The writing process entails many activities, from invention and planning, to research and drafting, and more. Perhaps none of these activities are as vital as editing and proofreading. Unfortunately, these two elements of the process are neglected by many writers, either because they leave too little time or because they simply aren't accustomed to viewing their own work through a critical lens.
Try to think of each piece of writing you do as a 'living text' that can be reimagined, restructured, overhauled, and polished. Picture a baker punching, kneading, and shaping a ball of dough – it's an involved and intense process, but ultimately, the baker's ruthless handling of that dough is what allows it to rise.
The tabs of this guide will support you in editing and proofreading. The sections are organised as follows:
What is the difference between editing and proofreading? There is a distinct difference between the two.
Editing and proofreading both require close and careful reading, but they focus on different parts of your writing and use different techniques.
Once you have written your assignment, it is a good idea not to look at it for a few days. Some distance and a fresh mind 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: the writing layers technique can help with this. You can also try building a reverse outline to assess structure, i.e., how your ideas progress and connect.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
|Section of Assignment||What to Consider|
Academic writing style is subjective and different disciplines and academic units have different ideas about what makes a good writing style. However, remember that your goal in academic writing is to communicate your ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
|Tip||What to Consider|
|Use a formal style of writing||
|Use impersonal language||
Once you have done all your editing, then you can proofread your work.
The last part of editing your writing is proofreading. This involves checking things like spelling, punctuation, grammar and referencing.
Here are some useful proofreading tips:
See the academic writing skills section of our Academic Skills website for advice on academic writing.
Take a look at the Purdue Online Writing Lab section on proofreading and editing.