Editing Language

Review your essay to determine if there are ways to change the language to gain a tighter focus on your main ideas. Look for unnecessary words and phrases; be sure there is a reason for everything you have included.

Check for these common language problems:

  • excessive repetition of particular words or phrases
  • tone and language level that are inappropriate (too emotional, too sarcastic, or too informal, for example)
  • sexist language, particularly using masculine pronouns to represent people in general
  • clichés – convenient but unimaginative and overused expressions such as “avoid it like the plague,” “all’s fair in love and war” or “they’re driving me up the wall”

The following are useful questions to consider:

  • Is the language in the paper appropriate to your audience?
  • Have you incorporated key terms and concepts from the course correctly?
  • Have you removed any slang, abbreviations and contractions that do not contribute specific meaning to your essay?
  • Have you defined any acronyms such as OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) used in your essay?
  • Have you checked a dictionary to ensure that any unfamiliar words you have used accurately convey the meaning you intend? See the Research Guides for discipline-oriented dictionaries.