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Law School Writing Center

Revising, Editing, Proofreading

Multiple rounds of revising, editing, and proofreading will be necessary - leave yourself sufficient time to complete each stage thoughtfully!

 

What is the difference between revising, editing, and proofreading?

Think large-scale when revising: Look for gaps, inconsistencies, and redundancies in content. Evaluate the organization of your project without worrying at this stage about spelling, punctuation, etc. You might need to cut and paste sections of your writing project to group content that should be discussed together or insert new content to fill in missing links.

Focus on style when editing: Consider your word choice and whether the phrasing you used creates an appropriate tone. For example, did you use contractions, idiomatic expressions, or casual language? Review your grammar, spelling, and punctuation at this stage. Also evaluate the format of the body of your paper and your citations. Editing issues will vary from writer to writer; one person consistently may experience difficulty with parallel construction, while another person may struggle with ambiguous pronouns. Craft a list of editing issues you have encountered in the past and can anticipate tackling again in your new writing project.

Print your paper to proofread: If possible, print a hard copy of your writing project to complete this stage, and use colored pens to mark up the document; subsequently you will transfer your mark-ups to the digital copy of your document. Relying on pen and paper will help you avoid the eye strain and fatigue that result from staring at your computer screen. You also might have an easier time avoiding the distractions that come from the ease of opening new tabs on your screen and falling down the Internet rabbit hole! You cannot look for every type of writing issue simultaneously, so you must give yourself the opportunity to read your paper several times, with each round focused on different writing issues. Take a break between rounds so you are less likely to overlook errors during each round.