||LEO: Literacy Education Online|
General Strategies for Editing and Proofreading
When you look over your papers to make sure that you've presented your ideas in ways that are clear to your readers, you send a message that you think your ideas are good enough to deserve a careful presentation.
Writers make changes to their papers at different levels. Knowing about these levels can help you divide up the job of getting a paper ready to hand in.
- Read your paper aloud, or have someone read it aloud to you. We often "hear" more of our errors than we see.
- Leave as much time as you can
between finishing writing a paper and editing and proofreading it. This lets you "re-see" the paper with rested eyes and a more distanced perspective.
- Read the paper backward --
from the end to the beginning -- one sentence (for editing) or one word (for proofreading) at a time. This helps you concentrate on sentences and words rather than on the paper's meaning
as a whole.
- Use two pieces of blank white
paper to cover all but one sentence at a time. This helps reduce visual noise and keeps you from being distracted by other sentences.
- Deliberately set aside time
for proofreading, just as you set aside time for research and writing.
- Build editing and proofreading into your writing process at the best place for you. Many writers like to leave it for last so that they can concentrate on their ideas first.
- Good writers don't necessarily
know all the grammar and punctuation "rules," but they do know where to look them up. Find and use resources.
- software writing programs
- handouts from your teacher or the Write Place
- other writers
- Keep resources handy when you write so that you aren't tempted to guess about how to correct your errors.
- Ask other writers to listen to you read your paper, to read your
paper as you listen, and to help you figure out and apply grammar rules.
Good writers don't go it alone.
- Know and keep a list of errors you make often so that you know what to look for in your papers.
- Read your paper a few times for one of those errors at a time rather than reading your paper once only and trying to catch all of your errors in one pass.
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This handout was written by Michelle Iten for LEO
and the Write Place, St. Cloud State University; Judith Kilborn completed
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Last update: 28 September 1997