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How To Proofread and Edit Your School Essays

The one temptation students have today that harms their revisions is trying to revise electronically. Research has show that you cannot see errors on the page on screen as well as you can on paper. Also, spell and grammar check are only minimally helpful. You need to see the mistakes and mark them and “hear” them aloud to really create an error free, pristine piece of writing.

First, you are not just proofreading, you are improving the written work drastically. A hurriedly typed draft is fine for brainstorming—but that is it. All teachers or professors want a finely crafted, error-free piece of work—and oftentimes, as long as it is free of mechanical errors of all types, that will receive an A+ alone as they will be so astounded at the quality. They’ll be more likely to offer content-related “suggestions” and constructive criticism that will help you grow as a critical thinker and writer.

All you need to edit your documents professionally is access to a printer, a bright pen, like a red narrow-tipped marker—or orange, some color that is non-threatening to you but attention getting for the first phase of the editing process.

First, concentrate on each sentence and check that the following are satisfied.

After printing your essay:

  1. Are there commas after introductory clauses but not for clauses at the end (as is grammatically correct)?
  2. IF you use any items in a series, did you use all commas? Including the one before the “and.”?
  3. If you use to many semi-colons, try varying them with dashes or use of the “em-dash (these are interchangeable). If you use normal hyphens, the rule is “space, dash, dash, space” or one em dash with spaces on each side (you can find these in your symbols chart in word processing programs.
  4. Do you have a creative title? Readers and teachers alike love to see creativity, courage, daring, and inventiveness in writing, even on serious subjects. No one, and I mean no one, wants boring!
  5. Read the essay aloud. Reading aloud forces your mind to hear every word and will slow you down enough to catch mistakes your eye will begin to glance over when the content becomes familiar from re-reading. This helps me catch errors every time.
  6. Also, reach out for help. Take your essay to the writing center and ask them for a run through, checking for content and grammar faults.

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