Proofreading and Editing

Imagine this – your instructor reading your assignment out loud:

Simple mistakes can make you lose valuable marks on an assignment or essay, mistakes that can be easily prevented by proofreading your work. Proofreading is “to read and mark corrections” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Basically, it’s reading through your paper to catch any careless mistakes in spelling or grammar.

Proofreading is relatively easy: read your paper or assignment out loud. Does it sound right? Does everything make sense? Do you notice any spelling mistakes while you’re reading? Are you missing any punctuation? Reading through your paper will catch any errors the spellcheck didn’t catch. You may also want to leave the paper overnight and re-read it in the morning to have fresh eyes looking at it, or have someone else read it.

Editing is a little different from proofreading. With proofreading, you’re mainly looking at basic grammar and spelling errors; with editing, you’re looking at the paper in a broader sense to make sure it meets your assignment requirements and is properly structured. The editing process should begin right after you complete your first draft.

During the editing process, ask yourself:

Structure

Does the essay have an introduction and conclusion? Is my thesis clearly stated in the introduction? Do all paragraphs relate to the thesis? Are the paragraphs organized logically? Does each paragraph have a point? Am I within my word/page limit?

Content

Have I met all the assignment requirements? Do I support my thesis or argument? Is my argument complete? Is my argument consistent? Have I provided evidence to support my claims? Are there any points missing? Have I checked all my facts?

Style

Have I added my own voice/analysis to the information I’m using? Am I using the correct tense (past, present, future)? Am I writing in a passive voice too much? Have I added unnecessary words? Have I avoided run-on sentences? Do I repeat the same word (verb or adjective) constantly? Does the phrasing make sense?

Citations/References

Have I referenced my sources? Does each fact have an in-text citation? Does each citation have a listing in the bibliography? Am I consistent in my citation style?

Last updated March 14, 2011