We've all been in a situation where we've spent hours and hours writing a paper, and finally, when we come to the end of it, we're tempted to hit "submit" and hope for the best. It's easy to want to throw in the towel when you've already devoted so much time and want more than anything to be just done with the whole thing. You know as well as I do, though, that if you take the time to revise, your grade will be much better. Why let yourself fall short of success when you've already spent all that time working towards your goal?
Because I've edited my own and others' papers over the years, I'm often asked what my top tips are for revision. While everyone has their own methods, these are the tried and true steps I always take, regardless of my clients' writing levels.
TOP THREE TIPS WHEN EDITING A PAPER
1. Read out loud. This will be 100% weird at first. You will feel like a complete idiot sitting by yourself and reading your work out loud, but I promise that over time, it will get easier. Why read aloud? Most people don't catch their mistakes when they glance over their writing, but when they hear their writing out loud, certain issues bubble up to the surface. Even if you don't know the specific grammar or mechanics rule behind the mistake, most of the time you'll be able to know that it's just off somehow, and you can change it on the spot.
2. Check your organization and transitions. You can have the most important information in the world in your paper, but if your ideas are splattered all over the place and don't have any cohesiveness, your readers will be completely lost. Organization is huge. Sometimes, a paragraph is absolutely perfect, but it's in the wrong spot; if you move it to a different page, it makes much more sense. Or, sometimes you need to add transitions to connect two seemingly opposing ideas; with transitions, you can be sure that your reader is following along with your thought process and your meaning and connections are crystal clear. The bottom line is that if the content is not rock solid, there is absolutely no point in attacking your grammar/mechanics issues, because even if your semicolons and quotation marks were all in the correct places, your reader still won't understand you if your message is jumbled.
3. Focus on major grammar and mechanics errors. Unless you are a copy editor for the New York Times, you are probably going to miss most nuanced grammar and mechanics rules. And, you know what? That's okay (and that's why you hire Crafty Copy). What you want to focus on when editing your paper is the major grammar/mechanics mistakes. Are your verb tenses switching back and forth from present to past every other sentence? That's a big problem because it's going to affect whether or not your content is being understood by your readers. Did you completely forget to add punctuation? That's also a problem because you've just essentially written a five-page, run-on sentence. So, be sure to look out for major issues (hint: if you follow step #1, you should be able to catch most of them).
Have more questions on what to focus on when revising your papers? Interested in learning more about the editing process for your professional work? Hit us up on our contact page and let's discuss your project needs. Until then, be sure to follow these three tips and I think you'll find that the outcome will be above and beyond what you anticipated. You might even knock your professors' expectations out of the park.