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.

The Indisputable Proof Rewriting Tools and Article Spinners Simply Don’t Work

The definitive proof that proofreading tools don't work

Rewriting tools, which are also known as article spinners, article rewriters, and paraphrasing tools, are designed to rewrite existing articles and website content so that it is completely unique.

A simple search for “rewriting tools” renders an estimated 17,900,000 results.

Woah!

Granted, not all of these will be article spinners. However, we’re left with zero doubt that there are tons of rewriting tools on the market.

Tons.

This, in itself, should ring alarm bells.

Software that is worth its salt, i.e., achieves the job it claims to achieve, isn’t readily available. The development costs are enormous, and it takes big companies years and years of development to refine tools of that nature.

We know language is complex.

Even those companies that do invest wads of cash in the development of language-based software and applications find it very, very difficult to produce tools that are accurate.

One prime example of such an organization is Google.

Google is one of the biggest companies in the world. It has plenty of cash to spare. However, we all know that you couldn’t rely on the Google Translate app alone to communicate with locals in a foreign country.

It’s great. But Google would be the first to admit that it simply isn’t 100% reliable. And that’s after a huge investment.

What the situation with Google Translate tells us—and remember that this is highly sophisticated software that was only possible through millions of investment—is that a machine can produce a high-level translation of a given text that may communicate the general meaning. However, due to the high risk of mismatches, it will not provide anything that is specific and reliable.

And it is the same high risk of mismatches that means you can’t rely on the inputs of rewriting tools and article spinners.

The organizations that are churning out language spinning software don’t have access to the level of cash that is available to Google. As such, the offerings they produce are nowhere near sophisticated enough to process the complexities of the English language and paraphrase language effectively.

But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s take a look at what rewriting tools and article spinners do in more depth.

Read our guide to the difference between article spinning and article rewriting if you don’t quite understand what article spinning involves.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rewriting Tools

What are rewriting tools?

Rewriting tools, software, and applications typically offer to rewrite text so it is entirely unique. This involves completely removing all plagiarism.

They are available in a variety of forms.

Some are subscription-based packages, while others are available online completely free of charge.

Rewriting tools vary in levels of sophistication. Some require the users to input potential synonyms for the words they want to change (why bother when you can use the thesaurus in Word much more efficiently?), while others claim to be AI-based applications that can perform the function of the human brain.

How do rewriting tools work?

Rewriting tools and article spinners are pretty much souped-up thesaurus applications.

Again, the tasks performed vary in levels of sophistication, but article rewriters operate by replacing words and well-known phrases with a different word or phrase.  Take a look at our guide to how to rewrite articles to learn more.

Note, in the sentence above, I used the word different, not equivalent.

And this is where the problem lies.

The providers of rewriting software claim the tool churns out a new set of text that carries the same meaning as the original.

As we will see later, this is typically NOT the case.

Are rewriting tools reliable?

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

There are currently three fundamental issues with rewriting software, regardless of the underlying technologies.

  • As described above, machine-driven translators have a high chance of getting things wrong. Around 80% of the time, the suggested word replacements they generate will be completely inaccurate. This isn’t necessarily an issue for someone who knows the English language well. But if you’re an ESL speaker, you may not actually know that the words are wrong. Primarily, the process relies on the user having a strong understanding of the intricacies of the English language, which many users lack.
  • As you can’t rely on the accuracy, viability, or reliability of the outputs of rewriting tools, you have to extensively edit and proofread the output. This is incredibly time-consuming. In fact, it’s a complete waste of time. Your efforts would be better invested simply rewriting the article, essay, or blog post from scratch for yourself.
  • The majority of spinning tools do not remove sufficient plagiarism. Most of the time, the similarity score after spinning is still too high for search engines to treat the content as unique, and the text certainly won’t pass Copyscape or Turnitin. So, again, you have wasted your time and, in some cases, money. If this is an issue for you, take a look at our guide to how to rewrite articles without plagiarism.

Let’s look at some incidences of these issues in action.

For the purposes of this article, we will not refer to the names of the companies or applications that were used for these examples; we’re not in the business of flinging mud or damaging reputations.

Our objective here is to show you what the problems are with rewriting tools so you can then make an informed decision as to whether they suit your needs.

You can always try a few sample texts for yourself.

The text we used for this case study was as follows:

What the situation with Google Translate tells us—and remember that this is highly sophisticated software that was only possible through millions of investment—is that a machine can produce a high-level translation of a given text that may communicate the general meaning. However, due to the high risk of mismatches, it will not produce anything that is specific and reliable.

Rewriting Tool Case Studies

Case Study One: A Free Rewriting Tool

This example text was run through the application offered by the first company that appeared in a search for a “free rewriting tool.”

Here’s the exact output:

What the situation with Google Translate tells us—and bear in mind that this is often be} extremely subtle code that was solely potential through uncountable investment—is that a machine can turn out a high-level translation of a given text that will communicate the overall which means. However, thanks to the high risk of mismatches, it’ll not turn out something that’s specific and reliable.

Remaining plagiarism:

61.6%, of which 50% was identical.

Issues:

  • The text simply doesn’t make sense in some places. For example, “the overall which means.” The lack of adherence to grammatical structure means that the output is meaningless.
  • The meaning in one place is completely changed: “subtle code” means something entirely different from “sophisticated software.” This is because the program has mistakenly provided a synonym for the word sophisticated that is based on a different use of the word than that intended.
  • The plagiarism level is still 61.6%, 50% of which is completely identical. This is too high to pass as unique on Copyscape or Turnitin.

Summary:

Using this tool would be a complete waste of time and effort. In addition to being presented with text that is meaningless in some cases and inaccurate in others, the changes are not sufficient to pass a plagiarism test or search engine requirement for unique content.

Case Study Two: An AI Article Spinner

For this example, we were interested in observing the output of a tool that claimed to be based on artificial intelligence comparable to the human mind. As such, we ran the sample text through the first rewriting application that appeared on a Google search for the phrase “AI rewriting tool.”

Here’s the output:

What the situation with Google Translate tells us — and remember this is highly sophisticated software that has been possible only through millions of investments— is that a machine can produce a high-level translation of a given text that can convey the general meaning. However it will not produce anything that is specific and reliable due to the high risk of mismatches.

Remaining plagiarism:

92.2%, of which 80% was identical.

Issues:

  • The text contains a grammatical error in terms of the use of the word investment.  This error resulted from the fact that the machine isn’t capable of understanding the context of the language in which it was used. Google may have executed millions of separate investments in their software; however, it’s highly unlikely. The software has treated the word investment as a countable noun; e.g., investment tools. However, in the sentence provided, it was referenced as an activity; i.e., the holistic act of investing money.
  • The software has incorrectly removed a comma.
  • The rest of the text reads well. But there’s a reason for that: It is pretty much exactly the same as the text provided. With a plagiarism content of 99.2% match (of which 80% was identical), using this tool would be a complete and utter waste of time. It simply doesn’t do what it claims to do.

Case Study Three: A Paid Membership Rewriter

For this example, we searched for a tool that was available for a fee. The assumption here was that software that users need to pay for to access would produce better results. Here’s what happened.

Output:

What Google Translate tells us—and keep in mind that that is highly sophisticated software program that was simplest feasible through thousands and thousands of investment—is that a machine can produce a high-level translation of a given text that may talk the general meaning. However, due to the high hazard of mismatches, it will no longer produce anything that is particular and reliable.

Remaining plagiarism:

80.4%, of which 69.6% was identical.

Issues:

  • Again, we have grammar issues abound. Some of the grammar is entirely amiss—for example, “simplest feasible,” while words are missing elsewhere, “keep in mind that this is highly sophisticated software program.”
  • In other places, the text is meaningless. What does “talk the general meaning” actually mean? Zilch to a native English speaker.
  • Again, the tool misunderstood the intended meaning of some words. In this case, “risk” is not quite interchangeable with “hazard.”
  • With a plagiarism level of 80.4%, of which 69.6% was unique, the paid-for rewriting tool didn’t even produce the lowest degree of similarity. Again, the plagiarism was still too high to get past Copyscape, Turnitin, or the algorithms that Google uses to detect unique content.

Summary:

Despite the producer’s claims, even the most expensive rewriting tool could not produce flawless spun content. In fact, it couldn’t even produce unique content, let alone text that is grammatically sound and cohesive.

So you may be wondering if it is even possible to rewrite text so that it is unique, grammatically sound, and conveys a comparable meaning to the source file.

It is.

But for that, you need a human brain.

Case Study Four: Human Rewriting

For the final case, we asked a human rewriter to paraphrase our text. Here’s what we ended up with:

The case of Google Translate provides a prime example of the limitations of language processing software. Despite the significant investment that has been made in this highly complex tool, it is only capable of generating a translation that conveys the high-level meaning of a phrase or paragraph. Due to the significant risk of translation and word-mismatch errors, it is unable to produce outputs that users can 100% rely on.

Remaining plagiarism:

0%

Issues:

None.

Summary:

Computers are no rival for a human when it comes to rewriting text.

Here’s the key thing you need to know here: These rewriting tools may serve a purpose for some people. However, they shouldn’t—and can’t—be relied upon.

Yes, some spinners and rewriting tools are better than others.

As such, if you really insist on using them, you’ll need to do some research to find out which apps produce the most reliable results. In addition to taking up valuable time, this will be very difficult if you’re not a native English speaker or don’t have an excellent grasp of grammar.

However, if you have plenty of time to edit and review the generated text, they may work for you.

The better option is to rewrite the text yourself. In the majority of cases, it will actually be quicker.

If you’re looking for a really professional job, use a human rewriting service. Human rewriters can give you a fresh perspective by combining several pieces of content. This will allow you to create a new article or blog post that isn’t merely the plagiarized work of others.

You’ll get great results and produce articles specifically tailored to your brand that actually convert customers as opposed to meaningless regurgitated spun content that turns visitors to your website off.

 

 

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 2022 🏆

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

 

Everything You Need to Know About Editing an Essay

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 Does Editing an Essay Involve?

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.

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

Is Editing an Essay the Same as Proofreading?

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 Editing an Essay 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 strategies for editing an essay 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?

How to Peer Edit an Essay: Free Peer Editing Checklist

If you want to peer edit an essay and are looking for some top tips, check out our free peer editing checklist.

How to peer edit an essayIf you’ve got a looming essay deadline, chances are you’ll be happy to just get the dastardly paper finished on time and proofreading and editing won’t feature on your radar.

The idea of editing and proofreading your own essays, let alone asking someone else to help, may be beyond comprehension. In fact, you may think your essay is pretty fantastic already.

If so, you’re deceiving yourself.

Don’t just settle for good. You should be looking for great.

But how do you achieve this?

The majority of students settle for good. That’s enough. It will get them through school.

But good isn’t enough for the top students. They aspire to be great. They aspire to be awesome.

How do YOU become awesome?

Get a friend to help.

To take an essay beyond the draft stage through a polished version, you need a peer editor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional essay editor (although that will deliver the best results); it needs to be someone who will call you out and tell you how it really is.

When you’re looking for someone to peer edit your essay, try and choose someone who you know well and who you can trust be honest and methodical. You’re not looking for someone who’ll tell you how great your essay is; you’re looking for someone who will provide you with an objective criticism of your paper.

The purpose of the exercise isn’t to tear you down; it’s to make you better.

So, once you’ve found the ideal peer editor, how can you get the most out of the exercise?

Hand them our handy tips and the great peer editing checklist.

How to Peer Edit an Essay: Top Tips for Success

Peer editors should review an essay with the primary intention of offering advice on how it can be improved. Here are some great tips to make sure you do the task justice.

  • Ideally, read through the paper at least twice

During the first pass, you’ll familiarize yourself with the content of the essay and the primary arguments that are put forth. During the second pass, you’ll have a chance to readily understand what is being said. If you don’t understand the content after two readings; there’s a problem the writer needs to know about.

  • Position yourself as the target reader

While you’re in the process of peer editing the essay, take the role of the envisioned reader; i.e., the person who is reading the essay to learn someone as opposed to being on the hunt for pesky grammatical errors. During the peer editing process, you should be concerned with content, organization, and style. If you focus purely on punctuation and spelling errors, you may not add a significant amount of value. Your role is to help the writer ensure the essay is clear and compelling.

  • Resist the temptation to fix the issues

Your job as a peer editor is not to take over and correct any issues that you identify; it’s to provide the writer with constructive feedback on how the paper can be improved.

  • Tell the truth… constructively

If you’re peer editing a friend’s essay, you may not want to hurt his or her feelings by pointing out areas where there is a lack of clarity. However, if you fail to do so, there’s no point in engaging in the process. Resist the urge to say everything is fine and instead focus on how you can help the writer learn someone from the process. Provide constructive feedback that highlights the positive areas of the essay while also pointing out some areas for improvement.

  • Provide specific details

Don’t provide sweeping statements such as, “I don’t understand your point.” Instead, provide very precise feedback on what exactly you don’t understand and what information may help you understand it better: “Perhaps you could make your point clearer by explaining why…” Take every opportunity to explain why you found something effective or ineffective.

The Three Pillars of Excellent Peer Essay Editing

Three characteristics required to peer edit an essayFree Peer Editing Checklist

First page of the peer editing checklist

Download a free PDF version of our peer editing checklist by clicking on the image above. Here’s the full lowdown on what’s included.

Essay Introduction

  1. Does the essay begin with a clear, attention-grabbing statement or hook?
  2. Are there at least three sentences in the introduction?
  3. Does the writer make his or her intentions clear?
  4. Are you clear about what issue is being addressed in this essay?
  5. Is there a clear thesis statement?

Essay Body

  1. Are there at least three body paragraphs?
  2. Does each body paragraph contain a clear topic sentence and idea?
  3. Does each body paragraph contain a conclusion statement that leads well to the next body paragraph?

Essay Conclusion

  1. Does the conclusion contain at least three sentences?
  2. Does the conclusion refer back to the thesis statement?

Essay Flow and Coherence

  1. Do the ideas flow logically through the paper and contribute to a building argument?
  2. Are transitions used correctly?
  3. Is the essay interesting?
  4. Does the analysis presented in the paper support the thesis statement?
  5. Is the sentence structure varied?

Essay Style and Mechanics

  1. Is evidence appropriately attributed and cited?
  2. Is each reference source clearly cited according to the relevant style guide? If you’re using APA, take a look at our APA checklist.
  3. Is the paper formatted according to the relevant style guide?
  4. Are the references, tables, and figures formatted according to the relevant style guide?

Grammar

  1. Has the paper been proofread? For a full proofreading checklist, take a look at our essay proofreading checklist.

Check for:

  • Misspelled words
  • Grammatical mistakes
  • Punctuation errors
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Fragments

 

So that’s our guide to how to peer edit an essay. Got anything to add? Please leave a comment.

 

 

APA Checklist: A Definitive Guide to APA Rules

A super simple APA checklist that covers all the APA rules you need to know for your essays and dissertations.

APA checklist guide to APA rules

The news that an essay or dissertation has to be formatted in APA can come as a big blow to a sleep-deprived student.

It’s not enough that you have to research a paper, try and put it all together in a format that makes sense, and proofread the dastardly thing… now you are being asked to apply some cultish APA formatting rules that seem so complicated they make Steven Hawking look simple.

With so many APA rules to follow, it can be extremely challenging to make sure you have covered them all in your essay.

Seriously, just how can your professor expect you to read all these standards and apply them to format your essay correctly?

It gets worse: The official guide is updated on a regular basis, which only adds to the confusion.

Here’s some good news:

When you’re asked to write an APA essay or edit a dissertation, all you need is our handy APA checklist. Yup, for real!

We’ve trawled through all the APA rules for you and extracted the most important requirements to create this handy APA checklist.

The cherry on the cake:

It’s completely free for you to print out and keep!

Here’s a breakdown of what our APA checklist contains. You can go right ahead and jump to the section that is most relevant to you.

APA Checklist: A Really Simple Guide to APA Rules
APA style guide joke

APA Rules: Title Page

Checklist of APA rules for title page and general formatting

  • Running head: SHORT ALL CAPS TITLE. This is flush left, 1/2 inch from the top. Title should match the title of the paper. However, it can be shortened if required (recommended length is less than 50 characters including spaces).
  • Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
  • Full title in title case. Double spaced, centered, upper half of the page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Name. Double spaced, centered under title. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Name of university. Double spaced, centered under name. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Plagiarism statement (where applicable).

APA Rules: General Requirements

  • The header on each page after the title page contains the title in all caps, starting from the left margin. The Header matches that provided on the title page. However, the words “Running head” only appear on the title page.
  • Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
  • Entire document double spaced.
  • Spacing between sentences is two spaces.
  • Margins are 1 inch on all sides, top, bottom.
  • Paragraphs in the body of the paper are indented 5-7 spaces or one tab stop.

APA Rules: Headings

Checklist of APA rules for headings, abstract, and lists

  • Level 1: Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings.
  • Level 2: Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading.
  • Level 3: Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 4: Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 5: Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.

APA Rules: Abstract Page

  • Not all academic papers require an abstract.
  • The abstract appears on Page 2 of the paper, after the title page.
  • The title, Abstract, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page. It is not in bold. Times New Roman standard 12 pt. font. The abstract is 150-250 words and is block style aligned to the left.

APA Rules: Lists

  • Lists can be enumerated or bulleted.
  • For short lists, use the format, (a), (b), etc., in a single sentence. For a list of longer sentences, use a list format:
    • a.
    • b.
    • c.
  • Bullets can be used if they better represent the contents of the list.

APA Rules: In-text Citations

Checklist of APA rules for citations

  • All sources cited in the paper text are also in the “References” list with the exception of classical works and personal communications.
  • Direct quotations are followed the name of the author (or title if no author), date of publication, and specific page or paragraph number of source (Moore, 2019, p.6).
  • All quotations < 40 words are enclosed in quotation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes before the closing punctuation.
  • All quotations > 40 words are shown as an indented block quote with no additional beginning paragraph indenting or punctuation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes after the closing punctuation.
  • Paraphrased in-text citations include the author name (or reference title if no author), the date of publication and, preferably, the specific page, paragraph, or section of the source that was paraphrased.
  • The names of those that contributed to multi-author sources with > 3 and < 6 authors are all provided on the first instance. Thereafter, the first author is noted followed by “et al.” (Moore et al., 1998).
  • When more than six authors contributed to the source, the first author is noted followed by the Latin phrase et al.
  • If the in-text citation is included in the body of text and covers multiple authors, the word “and” is spelled out: Moore, James, and Holmes (2018). When an author name is repeated within a paragraph, with no other sources used in between, the date can be omitted from the in-text citation.

APA Rules: References

Checklist of APA rules for references

Checklist of APA rules for references and figures

  • The page title, References, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page on a new page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • All sources listed in the References section have at least one corresponding in-text citation.
  • References are listed in alphabetical order.
  • All lines are double spaced.
  • Each entry commences with a hanging indent. For digital articles, a DOI is provided at the end, if available. This takes the form of either doi:10.xxx/xxx.xxxx OR http://dx.doi.org/10.xxx/xxx.xxxx. If there is no DOI for digital articles, the publisher’s home web site is provided.
  • Initials are only provided for first and/or second names of authors. There is a space between initials, e.g., Moore, S. E. If there are multiple authors, they are listed in the order in which they appear in the original source.
  • Author names are separated by commas (even for two authors) and an ampersand is used before the last name. Titles of books, journals, and technical reports are given in italics, as are journal titles and volume numbers.
  • Titles of books, journal articles, websites are in lower case except for the first word after a colon and any proper nouns.
  • The title of article that is extracted from a webpage on a larger website is not italicized. Likewise, journal article titles and book article titles are not italicized.
  • If a citation ends with a URL, all hyperlinking (blue, underline) is removed and there is no period at the end of the hyperlink.
  • Issue numbers are enclosed in parenthesis and not formatted with italics.
  • Pages numbers are given as a range (e.g., 45-56) without using p. or pp. except for newspapers or magazines without a volume and issue number.
  • Publication information (books) includes the state two-letter code with the city and country written out in full for all international cities. All other sources, e.g., media, books, etc., are referenced according to the APA 6e Guide.

APA Rules: Figures

  • Figures are numbered with Arabic numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3) below the figure, flush left and in italics.
  • Captions that describe the content of the figure are placed next to the figure number immediately below the figure and are not italicized.
  • The figure is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”

APA Rules: Tables

Checklist of APA rules for tables and proofreading

  • Tables are numbered with Arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3) at the top, flush left.
  • The table title is below the table label (e.g., Table 1) and is in italics.
  • The table is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”
  • Horizontal rules (lines) are limited. There is always a rule under the heads and before any notes.
  • Any explanatory notes should be proceeded by the word “Note.” in italics, flush left.
  • Reference to the source should be included in the note.

APA Rules: Proofreading

Of course, it isn’t enough to just follow all the rules. You need to make sure your essay or dissertation doesn’t contain any minor spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. If proofreading really isn’t your thing. Leave it to a professional! Check out our dissertation proofreading services. Our native-English experts will meticulously check your dissertation to make sure it doesn’t contain any errors that detract from the quality of your research.

If you do insist on proofreading your essay or dissertation for yourself. Take a look out for the following:

  • Personal pronouns and rhetorical questions only appear when absolutely necessary.
  • Sequence of paper is Title Page > Abstract (where required), Body of Paper, References > Tables > Figures > Appendices.
  • Contractions and slang are not used.
  • Numbers below ten are spelled out in full.
  • Numbers above ten are in Arabic numerals.
  • Paper has been proofread by a professional proofreader.

And there we have it. A complete guide to all the APA rules you need to take into consideration within academic documents in one handy little checklist. You can download a free printable PDF version of the APA checklist by clicking on the image below.

Free Printable APA Checklist PDF

APA checklist free PDF download

18 Amazing Essay Tips Every Student Should Know

Don’t let that essay beat you. Our top essay tips will get you on track and churning out essays Harvard students would be proud of.

Writing a good essay is 10% inspiration, 15% perspiration, and 75% desperation
That essay deadline is looming.

It’s the early hours of the morning, and you’ve still yet to formulate a decent thesis statement, let alone research an argument, find suitable sources, and stick it all together in a coherent form. And then there’s the essay editing to deal with.

Temptations lie everywhere. And all distractions are extremely welcome.

But, as much as you may feel like quitting school for good right now and turning on the television, YOU HAVE GOT THIS!

Okay, maybe not just quite yet… but there are some great tools out there that will certainly make your life easier. In fact, some of them may even make writing and editing an essay a little bit of fun.

Here are 18 great ideas that could well help you increase your grades without the blood, sweat, and tears.

Essay editing service ad

18 Top Essay Tips That Will Change Your Life

 

        1. When performing academic research, use Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine. You’ll get much more relevant results that will impress even the pickiest professor.Screenshot of Google Scholar
        2. Can’t think of the right words to get your point across? Visit Word Hippo to find the words you’re looking for. It’s a nifty little tool that you can use to find definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and translations for words.
        3. If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic for a paper, write about something that really gets your goat. You’ll be able to rant on and on, and before you know it, you’ll have achieved the word count.
        4. Compiling the bibliography according to style guide requirements can be a real headache. Let BibMe do it for you.
        5. If you can’t choose between different variations of the same word or are struggling to decide whether to use a hyphenated or compound adjective, use Google Ngram to find out which usage is more common.Picture of a Google Ngram search
        6. This is by no means the most groundbreaking essay tip you will read, but it really does work. Once you have finished your essay, take a break. It will help you to see the content with fresh eyes when searching for errors.
        7. Nail your thesis statement, and you’re halfway there. Take a look at our guide to writing a thesis statement for a fantastic free template.

          Essay editing services link

        8. Haven’t written enough pages but run out of ideas? Change the font size of all periods from 12 pt to 14 pt. Sneaky… but it may just help you meet the page requirement.
        9. Need continual motivation? Try Written? Kitten! It rewards you with pictures of kittens every 100 words. What more can you ask for?

          Example of Written Kitten in use

        10. Try the Pomodoro method for maximum essay writing efficiency. Take a five-minute break every 25 minutes. Every third break should be 20 minutes long.
        11. If you’re struggling to organize tons of different ideas, try Coggle. It’s a tremendous mind-mapping tool that will inject a bit of fun into the essay planning process.
        12. If you’re struggling to structure your essay, list five main points you wish to make and then write a paragraph for each topic. See our guide to essay formatting for more top ideas.
        13. Once you’ve finished your essay, copy and paste the text into Google Translate and click on the listen icon to hear it read aloud. You’ll have a much better chance of spotting any errors and identifying areas for improvement when you listen to the text being read. See our guide on how to proofread an essay for more great essay proofreading tips.

          Using Google Translate to proofread essays

        14. Make sure you use effective transitions; they can transform the flow and coherence of your essay. Take a look at our free transitions cheat sheet for some great ideas.
        15. Rushing to get your essay finished ahead of a deadline? Significantly reduce the time it takes to research relevant articles and papers by only reading the introduction and conclusion of each document. You’ll get the gist of the topics covered in a fraction of the time and can then summarize the main ideas in your own paper.
        16. Finding it difficult to concentrate? Try Brain, a research-based online application that uses artificial intelligence to identify what music will enhance your focus.

          Essay tips: Use brain.fm to find music that will help you focus

        17. Create an essay writing checklist to make sure you have covered all the main points. Check out our free printable version here: Essay writing checklist.
        18. If all else fails… check your lecture notes and simply reword what the professor said in class. He or she will think you’ve understood the material 😉

      Need help getting your main points across in your essay? Let our essay editors do it for you.

      Of course, spending a lot of time on an essay and meticulously planning it in advance will always result in the best possible grades (and a big pat on the back from your parents).

      But everyone strays from the path of perfection every now and again.

      If you’re on the last minute, suck it up and get on with it. One advantage of starting your essay the night before is that the whole miserable ordeal will be over so much quicker!

The Essay Transition Cheat Sheet Every Student Needs

Essay transitions can make or break your academic papers. Don’t let a limited vocabulary get in your way. Download our free cheat sheet now!

Poor essay transitions ruin essays

Ever submitted what you think is a great essay only to be informed by your tutor that it lacked coherence?

Lacked what?

When your profs talk about coherence, they are basically referring to how your essay flowed from one idea to the next.

The best essays are those that present a thesis statement, and then gradually build an argument to support the main ideas.

But a great thesis statement and a well-researched argument are not enough to create a compelling essay.

You also need to take your reader on a journey as you progress through your essay in a clear and structured way.

This is where essay transitions come in.

Transitions are words or short phrases that prepare the reader for a mental shift in the argument and guide his or her thought process.

You’ll typically find transitions in the following places:

  • At the start of a paragraph: “To begin with…”
  • At the beginning of a concluding statement: “In light of this analysis…”
  • To extend an argument: “Pursuing this further…”
  • At the beginning of a sentence that introduces a new idea within a paragraph: “Another reason why…”

It sounds simple enough. So why do so many students struggle to use transitions effectively?

One of the biggest issues our essays editors regularly encounter is lack of imagination and variety.

All too often students revert to the same set of standard transitions: first, then, to conclude

For a tutor who has a pile of thirty papers to grade, this isn’t going to cut the mustard.

As such, you should be trying to make your essays, dissertations, and other academic papers much more interesting by using engaging transitions.

Think this sounds difficult? It’s actually really easy.

In fact, thanks to our free essay transition cheat sheet, it couldn’t be simpler!

Essay transitions cheat sheet

How to use the Free Essay Transitions Cheat Sheet

  • Print the sheet by clicking on the image above. This sheet was first developed as part of our guide to essay formatting.
  • Once you have finished writing your essay, go through and review all the transitions you have already used. If you encounter a word or phrase that sounds repetitive or boring, consult the cheat sheet, find the category in which the transition best fits, and identify a better substitute.
  • Read through your essay again. Check to see if there are any places in which you should have a transition but haven’t used one. Similarly, if you have used the same transition more than once, replace it with a viable alternative. This will give your work more pizazz and seamless appeal.

Simply print out this one-page PDF and refer to every time you’re writing an essay or want to improve the flow of an existing paper.

You’ll be surprised how simple it can be to take your writing up a notch.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our essay tips for some really great tools that will help you through the process of writing an essay.

Need a bit of extra help?

Check out our essay editing services now. Our expert editors know exactly what to do to transform your essay from good to great.

The Lazy Student’s Guide to Statement of Purpose Formatting

Statement of purpose formatting made easy. Want to impress the admissions committee and bag an interview for admission to the university of your dreams? Download our proven statement of purpose format template now to create a compelling statement of purpose that makes you stand out.

Statement of purpose formatting: How to write a statement of purpose

So, you’re applying for grad school. The only thing that stands in your way of the next exciting step in your education is your statement of purpose.

But what format should this statement of purpose take?

If you’re in search of the ideal statement of purpose format, the first thing you need to understand is that there is no single proven template in existence. Admissions officers actively seek individuality and diversity. As such, the format of your statement of purpose should be tailored to your unique situation and expectations.

So, if the reviewers are not expecting a set format, what are they looking for?

They will be seeking some very specific information about YOU.

More than that, they want to learn about your PURPOSE. Hence the name: Statement of Purpose.

The ideal statement of purpose format consists of 2-4 paragraphs that build on each other and explore a central theme in more depth through examples, facts, and data.

Not a cliché in sight.

If you’re looking for a statement of purpose format that will tick all the boxes. You won’t go wrong with the following:

 

Statement of Purpose Formatting: An Anatomy of the Perfect Statement of Purpose

Statement of purpose format template
Paragraph One: The Hook

An introductory paragraph that catches the reader’s attention and sets the central theme for the essay.

Avoid arresting opening statements that are designed to impress… admissions tutors have seen exaggerated descriptions of a revelatory moment or lifelong desire to pursue a chosen career time and time again. And it all gets very BORING.

Learn more: How to write a statement of purpose

Phrases to avoid:

“From a young/early age I have always been interested in…”

“For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with…”

“I am currently studying…”

“Throughout history…” or “Since the dawn of man…”

These phrases don’t really say anything meaningful. They just waste words.

Take it up a notch…

Bad: “Throughout history, only two popes have resigned from their position as head of the Catholic Church.”

Much better: “In what represented a nearly unprecedented and departure from papal tradition, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he became the second pope to resign.”

Top Tip! Present a “thesis” statement in the introduction paragraph and use this as the central strand throughout your statement of purpose. Every other paragraph should contain some form of reference to this thesis statement. The topic sentence should introduce the broad idea (your skills, experience, interest) to the reader while other paragraphs should describe HOW you learned those skills, gained relevant experience, applied your knowledge and understanding, fostered your interests, etc.

Paragraph Two: What You Want to Study and Why

Claiming you want to study something is easy; convincing the admissions committee that your interest is real and not superficial is something entirely different. Explain, in very honest terms, what you want to study, and why. Be introspective.

When they have finished reading through your statement, the admissions tutors will be asking themselves the following question:

Do I really believe that the student is excited by the thought of studying this subject at a higher level?”

Make sure the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”.

 Phrases to avoid:

“I am passionate about xxx” (Anyone can say they are passionate about something. Don’t explicitly claim to be passionate, infer your passion by describing how you’ve worked toward putting your passion into practice).

“I have always loved xxx” (Similar to the above. Show, don’t tell).

Useful phrases:

“When I was taking special laboratory courses on solar-cell energy, I was struck by…”

“To help you understand my current goals better, I would like to explain my educational experience up to this point.”

“Growing up with parents who xxx, really taught me the importance of xxx.”

“My commitment to a future career as a xxx is best exemplified by xxx.”

Read more: Statement of Purpose: Editing and Proofreading

Action step: Hire a professional proofreader or editor to make sure your statement of purpose is absolutely perfect: statement of purpose editing.

Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of statements of purpose and know what it takes to write an admissions essay that secures places in the top schools. Don’t forget, there is a difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement.

Order our statement of purpose editing services now and we’ll help you create a statement of purpose that sets you apart from the crowd.

Paragraph Three: Provide Evidence to Support Your Claims That You Are Interested in the Subject

Again, simply saying you want to study something is not enough. You need to demonstrate that you live and breathe it.

Describe the activities and research projects you have conducted to inform yourself about your target career and describe the in-depth insights you have developed through these experiences.

Demonstrate that you have realistic expectations for your future career. It isn’t so much about what you have done; it is about what you have learned in the process.

Phrases to avoid:

“I genuinely believe I’m a highly motivated person” (Show, don’t tell).

“My academic performance has been impressive” (Let the admission’s committee decide that for themselves).

“I have a thirst for knowledge” (clichés like this should be avoided at all costs. They are uninspiring, over used, and fail to communicate anything meaningful).

“Reflecting on my educational achievements” (Yawn!).

Useful phrases:

“This research is/was especially interesting because…”

“As well as providing practical experience in a xxx, the job also allowed me to develop skills in xxx, through xxx. I am particularly proud of my achievements in xxx…”

“An experience that I feel has had a major influence on my outlook was when I xxx. This really opened my eyes to xxx and taught me xxx.”

Paragraph Four: Where You Want to Study it and Why

The admissions committee need to feel confident that you understand the course they are offering and the teaching styles you will encounter.

At this point, you need to stop focusing purely on yourself and start demonstrating that you understand the specific course you are applying for and the institution at which it is being taught.

Phrases to avoid:

“Xxx is one of the world’s most renowned universities…”

“I have always wanted to study at Xxx.”

“The course on offer at Xxx is the best in the world.”

Useful phrases:

“My interest in studying xxx at Xxx is firmly grounded in the school’s focus on xxx.”

“The work that is currently being carried out by Xxx and your faculty has attracted my interest because xxx.”

“My research interest in xxx is fully aligned with the research projects that are currently in process in your faculty. In particular, I am interested in the studies that are being conducted by Xxx, and feel I could contribute by xxx.”

Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of statements of purpose and know what it takes to write a personal statement that secures places in the top schools.

Order our statement of purpose editing services now and we’ll help you create a statement of purpose that sets you apart from the crowd.

Paragraph Five: Conclusion

Present a conclusion that widens the lens and wraps up your essay without simply summarizing the information you have already presented.

Summarize your career objectives and how the course on offer will help you move closer toward achieving those objectives.

Revisit the theme you established in the hook.

And finally…

Proofread, proofread, and proofread again.