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Editing Strategies

Refining Essay Structure

Although fixing the grammar in your paper during the revising stage is important, the first thing you should review is the paper's overall structure. This involves looking at both the order of your paragraphs as well as the structure of each paragraph. By refining your paper's structure, you can strengthen the connection between ideas and improve your paper's overall flow and clarity.

Reflect on the Best Way to Organize Paragraphs

At the revising stage, you will want to review how each paragraph is connected and the order that you have presented your ideas. Here are three common ways to organize paragraphs:


Order paragraphs based on a timeline -- What happened first? What happened next? What happened last?


Order paragraphs in a way where knowledge builds on itself -- What information is needed first so that my reader can understand the next paragraph(s)? 


Order paragraphs in a way that highlights your strongest point first -- use the sandwich model: strongest point, weakest point, second strongest point

Check Overall Essay Structure

Once you have confirmed the order of paragraphs, check that your thesis lists your points in the same order that they are mentioned in the paper.


  1. Introduction 
  2. Body Paragraph 1 (Point 1 from thesis)
  3. Body Paragraph 2  (Point 2 from thesis)
  4. Body Paragraph 3  (Point 3 from thesis)
  5. Conclusion

Remember that your paper may need more than three body paragraphs, so it is totally fine if a point is covered over multiple paragraphs.


  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph 1 (point 1 from thesis)
  3. Body Paragraph 2 (point 1 from thesis)
  4. Body Paragraph 3 (point 2 from thesis)
  5. Body Paragraph 4 (point 2 from thesis)
  6. Body Paragraph 5 (point 3 from thesis)
  7. Body Paragraph 6 (point 3 from thesis)
  8. Conclusion


Revising paragraph structure can help you clarify your ideas, make sure you have missed any ideas, and remove any unnecessary ones.

Check Paragraph Structure

Most paragraphs should follow one of these two structures:

Structure 1

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Research / Evidence / Example
  3. Analysis / Comment
  4. Concluding Sentence

Structure 2

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Research / Evidence / Example
  3. Analysis / Comment
  4. Research / Evidence / Example
  5. Analysis / Comment
  6. Concluding Sentence

Following this structure can help ensure you are communicating your thoughts directly, using evidence to back-up your claims, and commenting on and advancing the research. Keeping each paragraph to one to two pieces of research will also help ensure that your paragraphs do not get too long and that you have enough room for analysis.

Remove (or Move) Any Unrelated Information

Remember that every paragraph should only focus on one central idea. Sometimes when we are writing, we will accidentally add in ideas that seem related but would fit better somewhere else.

See an example of this below where the topic sentence tells the reader that this paragraph is about social adjustment challenges, but the bolded sentence is an example of an academic challenge. This sentence should be removed or moved to a paragraph about academic challenges instead.


        Homesickness leads to challenges with social adjustment in college students. Many students struggle with losing past social ties when they move away to college.  In one study, some students reported a “longing for family and/or friends” after starting college (Tognoli, 2003, p. 43). Family may also be less involved in making sure the student is submitting assignments on time. Research also shows that students who experience homesickness do not feel satisfied with social life (English et al., 2017, p. 3). Unfortunately, without social bonds, students feel isolated and unable to feel as involved in college life, which could lead to withdrawal from program.