You have a multitude of writing assignments through all your years of schooling – essays, papers, reports, etc. And there is a process you go through to produce them, from choosing a topic, to research, to outline, to rough draft, and, finally, the finished polished piece that you turn in for a grade.
The problem is this: in every course, you will be graded not just on the content of that piece of writing but on how you have presented it – in other words your English composition skills, as well as all of those pesky grammatical specifics. This means that you will have to spend time editing and proofreading that rough draft before you have the final draft to turn in.
Here are the Steps to Follow in the Editing and Proofreading Process
- Set your rough draft down for a while after you finish it. You need a bit of breathing space before you enter the editing process.
- Read the entire piece focusing on overall structure. Do you have a solid introduction and conclusion? Is there a thesis statement in your introduction? Do the points follow in a logical sequence, and have you supported each point with facts/data? Is every point related to your thesis?
- Check the structure of each of your paragraphs. Is there a topic sentence with supporting detail? Are there solid transitions between your paragraphs?
- Look at the terminology you have used. Are there terms that should be defined for a reader?
- Check for overall clarity. This will mean you will want to read each sentence and be certain that its meaning is clear.
- Does the tone match the content? If you are dealing with a serious subject, then your tone should be that. If the topic is humorous, your tone can be far more playful and informal.
- Sentence variety. You should vary the length and type of sentences you use – simple, complex, compound. Too much of the same type of sentence close together can be boring, irritating, and, in the case of long, complex sentences, confusing.
- Citations. You have been given a format style. Be certain that your title page, pagination, margins are all in that style. Just as important are your in-text and end-of-text citations.
- Proofreading is the last stage of your entire editing process. Here you will focus on the more minor yet still important details – spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And these little mistakes can be irritating to an instructor or professor as they evaluate your written work. Don’t irritate them. The proofreading process should include the following:
- Proofread for one type of error at a time. You might choose spelling first. Remember that spell check tools will not catch some errors. You may use the wrong form of “to” (two, too) and a spell checker will not flag it.
- Read through the entire piece very slowly, checking for the one thing you have selected at that time. In some cases, especially when you are trying to catch grammatical errors, reading aloud helps.
- Reading the piece backwards will force you to focus on the sentence at hand.
- Circle your punctuation marks. Re they correct? When you read aloud, should there be a punctuation mark where you have none? If you are unsure about punctuation in any instance, look it up.
Points to Think About
- Editing and proofreading is not optional. Your grade will be based in part on your grammar and composition skills, as well as the way you construct your content.
- Instructors and professors are impressionable. When they have to struggle reding through a piece of writing that has lots of errors, they become irritated and frustrated. Your grade will suffer because of that.
- If you have questions about the flow of your content, your thesis statement, or grammatical issues, then check with someone who has the skills you may lack.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Never think that what you say trumps how you say it. When you fail to edit and proofread, what you say loses meaning and importance
- Don’t scrimp on your editing and proofreading. Instructors can be very picky, and you may not know which ones are.
- Not having a systematic strategy for editing and proofreading will mean that you will miss errors, potentially some big ones.
If you worry about your editing and proofreading skills, then it is time to consult with an expert who can perform the function for you. Green Essay has a full staff of professional editors and proofreaders who can revise and polish your piece, providing the perfection you want. Get in touch with us today.
Dos And Don’ts
- Follow the steps outlined above It is the only way to have a systematic approach to editing and proofreading
- Look up anything about which you are uncertain
- Leave yourself whatever time you need to edit and proofread. A rush job will mean errors are not caught
- Begin the editing process as soon as you finish your rough draft. Give yourself some time before you return to that rough draft. Your approach will be fresher
- Edit and proofread at the same time. They are two separate functions and you can’t do both well at the same time
- Rely on spell and grammar checkers exclusively. They do not catch everything