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Editing is what you begin doing as soon as you finish your first draft.You reread your draft to see, for example, whether the paper is well-organized, the transitions between paragraphs are smooth, and your evidence really backs up your argument. Have you supported each point with adequate evidence?No matter what editing service you need, we can manage tasks of any complexity.
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Is your use of gendered language (masculine and feminine pronouns like “he” or “she,” words like “fireman” that contain “man,” and words that some people incorrectly assume apply to only one gender—for example, some people assume “nurse” must refer to a woman) appropriate?
Have you varied the length and structure of your sentences? Does your writing contain a lot of unnecessary phrases like “there is,” “there are,” “due to the fact that,” etc.?(See our handout on paragraph development.) Have you defined any important terms that might be unclear to your reader? (One way to answer this question is to read your paper one sentence at a time, starting at the end and working backwards so that you will not unconsciously fill in content from previous sentences.) Is it clear what each pronoun (he, she, it, they, which, who, this, etc.) refers to?Have you chosen the proper words to express your ideas?For example, if you notice that you often discuss several distinct topics in each paragraph, you can go through your paper and underline the key words in each paragraph, then break the paragraphs up so that each one focuses on just one main idea.Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process, focusing on surface errors such as misspellings and mistakes in grammar and punctuation.Do you repeat a strong word (for example, a vivid main verb) unnecessarily?(For tips, see our handouts on style and gender-inclusive language.) Have you appropriately cited quotes, paraphrases, and ideas you got from sources? (See the UNC Libraries citation tutorial for more information.) As you edit at all of these levels, you will usually make significant revisions to the content and wording of your paper.Keep an eye out for patterns of error; knowing what kinds of problems you tend to have will be helpful, especially if you are editing a large document like a thesis or dissertation.Once you have identified a pattern, you can develop techniques for spotting and correcting future instances of that pattern.This handout provides some tips and strategies for revising your writing. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, editing and proofreading are two different stages of the revision process.To give you a chance to practice proofreading, we have left seven errors (three spelling errors, two punctuation errors, and two grammatical errors) in the text of this handout. Both demand close and careful reading, but they focus on different aspects of the writing and employ different techniques.