Stage two: Middle view

When you undertake Stage Two editing (Middle View), it is important to remember that you are focusing on the content, context and meaning of the piece of writing you are editing. In Stage Two editing, you are focusing in detail on the coherence and clarity of sentences in a paragraph, ensuring that all sentences clearly and logically contribute to the development of the key ideas in the paragraph.

At Stage Two, the key question to remember is: how does each sentence relate to other sentences within the paragraph?

You can see from the diagram below that Stage One (Big Picture) and Stage Two (Middle View) are both part of a continuing editing process, just like the overall writing cycle. Once again, these editing stages are iterative - meaning, that you might go through these stages a few times before your writing is completed.

Links between sentences (middle view) arrow towards Links between sections of a thesis (big picture) arrow towards Links between paragraphs (big picture) arrow back to start

Guidelines for stage two: middle view editing

  • Are there logical connections between the points of the argument? Does the argument need further substantiation and explanation?
  • Does the evidence support what it claims to support?
  • Does every point contribute to the argument? Is it relevant?
  • Is the argument repetitive? Are there any redundant comments or sections?
  • Are the right words/expressions used to make the points you want to make? Is your language appropriate to the topic and academic style?
  • Are the sentence lengths appropriate -  too long or too short?

In this section, we’ll consider editing for coherence. If a piece of writing is coherent it means that the writing makes sense – it follows the conventions of the particular type of text (e.g. essay, report, thesis), and the ideas and information flow in a logical sequence. A coherent piece of writing fulfills its purpose.

At paragraph level every sentence needs to contribute to the purpose of the paragraph. That is, every sentence needs to be logically connected to the others in the paragraph. Otherwise, the purpose and meaning of the overall paragraph will be unclear and confusing to the reader. Checking to ensure all the sentences in your paragraphs are logically connected is an important step in the editing process and for achieving overall coherence.

Returning to the image of your piece of writing as a tree, think of your paragraph as a leaf. The introductory sentence, sometimes referred to as the topic sentence, forms the spine and point of the leaf. That is, the topic sentence defines the overall purpose and point of the paragraph. The rest of the sentences in the paragraph act as the veins of the leaf. Each subsequent sentence or vein fleshes out the paragraph with explanations and comments, backed up by evidence. Every vein should have a clear link to the spine of the leaf, and the spine of the leaf should clearly link the point back to the branch. If the sentences are not linked coherently, then they need to be edited, which usually means amending a sentence so the link is clear, or removing it all together if it is irrelevant.

The following activity will show you how to visualise and draw the connections between sentences in your paragraph, making it easier for you to identify sentences that do not link properly to your overall topic and need to be removed or amended.


Another way to break down your paragraphs is to use a highlighting code. For example, you could use different colours to highlight the topic sentence, evidence, explanation and argument, references, the concluding or link sentence, etc. Highlighting will help you see and assess the content and order within your paragraphs. It can help you to determine if there is something missing or too much of one feature - for instance, you might realise that there is too much evidence and not enough analysis and argument, or that these are in an unclear order.

If a piece of writing has clarity it means that it is well explained and easy to understand – that is, the expression is clear and, therefore, meaningful for the reader. As academic writing is often dense with technical terms and expressions as well as complex ideas, it can sometimes be difficult to write and read.

There are some common problems in expression that you can edit to achieve greater clarity in your writing. Some common problems:

  1. Long, complex sentences. Such sentences can be confusing and ambiguous.
  2. Using many words when one will suffice; using excessive technical or highly formal vocabulary when direct, simple vocabulary would be more effective. This is called verbosity or wordiness.
  3. Densely packed information or data.

Let’s look at some examples of these common problems and some possible solutions. In the following activity, read the example then turn the card to see the suggested solution.

Editing for clarity strategies

Use the following strategies to edit your work for clarity. Start by selecting and reviewing a paragraph that you’ve written. Apply the tips listed as appropriate to your writing.