Proofreading & Editing

Just finished writing your dissertation or essay? Congratulations! However, there’s still a little way to go before you can hand it in.

It’s always essential to check over any piece of work to make sure you have the best chance of success. But should you edit your essay, or proofread it, or both?

Many people use these terms interchangeably, however proofreading and editing don’t quite mean the same thing – and they won’t produce the same results.¬†

Proofreading is the correcting of surface errors such as grammar, spelling and punctuation. While it still requires a nuanced understanding of the English language, it differs from editing, which seeks to improve the overall quality of writing by enhancing flow, readability and structure. 

The Editing Process

Editing is a big task, but it is a skill that you need to learn. There are many aspects to developing this skill, but the points below offer an excellent place to start.

  • Organization
    • A clear introduction and conclusion are needed.
    • Paragraph Structure
      • You need to include clear transitions between paragraphs.
      • Each paragraph needs a topic sentence to introduce its central idea.
    • Main Idea
      • A clear, focused thesis statement is needed.
      • The main ideas need to be supported by clear evidence.
    • Clarity
      • Providing definitions and evidence when needed can improve the clarity of your manuscript and ideas.
      • Look for the repetition of words, sentence structure, and the correct use of technical terms.

The Proofreading Process

After you edit your paper, proofreading it with a more focused eye will help you find errors and make the necessary revisions to improve the manuscript. Like editing, proofreading requires a systematic approach.

  • Take your time.
    • If you think you will find all errors on the first read, you are mistaken.
    • Reading the manuscript out loud can help slow down the process and increase your focus.
  • Divide the Manuscript into Sections
    • This will increase your focus and decrease the overwhelming feeling of tackling the entire manuscript in one read.
  • Highlight Common Errors.
    • This helps with current and future writing assignments. The more familiar you are with your mistakes, the easier it will be to avoid them in the future.