Reviewing and Editing your Written Work

Always keep a copy of your essay plan or outline before you, and review your work in its entirety. Are the arguments you have built clear and do they adequately answer the main question or essay title?

Do everything in your power to ensure the assignment title and content match each other in an appropriate way. Do not hesitate to rephrase the topic of your paper if you have changed focus in the course of writing or if you want to do this during the review phase.

Have all concepts and key words/phrases been defined properly at an early stage? This removes any risk of confusing your readers. Think of a family member or friend who is unfamiliar with the subject of your paper when they start reading it. Then ask if you have sufficiently explained each concept and term so that they fully understand them.   

Every Section needs to be Reviewed!  

Read back through every section, and devise a title for each one as a way of helping you make sure that every detail and point is relevant to the topic.  

Is all the content of this section in the right place? Mark out any points that might fit better in a different section or should be removed e.g. any text that has appeared elsewhere or is peripheral to a specific discussion.

Have you been too descriptive and not analytical enough? The implications of certain points may need to be explained more explicitly. Put another way, make sure it is completely clear to the reader why a particular point is there and how it contributes to addressing the questions or problems within your work.

Every Paragraph needs to be Reviewed!   

Make sure the opening sentence in each new paragraph introduces the main point or idea for that paragraph and that it demonstrates how the entire paragraph is relevant to the overall discussion.

Certain phrases can be useful in opening sentences to make relationships clear. Such phrases include "In addition to …," "However," "Moreover," and "In contrast to …,” and so on. Remember that there should be just one main point or idea in each individual paragraph.  

After the opening sentence, the following sentences in a paragraph could include:

  • The development or explanation of a particular point you want to make;
  • A direct or indirect quote or reference from something you have read to support that point;
  • Your own supporting example(s);
  • A clue to the point(s) that will be addressed next or later. 

Every Sentence needs to be Reviewed!

When you are editing a sizable document like a dissertation, it is easy for simple errors to slip through. Check than none of your sentences are more than three lines long and check back on your punctuation. 

A good editing tip is to read every sentence out loud. Make sure every quotation is enclosed in single or double quotation marks – just be consistent from start to end! Look out for commonly-made homophone mistakes (such as there or their, advise or advice, and so on). Check that all apostrophes are correctly placed.

Highlight the primary subject and primary action in every sentence. Are they hidden in an excess of unneeded words and/or unneeded phrases? Remove all unnecessary words and phrases and read your text again.

Do not overlook how important spellchecking is and take special care to ensure the names of people and theories are spelt correctly and appropriately capitalized. Check that you have used capital letters consistently and correctly throughout.