5 Tips For Editing Your College Essay

You have put a lot of work into researching and writing your college essay, and now it's time for a good editing job. Editing is that final step in the writing process that really polishes up your essay and makes it sparkle. Editing not only fixes all the annoying mechanical errors like spelling and punctuation; editing also makes sure the essay flows smoothly from one idea to the next.

There are several steps to doing a good, thorough editing of your paper. Here are 5 tips to get you started.

  1. Get away from your essay for a while. This is probably the most effective editing strategy you can use. If possible, leave your essay for a few days after writing it. Don't peek at it, don't look at it, don't read it. Then after a break, go back to it to start the editing. This gives your mind and your eyes a fresh perspective and you will do a much better editing job!
  2. Don't edit while you're writing. This one is a big temptation for many writers. It actually works much better for both writing and editing if the editing is done at the very end, when all the writing is finished. The first draft really is a draft. Don't interrupt good writing momentum by trying to edit at the same time. You'll only end up frustrated and without any good writing accomplished.
  3. Use spell-check but use your eyes too. You've probably already noticed, spell check does not catch everything. For example, it doesn't catch improper usage of 'then' and 'than.' Print your essay out and read it off of paper; the difference in media sometimes helps you catch errors you didn't see on the screen.
  4. Read your essay in a different way each time. For example, read it slower than usual. Read it out loud. Read it backwards from the end, one sentence at a time.
  5. Edit for spelling first, structure and content last. Spelling mistakes can be so annoying that it interrupts a good read. If it's hard for you to focus when the essay is full of spelling and typing errors, correct those first. On the second time through, you can start looking for structure and content flaws without being distracted by the spelling errors.

If you follow these 5 tips you can do a good editing job of your own work. Ideally, have someone else who is a good writer/editor look at it and give you feedback.