse. This means that you start with the last paragraph as you move backwards. In addition, you can read the paper out a loud to check on your wording and grammar.


All scholars have the ability of learning how to self-edit an essay. You should not rely on a second person to assist you in editing your work. However, it’s advisable to have a lecturer go through your work after you have already edited it.

You should never submit a task that is not properly edited for marking. The editing task can take as few as 20 minutes as long as you are fully skilled for the task. A properly edited paper can earn you good marks and contribute towards your academic excellence.

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