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Getting Smarter through Language

The Writing Process | Advanced (C-Level)

(Short) List of Writing Tips for Editing Your Draft

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Note. This lesson is part of an advanced course. To start from the beginning, go to the table of contents.

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Writing tips for editing your draft

Note that revising and editing can sometimes overlap, so you may see similar tips for revising as those for editing on this page.

Sentence Structure

Make sure each sentence is a complete clause and has a subject and a verb.

Check your draft for run-on sentences, sentence fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, and any unclear constructions.


Check your work several times for punctuation issues including commas, semicolons, periods, dashes, and so on.

Keep in mind that sentence structure also causes punctuation issues. (See Sentence Structure above.)

Nouns, Articles, and Determiners

Check your work for the use of definite and indefinite articles.

Check your work for regular plurals and irregular plurals, including their spelling.

Verb constructions

Check your draft for simple and complex subjects, making sure the verb agrees with the simple subject.

Check your work for consistency in verb tenses, making sure there are no shifts in verb tenses for no good reason.


Check your work for the use of capitalization such as starting each new sentence with a capital letter, capitalization of proper nouns, and so on.


Check your draft several times for spelling, paying close attention to easily confused words such as accept/except, effect/affect, desert/dessert, than/then, whose/who’s, principal/principle, and so on.

Check your work for abbreviations and acronyms that have specific spellings such as CEO (not C.E.O.), HIV (not H.I.V.), e.g. (not eg), i.e. (not ie), and so on.

When in doubt about the spelling of a work, use a good dictionary.

Use of Appropriate Language

Check your work for consistent use of tone that is appropriate for the topic, audience, and purpose. For example, if writing for an academic audience, a neutral, professional tone may be preferred. In contrast, if writing for a young, general audience, your tone may be more friendly and relaxed. Similarly, when explaining the results of a study compared to describing a location, you may use more or less formal language, respectively.

Check your work for word choice, making sure to choose words that are appropriate for the topic, audience, and purpose. For example, if writing for an academic audience, you should not write something like, “What they found in the study was really cool;” you may need to change it to “The findings in the study provided insight on the issue.”

Get help

Editing is a complex activity. The above tips include only a few common issues you should edit your work for. As a result, it is a good idea to ask someone to help you edit your work. Even very effective writers often have “writing buddies” who go to each other for help revising and editing.

Most colleges in the United States have a “Writing Center” or “Tutoring Services.” If you are a college student, find out if your college offers such services, which are usually included in your fees.

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