Essential Editing Tips for Every Writer

Guest Post by Sandra Miller

Now that you've finished your work, the challenge now is to make sure that all the sentences and paragraphs go well with each other and that your work is free from any grammatical, typographical and spelling errors. This step is called editing.

Editing is the process wherein you check whether the paper is well written and organized, there are smooth transitions between paragraphs and the content was able to convey what the paper is all about.

In order to help you with the editing process, here are useful tips you can keep in your toolbox.

1)      Set aside a few hours before you start the editing process. When editing your work, it is better to clear your mind first and stay away from the work even for a few hours. This can give you better results rather than editing your work immediately with a tired mind.
2)      Editing and proofreading are two different matters. While editing is focused on the structure itself, proofreading is about spelling or typographical errors, punctuation errors, spacing, format and other stylistic matters.
3)      Editing and proofreading should be done separately. Focus is very important in writing. When you edit, make sure you’re focused on editing alone and nothing else.
4)      Check the basic structure. Some hate making outlines while others don’t even follow what was written on it. Nonetheless, make sure that your work has an introduction, 3 supporting paragraphs and a conclusion.
5)      Supporting points should back up the main objective. In other words, don’t go off topic. When you’re talking about planning a wedding, do not talk about what to do after the wedding.
6)      Make sure every important concept is properly backed up. When you provide examples for point 1, point 2 should also have its examples to properly support the claim.
7)      Keep it short. There is a tendency to be superfluous in order to meet the required word count. Don’t. Avoid using too much prepositional phrases and minimize the use of adverbs, adjectives and modifiers. When making a description, use strong verbs to create a sharper impact.
8)      Use transitional words/phrases. Transitional words should be used to ensure smooth transition from one paragraph to another. Examples are however, and, on the other hand, further, finally, in this case and more so.
9)      Keep it professional. You are writing for readers. Your opinion does matter but when it comes to writing, remove the rants, unnecessary opinion, sidetracks and anything that does not add value to the main point.
10)   Remove the unnecessary. Less is more, so they say. Delete the sentences or paragraphs that do not support the main objective.
11)   Set a word count. In relation to No. 10, setting a word count and sticking to it helps you keep your focus when editing your work.
12)   Check your facts. Make sure that all factual information is accurate and avoid providing misleading or incorrect information to your readers.
13)   Check the quotations used. It’s easy to say that person A said this while person B said that. When making a quotation, check its accuracy and don’t forget to make an attribution. Keep in mind that plagiarism is a mortal sin and should be avoided at all costs.
14)   Don’t trust grammar/spell checkers. It’s not 100% accurate and correct.
15)   Take a break. A few minutes away from your work is fine. This can give you more time to relax and be more efficient when you decide to edit again.
16)   Read it out loud. This way, you’ll be able to determine whether the words flow smoothly.

Editing may be a difficult process especially for beginners. Over time, you’ll be able to develop the skill and eventually streamline the process.

Sandra Miller is a writer from New York and an NYU graduate with a PhD in English Literature. While writing her first book, Sandra learned the art of self-publishing. She recommends authors use professional editing.



  1. Thanks for all the different tips and information here. Editing/proof reading is very hard (maybe just for me) and I always make the mistake of writing just like I talk sometimes and after reading my post before publishing, you can see that it doesn't quite make sense, then at the last minute I have to re-jig the thing.

    I also like to read it out loud because I can see whether or not it flows.

    As for spell check, I've seen enough red lines alerting me to my 's' and 'z' because of the American way of spelling things. It drives me mad on the best of days. Great post.

  2. Great tips. I actually often enjoy editing more than writing. It's like my first edition is kind of verbal vomit with a lot of messy thoughts, and only while editing I bring structure in my thoughts :)


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