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Editing your work

The first draft of any writing you produce is unlikely to be your best work. In fact, you may find it necessary to write several drafts in order to craft a high quality response to an assignment topic. It is important to allow time to edit and proofread your assignments thoroughly. Ideally, you should aim to leave at least a day between finishing the final draft and beginning to edit.

Unlike proofreading which focuses on the finer details, editing addresses the structural and conceptual elements of writing. When editing, you are checking that you have arranged the correct information in a logical order and have expressed it in appropriate language. In other words, good editing should investigate and improve the focus, argument, organisation, clarity and coherence of your writing.

The structure of your text will influence how you edit and proofread. Although there are many elements common to essays and reports, be aware that you need to pay attention to the specific requirements of each form. The checklist below will guide you as you refine your writing and Quick Ref 20 'Editing and Proofreading Your Work' provides further advice.

Checklist for editing your work
Editing checklist Select one
Have I understood the assignment topic and requirements?

Have I identified and addressed all elements of the topic in my work?

Have I expressed a clear argument or opinion?

Have I used appropriate evidence to support this argument or opinion?

Are my sentences complete and grammatically correct?

Are my paragraphs well constructed with one main idea?

Does my introduction clearly state the topic and how it will be dealt with?

Does each section or paragraph of my assignment build my argument logically and smoothly?

Does my conclusion refer back to the topic and state my findings based on the evidence provided?

Are all my references complete and correct according to the appropriate style?

You can download an editing checklist for your own use here.

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