Editing/Proofreading Strategies

Editing/Proofreading Strategies

  • Identify your own personal patterns of error and use as a checklist.

Instead of trying to correct one item at a time, read for those patterns of error you tend to make.

  • Use a hierarchy of error patterns.

    Some errors count more with some readers than others do. Use the typical academic hierarchy in the handout "Top Ten Conventions" to determine which patterns of error to read for first.

    Note: The hierarchy shifts if there is an accumulation of error of one type or if the pattern of error is especially prejudicial. For example, misspelling short, high frequency words, such as "its" tends to have more of a negative (prejudicial) effect on the reader than a missing comma, unless the missing comma alters the meaning significantly.

  • Read aloud.

    Reading aloud enables us to hear mistakes that we sometimes do not catch when reading silently.

  • Read in cycles, reading backward sentence by sentence.

    Reading a draft backward breaks the usual context of meaning and helps writers "see" errors more readily.

  • Use a code to mark the errors first; fix errors later.

    First identify errors by marking them in the margins with checkmarks or editing symbols. Once all the errors are identified, go back and fix them.

  • Refer to resources-handbooks and Writing Center handouts.

    Even proficient writers need to verify conventions. When in doubt, use the name of the error pattern to find more information, including correct examples.

  • Get another reader.

    While we do not want to rely on other readers exclusively, careful writers routinely get a second (or third) opinion.

  • Let time elapse between drafting and editing.

    Leaving the draft alone for a time after drafting can help writers edit their drafts with fresh eyes.