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Editing and Proofreading Essays

Updated: Aug 5, 2016
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There is a process to follow when writing an essay, one that concludes with the student-writer editing and proofreading their essay before submitting it to their professor for an evaluation. The purpose of doing this is to make sure the essay is free of careless, mindless errors and mistakes, which negatively influences the student writer's grade.

 

First off, to make the writing process easier for you here is a piece of infographics on editing and proofreading.


Editing vs. Proofreading

 

Quite often, the terms “proofreading” and “editing” are used interchangeably, but they are quite different in function and context. It may help to think of these terms, in the context of writing the essay, as they apply to the process of publishing a newspaper. Written material (articles) are first edited – corrected, condensed and modified – before they are designed on the page and proofread for errors in spelling, punctuation, fact-checking and grammar. In other words, an essay is edited before it is proofread.

 

After the first draft is written, the student-writer generally should reread their essay, looking for mistakes in rhetoric, sentence structure, words and notions that could be arranged differently in the text. One’s essay can also be edited either by a peer reviewer, a writing tutor, or even one’s professor, who will read the essay for these mistakes, as well. Then corrections are made to the essay.

 

The second, and final, a draft is for proofreading purposes. This involves the student-writer reading the essay to make sure it is free of errors, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc.

 

Finally, after the essay has been edited and proofread, the student-writer should reread their essay one final time before submitting it to their professor for an evaluation.


The Editing Checklist

 

The Assignment Was Followed Correctly – the essay, whatever kind it is, should follow the instructions, inclusions, etc. of the original assignment for the course. To be sure, the student-writer should reread their syllabus or assignment instructions before submitting their essay for a grade.


An Interesting, Engaging Topic Sentence Was Used – Rather than jumping right into their Thesis Statement, the student-writer is best advised to begin their essay with an attention-grabbing first sentence; it should introduce the scope of the essay and keep the reader interested in reading the rest of the essay. Without this pivotal sentence, the student-writer is likely to get a lower grade on the assignment.


A Thesis Statement Was Provided and Defended – Every essay should have some kind of Thesis Statement, which is put forward as the premise to be maintained or proved throughout the essay. Without an effective Thesis Statement, the reader is ultimately left in the dark about the essay’s intended purpose. And so the essay is deemed pointless.


The Essay Was Written in at Least Five Cohesive Paragraphs – Most academic essay assignments require an essay be written in at least five paragraphs: an introduction and conclusion paragraph, and three body paragraphs defending the Thesis Statement – each paragraph comprising five to seven sentences a piece. An essay written in less than five paragraphs will not make a valid argument and will, therefore, be receiving a low grade.


Sources Were Incorporated into the Essay Were Cited – If an essay assignment requires the inclusion of sources, maybe to legitimize the article or to provide additional perspectives on the essay’s topic, these sources should be cited, either in a Work Cited page or a Bibliography.

 


Proofreading Checklist


No Spelling Mistakes – the essay should be carefully read and fact-checked to be free of all misspelled words. Some of the most frequently misspelled words are Their, there and they’re. Any bit of information used should be fact-checked; a student-writer, by including misspelled words from their research, will be penalized for not confirming their information – and are likely to receive a low grade on the assignment as a result.

 

No Grammatical Mistakes – The written language used in the essay should follow the language’s structure, which uses of proper syntax, among other things. A common grammatical error can be a run-on sentence or a comma splice; other mistakes consist of errors in apostrophe usage and a lack of subject-verb agreement.


No Punctuation Mistakes – Does every sentence end with proper punctuation? Are commas in the correct and appropriate places? If periods, commas, parenthesis and other marks are not used correctly in the essay, certain meanings are not clarified – and then the student-writer is likely to receive a low grade as a result.

 

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