Step 7: Edit and proofread
When you’ve finished writing your essay draft, make sure you set time aside to thoroughly edit it. Usually essays are written to a tight deadline, so it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you have sufficient editing time. Ideally, you should put the draft aside for at least a day before you start editing and proofreading, because this will allow you to read your essay more closely to a reader’s position. You as the writer may know exactly what you mean by a certain phrase, but the reader only has the words on the page to interpret; consequently, you must ensure that there is no ambiguity or lack of clarity in what you write.
After you’ve edited your draft, you must proofread carefully to avoid handing in your essay with errors that detract from the competence and professionalism of your work. Proofreading picks up typographical errors, irregular spacing, omissions, and other errors you’ve missed in your earlier revision and editing.
Here are a few hints for effective proofreading.
- Read the document aloud,
- proofread as many times as possible (it’s surprising how many errors slip through),
- select only one feature of writing to check in each proofread,
- get others to proofread your document (but don’t rely on their competence or thoroughness), and
- make sure you’ve ticked off all the boxes in the Editing/Proofreading Checklist.