Improving Editing and Proofreading
1. Avoid the false sense of security computers can give you.
Many students believe that grammar check and spell check clean up documents for them. They are helpful tools, but not even close to 100% accurate.See an example of a Microsoft Word spell check-grammar check fail.
2. Recognize why proofreading matters.
Confusing sentences, careless word choice, grammar problems, and missing punctuation get between you and your message. They shape your readers’ perceptions of what you’re like, what you know, and how much you care about your work. Sometimes, they wreck your chances of being understood and taken seriously. Remember that your instructors are human. Poorly proofread documents take much longer to process, and there is no pleasure in reading them. In the real world, proofreading errors can lead to workplace confusion and conflict, extra expenses, and lawsuits.
3. Practice strategies that work and apply them at the right time.
Reading and Proofreading are two different things. Proofreading should be slow, focused, disciplined, and limited to small sections of text (one sentence at a time, for example). A sheet of colored paper works well to block out all but the sentence you’re reading at any one time. Proofreading helps you see the difference between what you wanted to say and what you actually typed.
4. Remember that one read-through is not enough.
The best writers proofread many times. Most writers are better editors and proofreaders than they give themselves credit for, but it is impossible to know if this is true for you if you don’t take the time to read your writing critically and find out. Most writers can solve many of their proofreading problems just by doing the act of re-reading several times on printouts, not on a computer screen.
Feedback from readers is crucial when you write; it helps to have a parent, roommate, or friend read over a paper. However, no one but you knows exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it, and nobody cares as much about your grade as you do. Getting into the proofreading habit keeps you in charge of your own destiny when writing papers.
5. Work with a Writing Coach at The Learning Center.
Writing coaches are not proofreaders. They won’t fix a document for you. They are instructors, who will show you how you can control your own writing. They can help you identify the errors that creep into your writing repeatedly, and help you practice the kind of focused re-reading strategies described above. They can clue you in to what you’re missing, so you won’t miss the same problems in the future.
Getting Help with Citation Styles
APA (American Psychological Association) Style
APA References Style (Hackerhandbooks.com)
APA In-text Citations (Hackerhandbooks.com)
Frequently Asked Questions about APA Style
APA Sample Paper (pdf) (Diana Hacker, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010)
APA Style Blog (Get answers to questions not addressed in the manual)
For Complete APA Style and Citation Advice, Consult the Manual:
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., 2010
UNI reference desk and stacks: BF76.7.P83 2010b
MLA (Modern Language Association) Style
MLA In-Text Citations
MLA List of Works Cited
What's New in MLA Style 8th Edition? (pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions about MLA Style
MLA Sample Paper (pdf)
For Complete MLA Style and Citation Advice, Consult the Manuals:
The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd ed., 2008. UNI Stacks, Reference, and Reserve desks: PN 147 G444 2008
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., Joseph Gibaldi, 2009. UNI Stacks, Reference, and Reserve desks: LB 2369.G53 2009
Note: The MLA Handbook is designed for high school and undergraduate college researchers; the MLA Style Manual focuses on graduate students and professional writers.
NOTE: Chicago offers two different styles: humanities courses often use the footnote system and a bibliography; physical, natural, and social science courses often use the author-date system of in-text citation and a References list. Turabian is a simplified/modified version of Chicago style, so it may not be considered acceptable by all professors requiring Chicago style.
Chicago (16th ed.) Quick Guide
Differences Between Chicago and Turabian (modified, simplified Chicago) Styles
Chicago Manual of Style Online: Questions and Answers
Chicago Sample Paper with Footnotes (pdf)
Chicago Sample Paper using Author/Date System
For Complete Chicago Style and Citation Advice, Consult the Manual:
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., 2017
16th ed. UNI reference desk and stacks: Z253.U69
For Complete Turabian Documentation Advice, Consult the Manual:
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, Kate L. Turabian, 8th ed.
UNI reference desk and stacks: LB2369.T8 2013
ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Guide
CSE (Council of Science Editors) Overview
CSE (Council of Science Editors) Style Guide
Bluebook Legal Citation System Tips
Georgetown Law’s Bluebook Guide
Making the Transition from High School to College Writing
Writing in College vs. Writing in High School
A Guide to Interpreting Assignment Guidelines: Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab