Once students have completed revision strategies, they are ready to fine-tune through the editing stage of writing. In this stage the writer attends to issues of grammar, style, mechanics, spelling, and proofreading. Close, line-by-line reading of an essay - even reading an essay backward in order to see what is normally skimmed over - is essential to the editing process.

The editing process can be divided into different steps just like the revision process. If working in small groups or handing in several drafts to the professor, students can ask for feedback at any or all of the following levels:

  • Screen for spelling, agreement, pronoun, fragment, and modification errors.
  • Check for mechanics (capitalization and punctuation) and documentation format.
  • Edit for language-level issues in style, usage, and syntax/word order.
  • When the paper seems ready in all respects, do a final proofreading for last minute typographical, grammar, and spelling errors.

Other editing suggestions include:

  • read the entire paper aloud, or have someone else read it aloud. 
  • read the assignment backward.
  • have a friend read the assignment in this way: read the first paragraph and explain its point and how the point was made; read the rest of the assignment and make a list of places that seemed confusing and why; what counterarguments or criticism could be made of the assignment's ideas?

See our editing checklist (PDF), another helpful tool when it is time to finalize a draft.

For more advice on specific editing questions organized in a helpful alphabetical format, visit Grammar and Style Notes and the Purdue On-Line Writing Lab.


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