Congratulations! [falling confetti]

You have reached the end of the process. You have a completed draft and are ready to hand it in, right?

Right.

Wrong.

You have a first draft. Now, you need to begin the editing stage of the writing process.

a gif of a play button becomeing a pause buttonHowever before you begin this process, take a deep breath. Have you been up all night? Go take a nap. Turn on some calming music and have a cup of tea. Do whatever you have to that is away from the paper you have just finished. You need a break and so does your brain. This is going to be hard, but you need to leave the paper alone for a little while (preferably for at least a day, but twenty minutes would help). This will all still be here.

Welcome back gif

Now that you've had a few restful moments, let's jump into editing.

Tips on Proofreading and Editing

A good deal of revising methods depend solely on how much time is left in between when the draft is completed and the assignment needs to be handed into the professor. With that in mind, the below tips are divided into two categories: the meticulous method and the fast method.

  1. The Meticulous Method
    • Outline the Paper: As mentioned back in the brainstorming section, some people find it more beneficial to outline a research paper at the end of the process instead of the beginning. Creating an outline at this juncture allows for a student to fully digest the paper in its entirety while simultaneously breaking the paper down into its base components. The reason this option is considered lengthy is because the easiest way to do this is with notecards. Take a stack of notecards and write out your thesis statement, topic sentences, evidence, analysis of that evidence, and transitional sentences. (See: time-consuming). By pulling your paper apart like this, it allows for you to take parts of it and rearrange them while also seeing these parts in isolation. 
  2. The Fast Method
    • Read it Backwards and Out Loud: When short on time, the easiest way to find errors is to read the paper backwards and out loud. Reading the paper backwards forces you to look at each individual sentence in isolation. Reading it out loud will help you hear when a sentence has awkward wording or seems incomplete in some way.
  3. Seek Outside Assistance
    • Tutoring: The University Writing Center and Center for Academic Success are free face-to-face tutoring services for students to get help with any of their writing questions. Make your appointments early. You need enough time to be able to incorporate whatever the tutor tells you into your paper before handing it in to your professor. Give yourself at minimum a day before the assignment is due. Don't try to get help the day your supposed to hand it in, and especially, don't try to get someone to look at it within the same hour you have class. Most students need substantial changes to their paper because most students are asking for assistance with the first draft. Give yourself time to get help.
    • Consulting with the Professor: I know it seems intimidating, but go see your professor. He or she is grading your work. Don't be afraid to ask for help, that's what office hours are for. 
    • Online Resources: While not as helpful as a face-to-face consultation, there are online options that can help in a pinch. The only caveat to them is time.
      • Smarthinking: UWG provides students with an online tutoring service called Smarthinking (find more information on this service at Online Writing Tutoring or UWG Online Student Help pages). Smarthinking has a 24- and 48-hour turnaround guarantee.
      • Grammarly: This is a website that helps with proofreading and some plagiarism issues. (Check out the Grammarly or UWG Online Student Help page to find out how to access it for free.)

Additional Resources