Academic Writing: Editing
See also the grammar pages
It's very important to check your writing. Your work might be interesting, well-structured and well-read, but if you have spelling or grammatical errors, it will undermine the credibility of the work and create a bad impression. If you are submitting an assignment, you are likely to be marked on the standard of your writing as well as the content, so it's important to proofread your writing: it's an easy way of getting a few more marks!
There are two aspects to editing:
What to look for when editing:
- Does your writing actually make sense?
- is your argument clear?
- Is your writing easy to read?
- Have you used the right structure (introduction, main body and conclusion)?
- Do you link your ideas together - do the paragraphs flow well?
- Are your references set out correctly?
- Have you used the right formatting?
Some tips for better proofreading:
- Leave some time between finishing and editing or proofing. Leave your work for a couple of hours or overnight will help you see things with a fresh eye.
- Print out the work instead of reading it on screen - it's better for your eyes!
- Read it out loud, this will help you find mistakes
- Do separate checks for spelling and grammar: it's easier to concentrate on one aspect at a time
- For spelling, consider reading backwards from the last word on the last page. The content won't make any sense, so you can concentrate on the spelling.
- For grammar, consider circling every punctuation mark - this will help you think about whether it's been used correctly
- Use something - .e.g, a rule or a blank sheet of paper to cover up the lines below the one that you are reading - this forces you to concentrate on one line at a time
- Ask someone to read your paper - a fresh pair of eyes will often pick up things that you have missed.
- Read slowly - if you read in a rush, you'll miss things
- Don't do it all at once - it will be difficult to concentrate and you'll start to miss errors.
- Start from the beginning each time - it'll take longer, but you'll probably find errors that you missed first time around.
- Don't rely on word processing software spelling & grammar checkers - they're pretty basic and won't detect many errors
Some things to watch for:
|Commonly misspelled words
|Easily confused words
|Homonyms (words that sound alike)
|Typos (especially those that form other words)
Discovered the cure for the disease (The scientist discovered the cure for the disease)
A time of wonder and amazement (It was a time of wonder an amazement)
Because it was raining (The picnic was cancelled because it was raining)
|Run on Sentences
I have to go to the store I need to buy milk
(I have to go to the store. I need to buy milk or I have to go to the store because I need to buy milk)
Sally likes soccer she doesn’t like running (Sally likes soccer, but she doesn't like running)
|Subject/verb number agreement
Single subject - verb ends in (s) He likes, She wants
Plural subjects - verb doesn't end in (s) They like, The people want
|Correct verb tense
John finished his essay, tidies his room, and went out for supper (John finished his essay, tidied his room, and went out for supper)
I’m eating the cake that I make this morning (I’m eating the cake that I made this morning)
The boys went out and play football (The boys went out and played football)
Its - pronoun / It's contraction for it is
Indicating ownership or possession 's (one) or s' (more than one)
The first letter of the first word in a sentence, acronyms and the first letter of proper nouns should have capital letters