Proofreading and Editing: The Final Step


What do you like to put on toast? Butter? Jam? Marmite? Does it change depending on your mood? I’m a butter and jam gal, myself. This question came up while I was searching for ice breaker activities for a class that I’m currently co-teaching. It got me thinking about a lot of things toast-related (For instance, did you know that sprinkles are a popular and completely acceptable bread topping in Holland? It’s called hagelslag, and I was introduced to this tasty trend while staying at a youth hostel in Amsterdam). What we choose to put on toast got me thinking about individuality and possibility and, yes, even writing, which I’ll discuss below.

For most people, the toast topping is the finishing touch: the final step. When you write, proofreading and editing is the final step. For some students, leaving proofreading and editing to the very end feels counterintuitive; it’s difficult to resist the urge to correct as you go along. But just as you wouldn’t spread butter on your bread before toasting it (well, okay, maybe you would, but then you’d likely be left frantically Googling such topics as those featured in the image at the top of this post), you shouldn’t proofread or edit your paper until you’ve finished writing it. If you can, try to save these steps for last and follow these tips:

1.) Take time away before you do it! Walk away from your paper for a day or two before you proofread and edit. Doing so will allow you to read your work with fresh eyes.

2.) Proofread and edit a hard copy. Print out a copy and make your corrections directly on the paper. You’re more likely to catch mistakes on a printed copy.

3.) Take your time. Make sure you leave ample time for proofreading and editing so you don’t feel rushed.

4.) Read out loud. Hearing the words you’ve written can help you catch errors.

5.) Start at the end. Read the last sentence of your paper and look for errors. Then jump up to the next-to-the-last sentence and do the same thing (and so on and so forth). Reading your paper “backwards” sentence-by-sentences enables you to focus more closely on each individual thought and idea.

6.) When in doubt, get help. Have a trusted friend look over your paper. Visit your instructor or a tutor. Or come see me in Academic Support at 690 Walnut, #215.

Until then, go enjoy some toast.

Katie Brundage, Learning Specialist (and Toast Enthusiast)




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