- Understand your draft
The purpose of your first draft is to put all your information into readable, clear sentences and paragraphs. This step can be referred to as revising. It requires looking at the “big picture” of your writing.
While it takes a little longer to edit from printed work, printing your manuscript allows you to see if there is deviation from what you intended to write and what you typed. This will refresh your eyes and help you become “detached” from your own work. Quickly read through the paper once, highlighting areas of concern with your red pen.
- Take a break
After reading through your printed work, it is time to take a break from it. It may seem most efficient to continue working due to a deadline, it will not be the most effective. Staying away from your paper allows you to revisit the work with a fresh set of eyes.
- Read for structure
If you have not read your paper out loud yet, it is time to do so. Be intentional about listening for the flow, structure, and organization of your paper. If something does not make sense or you find understanding difficult, mark the section, and move on.
Read it out loud yourself or have someone read it to you. Hearing your content gives you a different way of reviewing. When you have finished, edit your marked errors.
- Read for grammar and punctuation
Checking for grammar and punctuation mistakes are part of the editing process most authors focus on. In this step you will be carrying out detailed language checks.
As you write more papers, you will get better understanding of your tone and writing style. This will help you to identify the mistakes that you tend to make most often.
- Think like a reviewer
To self-edit effectively, assume the role of a person who has never read your paper before. This will help to put you in a state of mind to find possible issues that can cause the paper to be rejected.
- Have someone else read your work
This is not always necessary, but it is helpful. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your content can highlight mistakes you may not have realized.
Make the necessary changes and read through it once more. Check your citations. Get confident in your sentences and paragraph breaks.
- Hire a professional
Remember that editing is a two-step process. Once you’ve completed your own edits, using the above guidance, you may still require a professional paper editor to polish and perfect your manuscript for a successful submission.