Editing Term Papers

Editing Term Papers-8
Thirdly, you need to attend to the reader’s ever-present question: “Why should I believe this? Ideally, you will be able to adopt the role of an awkward reader of your own writing.

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This Study Guide addresses the process of editing an extended document such as a dissertation or a thesis.

Related Study Guides are: Writing a dissertation; Using paragraphs; and Writing for science.

Some people do choose to edit while sitting at a computer, but it is still important to print the work out at some point in the editing process, as only then will you see the reality of “the density of the ink, the sharpness of the printing …

Fonts, size of type, headings, spaces and blocks of text all may look different when you are holding a piece of paper in your hands rather than staring at a screen” (Brookes and Marshall 2004 p219).

Detailed proof reading is usually best done as the last stage in the editing process.

Typical aspects of writing that you can critique within the editing process include: The examiner will be able to tell how much attention you have paid to the editing process.For some, editing can feel like a negative experience, after the relatively creative and positive process of writing: One way of separating the processes of writing and editing is to do them in different places.Print out your writing, so that you can do the editing work on hard copy, away from the computer e.g.: on the train or bus; in a café; on a park seat; somewhere else well away from the work environment; or at your desk if you prefer.Then read through your writing thus far, and produce an outline of the structure that you have actually used.By comparing the two structures you can identify: where the ordering is confusing; where you have written too much or too little; where new sections are needed; and where others can be swapped around.He or she will not appreciate reading material that has clearly not been thoroughly edited.If the reader’s main response is irritation at a poorly edited thesis, this will make it less likely that he or she will develop a positive impression of the content of your writing.Take a step back from your detailed writing, and create an outline of a straightforward, logical structure you could use for your thesis.An effective way to do this is to explain aloud, to a friend, or alone but using a tape recorder, in as logical and clear a way as possible: If your friend takes notes, or if you tape-record the explanation, you can use the record to produce a coherent outline for your structure.Printing the work out and working on hard copy can help you feel as if you are reviewing someone else’s writing.This is useful, as it is important not to get too attached to any particular parts of your writing: “Until a manuscript is in print, not a word you have written is sacrosanct.” (Wolcott 2001 p112).


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