Editing and Proofreading

As you prepare your final draft, you’ll want to leave time to edit and proofread. Editing strategies focus on making your text more readable by assessing clarity, style, and citations, while proofreading strategies focus on eliminating errors and mistakes in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting. Follow the steps below to edit and proofread your draft.

Editing Strategies

  • Find a sentence where you can reduce the number of prepositions (e.g. “in the time of” or “at the bus stop”).
    • Revise it.
  • Find an “-ion” noun (e.g. customization).
    • Make it a verb (e.g. customize).
  • Find an expletive construction (e.g. “It is expected that…”).
    • Revise the sentence to have a clearer subject and verb.
  • Find passive voice (e.g. “The report was prepared by the committee”).
    • Make it active (e.g. “The committee prepared the report”).
  • Find your longest sentence. How many words are before the verb?
    • Simplify that sentence’s subject.
    • Consider breaking up sentences longer than 3 lines.
  • Find two consecutive short sentences.
    • Combine them.
  • Find a passive verb (is, are, was).
    • Replace it with an active verb.
  • Find a cliché (“Since the beginning of time”).
    • Be more specific.
  • Find qualifiers (very, often, really, a lot).
    • Determine: Are they necessary? Can they be more specific?
  • Find a place where you use two words that mean the same thing (e.g. “hopes and dreams”).
    • Pick one to use instead.
  • Find a stock phrase (e.g. “the fact that” or “in the event that”).
    • Determine: Do you need this? Is there another word you could use?

Proofreading Strategies

Proofreading is usually the very last step in the writing process, providing a final check for any errors or issues before the writing is shared. Remember that while editing may occur throughout the writing and revision process, proofreading focuses on more sentence-level elements toward the end of the process. Here, you’re looking for issues like spelling errors, typos, incorrect or missing punctuation—really, anything that doesn’t look or sound right. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Take time away from your paper
  • Look for one error or issue at a time
  • Print it out
  • Circle every punctuation mark
  • Read backwards
  • Read aloud
  • Use a different font
  • Change your location
  • Swap papers with a friend
  • Use “Search” for common errors
  • Use a blank sheet of paper to cover up lines below

Visit the Purdue OWL for more tips about editing and proofreading

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