ENGL102 logoENGL 101
English Composition I
Home Page >> Lecture Notes >> Editing


• Editing and revision are often confused

• Revision is about the big picture – overall content, organization, paragraphs, etc

• Editing is about the small stuff

• Sentences, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.

• It’s the polish, the final detailing to make the essay presentable to the reader


• Doesn’t have to be painful

• People assume that their writing is full of errors

• Most writers have SOME editing problem areas

• Learn what your problem areas ARE

• Go quickly through stronger areas (don’t ignore them entirely)

• Focus on YOUR problem areas


• Different writing situations require different editing approaches

• Technical/informative writing needs to be very precise and accurate

• Personal writing can be more flexible

• Good grammar is always important to send positive signals

• Poor grammar distracts the reader – always gives negative impression


Grammar and Spellcheck

• Some people rely solely on computer’s spellcheck and grammar check

• DON’T

• You don’t want to sound like a computer

• Personal style/expression gets lost

• Spellcheck isn’t foolproof – mine doesn’t like the word spellcheck, for example

• They are a good first step – at least the spellcheck is


Out Loud Method

• Ears are our most effective editing tool

• We recognize improper grammar instantly when we hear it

• So read your essay out loud

• Read what you’ve actually WRITTEN, not what you MEANT to say

• When you find a clinker, use your vocal grammar skills to say the “right” version

• Correct the original immediately


Backwords Method

• When we read an essay, we get into the content and flow

• Editing isn’t about content, remember?

• Read last sentence first

• Then next sentence, etc.

• This forces you to read each sentence independently

• You will recognize unclear pronouns, missing words, etc. more easily


Two-Finger Method

• Most writers have a consistent sentence length/style that they use

• Any variation from that pattern is more likely to be wrong (fragment/run-on, etc)

• Put fingers on either end of first sentence

• Measure other sentences in comparison

• When fingers get closer together or farther apart, pay more attention to that sentence

• Doesn’t mean it WILL be wrong, but a good, quick indicator of highest risk


Circle Method

• Requires writer to really know their problem areas

• Go through and circle what you usually have problems with

• Circle the pronouns, for example

• Review that section of your handbook

• Then go back and review what’s circled

• Most will be correct, and you can more easily fix the others