Skills Hub

Copy-editing

Now it's time to check how you've written your essay.

Here are some simple tips. 

You can also find some top techniques for writing from the Royal Literary Fund. 

Go to English Language for Academic Study Canvas site for more about editing, proofreading and creating concise writing.

Clarity and language

• If a sentence isn't clear, check the grammar and try to make it clearer. If it's too long, divide it into two. Keep to one idea per sentence.

• Avoid repetition - check Manchester University Academic Phrasebank for a variety of academic terms.

• Check you haven't used too much jargon - complex terms that obscure the meaning.

• Watch for any informal words or slang and change them.



• Check your grammar, punctuation and spelling. Try Grammarly to check your grammar.

Reducing word count

• Rephrase sentences so they are shorter.

• Make language active rather than passive where possible. For example:
This essay examines some of the ways...
rather than:
In this essay, some of the ways... are examined

• Shorten phrases like these:
in order to (to); on a regular basis (regularly); conduct an investigation into (investigate)

• Cut unnecessary qualifying words like: somewhat, rather, really, entirely

• Delete unnecessary words: the young baby (the baby); very often (often)

• Take out adjectives that do not add anything to your writing. 


 

 

 

Copy-editing checklist

  • Is my language plain, direct, simple, straightforward?
  • Have I written concisely?
  • Does it read easily?
  • Have I used active rather than passive voice ("I have handed in a brilliant essay" rather than "A brilliant essay was handed in.")
  • Have I used any words I don’t understand?
  • Have I avoided slang, abbreviations and phrases appropriate only for speech?
  • Have I achieved the right tone - different from casual/personal communication but not too formal?

Write numbers one to nine as words, 10 upwards as numerals

If you are using an acronym, write it out in full the first time and then abbreviate

Print Friendly and PDF