Polishing Up Your Paper

Elevate your paper in just 30 minutes


Emma Harris

Five tips for high schoolers to improve the quality of an English paper.

I get it: sometimes you’re just not happy with your paper. You can’t trace this feeling back to anything in particular, you just don’t like it. And here’s the cherry on top: it’s due tomorrow. Panic ensues because it is simply too late to rewrite whole chunks, but you need a good grade, whether it is to maintain your current grade or to boost it. Here are five quick and easy tips to make your paper better that only take 30 minutes to apply:

    1. To Be Verbs

Find a list of “to be” verbs online, then hit find and replace in your Google Doc. Go through the list one by one, type each word into the find and replace search bar, and use an alternative way to say what you want to say – be especially stingy when using the word “is.”

     2. Replace Your “Examples”

The two words “for example” or “an example of this” are used far too often in paper writing, making them blend in. To sound more scholarly and to stand out, replace “for example” with “for instance” or “this is proven through.” Don’t get rid of all “examples,” though – variety is needed in writing.

    3. Mix Short and Long Sentences

In writing, if you have all short sentences, your paper is going to sound choppy, and if you have all long sentences, it’s going to be too wordy. If you have more than three or four of the same length sentences in a row, make sure to change this: you can try combining two neighboring sentences or break one up to add some depth and interest.

    4. Find Common Word Alternatives

Synonymous to changing “example,” one should also change other various, commonly used words. Instead of “because” use “for,” instead of “happens” say “occurs,” and instead of always using “however,” change it up sometimes by saying “that said.” Use alternatives to “very” such as “extremely” or “incredibly,” or find a stronger vocab word than the one you plugged “very” before. For example, for “very small,” ditch “very” and replace “small” with “minute.”

     5. Check Your Commas

I know, I know, the thing you didn’t want to hear: make sure you’re using commas appropriately. It may seem tedious, but commas are incredibly important for a smooth paper. They’re either your ally or your greatest foe. Not enough commas make run on sentences, but too many just looks bad and has the possibility to make everything choppy. 

In just 30 minutes, these applied steps will make your paper sound smooth and create a more effortless, professional feel.