Editing is fine-tuning your work before submitting the final document. In the editing process, the writer reviews the entire document for (1) grammatical errors and (2) formatting requirements. This is different than ​​​Revision​, where the author focuses on making content-related corrections.

​The Center for Writing and Academic Success has created an Editing Checklist that can guide you through some of the key areas that writers should be aware of when editing. In addition, the strategies below can help improve the editing process.​​

​​Strategies for Slowing Down

​Take a Bre​​ak

It is best to take a break from the document before you start this stage of the writing process. You can switch to another writing assignment or give yourself a total mental break by getting some exercise or doing other tasks. The more time you can give yourself, the better, but even a 10- to 15-minute break can go a long way.

​Talk to​​​​ Yourself

Seriously. Read what you wrote, out loud…slowly. When you read aloud to yourself, you can hear how your writing sounds. Do you find yourself stumbling over what you are reading? This may be an indicator that the flow is not where it should be or that the grammar could be improved. What needs to be changed? Read slowly so that you have time to process and ensure that you are reading exactly what is written. The faster you read, the more likely your brain is to automatically fix any errors; you will not actually read what you have written and overlook it. 

We recognize, however, that this strategy might not work for everyone. An accommodation to this approach is using the Read Aloud function in Microsoft Word, rather than reading the text yourself. With this approach, a computerized voice will read your work to you so you can hear what it sounds like and potentially catch places in need of editing that way. If processing audio formats is a challenge, try pausing for 5 seconds after each sentence before moving on. This will give your brain a little bit of extra time to process what you just read. 

​​Strategies to Focus

Isolate​ the​​​ Sentences

If working on a computer, you can take each sentence and separate it from the rest of your paragraph. This will allow you to focus on one sentence at a time. If working with a hard copy, cover up the rest of the document as you edit each individual sentence.

Correct O​​​​​ne Topic ​at A Time

If you know the common mistakes that you make in writing, you can create a list of items to focus on. For example, your list might look something like this:

  1. Comma usage
  2. Subject-Verb Agreement
  3. Contractions

Once you have a list, read through your writing, focusing on only one item on the list. For example, if focusing on commas, it may be wise to circle or highlight every comma within the section. Then, see if there are any comma mistakes present. You can also read the section, seeing if there are any missing commas. You can do this one paragraph or section at a time, or with the entire document. If you have a hard time creating your own list, download our Editing Checklist as a starting point.​


Using Your Resources

​​​Check the APA (​7th ed.) Manual

If your assignment requires you follow the formatting of the 7th edition of the APA Manual (2020), use the manual to check for any issues related to formatting. Click here to download a Sample Student Paper, showing and explaining the basic formatting of APA papers. If you’re working on a project, thesis, or dissertation​​​​, ​​click here​ to download the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style (2020) as it is also commonly required that students follow the guidelines presented within. However, follow the formatting requirements as required by your instructor, even if they are different than APA 7 or the Saybrook Handbook of Format and Style.

​Gath​​er Ad​ditional Feedback

It can be hard to catch your own grammar or formatting errors. An outside perspective can be useful at this stage of the process to help you fine-tune your writing. Getting additional feedback may also help you generate a list of common mistakes to refer to in the future. 


You can find fantastic and supportive outside readers in the writing coaches who work at the Center for Writing and Academic Success! Writing coaches will support you in developing your writing process. If you are looking to gain a​​dditional feedback, working with a writing coach is an excellent platform. Click here  to schedule an appointment with a writing coach. ​

Other Reso​​u​​rces for Editing