5 steps to a quick writing makeover

Here are some easy adjustments you can make to your writing when pressed for time.

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If you don’t have a lot of time to revise a piece of writing (maybe you’re finishing an essay at the last minute or writing a business letter under a tight deadline), you will need to make the best of what you have, even if it’s not perfect. After all, no piece of writing is completely finished.

Here are five things you can do to quickly improve a piece of writing:

1. Read your writing out loud. Make sure you read the writing naturally—read it as if you are speaking. Too often, people read text in a monotone, one word after the other without inflection. If you read your writing as speech, you’ll be able to detect incorrect use of punctuation, especially if you have trouble with comma placement. Reading your writing out loud can help you recognize where you pause naturally; each pause point probably deserves a comma.

2. Look at the beginning of each sentence. Do you start every sentence with a pronoun (words like “he,” “she,” or “it”) or subordinate conjunction (words like “although,” “because,” or “before”)? If you notice that you’re using the same pattern again and again, restructure a few of your sentences. Strive for variety: Throw in a few short, punchy sentences and some long, luxurious sentences.

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