When you edit a paper, you have several aspects to consider. These include checking that your spelling and grammar are correct, ensuring that your paper makes sense and is relevant, adhering to the correct formatting style for your citations, and verifying that your paper is focused and keeps your reader interested. This article describes two easy-to-learn methods you can use to edit a paper so you can produce concise and persuasive papers.
The Paramedic Method
This method will help you recognize and edit wordy sentences. It will enable you to reduce your word count and activate your sentences by eliminating redundancies and the passive voice. The following primary editing elements were originally described in Richard Lanham’s Revising Prose.
- Circle the prepositions (including: of, in, about, for, onto, into).
- Draw a box around the ‘is’ verb forms (including: is, are, have been, was, were)
- Ask ‘where is the action?’
- Change the action into a simple verb
- Move the doer into the subject (who’s doing what to whom)
- Eliminate any unnecessary, slow wind-ups or lead-ins
- Eliminate any redundancies
Here are examples of sentences written before applying the paramedic method:
- This sentence is a demonstration of the use of the paramedic method in the editing of a paper.
- The primary work that Mr. Stewart will experience is the art of writing critiques on his students’ writings.
Here are the edited versions after applying the paramedic method:
- This sentence demonstrates using the paramedic method to edit a paper.
- Mr. Stewart will mainly be writing critiques of his students’ writing.
The Reverse Paramedic Method
Authors often use the passive voice in scientific writing to emphasize what was done and remove the doer of the actions. This makes the writing more impersonal and objective. The reverse paramedic method assists in recognizing and implementing the passive voice while still providing conciseness. This method is useful for students of the sciences, such as nursing students.
- Circle the prepositions and eliminate any that are unnecessary
- Identify any references to the researcher (the doer)
- Replace any reference to the researcher with a passive construction that emphasizes the experiment or what was done
- Eliminate any unnecessary, slow wind-ups
- Eliminate any redundancies
Here are examples of sentences before applying the reverse paramedic method:
- In order to make sure we didn’t mix up the medicine bottles we put the patient’s name on them.
- For the sample, the nurse made sure that she took an adequate amount of blood from the patient.
Here is how the sentence would read after applying the reverse paramedic method:
- The medicine bottles were labeled with the patient’s name.
- An adequate amount of blood was taken from the patient for the sample.
The paramedic and reverse paramedic methods are effective ways to edit your papers, resulting in strong academic pieces and ensuring good grades. However, as mentioned in the beginning, there are other elements that you must edit, too. These often require that you adhere to a specific formatting style, for margins, headers, citations, and more. Editing for specific styles can be quite time consuming; time better spent on content. Using software that sets up the style right from the start will save you time.
Get more details about our formatting products to help save you time and points on your papers.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
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Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).