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Learning Portal - Writing : Editing

Editing Your Essay

When you begin to edit, you are moving from focusing on your ideas and structure to focusing on the sentences and words in your writing. Now is the time to pay attention to sentence structure and grammar.

Top Tips 

✓ Keep a record of the major errors you have made in past papers. Review those error types to ensure that you understand the problems and how to correct them. Apply your knowledge to your current paper.

✓ Work with your sentences until they sound right. If a sentence doesn’t sound right to you, look at the elements of the sentence to find where it can be improved.

✓ Work with a writing coach or tutor at your college. Tutors won’t go through your paper line-by-line, but they will answer specific questions and teach you how to spot and correct your own mistakes.


Study Tools

What to Consider When Editing Your Writing

Higher-Order and Lower-Order Concerns

Watch this video (The Learning Portal Ontario, 2017) to learn about the higher-order and lower-order concerns for revising your essay. The video explains what you should be looking for as you revise, edit, and proofread what you have written. You can also download the Higher-Order and Lower-Order concerns video transcript.


There are three stages to revising your writing: revision, editing, and proofreading. Often these stages can be referred to as addressing higher-order and lower-order concerns. The editing stage addresses lower-order concerns, and should be done after the revision stage for this reason.

During the editing stage, you should review the structure and grammar of the essay. 

Editing Checklist

  • Have I read a hard copy of my essay?
  • Have I identified my thesis statement?
  • Have I evaluated my thesis statement? (Does it have a point? Is it opinionated? Is it referred to and proven in the essay? Can you tell what the essay is about from the thesis statement?)
  • Does each main paragraph have a topic sentence?
  • Is the essay coherent?
  • Is there an introduction and a conclusion?
  • Am I within the length requirements for the essay?
  • Do I primarily use active voice?
  • Have I edited out repetition?
  • Have I answered the question that was posed in my assignment?
  • Has someone else read my essay?


Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the GPRC Learning Commons in June 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution. 

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