Argumentative Essay Template and Example Outline

An argumentative essay template and example argumentative essay outline to make writing argumentative essays a breeze!

Argumentative essay outline and template

If you’re anything like most students, it’s likely you skip the essay outline part of the research process and jump straight into writing the dastardly thing.

But taking the time to plan out the main flow and points of your essay can actually save you a ton of time in the long run.

Think about your essay outline as a roadmap that will guide you step-by-step through the process of writing the essay.

Beginner writers can undoubtedly benefit from an essay outline, but even seasoned writers use them. Take J.K. Rowling, for example. Here’s her outline for the plot of Harry Potter:

Outline plot for Harry Potter

This method is so effective because it allows you to visualize the flow of your ideas and how they link together as the essay progresses.  

It is very common for students to write their essays at the last minute. But if you don’t have a clear essay outline or plan by which you can answer the question, you may find yourself staring at a blank page as panic increasingly sets in.

My advice: Plan ahead with an essay outline. It’s easy to create one using one of our simple templates, and it will save you from that last-minute stress.

How do you write an essay outline?

The outline of the essay will vary according to the type of essay and format of the essay you are writing. In this post, we’re taking a look at a sample outline for an argumentative essay.

You can read more about how to write an argumentative essay here:

The Secrets to Writing Amazing Argumentative Essays – Vappingo

Now, one thing you should remember when compiling your argumentative essay outline is that it’s pretty much for your eyes only. Unless your teachers have specifically requested that you submit your essay outline, it’s something that you will use on a personal level to guide your thoughts. Even if your teacher has asked for a copy of your essay outline, it’s unlikely that he or she will be too critical in terms of how you have organized your ideas–it’s more about demonstrating that you HAVE put some thought into your essay. For this reason, don’t dwell too much on making your outline perfect; heck, if the odd grammar error slips in, it’s not the end of the world (it’s not often you’ll hear a proofreader saying that!).

Your main objective is to organize your thoughts quickly and efficiently. 

The argumentative essay template we have provided below will give you with a great basis for composing your essay outline.

However, don’t feel constrained by them. If you want to make some basic adjustments, please feel free to do so. Whatever way you decide to write your essay outline is great–the main objective is to make sure you have one!

So let’s take a sample template for an argumentative essay in more depth.

Essay Outline Template for an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay is a valuable tool in academia because it offers learners an opportunity to formulate an argument and present it in a careful and measured way. Despite what many people think, writing an argumentative essay is not about getting angry. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Argumentative essays require you to present your opinions in a way that will persuade others to support your position.

Sample outline for an argumentative essay

Picture of the argumentative essay template and planner

  1. Introduction
    1. Overview of the background to your topic
    2. Thesis statement
  2. Body paragraph one: 
    1. Statement of argument 1 in support of your thesis
      1. Supporting fact 1
      2. Supporting fact 2
      3. Supporting fact 3
    2. Summary of how the three facts support argument 1.
  3. Body paragraph two: 
    1. Statement of argument 2 in support of your thesis
      1. Supporting fact 1
      2. Supporting fact 2
      3. Supporting fact 3
    2. Summary of how the three facts support argument 2.
  4.  Body paragraph three:
    1. Statement of argument 3 in support of your thesis
      1. Supporting fact 1
      2. Supporting fact 2
      3. Supporting fact 3
    2. Summary of how the three facts support argument 3.
  5. Body paragraph four: Potential opposing argument 1 to your thesis and your response to this claim
  6. Body paragraph four: Potential opposing argument 2 to your thesis and your response to this claim
  7. Conclusion
    1. Reiterate arguments made in the thesis statement
    2. Specific why your points are of interest (prospects for future research, current relevance, potential future applications, etc.)

Example completed argumentative essay outline

Example of a completed argumentative essay template

And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Remember to dissect your argument into manageable chunks and present one idea per paragraph. Don’t be tempted to present only the ideas that support your thesis. Also take the time and effort to identify the counterarguments that someone may leverage in response to your claims and then present evidence to disprove these claims.

Need more help writing your essays? Take a look at our fantastic guide to The Ultimate Guide to Editing an Essay in 2020.

Is Academic Proofreading Cheating? Here’s What the Universities Have to Say

Is academic proofreading cheating? It’s a question that raises its head regularly. In this article, we take a look at what the universities have to say.

Is academic proofreading cheating?

Academic proofreading and essay editing are often (falsely) associated with cheating.

Yes, there can be a fine line between being helpful and doing someone else’s work on their behalf. However, the best editors know how to refrain from crossing that line to ensure your work is ethical, faithful, and something you can be proud to call your own.

When you start a university or college course, you’ll likely be asked to sign up to a set of rules about plagiarism, cheating, and false representation. That’s perfectly normal and to be expected.

But does essay proofreading break these rules?

It is not uncommon for academic editors to be accused of helping students to cheat. Ethical professional editors will be highly offended by this accusation.

Proofreading is no different from most jobs: It has an ethical aspect that needs to be respected. For instance, it is considered highly unethical for professors to tell students the answers to exam papers. The majority of professors wouldn’t dream of doing so; however, some do. Does that mean all professors are guilty of helping students to cheat?

Absolutely not. The majority of professors adhere to the ethical expectations associated with their profession. The same is true of professional editors.

So why is academic editing so closely associated with cheating?

One of the problems is that online services, such as Vappingo’s essay editing service, are relatively new. In the past, people were not able to access academic proofreading assistance with such ease.

What did they do instead?

They turned to friends and family members to ask them to proofread and edit their papers for them. Again, the odd student may have benefited from over-zealous editorial assistance from a well-meaning family member. However, the majority of students accessed what we would now perceive to be ethical editing assistance (i.e., help to find errors and recognize issues).

Here at Vappingo, we focus on helping students (and anyone else who orders our services) present their work in the best possible light. In many regards, it is helping to level the playing field.

We encounter many students who have performed fantastic studies in their area of expertise. However, their writing skills are letting them down. This can particularly be the case with speakers of English as a second language.

Professional editors can help these individuals to ensure that their written papers don’t hold them back.

When is essay proofreading cheating?

Essay editing or proofreading can be considered cheating if the editor does any of the following:

  • Performs any type of research on behalf of the student
  • Rewrites sections of text because they are factually incorrect
  • Answers the essay prompt on the student’s behalf
  • Significantly alters the content or meaning of the text
  • Changes the main ideas or arguments
  • Adds citations and references
  • Composes analysis for the student
  • Significantly restructures the whole essay

What does ethical essay proofreading involve?

  • Highlighting areas of the discussion that may require fact checking
  • Commenting on any arguments that do not make sense in the context of the rest of the paper
  • Correcting spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors
  • Pointing out any material/language that isn’t appropriate; for instance, use of slang terms or derogatory descriptions of the work of others
  • Identifying areas where the writing isn’t clear
  • Highlighting citation errors or lack of appropriate citation
  • Helping to ensure the paper is formatted in a professional and polished manner
  • Pointing out problems… but not solving them

The differences between ethical essay proofreading and cheating

Difference between proofreading and cheating

Is essay proofreading cheating? What the universities have to say

So, what do the universities have to say?

The majority of universities actively encourage students to ensure their papers are edited and proofread. Here’s what the universities have to say:

“Third-party proofreaders are not expected to actively amend existing, or create new, content in draft work; instead, they should support the student by identifying errors and/or making suggestions relating to – but not creating – content. The University considers the role of the proofreader is more akin to that of a mentor rather than a content producer or editor of the work.” – University of Warwick

“A third party can be used to offer advice on: 3.1 spelling and punctuation; 3.2 formatting and sorting footnotes and endnotes for consistency and order; 3.3 ensuring the work follows the conventions of grammar and syntax in written English; 3.4 shortening long sentences and editing long paragraphs; 3.5 changing passives and impersonal usages into actives; 3.6 improving the position of tables and illustrations and the clarity, grammar, spelling, and punctuation of any text in or under tables and illustrations; and 3.7 ensuring consistency of page numbers, headers, and footers” (London School of Economics)

“Checking your writing before submitting it is an important part of the process. It can be challenging to proofread your own writing, and some people prefer to work with a proofreader. However, to avoid collusion, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is still your own work. Your responsibilities If you choose to work with a proofreader (either a professional or a friend), you will need to ensure that their suggestions don’t change your work so much that it’s no longer yours.” (Newcastle University)

“It is acknowledged that certain types of student texts are quite often submitted for proofreading to a third party, and that such assistance is at times actively recommended by supervisors. This is particularly the case for doctoral dissertations, which typically aim for publication standard in their presentation.” (Lancaster University)

In fact, the London School of Economics has gone as far as to set up its own proofreading company (Additional services).

Your professors are probably using academic proofreading services themselves

Here is something many students don’t know:

Your professors will use editorial services. No journal articles are ever published in reputable manuscripts without first being edited and proofread by professional editors. In fact, in most cases, it is a mandatory requirement for all submissions to be accompanied by a certificate of editing.

Around 70% of the orders for academic proofreading services we receive here at Vappingo are from PhD candidates and professors. There’s proof that academic proofreading is not cheating if ever you needed it.

How to avoid crossing the line between getting proofreading assistance and cheating

  • Make sure you read your university’s editing and proofreading policy in depth. Every university applies a different set of rules. Share these rules with your editor and ensure you operate within the realms of these laws at all times.
  • Include the name of the company that edited your paper in the acknowledgments section of any dissertation or thesis. Better still, request a certificate of editing. If the providing company refuses to provide documentation of this nature, it’s likely something’s amiss.
  • Ensure any proofreading or editing company you choose has significant experience with academic texts. General editors may not be aware of the ethics associated with academic editing.
  • Inform your supervisors that you intend to have your essay proofread. They will be likely to offer you good advice on what you can and can’t do.
  • Retain responsibility for your own work at all times. After your work has been edited by a professional, read through it yourself one final time to ensure there are no loitering errors or areas of misunderstanding.

Can I just ask a friend to help edit or proofread my essay?

Absolutely. If you have a friend or family member on hand who possesses a good working knowledge of written English and academic editing, it can be useful to elicit his or her help. However, you should bear in mind the following:

  • Some academic documents can be particularly lengthy, especially dissertations, manuscripts, and theses. Asking friends to proofread an extensive file places a significant burden on them.
  • You should avoid asking a student who is on the same course to proofread your essay. This could lead to misappropriation claims or version control issues that can potentially lead to academic misconduct.

A final word…

Academic editing and proofreading are not cheating, providing the editor adheres to basic ethical requirements. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the proofreader is aware of the standards expected by the university and adheres to them at all times and for revising your own essay.

You own the essay or academic paper. It needs to be your work. As such, you need to check each correction—however minor—and ensure it reflects your voice, intended meaning, and own research.

 

New Vappingo Platform Launching Soon

Let’s start afresh!

When Vappingo first launched back in 2009, things were a little different.

Blackberries were all the rage, NetFlix was primarily a DVD delivery company, MySpace was still popular, and sixteen-year-old Miley Cyrus was better known for playing Hannah Montana than she was for twerking.

Yep, the world has moved on somewhat since Vappingo’s launch, and it’s time for a fresh new look.

We’re delighted to announce that we will shortly be going live with a completely new underlying application (that’s the software that drives the sections of the website you use to place an order, get in touch with your editor, request revisions, etc.).

You’ll still be able to access our services and Your Vappingo via the main website (www.vappingo.com); however, once you sign in, things will look a bit different. Hopefully, you will find the user experience intuitive, user-friendly, and an overall upgrade on the Vappingo of old.

Some of the improvements you will benefit from are as follows:

  • Invoices will now be sent instantly upon receipt of your order
  • You will have the ability to delete old orders from the system
  • You will be able to pay using different options, including PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and offline payment options (including bank transfer)
  • You will have the capability to maintain a wallet balance to make placing orders quicker and easier
  • You will have access to an improved dashboard on which you can place new orders, track order history, get in touch with your editor, download files, view transaction history, and top-up your wallet balance

Due to GDPR requirements and to protect your data, we have opted not to migrate customer accounts from the old platform to the new platform. As such, to access our new system, you will need to create a new account with Vappingo, which typically takes less than 30 seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why can’t I access my old account? My existing username and password are not working.

You will need to create a new account to access the new Vappingo application. The Vappingo website may look very similar to the old site; however, the underlying functionality has been completely updated. You can use your old username and password to create a new account if you wish.

Why did you not just migrate my account to the new system?

Due to a change in our technology requirements, we have moved on from the fantastic developers who have worked with us over the past 10+ years to access a new set of skills. To operate in accordance with GDPR requirements and our privacy policy, we have not provided the new developers with access to your data. As such, you will need to register a new account to access the site.

How can I track or manage my existing order?

Simply drop us a message at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help you with any queries about your order.

What if I want to access my old orders?

Simply drop us a message at [email protected], and we’ll be happy to help you dig out any of your previous orders.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the usual methods (click here). Or if you’re ready to start a fresh new journey with us right away…

Register a new account now!

The REAL Differences Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement

Confused about the differences between a statement of purpose and a personal statement? This article contains all the information you need to make sure you nail your admissions essay.

Difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement

Every applicant to grad school will likely be asked to write some kind of statement to support his or her application.

In some cases, you’ll be asked to write a personal statement; in others, you will be requested to write a statement of purpose. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be asked to write both (and maybe an additional admissions essay to boot!).

Off the bat, you need to know this: There is a difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement.

In fact, there are several differences.

So now we’ve established that a statement of purpose is not the same as a personal statement, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which the two essays differ.

Differences Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement

Difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement

SOPs and personal statements differ in three broad ways:

1) The purpose

While the fundamental purpose of your statement of purpose is to explain why you want to study a given subject, the purpose of the personal statement is to explain why you are the right candidate for the program.

2) The perspective

The statement of purpose is forward-looking. It is concerned with your overall purpose (clue in the title guys). In this case, admissions committees are looking for specific detail on your future career plans and research goals. The personal statement is more of a reflection; as such, it is predominantly backwards-looking. It is concerned with what you have done in the past to prepare for study or a career in your chosen field.

3) The focus

The focus of your statement of purpose should be firmly placed on your credentials, qualifications, and interests. The SOP should explain why you are the right candidate for a program of study and why the institution is right for you. The focus of your personal statement should be on the person you are today. Explain how your personal and academic experiences have shaped you into a unique, exceptional candidate.

While both essays share the same ultimate objective—to secure your admission to the university by convincing the admissions committee that you have the potential to be a success on the program to which you are applying for admission—the expectations differ. It is imperative that you know what these expectations are to ensure you give the admissions committee members the information they are looking for.

Quick note: Need your statement of purpose to be as strong as it can be? Ivy League editors are here to help. Our college essay experts can help you shine. Check out our SOP editing services now.

So, now we’ve provided a high-level overview of the differences between a statement of purpose and a personal statement, it is worth looking at some of the features these two essays have in common.

Similarities Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement

Regardless of whether you are writing a statement of purpose or a personal statement, you will need to ensure you meet six basic requirements.

List of things that need to be included in a college essay

1) Suitable length

Unless the specific school states otherwise, both types of admission essay should be between 1-2 pages (single-space pages in 12 point font). Some schools will provide a word limit. In those cases, you should strictly adhere to the requirement. In other cases, you may be given free rein. Brevity is key. While you may be tempted to write a four-page monologue that gives extensive details of your suitability for the program, this approach is typically ineffective and will not maintain the reader’s attention.

Bear in mind that admissions committees receive thousands of applications for every place on a given program. They appreciate concise, well-written essays that focus on your uniqueness. Think of it as an elevator pitch. You only have a couple of minutes to persuade the reader that you will bring value to the program. Make every word count.

For more details on how to format a statement of purpose, check out our guide to the statement of purpose format.

2) Free of errors

Even if you do not go the whole hog and engage the services of an expert SOP editing service, you should enlist the services of a third party to proofread your final essay. Mistakes are unforgivable and will result in your well-crafted personal statement or statement of purpose being tossed on the reject pile.

3) Authentic

Don’t try to use words you don’t understand or flowery language that would rival a Shakespearean sonnet. Just be you. Write in your natural voice and be true to yourself. This approach will ensure that your personal statement of SOP is much more relatable to the reviewers.

4) Truthful

Do not tell lies in your admissions essays. Admissions committee members are experts at weeding out the truth. Any white lies could cost you the place at the university of your dreams.

5) Adheres to instructions

Follow all the provided instructions to the letter. Don’t try to be smart or creative by circumventing the requirements. The reviewers will initially screen your essay against these requirements; if they have not been met, your admissions journey will come to an end.

6) Demonstrates by example

Show, don’t tell. Instead of claiming that you are a strong communicator, for instance, provide a solid example that demonstrates your strong communication skills in action.

Objectives of a Personal Statement

Your personal statement should achieve four broad objectives:

1) Tell a story

Regardless of whether you actually format your personal statement in story form, it should lead the reviewers through a journey by which they learn about you as a unique candidate.

2) Outline your motivations

Your task is to convince the admissions tutors that you understand the course and are a good fit for what they have on offer. Thoroughly research the program and the university and use your personal statement to demonstrate that you have taken the effort to find out about the school and the course of your choice.

What do you love about your chosen subject so much that has motivated you to choose it above anything else? Demonstrate your passion, intellectual curiosity, and enthusiasm.

3) Be succinct and compelling

The story you tell needs to be compelling and remarkable. By adding concise detail, you can catch the reviewer’s heart and leave a lasting impression.

Regardless of what story you choose to tell, make sure it is unique. Write as though you are talking directly to the reader.

4) To explain any weaknesses or challenges you have overcome

If there is an elephant in the room; i.e., something that you are concerned will have a negative impact on your application, the personal statement is the place to mention it. You may be tempted to ignore your weaknesses completely. However, if there is a chance the admissions committee will ask questions about something—for example, your grades, a gap in your work experience, or a health issue—you should use your PS to explain these weaknesses.

For instance, let’s say your GPA dropped significantly during your freshman year because you experienced an issue with your mental health. You can use your personal statement to discuss the adversity you encountered, how you overcame it, and most importantly, what you learned from the experience.

Regardless of the weakness or challenge you describe, make sure you present the story in a positive light. This will help the admissions committee to recognize that you are tenacious and have the potential to strive in the face of challenges.

Personal Statement Checklist

Personal statement checklist

Free PDF download: Personal Statement Checklist

An impressive personal statement should:

  • Tell your unique story
  • Outline your motivations
  • Be succinct and compelling
  • Address any weaknesses the committee may question

Objectives of a Statement of Purpose

When writing a statement of purpose, you should ensure that it meets six broad objectives:

1) Explain why you want to pursue this graduate degree

As we previously described, the most important part of your statement of purpose is the purpose. You need to clearly and succinctly explain why you want to pursue a given program of study.

Do you want to transition from the corporate world to academic but need to study your subject of expertise at a higher level to make this move? Or perhaps you want to complete an MBA to enable you to progress within the company you work for?

Regardless of what your goals are, you need to very clearly explain what is motivating your interest in pursuing a graduate degree.

2) Explain your interest in a given subject of interest

It’s not enough to simply state why you want to study a given discipline. You need to convince the admissions committee that you are dedicated to that particular field of study.

Briefly provide an outline of the experiences that have stimulated and maintained your interest in the subject. For example, work experience, voluntary work, internships, etc. If a mentor has inspired you or provided expert guidance that has fostered your motivation, talk about the impact the individual has had on your goals. Ensure you clearly communicate your preparedness for study.

3) Outline your strengths and suitability for the program

In this section of your SOP, you need to clearly outline any experience you have that will enable you to be successful on the program. Be it academic, professional, or internship experience, describe the skills and knowledge you have gained that have added to your understanding of the subject of interest and solidified your intention to study it at a higher level.

Ensure you explicitly spell out how your strengths will enable you to be successful on the program. This will help you to demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of what the program involves and will be a positive addition to the class.

4) Outline your medium and long-term goals

Clearly outline your medium- and long-term goals. What do you hope to achieve after completing the program of study?

What is your ultimate objective? For example, in the medium-term, you may wish to progress to become a team leader in the organization at which you work before ultimately becoming a division head. Or perhaps you want to dedicate your career to research to facilitate developments in your field of interest. Be specific.

5) Define your research interests

This section of your statement of purpose is particularly important. Describe what specifically you would like to research if you are admitted to the program. Most importantly, highlight how these research interests are aligned with the ongoing studies of the current faculty members.

Name the professors at the school who you are interested in working with and explain how their studies fit in with your objectives. This section will need to be tailored to each school. Although that means extra work for you, it reassures the admissions committee members that you understand the nature of the program and will bring value to the school.

6) Highlight why you are a good fit for the school

As stated earlier, thousands of applicants apply for every place on a given course of study. So why should the school choose you? Your goal is to convince the reviewers that you are the right candidate for them.

Specifically highlight how your values and motivations are aligned with those of the institution to which you are applying.

What unique strengths will you bring to the faculty? How will you add value? Discuss the knowledge, skills, and experiences you anticipate accessing from the program and highlight how these will enable you to achieve your medium- and long-term goals.

7) Detail why the school is a good fit for you

Demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the program on offer and the unique benefits of the school to which you are applying. Again, this section will be different for every application. Describing the attributes of the program and school that have attracted you will help you to craft an informed statement of purpose that the faculty members who are reviewing your application can relate to.

Statement of Purpose Checklist

Statement of purpose checklist

Free PDF download: Statement of Purpose Checklist

An impressive statement of purpose should demonstrate:

  • Why you want to pursue this graduate degree
  • Your interest in a given subject of expertise
  • Your strengths and suitability for the program
  • Your medium and long-term goals
  • Your research interests
  • Why you are a good fit for the school
  • Why the school is a good fit for you

Remember: Once you have written your first draft of your personal statement or statement of purpose, you will need to ensure it is thoroughly proofread. Our statement of purpose editors can help you to refine and perfect your SOP. In addition to correcting any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, they will help you identify any gaps in content, provide advice on how you can improve your statement, and identify any irrelevant content.

Statement of Purpose vs Personal Statement: Which Do You Need to Write?

Hopefully, you now have a clear understanding of the main differences between a personal statement and a statement of purpose.

But which one do you actually need to write?

The answer to this question will be down to which school and program you are applying for admission to. Some schools require either a personal statement or a statement of purpose, while others require both.

For example, MIT requires a statement of purpose, while Indiana University requires a personal statement.

In some cases, the school may require an essay that is a combination of both a personal statement and a statement of purpose. For instance, the London School of Economics requires a specific format for some programs of study.

In the worst-case scenario, you may encounter a school that uses the terms statement of purpose and personal statement interchangeably.

In this case, you should take into consideration the nature of the program for which you are applying. Generally speaking, research-based programs will expect an academic, formal statement of purpose (especially at PhD level), while undergraduate or scholarship applications typically require a personal statement.

If there’s any doubt, clarify the requirements. You should be able to find the details on the application itself or the school’s website. If this information is missing, contact the school directly to double-check the expectations.

Conclusion: The Difference Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement

There are major differences between a personal statement and a statement of purpose and its imperative that you know what these are.

Although both essays share the fundamental goal of securing you a place on the program of study of your choice, the information and requirements associated with the two statements are vastly different.

At a high level, the SOP is the more formal essay. It highlights your academic and professional background and what you have achieved. However, its biggest focus is on your purpose. As such, you should invest significant effort in defining your goals and how the program and school will help you achieve those goals.

The statement of purpose is typically less formal. It is heavily focused on you as a unique candidate. It should include some form of story that sets you apart as an exceptional individual who will add value to the program.

Regardless of whether you are writing a statement of purpose or a personal statement, make sure you do the following:

  • Read the instructions carefully
  • Use specific details and examples
  • Be authentic
  • Edit and proofread your final statement of purpose or personal statement!

 

Four Crucial Things to Consider When Revising an Essay

Revising an essay with minimum pain

The prospect of revising an essay probably doesn’t fill you with joy.

But it’s incredible how many students rely on the first draft of their essay and fail to invest time refining and perfecting it.

Here’s a fundamental truth: Absolutely nobody produces writing that is perfect the first time around.

In fact, the most established scholars will tell you that the first draft of any essay, thesis, or dissertation doesn’t matter at all; the real writing starts during the revision process.

And it is for this reason you should never submit an essay that hasn’t been through a thorough revision process.

But what exactly does that involve?

Before we delve into the specifics of what you need to take into consideration when revising an essay, it’s important you understand there is a fundamental difference between proofreading an essay and revising an essay.

Proofreading involves reviewing the text for minor grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. However, revision isn’t about identifying and correcting errors; it’s about making the essay much, much better.

The Differences Between Revising, Editing, and Proofreading an Essay

Before you submit your essay, you thoroughly revise it, then edit it, then proofread it. Here are the main issues you will be concerned with during each stage of the process:

Essay Revising

Essay revising is performed at the holistic essay level.

Your main question during the essay revision stage should be: Does the essay meet the requirements of the assignment?

  • Read the essay within the context of the big picture and attempt to view your essay through the eyes of your reader.
  • Take an objective look at how your paper is organized. Is the information presented logically and coherently? Will the reader be able to follow your main points?
  • Ensure the formatting and structure of your essay are suitable.
  • Refine your introduction and thesis statement to ensure that it is clear and responds appropriately to the main question/prompt.
  • Add additional details, including citations, facts, and data, that support your main argument.
  • Remove any unnecessary or confusing detail.

Essay Editing

Essay editing is performed at the sentence and paragraph level.

Your main question during the essay revision stage should be: Do the sentences flow well and lead the reader through a structured argument that is clear and consistent?

  • Do not start the editing process until you are satisfied with the structure, flow, and content of the essay.
  • Read each sentence in turn and question the function it performs within the wider paragraph. Can you refine the sentence to better achieve your goal?
  • Analyze each sentence in the context of the preceding and following sentences. Are the connections between each point clear? Or do you need to add more effective transitions?
  • Ask yourself: Are the sentence lengths varied and effective? Long sentences can be great for forming connections between ideas but may obscure the critical points. On the other hand, short sentences can help to make a strong point, but overreliance on them can lead to unclear connections and a stilted flow. The golden rule is to reduce all unnecessary phrasing.

Essay Proofreading

Essay proofreading is performed at the sentence and word level

Your main question during the proofreading stage is: Is the final draft free of punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors?

  • Read through your essay s-l-o-w-l-y to find any loitering grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors.
  • Format footnotes, cover sheets, citations, and references according to the required style guide.
  • Remember: Proofreading does not consist of simply passing your paper through automated spelling and grammar checks. Software will help you find many errors; however, it is not capable of viewing your paper within the context it was written and does not represent a substitute for a human review.

For more comprehensive details of the essay editing process, check out our in-depth guide to editing an essay.

If you want to learn more about what proofreading involves, read our comprehensive guide to proofreading.

At Vappingo, our professional essay editors perform revision and editing at the same time. They then pass through the document a second time to proofread it for any remaining minor errors. Our process is very distinct, and is as follows:

Vappingo three-step editing and essay revision

The rest of this article will cover the aspects our editors consider during the combined editing and revising process.

Revising an Essay in Four Simple Steps

Now we’re clear on why revising an essay is important, let’s take a look at the four things you need to take into consideration when you do so.

Four Things to Consider When Revising an Essay

Essay revision: Four things to take into consideration

Structure and Organization

Your essay needs to be effectively structured, clear, and easy to understand. The flow of the argument should gradually lead the reader from the introduction to the conclusion in a logical and systematic manner. The writing process is, by its nature, chaotic. You may find that the draft version of your essay contains some sections that present a stream of conscious as opposed to a planned and structured argument. Your top priority during the revision process is to refine that draft to ensure your essay has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Revising the Structure of Your Essay:
  • Does the essay have a clear introduction that outlines the thesis or central proposition?
  • Does the introduction prepare the reader for the content of the paper?
  • Does the body of the essay follow a logical flow and build a progressive argument?
  • Is each of the points of significance in the essay clearly connected? Is the relationship between each of the points made clear?
  • Is the analysis limited to one leading point per paragraph?
  • Is there a clear transition between paragraphs?

Language and Formatting

Far too many students completely misunderstand the importance of ensuring the formatting of the essay is meticulously revised according to academic standards such as APA. You may have written the perfect essay; however, if you do not ensure that the references and citations are formatted according to your university’s guidelines, the font and styling are appropriate, and the tables and figures are presented effectively, you will lose valuable grades. When it comes to essays, language use can have a significant impact on the final result. It’s not merely a case of putting a stream of words together to put your argument forward; it’s about ensuring you have used the right words. Using effective transitions, the correct terminology, and varied terminology can help you take your essay to the next level.

Things to look for when revising the language of an essay

As you go through the process of revising your essay, make sure it does not contain any of the following:

  • Slang. Academic papers should not contain any slang expressions such as unreal, kudos, and props.
  • Casual references and expressions. Essays are formal documents; as such, you need to ensure the language you use is also formal. Write “it is not possible to draw a conclusion” as opposed to “before we jump to conclusions.”
  • Contractions. Use it is as opposed to its, they are in place of they’re, and have not instead of haven’t. Contractions represent a casual form of speech and, as we have already established, informal language has no place in an essay unless the nature of the paper calls for it.
  • Clichés. Again, cliché expressions, such as reading between the lines, only time will tell, and the writing’s on the wall, do not hold any tangible meaning and can undermine the flow and strength of your argument.
  • Misused words. You can read more here: Link to Vappingo guide to misused words.
  • Vague words. Some words are rather vague and do not convey the strength of the argument particularly well. Look out for the use of words such as good, bad, interesting, thing, etc. and replace them with more specific vocabulary. For instance, instead of stating, The test was repeated later (when? Three days? Three months? Three years?), write The test was repeated 24 hours later.
Questions to Ask When Revising the Language and Format of Your Essay
  • Is the language clear and easy to understand?
  • Have you explained the logic that underpins your opinions?
  • Is the argument presented in a way that is aligned with the needs, understanding, and interests of the intended audience?
  • Has the paper been fully proofread to ensure that it does not contain any punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes?
  • Have all the references been accurately cited?
  • Has the paper been formatted according to the requirements of the style guide?
  • Have you used consistent formatting and citation throughout the paper?
  • Have you ensured that you are clear as to what are your ideas and what are those of the authors you have referenced?
  • Have you met the word limit requirements?
  • Have you checked that all the data provided in the bibliography is accurate?

Coherence, content, and analysis

When an essay is coherent, the main ideas flow effortlessly, and the reader is left with no uncertainty about how the paragraphs are linked. The most effective essay writers are those who use transitions to efficiently clarify how the ideas they are presenting in the distinct sentences and paragraphs are linked. In addition to enhancing the flow of your essay, refining the transitions during the essay revision process will help to take your writing to a superior level, and you will come across more measured, sophisticated, and scholarly.

In terms of the content and analysis, you should be asking yourself if the key facts, data, and arguments you have put forward are compelling, relevant, and concise. Make sure every single claim you make is fully supported by indisputable evidence.

Useful Transitions to Add When Revising an Essay

Essay transitions cheat sheet

You can read more about essay transitions in our essay transitions cheatsheet.

Questions to ask when revising the coherence, content, and analysis of your essay:

  • Do the paragraphs transition well? Are the connections between them clear?
  • Do you start each paragraph with a pertinent topic sentences that leads on from the discourse provided in the previous paragraph?
  • Is the discussion logical? Does it progress well?
  • Does each sentence clearly lead on from the one before?
  • Does each paragraph present a clear argument that is supported by sufficient evidence?
  • Are thetransitions between sentences and paragraphs clear?
  • Is the quoted material suitable for the argument that has been put forward?
  • Have you supported the claims you have made with citations, data, or examples?
  • Have you ensured that the sources you have used are credible?
  • Are the data and statistics you have provided relevant and up to date?

Purpose

Every essay should achieve its underlying purpose. Whether you were trying to persuade the reader to prescribe to your point of view, inform the reader about the findings of a study, explain the process of research, or present a specific analysis, while revising an essay, you should verify that you have achieved that purpose. Ask yourself whether the reader would be able to summarize your main points using just a couple of sentences. Have you responded to the question properly? Have you covered all the main points of the prompt?

Questions you should ask yourself when revising the purpose of an essay
  • Does the introduction contain a clear outline of my proposition, thesis, or main argument?
  • Have I taken a position on the topic of interest? If so, is this position evident throughout the paper?
  • Do the main points I have presented in the essay clearly contribute to the achievement of its primary purpose?
  • Have I summarized the argument in a clear and compelling way in the conclusion? Does the conclusion pull all the main ideas together?

If you cover all four aspects described above while revising your essay, you will significantly improve the final paper and, subsequently, your grade.

Here are all the main points to consider in a quick and simple essay revision checklist. Simply click on the image below to download the PDF.

Essay Revision Checklist

Essay revision checklist free

Key Takeaways:

  • Revision typically takes place after you have completed the first draft of your essay.
  • You may need to revise the essay several times before you progress to proofread the final draft.
  • You should revise and edit the essay before you proofread it. Proofreading always comes last.
  • If you spot any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors while revising your essay, correct them there and then. However, your main focus during the revision process should be on structure and organization, language and formatting, coherence, and purpose.
  • Proofreading does not consist of simply passing your paper through automated spelling and grammar checks. Software will help you find many errors; however, it is not capable of viewing your paper within the context within which it was written and does not represent a substitute for a human review.

Haven’t got the time, inclination or patience to revise your essay? Get an expert to do it for you.

Vappingo’s editing services include substantive revisions that cover all the aspects outlined above. In addition to checking and amending the structure, organization, language, formatting, coherence, and purpose of your essay, we’ll proofread it and correct any spelling, punctuation, typography, and grammatical errors. It’s quick and simple and surprisingly affordable. Check out our editing and proofreading rates now.

 

14 Essay Hacks That Will Make Writing an Essay a Breeze

Essay hacks can make the process of writing a great essay just that little bit easier.

Essay hacks that will help you get better grades

Here are some tried-and-tested tricks and hacks that will help you write a grade-A paper.

14 Brilliant Essay Hacks

1) Use Wikipedia… But Smartly

Our online essay editors will be quick to tell you that Wikipedia isn’t exactly the most reliable or credible source for essay material. However, if you’re a bit smart about it, you can use Wikipedia to get great results.

The hack is to use Wikipedia to find useful sources as opposed to citing it as a source in itself.

Let’s say you’re writing an essay on Kant’s Theory of Freedom. Simply perform a search on the Philosophy of Freedom on Wikipedia and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll be presented with a ton of relevant sources you can then target in your research. Suddenly, finding useful sources became so much easier!

Finding essay sources using Wikipedia

2) Use Google Scholar

Don’t use the standard Google browser for your academic work and essays; use Google Scholar instead.

Google Scholar is an index of scholarly and peer-reviewed publications. By using the Google Scholar search engine, you limit the search results to academic works and, as such, avoid reams of irrelevant or unreliable sources.

Unfortunately, many of the articles that are indexed on Google Scholar are not free to access; however, it can help you find the titles of articles and papers that will be useful for your essay, and you can subsequently look them up in your university library.

3) Conduct Backward Searches

So now you’ve got with the program and are using Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine, you can exploit this essay hack to its maximum potential by using the backward search function.

Let’s say we’re writing an essay on the theme of time in Romeo and Juliet.

Simply perform a search on the topic of interest, “theme of time in Romeo and Juliet,” and you’ll be presented with a list of clickable links you can reference to find content and articles that have cited that source.

This provides a really useful way of finding sources that have been used for similar research purposes to your own, which can be useful for two main reasons. First, it can help you find additional information sources. Second, it can give you confidence that a given source is relevant to your paper.

Using Google Sources to find essay sources

4) Use Google Scholar’s Cite Function

So, we’ve already established that Google Scholar is a great search engine for finding useful information sources for your paper. But did you know you can also use it to help you compile your bibliography?

Simply click on the cite button (currently denoted by double quotation marks) that appears below the listing you want to add to your bibliography, and a new window will open with a range of citation options.

Choose the style guide you wish to follow, and the correct citation format will be generated for you. You can then copy and paste this into your reference page.

Using Google Scholar cite tool to compile a bibliograph for your essay

5) Manage Your Time Using the Pomodoro Technique

Don’t attempt to write a full paper in one sitting. In addition to being incredibly mind-numbing, focusing on one task for a long time without taking a break will lead to poor output.

Set a timer for 25-minutes. Once that point is reached, take a five-minute break from your computer or reading to stretch your legs, get something to drink, use the bathroom, or fix yourself a snack.

After five minutes, get back to work for a further 25 minutes.

Rinse and repeat until your essay is finished.

6) Nail the Introduction

The introduction is quite possibly the most important paragraph in your entire essay.

If you get that right, you’ll be a long way toward your goal of writing a great essay.

For practical tips to help you master the fine art of the introduction, check out our guide to writing an introduction.

7) Remove Distractions

If you’re easily distracted by applications such as Facebook and Instagram, try using an app that will prevent you from accessing the sites you regularly waste time on so you can concentrate on your paper. ColdTurkey (for Windows) and SelfControl (for Mac) will block the websites you list so all distractions are automatically removed.

Example of SelfControl screen

8) Nail the Thesis Statement

If you want to write an essay that impresses, make sure you write a succinct and compelling thesis statement. Check out our guide to writing a thesis statement for further information.

9) Work in the Cloud

There’s nothing worse than your computer breaking hours before a deadline or a power cut, meaning you suddenly lose all your work. Work in the cloud using applications such as Google Office Docs 365 or iCloud and you’ll never have to run the risk of suddenly losing all your work again. What’s more, using a mobile device, you can work from anywhere in the world at any time.

10) Make Zotero Your Best Friend

If you’re a student, Zotero could well be the best essay hack you’ll ever discover. You can use it as a Firefox plugin to find and store references or as a Word plugin that automatically interacts with all the information you have saved in Firefox to insert automatic citations in your paper at the click of button. Another click, and Zotero will even create your bibliography for you. Referencing and citations simply couldn’t get any easier.

11) Use Evernote to Keep Track of Things

If you’re writing a large essay or performing an extensive study for your dissertation or thesis, you can use Evernote to take ongoing notes, keep track of your diary, and store important articles that you may want to access at a later date. The app automatically updates on an ongoing basis, so everything you write will be stored in the cloud. What’s more, as Evernote automatically syncs the stored content across your devices, you can quickly and easily pick up where you left off, even if it’s on a different computer.

12) Avoid Meaningless Words

If you want to ensure your essay reads well and comes across as scholarly and succinct, make sure you avoid using meaningless words in your paper. Check out our guide to words you shouldn’t use in an essay.

13) Talk, Don’t Type

If your typing skills are not quite up to the mark, Dragon voice recognition software can help you to efficiently translate your thoughts into text. Simply dictate the words you want to use, and they will be translated into text-based language. Dragon can be particularly useful when you want to quickly and easily get your thoughts down in text form.

14) Ask Someone to Peer Edit Your Paper

When you have spent hours working on an essay, you may no longer be able to see the wood for the trees. That’s where peer editing can come in handy. Ask a friend or family member to peer edit your essay and he or she will be able to spot any errors you’ve missed, provide constructive feedback on how it can be improved, and even point out any areas you haven’t taken into consideration.

Got any useful essay hacks to share? Leave a comment and let us know.

How to Write an Essay Introduction: The Definitive Guide

How to write an essay introduction

Today we’re going to show you how to write an essay introduction that:

  • Makes your teacher/professor want to read the rest of the essay.
  • Introduces the topic in a clear and effective way.
  • Avoids the common traps many students fall into.
  • Gets your essay off to the perfect start.

Contents: Writing an Essay Introduction

  1. Things you should include in an essay introduction
  2. Examples of how to write an essay introduction
  3. Samples of great essay hooks
  4. Useful phrases to use in an essay introduction
  5. Things that should not be included in an essay introduction
  6. Essay introduction checklist

We all know that the introduction to an essay is one of the most important parts of the essay format.

Yet it seems very few students have truly mastered the art of writing a great introduction. In the majority of cases, the essay introductions our editors come across have been sloppily jammed in place at the last minute and completely ruin the rest of the essay.

Failing to invest that last few minutes crafting an effective opener makes no sense whatsoever.

We all know that top essay writing tip: Write the introduction last. However, just because you may write the essay introduction last does not mean it’s the least important part of your essay.

Au contraire… it’s pretty much the most important.

According to Harvard, a good essay introduction achieves two main objectives:

  1. It introduces the essay topic in a clear and specific way.
  2. It captures the reader’s interest and makes him or her want to read the rest of the essay

So what exactly should you be looking to achieve in your introduction?

Things You Should Include in an Essay Introduction

  1. Commences with a hook that is relevant to the essay topic and draws the reader in.
  2. Highlights the topic that will be discussed (underlined or italicized if it is the title of a long work—a play, a novel, a really long poem; in quotation marks if it is the title of a short work—a short poem, a short story, an article).
  3. Presents a reasoned, yet questionable, thesis claim about the concept of interest.
  4. Provides an overview of how the essay will prove the thesis.
  5. Summarizes key learning.

Okay, at this point, you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed.

However, here’s some good news: While the introduction is one of the most essential parts of your paper, it is also one of the easiest to write.

Thankfully, you can put your days of churning out lame and meaningless essay introductions behind you with our very simple recipe:

Instructions for how to write an essay introduction

Hook +

Introduction to topic and context +

Thesis statement +

How you will prove thesis statement +

What the key learning will be.

Let’s expand on this slightly with some useful phrases:

Quotation, thought-provoking question, unexpected statement, or simile- or metaphor-rich description. +

“I am going to make the argument that…” +

“I am going to substantiate this claim with <number> threads of argumentation that are based on the theories of <name of theorist one>, <name of theorist two>, and <name of theorist three> who claim <main idea of theories>” OR

“I am going to substantiate this claim by reviewing data related to <concept one>, <concept two>, and <concept three> <number>” +

“I am going to conclude with some reflection on this idea and how it can better inform our understanding of <phenomenon of interest>.”

That’s it. It’s that simple.

Of course, you will need to use your own words. However, you are essentially following a simple template that will help you nail the introduction every single time.

Let’s look at some examples of this formula in action.

Examples of how to write an essay introduction

A paper About Drink Driving

A sample introduction to an essay on drink driving

At the age of 17, James had a promising life ahead. A popular and bright student, he was studying hard to pursue a career as a lawyer. However, one fateful night, his light was extinguished, and the lives of his parents were shattered when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Sadly, James’ story is not isolated. Every day, an estimated 69 people are injured or killed as a result of drink-driving incidents in the United States, and an overall increase in the number of incidents has been observed over the past five years. This paper puts forward the argument that drunk driving laws need to be adjusted to enforce stricter penalties for those found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. This claim will be substantiated by exploring how drunk driving incidents lead to premature deaths, life-changing injuries, and/or billions of dollars spent on medical expenses. It will conclude with an overview of how stricter penalties can deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol.

An Essay Introduction to a Paper About Obesity

A sample introduction for an essay on obesity essay on

What is the true cost of eating that extra donut? Obesity continues to represent a significant problem in the United States. At present, an estimated 36.5% of adults in the US are overweight (CDC, 2019). The issues that lead to obesity can differ from individual to individual. However, this paper argues that it is the government’s failure to address the problem that sits at the root of America’s demise into a nation of overweight citizens. This essay examines how addressing food cultural issues, providing better opportunities for people to pursue an active lifestyle, and tackling the conditions that lead to poverty will enable the government to significantly reduce the prevalence of obesity in the US. It concludes that government actions to address the antecedents of obesity will substantially mitigate the issue.

An Essay Introduction to a Paper about Disney’s Little Mermaid

An example of an introduction to an essay on The Little Mermaid

The image of a half-human, half-fish creature has emerged time and time again in many myths and fables. These mermaids, nymphs, and sirens take multiple forms, from sweet and innocent to dangerous temptresses. This essay argues that the mermaids of the contemporary era, as exemplified by Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, are typically embodied in a sanitized adaptation of the merfolk that characterized classic folklore, which were predominantly bloodthirsty, dangerous creatures that lured innocent people to their deaths. This paper deconstructs ancient folklore and contemporary fantasies to explore how the evolution of the mermaid from a femme fatale to an innocent fairy-tale character mirrors the evolution of society’s perceptions of women. By examining the theories of Paskin (1999), Wollstonecraft (2011), and Grande (2015), it draws a surprising conclusion about the unknown women of the sea.

An Essay Introduction to a Paper About Monster

An essay introduction on Monster

Is it just for the U.S. courts to offer criminals a reduced sentence in return for giving evidence against other people? In Monster, Walter Dean Myers dramatizes this phenomenon by presenting a trial that is heavily dependent on the testimonies of convicted felons. By examining the deceptions, omissions, and inaccuracies that are evident in the testimonies of Osvaldo Cruz and Bobo Evans, this paper argues that criminals do not represent reliable witnesses. It concludes that practices that involve offering reduced sentences in exchange for evidence should be abolished.

Sample Essay Hooks

The introduction to an essay can use different types of hooks. The five most common hooks are presented below.

Type of
Hook
Examples
Quotation A little inaccuracy can sometimes save a ton of explanation – H.H Munro
It is dangerous to be right, when the government is wrong – Voltaire
Anecdote I’ll never forget the day I learned a life-changing lesson: Always expect the unexpected.
As I stared down at the last ten dollars in my hand, little did I know that my next purchase
would change my life.
Rhetorical
Question
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without religion?
Did you ever stop to think about what steps you could take to make the world a better
place?
Interesting
Fact
China recently announced plans to invest $850 billion over the next ten years to clean up its
water supply.
Humans generate an estimated 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per
year.
Simile or
Metaphor
Comparing China to the United States is like comparing apples and oranges.
The high suicide rate in Japan is the country’s elephant in the room.

Useful Phrases to Use in an Essay Introduction

  • It is generally agreed today that…
  • In order to explore these issues in more depth, this paper…
  • In approaching this issue, one should…
  • This essay argues that this phenomenon can be attributed to three main issues:…
  • Increasing numbers of people are…
  • There is an overall trend toward…
  • Over the past five year, the media have increasingly reported…
  • Recent research in this area has found…
  • This raises the question as to whether…
  • While many people will typically agree that…, few would deny claims that…
  • Hardly a week goes by without another report of … appearing in the media.
  • The paper/article/essay…
    • discusses/examines/analyses/considers/explains/describes/establishes/introduces…
    • develops/presents/provides/studies/represents/features/contains/concentrates on…   covers/suggests/proposes/shows…
    • demonstrates/proves/describes the feasibility/likelihood/risk of…
    • argues in favor of…
    • is based on the notion of…
    • opens up a new field/issue/concern/idea in the area of…
    • gives/aims to give/present/offer a comprehensive/in-depth/detailed account/overview of…
    • offers a solution/remedy/resolution to…
    • serves as an introduction to…
  • The main objective/goal/purpose/aim of this paper/article/essay is to…

Phrases You Should Avoid in an Introduction

  1. Today I am going to write about…
  2. My professor asked me to write an essay about…
  3. This essay is about…
  4. This essay is on…
  5. To answer the question…
  6. My essay will describe…
  7. I hope to establish…
  8. I think I will prove…
  9. In this paper, I will explore…
  10. The question that I will explore in this essay is…

Things That Should Not be Included in an Essay Introduction

  • Extensive data and facts. The idea is to provide a high-level overview of the essay topic. The detail will come later.
  • Quotes or hooks that have no relationship whatsoever to the topic under discussion.
  • Flabby words or expressions that hold no real meaning or make you sound unsure of yourself. See our guide to words and expressions you shouldn’t use in an essay for more information.
  • References to a dictionary or Wikipedia article.
  • An opening that commences with the thesis statement.

How To Write an Essay Introduction: Checklist

A checklist to help you write your essay introduction

  1. The essay opens with a hook.
  2. The introductory paragraph is interesting.
  3. Any material cited in the introduction is from a compelling and reliable source.
  4. The introduction includes a thesis statement.
  5. The thesis statement is clear, persuasive, and adopts a distinct position.
  6. The introduction includes a summary of how the thesis will be proven.
  7. The key learning that is presented in the paper is summarized.
  8. The introduction has been thoroughly proofread to ensure it doesn’t contain any errors.

164 Phrases and words You Should Never Use in an Essay—and the Powerful Alternatives you should

This list of words you should never use in an essay will help you write compelling, succinct, and effective essays that impress your professor.

Words and phrases you shouldn't use in an essay

Writing an essay can be a time-consuming and laborious process that seems to take forever.

But how often do you put your all into your paper only to achieve a lame grade?

You may be left scratching your head, wondering where it all went wrong.

Chances are, like many students, you were guilty of using words that completely undermined your credibility and the effectiveness of your argument.

Our professional essay editors have seen it time and time again: The use of commonplace, seemingly innocent, words and phrases that weaken the power of essays and turn the reader off.

But can changing a few words here and there really make the difference to your grades?

Absolutely.

If you’re serious about improving your essay scores, you must ensure you make the most of every single word and phrase you use in your paper and avoid any that rob your essay of its power (check out our guide to editing an essay for more details).

Here is our list of words and phrases you should ditch together with some alternatives will be so much more impressive.

Vague and Weak Words

What Are VaGUE Words and Phrases?

Ambiguity pun

Vague language consists of words and phrases that aren’t exact or precise. They can be interpreted in multiple ways and, as such, can confuse the reader.

Essays that contain vague language lack substance and are typically devoid of any concrete language. As such, you should keep your eyes peeled for unclear words when proofreading your essay.

Why You Shouldn’t Use VAGUE Words in Essays

Professors detest vagueness.

In addition to being ambiguous, vague words and phrases can render a good piece of research absolutely useless.

Let’s say you have researched the link between drinking soda and obesity. You present the findings of your literature review as follows:

“Existing studies have found that drinking soda leads to weight gain.”

Your professor will ask:

What research specifically?
What/who did it involve? Chimpanzees? Children? OAPs?
Who conducted the research?
What source have you used?

And the pat on the back you deserve for researching the topic will never transpire.

Academic essays should present the facts in a straightforward, unambiguous manner that leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader.

Key takeaway: Be very specific in terms of what happened, when, where, and to whom.

VAGUE Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

Word/Phrase to Avoid in an Essay Much Better Alternative(s)
About/around Approximately, in combination with a range.
Use: “The event was attended by approximately 80-100 people.”
Not: “The event was attended by about 100 people.”
Almost Provide very specific detail in your essay.
Use: “When the clinical trials were complete.”
Not: “When the research was almost complete.”
Area State which area specifically.
Use: “There was a significant amount of flooding in the north of Miami.”
Not: “There was a significant amount of flooding in the area.”
Big/small/short/tall Use more specific adjectives to describe the person, place, or thing.
Use: “The elephant weighed 18,000 pounds and was 13-foot tall.”
Not: “The elephant was big and tall.”
Kind of Delete.
Use: “The interesting thing about the character was…”
Not: “The character was kind of interesting because…”
Meaningful Use: “The results add value to the existing body of knowledge on obesity among youths because…”
Not: “The results were meaningful because…”
More or less Replace with something more precise:
Use: “The character’s quest was unsuccessful because…”
Not: “The character more or less failed in her quest.”
Other(s) State exactly who.
Use: “These findings were replicated by Ghott et al. (1990).”
Not: “These findings were replicated by other researchers.”
Poor Qualify what you mean by “poor.”
Use: “The essay grade was ten points below a pass.”
Not: “The essay grade was poor.”
Situation Be specific about what situation you are referring to.
Use: “This essay will explain the political events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Not: “This essay will explain the situation that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Something Specifically delineate the “something” you are referring to.
Use: “This finding teaches us that the ideal storage temperature is…”
Not: “This finding teaches us something.”
Sort of Qualify your opinion with more in-depth information.
Use: “The essay was interesting but could be improved by…”
Not: “The essay was sort of interesting.”
Stuff Explain what specifically you are referring to:
Use: “We added the salt powder to the solution.”
Not: “We added the stuff to the solution.”
Thing Replace with something more precise:
Use: “I found this comparison between rich and poor most interesting.”
Not: “This was the thing I found most interesting.”

Flabby Words and Expressions

What are Flabby Expressions?

Unnecessary words pun

Flabby expressions and words are wasted phrases. They don’t add any value to your writing but do take up the word count and the reader’s headspace.

Flabby expressions frequently contain clichéd, misused words that don’t communicate anything specific to the reader. For example, if someone asks you how you are feeling and you reply, “I’m fine,” you’re using a flabby expression that leaves the inquirer none the wiser as to how you truly are.

Why Should Flabby Words be Removed from an Essay?

Flabby words are fine in everyday conversation and even blog posts like this.

However, they are enemies of clear and direct essays. They slow down the pace and dilute the argument.

When grading your essay, your professor wants to see the primary information communicated clearly and succinctly.

Removing the examples of flabby words and expressions listed below from your paper will automatically help you to take your essay to a higher level.

Key takeaway: When it comes to essays, brevity is best.

Flabby Words and Expressions You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

Flabby Word/Phrase to Avoid in an Essay Much Better Alternative(s)
Go on Use: “I will continue to present the final analysis.”
Not: “I will go on to present the final analysis.”
I might add Use: “This research proved…”
Not: “I might add that this research proved…”
In terms of Use: “This essay effectively demonstrated…”
Not: “This essay was effective in terms of…”
In my opinion Use: “Shakespeare was a talented writer.”
Not: “In my opinion, Shakespeare was a talented writer.”
In spite of the fact Use: “Although this paper was written 50 years later, nothing has changed.”
Not: “In spite of the fact this paper was written 50 years later, nothing has changed.”
In the event of/that Use: “If new research emerges, the situation may change.”
Not: “In the event that new research emerges, the situation may change.”
In the process of Use: “I concluded that the hypothesis was incorrect.”
Not: “In the process of writing the essay, I concluded that the hypothesis was incorrect.”
It seems like Use: “Freud probably believed…”
Not: “It seems like Freud was of the opinion…”
They made it to Use: “They reached the United States.”
Not: “They made it to the United States.”
On a regular basis Use: “Kant frequently argued this point.”
Not: “Kant argued this point on a regular basis.”
Pick out Use: “In this paper, I will highlight the most relevant findings of my study.”
Not: “In this paper, I will pick out the most relevant findings of my study.”
Point out Use: “It is important to emphasize the implications of this argument.”
Not: “It is important to point out the implications of this argument.”
The first step is to Use: “Start by describing the research methodology.”
Not: “The first step is to describe the research methodology.”
Take action (to) Use: “It is clear the government must act now to resolve the issues.”
Not: “It is clear the government must take action now to resolve the issues.”
Talk about Use: “In Section 6 of the essay, we will examine the research findings.”
Not: “In Section 6 of the essay, we will talk about the research findings.”
The most important thing is to Use: “Consider the thesis statement…”
Not: “The most important thing is to consider the thesis statement.”
The reason Use: “Jane Eyre cried because…”
Not: “The reason Jane Eyre cried was because…”
This is a Use: “Students frequently fail this exam.”
Not: “This is an exam that students frequently fail.”
Time and time again Use: “This essay has demonstrated…”
Not: “Time and time again, this essay has demonstrated…”
Try to figure out Use: “After reviewing the survey outputs, I will determine…”
Not: “After reviewing the survey outputs, I will try to figure out…”
Very Use: “The argument was fascinating.”
Not: “The argument was very interesting.”
Went back over Use: “I then revaluated the research findings.”
Not: “I then went back over the research findings.”
When it comes to Use: “We must consider the historical context when reviewing George Orwell’s work.”
Not: “When it comes to the work of George Orwell, we must consider the historical context.”
Which is/was Use: “This essay, written over 100 years ago, offers an insight…”
Not: “This essay, which was written over 100 years ago, offers an insight…”
Who is Use: “Kotler, a renowned marketing expert, claims…”
Not: “Kotler, who is a renowned marketing expert, claims…”
Will be different Use: “Every experiment in the study will differ.”
Not: “Every experiment in the study will be different.”
With reference to the thesis statement Use: “The thesis statement asserts…”
Not: “With reference to the thesis statement…”

Words to Avoid in an Essay: Redundant Words

What are Redundant Words?

Redundant words in essays pun

Redundant words and phrases don’t serve any purpose.

In this context, redundant means unnecessary.

Many everyday phrases contain redundant vocabulary; for example, add up, as a matter of fact, current trend, etc.

We have become so accustomed to using them in everyday speech that we don’t stop to question their place in formal writing.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Redundant Words in Essays

Redundant words suck the life out of your essay.

They can be great for adding emphasis in a conversational blog article like this, but there is no place for them in formal academic writing.

Redundant words should be avoided for three main reasons:

  • They interrupt the flow of the essay and unnecessarily distract the reader.
  • They can undermine the main point you are trying to make in your paper.
  • They can make you look uneducated.

The most effective essays are those that are concise, meaningful, and astute. If you use words and phrases that carry no meaning, you’ll lose the reader and undermine your credibility.

Key takeaway: Remove any words that don’t serve a purpose.

Redundant Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

Words and Phrases to Avoid in an Essay Much Better Alternative(s) to Use in Your Essay
Absolutely Use: “The water was freezing.”
Not: “The water was absolutely freezing.”
Actual Use: “The research findings revealed…”
Not: “The actual research findings revealed…”
Add(s) an additional Use: “Adds an element to the analysis.”
Not: “Adds an additional element to the analysis.”
Add up Use: “We will sum the responses.”
Not: “We will add up the responses.”
Alternative choice Use: “Hamlet had no choice but to…”
Not: “Hamlet had no alternative choice but to…”
All throughout Use: “Throughout human history, females have…”
Not: “All throughout human history, females have…”
And etc. Use: “The animals included dogs, cats, birds, etc.”Not: “The animals included dogs, cats, birds, and etc.”
As a matter of fact Use: “The survey findings indicated…”
Not: “As a matter of fact, the survey findings indicated…”
As far as I’m concerned/It is my (personal) opinion Use: “The theme of love overcoming evil is compelling.”
Not: “As far as I am concerned, the theme of love overcoming evil is compelling.”
Ask the question Use: “This prompts me to question the accuracy of the findings.”
Not: “This prompts me to ask the question: ‘Were the findings accurate?’”
Assemble together Use: “We assembled the various parts.”
Not: “We assembled together the various parts.”
At the present time/ At this point in time Use: “We cannot confirm the validity of the findings.”
Not: “At the present time, we cannot confirm the validity of the findings.”
Basic Use: “According to the findings…”
Not: “According to the basic findings…”
Blend together Use: “The elements of the story blend well.”
Not: “The elements of the story blend together well.”
Completely Use: “The Romans were defeated.”
Not: “The Romans were completely defeated.”
Connect together Use: “I will then connect the main aspects of the analysis.”
Not: “I will then connect together the main aspects of the analysis.”
Current trend Use: “Some people argue the trend of using big data to understand customer needs won’t continue.”
Not: “Some people argue the current trend of using big data to understand customer needs won’t continue.”
Careful scrutiny Use: “The findings were scrutinized.”
Not: “The findings underwent careful scrutiny.”
Close proximity Use: “The remains were near the dwelling.”
Not: “The remains were found in close proximity to the dwelling.”
Completely eradicate Use: “To achieve victory, it was necessary to eradicate the enemy.”
Not: “To achieve victory, it was necessary to completely eradicate the enemy.”
Depreciate in value Use: “The organization’s assets depreciated over time.”
Not: “The organization’s assets depreciated in value over time.”
Different kinds Use: “We identified six kinds of bacteria.”
Not: “We identified six different kinds of bacteria.”
Due to Use: “The test failed because the fire was too hot.”
Not: “The test failed due to the fact that the fire was too hot.”
During the course of Use: “During the story…”
Not: “During the course of the story…
Dwindle down Use: “The number of incorrect answers dwindled.”
Not: “The number of incorrect answers dwindled down.”
Each and every Use: “Every scenario was tested.”
Not: “Each and every scenario was tested.”
Equal to one another Use: “They are equal in height, but Sarah is a faster runner.”
Not: “They are equal to one another in height, but Sarah is a faster runner.”
Exact same Use: “The findings were the same.”
Not: “The findings were the exact same.”
End result Use: “The result was the fall of the dictatorship.”
Not: “The end result was that the dictatorship fell.”
Equal to one another Use: “Although the weights of the materials were equal, their performance was not comparable.”
Not: “Although the weights of the materials were equal to one another, their performance was not comparable.”
Every single person Use: “All participants returned the completed survey.”
Not: “Every single person returned the completed survey.”
Evolve over time Use: “It is interesting to observe how the characters evolve.”
Not: “It is interesting to observe how the characters evolve over time.”
Fellow classmate/colleague Use: “I completed the test with a classmate.”
Not: “I completed the test with a fellow classmate.”
Filled to capacity Use: “I continued to add water until the vessel was filled.”
Not: “I continued to add water until the vessel was filled to capacity.”
Final conclusion/outcome/ultimatum Use: “The researcher concluded that the test was reliable.”
Not: “The researchers’ final conclusion was that the test was reliable.”
First and foremost Use: “Shakespeare remains foremost a poet.”
Not: “Shakespeare remains first and foremost a poet.”
First conceived Use: “The idea to test the relationship between speed and weight was conceived when…”
Not: “The idea to test the relationship between speed and weight was first conceived when…”
First of all Use: “First, I was interested in the character’s name.”
Not: “First of all, I was interested in the character’s name.”
Fly through the air Use: “The bird flew rapidly.”
Not: “The bird flew through the air rapidly.”
Foreign imports Use: “The results indicate that imports can be detrimental to the economy.”
Not: “The results indicate that foreign imports can be detrimental to the economy.”
Former graduate/veteran Use: “I am a graduate of HKU.”
Not: “I am a former graduate of HKU.”
Fuse together/join together/merge together/mix together Use: “The research fuses a myriad of experimental techniques.”
Not: “The research fuses together a myriad of experimental techniques.”
Future plans Use: “My plans for the next stage of the research include…”
Not: “My future plans for the next stage of the research include…”
Gather together Use: “Gather your thoughts and develop a new thesis.”
Not: “Gather your thoughts together and develop a new thesis.”
General public Use: “The study sample consisted of 150 members of the public.”
Not: “The study sample consisted of 150 members of the general public.”
Grown in size Use: “The specimen had grown by 5 cm.”
Not: “The specimen had grown in size.”
Heat up Use: “A Bunsen burner was used to heat the solution.”
Not: “A Bunsen burner was used to heat up the solution.”
Hollow tube Use: “The machine parts were connected using a tube.”
Not: “The machine parts were connected using a hollow tube.”
Integrate with each other Use: “It is important that the tools integrate.”
Not: “It is important that the tools integrate with each other.”
In order to Use: “To prove the hypothesis, this essay will…”
Not: “In order to prove the hypothesis, this essay will…”
Introduce the new Use: “This essay will introduce the idea that…”
Not: “This essay will introduce the new idea that…”
Joint collaboration Use: “This paper describes a collaboration between…”
Not: “This paper describes a joint collaboration between…”
Knowledgeable expert Use: “Kotler is an expert in the field of marketing.”
Not: “Kotler is a knowledgeable expert in the field of marketing.”
Later time/date Use: “This idea will be explored in more depth later.”
Not: “This idea will be explored in more depth at a later time.”
Made out of Use: “The substance was made of…”
Not: “The substance was made out of…”
Major breakthrough/feat Use: “These findings represent a breakthrough in the field of…”
Not: “These findings represent a major breakthrough in the field of…”
May/might possibly Use: “Othello may have been…”
Not: “Othello may possibly have been…”
Most unique Use: “Blyton’s use of alliteration was unique.”
Not: “Blyton’s use of alliteration was most unique.”
Mutual cooperation/respect Use: “The two philosophers respected one another.”
Not: “The two philosophers had mutual respect for one another.”
Never before Use: “Never have I been so amazed.”
Not: “Never before have I been so amazed.”
New innovation/invention/idea Use: “Henry Ford presented an innovation that changed the world.”
Not: “Henry Ford presented a new innovation that changed the world.”
Now pending Use: “The grade for my essay is pending.”
Not: “The grade for my essay is now pending.”
Originally created Use: “The digital form was created by…”
Not: “The digital form was originally created by…”
Past experience Use: “My experience has taught me…”
Not: “My past experience has taught me…”
Period of time Use: “It was during that period that steam power emerged.”
Not: “It was during that period of time that steam power emerged.”
Polar opposites Use: “Night and day are opposites.”
Not: “Night and day are polar opposites.”
Present time Use: “The findings are not available at present.”
Not: “The findings are not available at the present time.”
Reason why Use: “This essay will argue that the reason…”
Not: “This essay will argue that the reason why…”
Refer back/reply back/revert back Use: “At this point, we will refer to the work of…”
Not: “At this point, we will refer back to the work of…”
Take a look at Use: “This essay will examine…”
Not: “This essay will take a look at…”
Within that time frame Use: “We will perform all the tests within that time frame.”
Not: “We will perform all the tests within that time.”
Write down Use: “The respondents were asked to write their names.”
Not: “The respondents were asked to write down their names.”

Colloquial Expressions and Grammar Expletives

What are Colloquial Expressions?

Colloquial play on words

A colloquial expression is best described as a phrase that replicates the way one would speak.

The use of colloquial language represents an informal, slang style of English that is not suitable for formal and academic documents.

For example:

Colloquial language: “The findings of the study appear to be above board.”

Suitable academic alternative: “The findings of the study are legitimate.”

What are Grammar Expletives?

Grammar expletives are sentences that start with herethere, or it.

We frequently use constructions like these when communicating in both spoken and written language.

But did you know they have a distinct grammatical classification?

They do; the expletive.

Grammar expletives (not to be confused with cuss words) are used to introduce clauses and delay the subject of the sentence. However, unlike verbs and nouns, which play a specific role in expression, expletives do not add any tangible meaning. Rather, they act as filler words that enable the writer to shift the emphasis of the argument. As such, grammar expletives are frequently referred to as “empty words.”

Removing them from your writing can help to make it tighter and more succinct. For example:

Sentence with expletive there: There are numerous reasons why it was important to write this essay.
Sentence without expletive: It was important to write this essay for numerous reasons.

Why Should Colloquial Expressions and Grammar Expletives be Removed from an Essay?

While colloquial expressions and grammar expletives are commonplace in everyday speech and are completely acceptable in informal emails and chatroom exchanges, they can significantly reduce the quality of formal essays.

Essays and other academic papers represent formal documents. Frequent use of slang and colloquial expressions will undermine your credibility, make your writing unclear, and confuse the reader. In addition, they do not provide the exactness required in an academic setting.

Make sure you screen your essay for any type of conversational language; for example, figures of speech, idioms, and clichés.

Key takeaway: Grammar expletives use unnecessary words and make your word count higher while making your prose weaker.

Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

Word/Phrase to Avoid in an Essay Much Better Alternative(s)
It is/It’s Use: “Blood is thicker than water.”
Not: “It is a fact that blood is thicker than water.”
It would be Use: “As logical to expect…”
Not: “As it would be logical to expect…”
There’s/There is Use: “The evidence suggests the hypothesis is correct.”
Not: “There is evidence to suggest that the hypothesis is correct.”
There are/There were Use: “This essay presents numerous ideas.”
Not: “There are numerous ideas presented in this essay.”
There will be Use: “Future studies will investigate this area further.”
Not: “There will be future studies to investigate this idea further.”
All things being equal Use: “We expect the outcomes to indicate…”
Not: “All things being equal, we expect the outcomes to indicate…”
For all intents and purposes Use: “This paper has achieved its objective of…”
Not: “For all intents and purposes, this paper has achieved its objective of…”
For the most part Use: “The story predominantly explored the theme of unrequited love.”
Not: “For the most part, the story explored the theme of unrequited love.”
For the purpose of Use: “This essay reviewed the idea of sentiment.”
Not: “For the purpose of this essay, the idea of sentiment was reviewed…”
Here’s the thing Use: “Soda consumption is linked with obesity.”
Not: “Here’s the thing: Soda consumption is linked with obesity.”
Is after/are after Use: “The recommendations follow the analysis.”
Not: “The recommendations are after the analysis.”
Cut down on Use: “We effectively reduced the mistakes.”
Not: “We effectively cut down on the number of mistakes.”

Nominalization

What is normalization?

Normalization: Do alligators alligate?

A normalized sentence is one that is structured such that the abstract nouns do the talking.

For example, a noun, such as solution, can be structured to exploit its hidden verb, solve.

The act of transforming a word from a verb into a noun is known as normalization.

Should normalization be Removed from an Essay?

This is no universal agreement as to whether normalization should be removed from an essay. Some scholars argue that normalization is important in scientific and technical writing because abstract prose is more objective. Others highlight how normalizations can make essays more difficult to understand.

The truth is this: In the majority of essays, it isn’t possible to present an entirely objective communication; an element of persuasion is inherently incorporated. Furthermore, even the most objective academic paper will be devoid of meaning unless your professor can read it and make sense of it. As such, readability is more important than normalization.

You will need to take a pragmatic approach, but most of the time, your writing will be clearer and more direct if you rely on verbs as opposed to abstract nouns that were formed from verbs. As such, where possible, you should revise your sentences to make the verbs do the majority of the work.

For example,

Use: “This essay analyses and solves the pollution problem.”

Not: “This essay presents an evaluation of the pollution issue and presents a solution.”

While normalized sentences are grammatically sound, they can be vague.

In addition, humans tend to prefer vivid descriptions, and verbs are more vivid, informative, and powerful than nouns.

Key takeaway: Normalization can serve a purpose, but only use it if that purpose is clear.

normalization You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

Word/Phrase to Avoid in an Essay Much Better Alternative(s)
Present an analysis/recommendation/conclusion Use: “I will then analyze the data.”
Not: “I will then progress to present an analysis of the data.”
Appearance Use: “She appeared unexpectedly.”
Not: “Her appearance was unexpected.”
Attempt at Use: “We attempted to reproduce the results but failed.”
Not: “Our attempts at reproducing the results were unsuccessful.”
Belief Use: “Winston believed the state was corrupt.”
Not: “It was Winston’s belief that the state was corrupt.”
Carelessness Use: “Robert’s carelessness caused John’s death.”
Not: “John died because of Robert’s carelessness.”
Caused a drop in Use: “The temperature dropped due to the rain.”
Not: “The rain caused a drop in temperature.”
Caused considerable confusion Use: “Jesus’ behavior confused the priest.”
Not: “Jesus’ behavior caused considerable confusion for the priest.”
Comparison Use: “We compared the height and weight of the participants.”
Not: “We drew a comparison between the height and the weight of the participants.”
Decrease in strength Use: “The flavor weakened when water was added.”
Not: “The flavor decreased in strength when water was added.”
Definition Use: “Kotler defined strategic marketing as…”
Not: “Kotler’s definition of strategic marketing was as follows…”
Description Use: “I will conclude by describing the main findings.”
Not: “I will conclude with a description of the main findings.”
Difficulty Use: “Reproducing the results was difficult.”
Not: “I experienced difficulties reproducing the results.”
Ease Use: “The hero easily won the battle.”
Not: “The hero won the battle with ease.”

Phew!

That’s a lot to take in.

You may be wondering why care?

Cutting the fat helps you present more ideas and a deeper analysis.

Don’t be tempted to write an essay that is stuffed with pompous, complex language: It is possible to be smart and simple.

Bookmark this list now and return to it when you are editing your essays. Keep an eye out for the words you shouldn’t use in an essay, and you’ll write academic papers that are more concise, powerful, and readable.

The Ultimate Guide to Editing an Essay in 2020

Ever hoped to get the Cliff Notes guide to editing an essay? You know, the type that tells you precisely what to do to edit your papers in the quickest, simplest way without wasting your time on anything else?

Well here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Editing an essay guide

Let’s start with the news you may not want to hear:

Whether you’re a freshman who is about to submit your first major essay or a seasoned PhD scholar who is hoping to publish your work in a journal, it’s critical that you comprehensively edit and proofread every essay you write.

Yep. Every Single One.

Otherwise, you’d be wasting all the hard effort you’ve invested in writing the essay in the first place and accepting average grades when you could have achieved GREAT grades.

Amazingly, a massive 60% of college students in the United States have never written a formal essay.

If you’re new to the essay writing lark, need to refine your skills, or are just fed up with mediocre grades, the editing process is crucial.

But what exactly is essay editing, what does it involve, and how can you do it with minimal effort?

This fantastic guide to editing an essay will introduce you to the following:

  • What essay editing is and the process editors follow to refine, polish, and perfect academic papers, dissertations, and theses.
  • The four key components of a great essay and the role they play in the essay editing process.
  • Critical strategies for essay editing that have been proven to work every single time.
  • Top tips for editing an essay with minimal effort.
  • A whole ton of free printables, checklists, and templates that will make editing an essay a walk in the park.

So, let’s get on with it.

Part One: An Overview of Essay Editing

What is Essay Editing?

Essay editing involves refining a draft document to improve cohesion, flow, and readability while also ensuring that any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors are corrected.

What Does Essay Editing Involve?

The proof is in the editing

On a high level, essay editors perform four tasks to make your essay better:

  • Structural editing: Looking at the paper as a complete unit to identify and address any significant structural problems.
  • Substantive editing: Finding and addressing any issues associated with the organization, readability, clarity, and flow of the paper.
  • Copy editing: Significantly improving the mechanics of the manuscript as a whole.
  • Proofreading: Fixing any remaining spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style errors in the document.

Let’s look at each of these essay editing types in more depth.

What are the Different Types of Essay Editing?

The process that an editor will follow to edit an essay will vary from paper to paper depending on the standard of the written English, the effectiveness of the document structure, and the clarity of the argument.

What do I mean by this?

Some essays may need a lot more work than others.

However, generally speaking, four different types of editing are involved.

The Four Types of Essay Editing

Four types of essay editing1. Developmental/Structural Editing

Looking at the paper as a holistic whole to assess the effectiveness of the structure

Developmental editing involves looking at the big picture. For example, when editing a dissertation, the editor will take a step back and consider what the dissertation is about and what the main topics of interest are. He or she will then help the author to develop a broad outline to support the flow and structure of the dissertation.

Typically, by the time you have produced the first draft of your dissertation, you will have developed a clear hypothesis, structured your main ideas, and developed an overall direction for your writing. If your first draft is not yet clearly structured, it is highly likely that you will require a rewriting, as opposed to editing, service.

• Reorganize the structure to ensure the main arguments flow in an effective manner
• Remove any repetition or redundancy
• Highlight any areas of inconsistency or flaws in logic

2. Substantive Editing

Comprehensively editing the content of the document to ensure it meets its objectives

Substantive editing is a form of heavy editing that includes reviewing the overall structure, style, grammar, and spelling of an academic document. During the substantive editing process, the editor will identify and fix problems associated with the clarity, organization, readability, and flow of the document. In some cases, some high-level rewriting may be required to make sure that the overall hypothesis and associated arguments are clear and that the main points are presented in a logical and accurate manner.

  • Clarify main concepts
  • Improve paragraph transitions
  • Assess quality of argument and logic of discourse
  • Check coherence
  • Restructure text where required
3. Copy Editing

In-depth assessment of the manuscript mechanics

Copy editing is imperative when finalizing an academic document. It spans several functions including identifying and fixing word usage, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax errors in the text while also ensuring that the author’s original message and voice are maintained. During this stage of the editing process, the editor will also ensure that a coherent style and consistent format are preserved throughout the file. He or she will also check for clarity, highlight any inconsistencies in the argument, and verify references to pictures, tables, and figures.

  • Ensure a consistent style and voice is maintained throughout
  • Find and fix issues with clarity and accuracy
  • Check facts
  • Improve flow and readability
  • Highlight flaws in logic
4. Proofreading

Final check for any minor grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes

Proofreading represents the final stage of the academic editing process. During this phase, the editor will perform one last check for any minor spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors that have been missed during the previous editing stages. In addition, the editor will address any outstanding formatting and referencing issues.

  • Correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes
  • Verify word usage and diction
  • Check referencing, formatting, and general style against style guide requirements

Are Editing and Proofreading the Same?

No. Editing and proofreading are entirely different processes. To put it simply, editing is improving the overall quality of the writing, while proofreading is fixing all remaining minor mistakes.

Editors and proofreaders use completely different skillsets:

The difference between an editor and a proofreader

To learn more, take a look at our snazzy guide to the difference between editors and proofreaders.

What are Professional Essay Editors?

Professional essay editors are seasoned essay experts who know exactly what it takes to craft the perfect essay.

Editors can specialize in developmental editing, substantive editing, copy editing, proofreading or a combination of all three.

Vappingo’s essay editors follow a three-step process that spans the developmental, copy editing, and proofreading functions.

Three-step Essay Editing Process

How to editi an essay: Three step essay editing process

So, now you know what editing is.

I can’t stress this enough: When it comes to your final grade, every essay counts. As such, editing is imperative.

If you don’t want to use an academic editing service to help you edit your essay effectively with the least amount of effort, you’re going to need to perfect the art of editing for yourself.

Question is:

How can you go about this?

Part two of this guide to editing an essay contains all the top editing tips you need to make your essay better.

Psst: Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of essays and know what it takes to create papers that get top grades. Order our editing services now, and we’ll help you stand out from the crowd.

Part Two Essay Editing for Better Grades

When you’re editing your essay, you will typically have one objective in mind: To get the best possible grade.

Aside from hiring an academic editing service to assist you—which is always the best option—there are several editing strategies you can use to make sure your essay shines.

How do I Make my Essay Better?

Before we dive in, let’s quickly review the four factors that contribute to a great essay.

  • Structure and organization: Your paper should be well structured, be easy to read, and flow well. A clear red line of thread should be apparent from the introduction through to the conclusion.
  • Language and formatting: It’s not just about putting all the words together to argue your case; it’s about using the right words in the right voice and tone. A single word in the perfect place can transform an essay from a reasonable effort into a great paper. Likewise, a silly error can undermine your entire credibility. The fonts you use and the way the citations, references, general layout of your essay are formatted will all have a direct impact on the credibility of the final paper.
  • Coherence, content, and analysis: Are the key facts and arguments you’re presenting useful, relevant, and succinct? Are your claims supported by evidence?
  • Purpose: After reading your essay, the reader should be able to summarize your major position using just a couple of sentences. Have you answered the question correctly?

 Four things to look for when editing an essayStrategies for Editing an Essay

So, we now know why essay editing is important, what it involves, and what high-level features editors are interested in.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and look at the specific editing strategies you can use to make sure your essays are effective, powerful, and memorable.

Here are five essay editing strategies that students frequently use:

  • Peer editing
  • Following an essay editing checklist
  • Using essay editing tools
  • Following general tips to make an essay sound better
  • Looking out for common mistakes

1. Peer Editing

Peer editing can be a useful essay editing strategy that involves asking a friend or colleague to read your essay before giving you useful input and guidance on how it can be improved.

It’s a great way to get a second set of eyes to spot mistakes and point out any flaws in the argument. It can also be a mutually beneficial process that helps the peer editor to identify how his or her writing can be improved.

Peer editing can be helpful in four main ways:

  • It helps you to view your essay from a reader’s perspective
  • It allows you to gain insights into what’s working well and access to suggestions as to what can be improved
  • It gives you a chance to revise the essay, dissertation, or manuscript with the target audience in mind
  • It provides you with a solid list of actions you can take to revised and enhance the essay

You can learn more about peer editing, check out our peer editing checklist.

2. Following an Essay Editing Checklist

An editing checklist provides a simple list of things you should be on the lookout for when reviewing and revising your essay.

Let’s remind ourselves of some of the four pillars of a great essay:

Four things to look for when editing an essay

We have created a handy essay editing checklist that takes into consideration these four pillars. You can download and print this free PDF by clicking on the image below.

free essay editing checklist. Click to download PDF.Structure and Organization
  • Does my essay have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
  • Does my introduction outline the thesis or central proposition and prepare the reader for what will follow?
  • Do I advance my argument in logical stages as the essay progresses?
  • Are the major points I make in the essay clearly connected? Do I clearly express the relationship between them?
  • Have I limited the analysis to one main point per paragraph?
  • Is it clear how each paragraph connects to the previous one?
Coherence, content, and analysis
  • Are my paragraphs clearly connected and coherent?
  • Do I commence each paragraph with a relevant topic sentence that builds on the argument presented in the paragraph before?
  • Does the discussion progress smoothly and logically?
  • Does each sentence clearly follow on from the one before?
  • Is the case presented clearly and completely in each paragraph or is further evidence or detail required?
  • Are the transitions between paragraphs and sentences effective and varied?
  • Are all the quotes I have used directly relevant to the case I have put forward?
  • Have I supported the claims I have made with data, examples, or citations?
  • Are the sources I have used during my research process reliable and credible?
  • Is the research up to date?
  • Have I cited the sources correctly?
  • Are the people I am citing authoritative sources of information?
  • Have I verified the accuracy and reliability of any statistical calculations?
Purpose
  • Is my thesis, central proposition, or main argument presented in the introduction?
  • Do I take a position on this topic? If so, do I make this position clear throughout the essay?
  • Do all the major points I make in the essay contribute to achieving its overall purpose?
  • Does the conclusion summarize my argument in a compelling way and pull together the analysis that was presented within the essay?
Language and formatting
  • Have I used clear and easy-to-understand language?
  • Have I fully explained my ideas and opinions?
  • Is my argument presented per the needs, comprehension, and background of the target audience?
  • Have I proofread the file for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and typographical errors?
  • Have I referenced all the sources I have used per the formatting conventions of the required style guide?
  • Have I applied a consistent formatting and referencing style throughout the essay?
  • Have I clearly delineated between my ideas and those of the authors I have cited?
  • Is the essay within the required word limit?
  • Is all the information contained within the bibliography correct?

Of course, this is just a sample checklist. You may wish to create your own essay editing checklist. If so, here’s a blank template for you to download and keep

3. Using essay editing tools

There are a ton of tools out there that can make the essay editing process more straightforward and that bit more fun.

Take a look at our essay tips for an overview of some great ways to make writing an essay easier.

4. Looking out for common mistakes

There are some mistakes that even the most seasoned writers make again, and again, and again.

If you’re relatively inexperienced at writing essays, you should review our guide to common English mistakes.

This will help you to familiarize yourself with some of the errors that have a habit of rearing their ugly heads.

Once you become a more experienced editor, you will start to get a feel for the mistakes that you have a propensity to make on a regular basis. For example, in my rush to churn out copy, I frequently mistype “then” instead of “than.” Its shockingly easy to do yet can completely change the meaning of a text.

The difference between then and thanOops!

When I proofread the final draft, I always double check for this minor error.

5. Following top tips for editing an essay

You can also follow some great essay tips to make sure your paper shines.

Don’t edit as soon as you finish the first draft of the paper

I get it. It’s business as usual for students to be writing essays on the last minute, and you may not have the luxury of a few days to take a break from the essay writing process.

However, if you can, you should.

The reason for this is simple: Your brain will be too familiar with the content of the essay. As such, you’ll be tricked into seeing what you think is in the essay, not what’s there.

The human brain is very easily tricked.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at the following:

Sign contains a mistake. It reads: "Don't take anything for for granted"See any problems? Are you sure? Keep looking and you’ll see it eventually.

This, and these other proofreading memes, show why proofreading your own work is difficult.

If you start editing an essay too soon after finishing it, you’ll likely be incapable of spotting all the typos, unsupported arguments, and grammar slip-ups.

Leave it to one side for a while to give you some space to clear your head.

If you do so, you’ll find that you’re much better placed to edit your essay from a fresh perspective.

Create your own essay editing checklist

Once you have become accustomed to using our essay editing checklist, keep an ongoing list of the mistakes you make most frequently and use this to create your personalized essay editing checklist.

Use software and automation tools… but sparingly

Have you got access to some great editing and proofreading software that streamlines the editing process?

That’s great.

But know this: You should never depend on it in isolation.

Even the most innovative spelling and grammar checking tools can miss obvious spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar errors.

That’s because they are incapable of reading text within the context in which it is intended to be used.

Let’s look at an example.

According to one very famous grammar checking software, there are no errors in the following:

An example of how grammar software doesn't always work and why you should use professional editing servicesThis is really quite odd because every sentence is replete with errors.

What we learn here is that context is important.

Try running the following through a grammar checker:

Thinking it was open, the window was really closed.

My grammar checker advises me to remove the word “really” (more on that later) and verify whether the sentence has been written in passive voice.

Passive voice was not used here. However, we did have the strange phenomenon of a thinking window.

And that brings us on to the next problem with grammar checking software: It is only as good as your ability to identify grammatical errors.

Grammar checks regularly flag completely acceptable grammar as bad, and vice versa. This is not due to software errors; it is because grammar is a very complex beast.

Use spelling and grammar checkers by all means, but always remember that there is no substitute for a trained human professional proofreader.

Edit the paper according to the essay outline

As I have stressed throughout this article, it is imperative that your essay flows well, remains consistent, and responds to the writing prompt.

Every single element of your paper—including the title, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion—should all be aligned with the underlying goal of your essay.

Do you know what the best essay writers do to achieve this objective?

They create an essay outline.

It may look something like this:

Or it could be completely different. The point is that effective essay writers develop a thesis statement and then follow a clear essay outline.

This ensures they present their argument in a logical manner, and this naturally gives the essay a clear structure.

Here’s a sample plan you may like to use:

When you are editing your essay, you should consider your planned outline and verify that the paragraph structure and format takes the reader on a meaningful journey along your train of thought.

If you need more help with essay formatting and planning, check out our essay formatting template.

Remove all the redundancies and fluff

The best essays are those that keep the argument concise and to the point.

I hear ya! You have a word count to meet.

But brevity is key.

Get rid of fillers and redundant words, phrases, and terms. Filling the paper with mindless jargon is not the right thing to do.

Why?

  • They dilute the argument presented in your essay.
  • They waste the reader’s time. If the reader is your professor, he or she isn’t going to appreciate that!
  • They make the essay more difficult to understand.

If you have included words to meet the word count as opposed to adding value to your paper, give them the chop.

I have developed a list of 17 words or phrases that typically serve no purpose whatsoever other than to use up words. Let’s have a look at them.

Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

A list of redundancies in essays and how to fix themVery, Basically, Totally, Essentially, Really

Basically, these are filler words that don’t really add any value. Swap them out for more descriptive language.

Instead of this: I am really tired after playing basketball.

Try this: I am shattered after playing basketball.

Then and That

These are words that you should only use if you’re trying to clarify something. If you can remove the word without affecting the expression, then you can leave it out.

Each and every

People frequently use these filler words to express a feeling of frustration. However, you only need one or the other. Watch out for this error each and every time.

Just

Again, this is another unnecessary filler word. If your sentence works just fine without it, you can just leave it out.

As a Matter of Fact

We all love a bit of drama, and people frequently use this phrase in spoken communications to stress a point. However, as a matter of fact, there is no place for it in an essay.

Past history/past experience

Our past experience tells us that this one is very common. By their nature, history and experience are in the past. Delete the word past.

As to whether/whether or not

All you need, is “whether” or “if.” It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re writing a formal or informal document.

For all intents and purposes

If you have a point to make, make it. You don’t need to add fluffy phrases such as these, which for all intents and purposes add no value whatsoever.

Due to the fact

You can ditch this phrase due to the fact “because” will do.

In terms of

Another non-value adding phrase. Use of this indicates that your writing is weak. Be more specific in terms of what you are saying. Instead of saying, “…in terms of cost, the food was expensive,” you can say, “the food was expensive.”

In my personal opinion/It is my opinion

When you’re writing an essay, you are inherently expressing your opinion. Not that of your friend. You should get rid of this in my opinion; it’s much better to keep things simple.

In the process of

While in the process of writing an essay, don’t bother referring to the process, just get straight to the point of describing it.

With the possible exception of

Why use five words when you can use one: “except.”

Quite

Even though this word is used quite often, it doesn’t add any value. There are many more powerful alternatives available.

Many, few

Ditch the ambiguity: Many professors prefer specific details.

During the course of

You can drop this during the course of writing because it adds zero value.

Perhaps, maybe

When you’re writing an essay, maybe you want to come across as confident and knowledgeable.

Getting rid of these words and phrases will automatically lead to better, more concise essays.

Of course, if brevity is causing you word count headaches, you can always insert these words and phrases to increase the word count without committing a major grammar sin 😉

Proofread last

The very last thing you should do before submitting your essay is to proofread it one final time.

Yes, you will have picked up some errors while you were editing the essay. However, at the time, you were not fully focused on finding grammatical, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes.

Once you have completed the editing process, go back through the essay with the sole intention of finding those last remaining pesky errors.

Take a look at our guide on how to proofread an essay for some top tips that are guaranteed to help you find even the most minor mistakes in your writing.

Conclusion

As the following pie chart shows, you should invest as much time in the process of editing an essay as you do in writing it.

How you should spend your time when writing and editing an essay

If you go that extra mile and follow these strategies and tips for editing an essay, you will take your papers up a few notches and really impress your professor.

If you’re stuck in that “write it and submit it” habit, now is the time to change. Use these simple techniques, and your essay will be massively transformed… for the better!

What strategies do you use for editing an essay?

Be honest: How much time do you invest in editing your essays?