Editing and proofreading are the final steps in writing a paper. Think of editing as minor changes you make to the text to improve the paper and proofreading as the process of finding the mistakes in your paper. Although editing is similar to revision, the two are not the same. Revision is about the big picture; editing is about the details. In revision, you may rewrite entire segments of your paper. The objective in editing is to polish awkward or murky writing by changing words or restructuring sentences. After all changes (edits) have been made, the very last step is proofreading to find and correct grammatical errors (spelling, punctuation, etc.) and any other mistakes.
1. Give yourself some time after you finish writing before you begin your edits. A fresh mind and fresh eyes will speed the process.
2. Consider past comments about weaknesses in your writing style and check for those first.
3. Use a list of Wasted Words (see link below) to help you find and trim out excess words and phrases from your paper.
4. Read the text aloud and listen for awkward, confusing, repetitious, or incomplete sentences.
5. Ask someone to read your paper and point out to you any parts that are confusing or vague.
1. Print out and use a paper copy to check for errors that you overlooked on the computer screen.
2. Start at the end of the paper and read backward to the beginning word-by-word. This strategy is especially effective for finding misspellings, typos, double spacing, and other mechanical problems. It will also help you discover overused words.
3. Scan your paper. Errors that are overlooked in careful readings will often pop-out at you during a quick scan.
4. Think about the errors that you consistently make when you write and scrutinize your paper for those specific problems. Do you consistently use a semi-colon when you should use a comma? Check for that. Do you consistently make certain typos or misspell certain words? Look for those.
5. Keep an online or print grammar guide open and handy for reference. (See the Grammar & Style Guide links in the column to the right.)