How to edit essays: watch out for the common mistakes

Reviewing and editing everything that you write should be a habit. It is useful to re-read and correct any mistakes along the way before you submit your essay or research paper etc. Editing and proofreading the essay you have just written can be done with ease, if you have a checklist at hand.

Essay editing Checklist:

  1. Fragment: Check to spot any sentence fragments you may have used. Every cluster of words you have punctuated, as a sentence should contain a complete thought.
  2. Sprawl: Unnecessarily long and drawn out phrases in a sentence make for a tiresome read. Try expressing your thoughts, and conveying your ideas in a clear, concise way.
  3. Misplaced modifiers: Modifiers are supposed to be placed near the words they explain or describe. Bring together the modifier and modified.
  4. Defective parallels: The parallels you draw in a series, should be expressed in grammatically equal sentence elements.
  5. Vague Pronoun Usage: Be careful with this, that, they, these, those, that and which, to keep things clear.
  6. Commas-use them: Commas indicate nonrestrictive and nonessential material, prevent confusion, and express relationship between parts of a sentence.
  7. Incorrect pronouns: Use of a pronoun depends on whether it is being used as a subject, an object, or a possessive.
  8. Unnecessary commas: Avoid over usage of commas, a lot of these make a sentence confusing.
  9. Spliced commas: Do not use commas to link independent clauses, use semicolons and periods instead.
  10. Apostrophe mistakes: Apostrophes are used to signal possession for nouns (Mary’s bicycle) but not for personal pronouns. Apostrophes also indicate omissions in contractions (Isn’t: Is not).
  11. Misspellings: carefully look for any misspelled work. Spelling mistakes are perceived as a careless attitude towards the project.
  12. Words that are easily confused: Be extra careful in using the correct words. Some words are easily confused, such as “Compliment” and “Complement.”

Careful editing of your essay can mean the difference between sublime and ridiculous. A few extra minutes spent on editing are worth hours. You really do not want to turn in your essay riddled with grammatical errors, misspellings, or punctuation mistakes.

Tip: Take a short break after finishing your essay, then skim through it for any mistakes that jump out at you. You may find some things that need to be rephrased, spelling mistakes that need to be taken care of, and the odd exclamation mark instead of a question mark that can be easily changed. Do a detailed check in the second go.


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