Proofreading

by Brock

Proofreading is easily one of the most cumbersome stages of writing.  Nobody wants to do it. Nobody likes it.  It’s outright boring.  Regardless of these feelings, it must be done. People make mistakes, their mind thinks quicker than their hands can type, they pause writing and start later.  Whatever the cause of mistakes, there is almost always at least one way a paper can benefit from proofreading.

During proofreading, you can fix grammar mistakes, improve clarity, realize a different organization might work better, and notice logical or citation mistakes.  The purpose of proofreading would suggest that this is a process best done at the end of writing but before you turn in the paper.  You don’t want to turn in a paper and realize that you made a bunch of mistakes that your professor marked, such as a run-on sentence that comprises an entire paragraph, and then realize that your grade dropped because of your silly mistakes that could have easily been avoided by taking the time to proofread your paper and then you would wish you took the time to fix these mistakes so your paper was the very best that you could do because you are a student who is fully capable of producing excellent pieces of work.

Proofreading is not something to be rushed.  I get it – the last thing you want to do after writing a paper all night is to spend more time looking at it to find where you could make improvements.  You’re over the paper and don’t even want to look at it again until your professor hands it back to you.  You may think it’s as simple as running spell check and printing it.  Remember, though, that there is much more to accomplish through thorough proofreading than fixing grammar mistakes.  Set aside a good amount of time for proofreading and your patience will be rewarded.  This may mean that you need to finish your paper more than an hour before you turn it in, but in doing this you have a reason to reward yourself.

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So, a few tips on how to proofread would be helpful.  Each person has different strategies, so some might work for you and others might not.

The first tip is to read your paper backwards.

What?! Are you crazy! Well yes, I am, but this is a trick that works.  When you read your paper forward, your mind is trained to read right over what you wrote, expecting everything to be in its place.  By reading from the end to the beginning, you focus more on your word choice and sentence structure.  This is a good strategy to identify grammatical problems, especially the ones that spell check does not recognize.

Another tip is to separate yourself from your work.

What I mean is to write your paper and then walk away from it.  Take this time to relax and do something you enjoy.  Go play with your dog, Pundit, who is an absolute angel. Watch a movie. Do whatever you want. But whether you step away for an hour or a few days, you will notice that it is easier to read through your paper and identify areas to work on.  The more time spent away, the better this works because you let your mind get away from the stresses and ideas that produced the original work.  You enter the paper with a fresh mind and new perspective after having more time to process your ideas.

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The Learning Hub has a handout on editing and proofreading (see below) that covers these strategies as well as others.  It is a great resource if you want to improve your proofreading skills.  Also helpful are our other handouts on topics ranging from grammar to citations.  If you find yourself looking to reaffirm your knowledge or learn new skills, these handouts are amazing resources. The Hub is also giving a workshop later this semester on editing, revising, and writer’s block that will be taking place April 16th and 17th.

Hopefully you’ve broken your bad writing habits this month! Stay tuned for a post tomorrow kicking off our March theme. Hint: it’s gonna be MADNESS!

Carving and Serving Your Turkey

Throughout the month of November, The Learning Hub will be discussing how undertaking preparing and cooking the turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner is like going through the various stages of the writing process. This video? Carving and Serving your turkey – it’s like going through the revising and editing step of the process, and Patrick goes over Office 365 and Microsoft Word’s grammar assistance functionality.

 To learn more about how you can come up to The Hub for appointments, visit our website where you can find our contact information, helpful resources, and lots of other information!

Writing Madness Consolation Bracket #2 – Revising/Editing!

The first round of our Writing Madness bracket has concluded, which left us with eight writing issues that won’t be participating in the next round of voting. The Learning Hub’s writing staff have picked four of these eight, and over the next week we will be presenting them along with specific resources to help you overcome your frustrations with them. This time? Revising/Editing!

by Alec

In high school, when I thought of revising and editing I often thought of them together. In fact, it’s no coincidence that they’re listed together in our Writing Madness bracket for March. They’re the things we know we’re supposed to do after writing to make sure that we don’t sound silly, right? Technically, yes, but as the presence of “Revising/Editing” in this challenge suggests, most of us have a complicated relationship with the post-drafting process of writing. It might even be news to some readers that revising and editing are two very different things. Although this short writing won’t do justice to the handouts, let’s go over the different between the two.

Revising, in an academic setting, is the process of taking a second look at your paper on the global level. What we mean by “global” is ensuring that all the major components that need to be there are there. This, for example, includes ensuring that you have met the assignment criteria, that the core parts of your argument are present, that you’ve presented those parts in an organized and patterned manner, and that your overall presentation is clear for your audience. These pieces often serve as the backdrop of your paper and are the things that your audience will, most likely, never truly appreciate. They will, however, know something is amiss if they are gone or haven’t been properly checked.

Editing, which we often call proofreading, is the process of making your work neat and consistent at the sentence level. This includes, but is not limited to, spelling, punctuating, citations, and formatting. Editing is important because it ensures that the work you have created meets some form of writing standards, set by you or your professor, so that your audience can appreciate a distracting-free read.

In the handouts attached you can explore the details of each of these processes and explore strategies for you to implement them into your own writing process. Although we often think of Editing and Revising as frivolities that would be nice if we have time to do them, they are often the difference between your audience thinking about your topic or thinking about your errors. Which do you think your audience prefers to be thinking about?

Revising

Editing

If you click on the link below, it will take you to our home site, where you can check out other resources to improve your writing skills and prepare you for academic, professional, and civic writing.

UIS The Learning Hub Handouts

Writing Madness Consolation Bracket #1 – Commas!

The first round of our Writing Madness bracket has concluded, which left us with eight writing issues that won’t be participating in the next round of voting. The Learning Hub’s writing staff have picked four of these eight, and over the next week we will be presenting them along with specific resources to help you overcome your frustrations with them. First up? Commas!

by James

The mysterious, perplexing, and maddening comma.  When do we use it?  When do we not use it?  It is a strange little piece of punctuation which helps avoid accidental cannibalism.  What do I mean?  Well consider this phrase “let’s eat, Grandma”.  Pretty harmless no?  Well take out the comma and the sentence becomes “let’s eat Grandma”.  Seeing as eating elders is frowned upon in our society you can see why the comma is important.  Yet, sometimes, it is hard, to tell, how many commas, one should use.  Clearly that sentence had too many.  For more information regarding commas please take a look at our handout below.  Despite being rather mystifying comma’s are not nearly as maddening as Citations, which was one of this week’s winners.  Check in soon for the next round or Writing Madness!

If you click on the link below, it will take you to our home site, where you can check out other resources to improve your writing skills and prepare you for academic, professional, and civic writing.

UIS The Learning Hub Handouts