Edit and proofread effectively

What is editing and proofreading?

Editing is a way of cleaning up the text that focuses on the “big picture” of your piece of writing to ensure that content is relevant and logically organised.

  • You’ll be editing the content of your writing to check that it has addressed the writing purpose(s) and/or addressed the assignment topic.
  • You can edit to add, change, delete or re-organise content like evidence, ideas, vocabulary, sentences, paragraphs and visual representations.

Proofreading focuses on the “up close picture”, the specific expression and language features of your writing.

  • You’ll be proofreading for accuracy in grammar, punctuation, spelling, citations and formatting.

It is essential that you edit and proofread your writing to ensure effective communication. This means that you make sure that your writing has relevant content, logical organisation and clear expression as well as fulfills its purpose(s). Editing and proofreading applies to coursework assignments and thesis writing as well as other academic writing like journal articles and presentations.

While you may get feedback from teaching staff in the form of edits, the person with the primary responsibility for editing and proofreading your writing is you. Editing and proofreading your own writing is also essential to your academic integrity: you are responsible for ensuring you have correctly cited the resources you have used in writing.

The writing process can be imagined as a cycle. Although we’ll only be focussing on the skills for editing and writing, you should be aware of where these important steps fit into the whole writing process.

Examine the writing process cycle in the image below. You can see that editing and proofreading occur at steps 2 and 3, after a draft has been written and before you give it to a reader for feedback and further revision. The arrows in the image indicate that the whole writing process is reiterative – this means that you may go through the entire writing cycle a few times before you are satisfied with the final piece of writing.

The editing cycle: Organise, write and revise, edit, proofread, give to reader, get feedback, think and reflect, repeat

Editing and proofreading your work involves a careful methodical process. Download the Editing and proofreading checklist to help you review your work effectively. Title of the document

There are three stages of editing and proofreading the Big Picture View, the Middle View and the Close-up View. This resource will lead you through what to do in the different stages.