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Posted March 28, 2013

How to Edit Your Own Postgraduate Writing

One of the easiest and most effective ways of improving the standard of your work is actually by improving your writing technique.

Many people have good ideas and theories to discuss, however their message loses a little of its punch during its translation from mind to paper. Luckily this can be rectified by self editing, which is a skill in itself.

If you want to ensure that your postgraduate thesis is as good as it could possibly be, then follow these steps...

Print Out Your Work It's way easier to spot errors in someone else's writing than your own. This is because when scanning through your own work you read it in the way you intended to write it. To combat this problem, print your work out and treat it as though it is something you have never encountered before. With an independent mindset, and a red pen to hand, you will probably spot quite a few errors and mistakes that need attention! This is a much more effective way of checking over your work as opposed to simply scanning over it whilst it's still on the computer screen.

Take a Break One particularly useful method for creating a fresh perspective on something is to take a break from it. A few hours or even overnight is best as this allows you to re-approach it with a rejuvenated mindset. More often than not, when you read the work after a short break, errors, unnatural sentences, and disjointed ideas become much easier to identify.

Read it Aloud Reading your work aloud is another simple yet effective way of highlighting errors and areas that could be improved upon. If you find yourself struggling to project what's down on paper, redevelopment is definitely in order. Your writing should be easy to read, with simple flowing sentences.

Pretend You’re the Intended Audience Once you've read and re-read your work, it is time to do a little role reversal by imagining that you are the person intended to receive it. If it's an assignment for example, imagine you're the college professor and that you're reading the paper for the first time. Place yourself in their position and ask yourself the following questions, ‘Is this piece boring?’, ‘Is this answering the question?’, 'Am I excited reading it?' If you think that it might not be received as well as you hoped, there is always time to make additional more edits.

Be Ruthless The key to effective self editing is to be ruthless. It is easy to become attached to an item of work, however when you are ruthless with your editing, and you are not afraid to cut things out if they simply don’t work, you will improve greatly as a writer and academic. Long fluffy sentences, waffle, and mumbo jumbo are only fit for the chopping board, so get rid of them and don’t get sentimental about them.

Have you got any tips to share on effective ways to edit your postgraduate writing?


Motswalle Christina May 23, 2017, 2:51 p.m.

Thank you very much. This is very helpful indeed.

Charlotte King June 5, 2017, 4:09 p.m.

Glad you found it helpful.

Good luck with your postgrad studies.


Winnie June 29, 2018, 12:22 p.m.

Thanks a lot very useful

Kedir Filicha June 8, 2021, 12:57 p.m.

Thank you so much. These are really helpful tips!

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