All writers benefit from becoming more capable and strategic in their self-editing of their work. While having others edit our work is invaluable, learning how to be more effective as a “self-editor” can reap multiple rewards, especially in one’s self-esteem as a writer.

At the Writers’ Exchange, we are committed to helping writers achieve greater independence by becoming empowered as “self-editors.” As a result, we’ve created these strategies in the spirit of cultivating greater independence for you, the writer. If you’ve been told that your writing is “wordy, overly descriptive, lacks clarity, or is disorganized,” these exercises will become invaluable. For example, use the Paramedic Method on any piece of writing, and you’ll find that your prose transforms from heavy phrasing into more direct prose. If your readers have told you that they become confused by the jumpy organization, try using the strategies in “revising for coherence.” Whatever strategies you decide to use, try to “own them” as part of your writing process.

Dissertation/Thesis Headings

Headings and their subheadings are a fundamental way to enhance readability of the complex manuscript of a dissertation or thesis. As an organizing feature, headings provide both a visual map and rhetorical guide for your [...]

Does Proofreading Really Matter?

We’ve spent much time talking about editing, and now it’s proofreading time to take the front stage.  We’ve all had the experience of reading a professional text and noticing a typo. The immediate response is [...]

Proofreading Checklist

Proofreading Checklist So many of us focus our writing time on the composing process and forget that the final product deserves a finishing touch. Don't neglect this final polish that all writing requires if [...]

Self-Editing for Content

Have you been told that your writing lacks direction or unity? If so, the following list of questions might help you edit for content. Focus on one or two areas below and revise for style [...]

Program Handbooks and APA

Director’s Desk: Where’s the Consistency?   When Academic Program Handbooks and the APA Manual Disagree You’ve made it this far with APA and for the most part the manual has been consistent in presenting definitive [...]

The Curse of Knowledge

Once I know something, I find it hard to remember what it was like not to know it. As a result, I have a hard time communicating what I’ve learned. I use jargon – specialized [...]

Proofreading Made Easier

Proofreading your own writing can be a difficult enterprise. You’ve read the material so many times that your eye doesn’t catch what can be glaring to an outside reader. Errors or typos are too quickly [...]

Learning to Listen

I once spoke with a sculptor about how she works. “I get this idea in my head,” she told me. “I’ll start sketching it in my notebooks, trying to imagine what it will look like [...]

Show, Don’t Tell

If writing is a public act, then, your purpose as a writer is to ignite reader’s interest and understanding of what you are writing about. The “Show, Don’t Tell” strategy emphasizes the reader’s experience of [...]

Revising for Content and Organization

Descriptive Outlines & Revising for Content and Organization Many writers rely on the organizational value of outlines to organize their thoughts in the initial stages of writing. Outlines can also provide a useful framework to [...]

Revising for Clarity and Precision

Perhaps you’ve been told that your writing is wordy or that your heavy phrasing confuses your reader. Most writers face this problem of “overwriting.”  However, clear sentences are integral to clarity and facilitating your [...]

Revising for Coherence

Readers agree that effective writing proceeds in some sensible order with each sentence following naturally from the one before it. We generally call that “coherence” or the sense that the material is unified. When the [...]

Reading Your Reader

“You need a comma here. Also, what does this sentence mean?” I know unclear comments are just a part of getting feedback, but I still do a double-take when I see them. What were you, [...]

Learning to Accept Feedback

When I finish a draft, I want to hear how a reader reacts to my thinking and the way I’ve expressed it. I know from experience that this feedback will help make my next draft [...]

Trimming the Fat

The best of my writing is marked by a direct, concise style, and yet I confess that it seldom begins that way. In fact, I tend to “overwrite” as I discover what I want to [...]