Editing and proofreading
So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.
Editing and proofreading both require close and careful reading, but they focus on different parts of your writing and use different techniques. Editing involves improving the overall picture of your assignment: whether you have fully addressed the assessment task requirements, how the paragraphs are structured and how your writing flows. Proofreading focuses on specific details, like spelling, grammar, sentence structure and referencing.
- Solid editing and proofreading of your writing can improve your overall marks.
- Editing is a continuous process, so start early and do it often.
- You should re-draft your assignment several times before you proofread.
- Once you have done all your editing, you can proofread your work.
Students and lecturers discuss the importance of editing and proofreading.
Once you have written your essay, it is a good idea not to look at it for a few days. Some distance helps you to view your work more objectively. When you begin editing, read your work a few times and focus on different elements of the assignment with each reading.
Consider the following:
- Does my essay have a clear introduction, body and conclusion?
- Is there a clear message?
- Have I covered all the main points from my plan?
- Is my argument convincing?
- Do I contradict myself at all?
- Is there a logical flow to my writing?
- Have I answered the question?
Then for each section ask yourself:
If you have ever received an assignment back from a lecturer with comments like "too wordy" or "passive voice" or "look at your word choice", then you may need to work on your academic writing style. The tricky thing about style is that it is subjective and different disciplines and academic departments
have different ideas about what makes good writing style. However, remember that your goal in academic writing is to communicate your ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
Below are some tips on how to improve your academic writing style.
|Use a formal style of writing|
For more information see the following resource:
|Use impersonal language|
In general avoid using personal language such as I think or I believe unless it is reflective writing. Whatever is included in your paper that is not attributed to someone else is assumed yours.
|Use tentative language||
Researchers are cautious in the way they present their findings. Academic writing uses tentative language, it does not describe things as being absolutely true or false.|
Some examples of tentative language include:
For more on academic style and "style crimes" spend some time reading the following resources:
The last part of editing your writing is proofreading. This involves checking things like spelling, punctuation, grammar and referencing. Some general tips to start proofreading include:
- Print your document if you prefer to proofread from a printout rather than on a screen.
- Make sure you have no distractions - shut down your email and social media and turn off your phone.
- Try reading out loud to hear any problems.
- Use a blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one you are reading. This technique keeps you from skipping ahead of possible mistakes.
- Review comments on past assignments to identify errors that you make repeatedly.
|Formatting||Check for consistent use of heading styles, font, diagrams, tables, margins.|
For more help with punctuation see the following resources:
|Spelling||Use the spell check on your computer, but remember that a spell checker will not identify mistakes with homonyms (e.g., "they're," "their," "there") or particular typing errors (like "he" for "the" or "form" for "from").|
Camp, S, 2001, Developing proofreading and editing skills, Glencoe/McGraw Hill, New York.