Finessing an argument and spotting typos need different mindsets. Whether you’re writing an essay or a PhD, you need to be the editor as well as the author.
Quotations should serve your argument. Find pertinent quotations, place them for best effect and make them fit your purpose.
Look through your essay and underline your reporting verbs. Then decide whether you have used the most suitable verb in each case.
To raise the quality of your writing, check your verbs. Select verbs that say exactly what you mean and carry the right amount of weight.
Swapping the author’s words for your own, even with the help of the thesaurus, won’t save you from plagiarism. Indeed, although the thesaurus is a useful writing tool, it can also be a trap. In a PhD, dissertation or essay, successful paraphrasing is taking the nub of someone else’s argument and relating it to the point you are making.
Connect with your writerly self and try thinking about your writing in the way that professional writers do.
Even if you feel safer with the passive voice, consider how you might use the occasional active sentence to liven up your writing.
When we edit, most of us simply read the text, line by line, correcting as we go. But it can be more effective to read for one kind of fault at a time.
Here's an enjoyable way to learn how the different parts of speech affect your writing style.
Use a checklist of your own bad writing habits to correct and improve your work.