Editing for Dummies

By Moksha Agarwal 2021-06-26

Are you yawning while reading your essay? Or worse, are you yawning while reading your way over the word limit essay? If yes, this article is for you. If not, I’m sure you’ll still find value in our ‘five steps for achieving editing prowess.’ 

STEP 1: Eliminate Redundancy

Read your essay out loud. As loud as you can. You’ll be able to see, or rather observe, that certain phrases or sentences are redundant. They’re being repeated over and over again. You need to discard such sentences or phrases. If you’ve caught on to what we’ve been saying, you can already reduce the length of this paragraph to half.  

STEP 2: Prevent Information Overload

If you’ve ever called customer service, you know just how painful it is to navigate through options 1-8 before finally finding that pressing 9 would let you “talk to an executive.” Point is, don’t make your reader wait. Give them what they’re looking for and give it upfront. Any detail that detracts from your argument or doesn’t necessarily bolster it is useless. It doesn’t belong in your essay. 

STEP 3: Enhance Specificity

How do you tell someone you love economics without telling them that you love economics? You present a visual of sitting on your desk and analyzing questions in game theory. Choose words that describe the what, where, how and why of your actions. Sprinkle some jargon, but not too much—your goal is to engage the reader, not obscure them. It’s good to use a thesaurus sometimes. Your ‘heart’ doesn’t need to become your ‘full-sized aortic pump’ but your ‘consistently high’ can surely benefit from becoming ‘steep.’

STEP 4: Play with Sentences

Vary the length and structure of your sentences. Use short ones. Shift to a lengthier sentence. Read your essay out loud and listen closely. The altering character of your sentences is creating a rhythm that lends musicality to your writing. 

STEP 5: Create Harmony

This is simple. Ensure each sentence connects to its previous and following sentence. Create a cohesive narrative. Once you’re done, proofread for punctuation errors and spelling mistakes.