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Academic Writing for University Essays: Revising, Editing, Proofreading, and Formatting

A. The final stage before submission

a. Revising -> b. Editing -> c. Proofreading -> d. Formatting -> e. Submission

The order represents the steps, the importance (from most important/macro-level) to least important.


a) Revising:

Making improvements to the content/structure, focusing on the essay level (the essay as a whole)

b) Editing:

Making improvements (rewriting) at the sentence level

c) Proofreading:

Correction of mistakes (e.g. spelling, grammar, and punctuation), mostly at the sentence-level

d) Formatting:

Ensuring consistency of presentation and adherence to the style guide

B. Revising your work

Use the assessment criteria as a checklist:

- Read through the maker's eyes

- Try to predict your grade

- Address problems

The sample of the university's criteria

a. Suggested checklist

- Answering the question

- Does the main point/claim fully answer the question (comparing the thesis statement)

- Accuracy

- Technical language

- Claims

- Use of evidence

- Does the essay use appropriate, relevant, evidence to support its point?


- Is this the most appropriate order for these ideas? Do you need to move anything?

b. Respond to Feedback

- Others may see things that you missed

- Comments from previous assignments

c. Allow enough time

it may take more time than expected

C. Editing your work

a. Definition

b. Improvement at the sentence-level

1) Clarity

2) Conciseness

3) Style

D. Proofreading

a) Definition

- Reading to Identify and correct errors in spelling grammar, and punctuation

- From-focus rather than content focus

- Penultimate stage of the writing process before submission

b) Why is proofreading important

Errors are inevitable, distract, can obscure meaning, and potentially lower grades

1) Language-focus

- consciously focus on the accuracy of the language (and not on the meaning)

- Meaning distract

- Requires practices

Examples of language issues

2) Listen to your intuitions

- A sense or feeling that a sentence may be grammatically inaccurate

- Mark it for further checks later

3) Use the spell-check function

4) Use the find and replace function

- Us to correct the repeated error

5) Cover up the following lines of text

- On-screen, scroll down to make one sentence visible at the time

6) Proofread after taking a break

- Fresh perspective gained after doing something different

- 2-3 days

7) Read your work in a different format

- on-screen vs paper

8) Read aloud

9) Learn from past mistakes

- Search specifically for error

10) Mentain mental agility

- Stay alert (drowsiness, energy level, stay hydrated)

E. Formatting your work

Ensuring consistency of presentation and adherence to the style guide.

a) Presentation

- Referencing/citation

- Paragraph formatting

- indented or blank line in between

- Headings and numbering

- Adherence

- little control over formatting

- Simply follow the guide

- Consistency

b) How to format your work

- Automate process

- use in-built styles and automatic numbering

- use the find and replace function

- use of quotation marks: single (x) to y

- Extra white space between words and paragraphs

- Use software (e.g. Endnote) for reference and in-text citations

c) Consistency

- The key to good formatting


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