Editing and proofreading

By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.

Roald Dahl

Proofreading

Proofreading is reading back over the work to check for mistakes that you might have missed, and to edit or improve what has been written. All professional writers revise their work over and over again to improve or alter it until they are satisfied.

Capital letters

This is an easy area to overlook when writing. Read back over your work and check that each proper name, letter ‘I’ and each sentence has been started correctly with a capital letter. Also, check misplaced capital letters have not accidentally been included mid-sentence.

Omissions

It is quite common to miss words out, or even to miss letters from words. Check back over the writing to make sure that all the words required for a sentence to make sense are present, and in a clear order.

Punctuation

When proofreading, ensure that sentences are grammatically correct, and that sentences are completed with a full stop. A common error is to overuse commas to break up sentences rather than punctuating correctly with full stops, or adding connectives to link each sentence together. A good tip is to read through and stop at every comma and ask yourself whether it should be a full stop because it’s an end to a sentence.

Spelling

Even the most expert of spellers will make simple spelling mistakes when writing. It might help to follow the spelling rules as well as use any strategies that you have found useful over time.

What to improve

Look back over your work, and try to look at it objectively - that means as though you are reading the writing of somebody else. If you had to give that person advice on how to improve, what would you ask them to change? It is a really useful skill to be able to edit and improve your own work.

Glossary
  1. subheading A word, phrase or sentence that is used to introduce part of a text.