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
Make sure each sentence is a complete clause and has a subject and a verb.
Make sure pronouns refer back to nouns clearly and unambiguously. If needed, rewrite the sentence to avoid confusion.
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 and irregular plurals, including their spelling.
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, an academic audience may expect a neutral, professional tone. In contrast, your tone may be more friendly and relaxed when writing for a younger or general audience.
Check your work for word choice, making sure to choose words that are appropriate for the topic, audience, and purpose. For example, “First no one had a clue what they had just found in the study” may be fine for an informal science blog, but “Initially, the researchers were unable to explain the results of the study” is likely preferred in an academic setting.
Important: Getting help
Revising and editing are complex activities. The above tips include only a few common issues you should examine in your draft.
It is a very good idea to ask someone to help you. Even seasoned writers often have “writing buddies” who go over each other’s work. Professional writers’ work goes through proofreaders and editors to ensure it meets high quality standards.
If possible, ask someone as close as possible to your target audience to read your work. Listen to their feedback carefully and with an open mind. If they tell you something is unclear, do not dismiss it as “they just don’t understand.” Perhaps it does need to be revised for clarity.
Most colleges in the United States have a “Writing Center” or “Tutoring Services.” If you are a college student, find out what your institution offers. These services are included in your fees, so it makes sense to make good use of them.