The Writing Process Revising Editing and Proofreading Student

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					                        The Writing Process: Revising,
                          Editing and Proofreading
                                                       Student Development Services
                                                          Writing Support Centre
                                                                 UCC 210
                                                          www.sds.uwo.ca/writing


                                                                                                                  1
Writing a first draft is not the last step. To finish writing a text, you must re-examine it time and time again.
                                                   An Editor’s Mindset

                    Essential component of the writing process

                    Similar to, yet different from, drafting

                            Same goals

                            Usually a different process

                            Polishing rather than creating

                    Depends if editing for yourself or a peer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2
Editing is an essential component of the writing process. Few writers are able to arrange their words perfectly on the first try. That said, editing requires a different mindset than does drafting. While the
end result, communicating information to a reader, is the same, your approach will be different. Instead of creating words and sentences, you are rearranging and polishing them. Instead of just getting the
idea down on paper so that you can remember, you must consider the effect that your words will have on the reader.
                                                        Self Editing Issues


                    Give yourself some space...

                    ...But not too much

                    Learn your tendencies

                    What are your goals?



                                                                                                                                                                                                               3
When editing your own work, it is essential that you give yourself some space. You have slaved over the text, and you know your subject better than anyone else, but this can be a problem when you are
polishing your work for readers that are unfamiliar with your subject. Getting away from the text will give you the proper perspective. If you are in a situation where you are writing up to a deadline, even a
couple of hours away from the text can help. That said, you don’t want to leave the text too long. If you are revisiting a text that has been dormant for weeks or even months, you will find that you need to
relearn what you have written. It is always best to finish off projects while you are in the mode. To ease the process of editing your own work, you should identify what issues continually come up when
other people review your work. If you know where you usually have difficulty, you’ll be able to recognize these problems and hopefully correct them on your own.

The most important aspect of reviewing your work is to know why you are doing it, and we will address the different goals of editing shortly.
                                                      Peer Editing Issues



                    Degree of help needed

                    Amount of time before submission

                    Balance criticisms with compliments




                                                                                                                                                                                                                 4
When editing someone else’s work, you should always consider how much help the writer expects and needs. If you feel the text requires some major work, you should determine how this criticism will be
received. You should also consider how much time the writer has before submitting the final copy. If you’re just asked to give a quick read-through the night before a friend hands in his or her thesis, this
isn’t the time to point out major structural changes. In these cases, it is always best to balance criticisms with compliments, because people are always sensitive about their writing, they will be a lot more
open to your suggestions if they feel good about your comments.
                                           Procuring Peer Editors



                    Writers need readers

                    Good editors are worth their weight in gold

                    Don’t abuse them; give them your best work




                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5
Finding editors can be a daunting task, but it is an essential one. Your supervisor, committee members, fellow graduates students, friends and family, all of these people have different areas in which they’ll be
able to help you. A good editor can elevate a text to levels that are just not possible without outside intervention. When giving work to others, it is important to give them your best work so that they can
make your writing as good as possible. Otherwise, they will just spend their time correcting errors that you could have changed on your own.
                                  Layers of Effective Writing

                    4- Content                                                                                    Rewriting
                    3- Organization                                                                               Revising
                    2- Style                                                                                      Editing
                    1- Appearance                                                                                 Proofreading




                                                                                                                                                                                                                     6
In previous presentations, we have discussed the concept of effective writing having 4 distinct layers. When reviewing a text, it is essential to look at ways to improve each layer. Here, we use precise
definitions to describe the areas an editor must focus on. It is best to look at the larger issues in a text first (revising), but the smaller issues (editing and proofreading) should also receive your attention.
We will not discuss fixing the 4th layer in this presentation. If there are fundamental flaws with the content of a text, it is usually best to start the writing process from the beginning than try to fix a flawed
passage.
                                 Revising For Organization



                    Moving around and adding/removing major pieces of
                    text

                    Most important aspect

                    Hard, but rewarding




                                                                                                                                                                                                           7
When we talk about revising, we are talking about improving the fundamental organization of a text. This can involve adding text to strengthen an argument, removing text that is unnecessary and moving
around pieces that are better suited elsewhere. This is the most important aspect of reviewing a text, because you are helping to improve the presentation of the content. Some people find this much
harder than playing with words, but it can be very rewarding to clarify a murky document.
                                           1: Elements of the Text



                    Thesis Statement/Hypothesis/Objectives

                    Introduction/Conclusion

                    Topic Sentences




                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8
Your first concern when revising a text should be to ensure that all of the essential elements of a text are present. Is there a thesis statement, hypothesis, objectives? Is the topic sufficiently introduced and
is there a proper conclusion? Does each paragraph start with a clear topic sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph will be about? This may sound simple, but over the course of writing a text,
these elements are sometimes forgotten.
                                                               2: Logical Flow



                    Linear process: A → B → C → D

                    Does the content build on itself?




                                                                                                                                                                                                              9
Once you’ve looked at the presence or absence of these elements, you should examine whether the content of the text appears in a logical order. This can be quite difficult at first, especially if you are
unfamiliar with a topic. It may take a few reads to see that the reason you are having difficulty understanding the topic is not because of the material, but because of the way it is being explained. When
reviewing your own work, it might be best to construct a reverse outline. This involves breaking down your prose into a few points allowing you to see the barebones of your argument. If the problem is
that you deviated from your initial outline, or that you were not able to communicate the idea effectively, this will become evident.
                                                3: Discipline-Specific
                                                    Conventions


                    “Rules” that are not to be violated

                    E.g. No results in methods, discussion in results
                    (Sciences)




                                                                                                                                                                                                           10
In many disciplines, there are rules about how papers are organized. For example, in the sciences, it is poor form to include any mention of the results of a study when you are describing the methods. The
author might feel like his or her paper needs to arrange the material in this way, but in reality there will be another way to present the material in ways that conform to the disciplinary standards.
                           4: Audience Appropriateness




                    Will the content be clear for the intended audience?




                                                                                                                                                                                                               11
Finally, the content of a text may be arranged in the most logical way, but by reading over the paper, you might feel that the content is inappropriate for the audience the author intends. This can go beyond
simple wording issues and be a matter of content that is too advanced or not follow the logic that a naïve reader might follow.
                                                           Revising Yourself



                    A detached perspective is essential

                    Get to the essence of the text




                                                                                                                                                                                                         12
As mentioned previously, the biggest issue when revising your own text is getting the proper perspective. Reverse outlines and careful objective reading will help you get to the essence of the text.
                                                                 Revising Peers



                    Keep a safe distance

                    Ask specific questions, don’t rewrite




                                                                                                                                                                                                                 13
When revising a peer’s work, it is important to keep a safe distance and not place too much of yourself in the text. Remember that this is not your work. It is best to ask questions, rather than rewrite, at
this point. The author may just need to be prompted and have things pointed out, in order to see how things could be improved.
                                                              Procuring Peers



                     Within-discipline peers are most helpful

                     Outside-discipline peers may need help




                                                                                                                                                                                                                   14
At this stage, readers within your discipline will probably be the most helpful. They are likely already familiar with your topic, and thus they will have an easier time finding holes in your logic. That said,
people outside of your discipline can bring a fresh perspective that looks at your topic in exciting new ways. They can be especially important when writing texts for general audiences.
                                                              Editing for Style


                    Micro-logical aspects of the text

                    Is this readable?

                    What style is appropriate?

                    Do the sentences flow?



                                                                                                                                                                                                              15
When editing for style, it is important to leave all those questions about structure and organization behind. At this stage, you should be asking yourself if the text reads how you intend it to read. You
probably have a good understanding of what you were trying to say, but will a naïve reader be able to make the same conclusions.
                                                                                    Clarity



                    If it can be misinterpreted, it is wrong

                    Make changes to vague, absolute, misleading, and
                    commonly misinterpreted words




                                                                                                             16
The characteristics of clear and concise writing are reviewed in the presentation “Academic Writing Style”
               Conciseness



If words or phrases can be removed while maintaining
meaning, do it

Change passive voice, negative form




                                                       17
                                                 General Editing Tips



                    Read aloud

                    Hard copy vs. Electronic

                    Tracking changes




                                                                                                                                                                                                            18
Some general tips when editing: if you read each sentence aloud, you will force yourself to read each and every word, instead of skipping or skimming. It also allows you to hear the rhythm of your writing,
elucidating awkward sentences. At this stage, you should also decide whether you need to look at a printed out copy, or if you are able to make changes on the screen. Some people feel that they need to
hold the paper and wield the mighty red pen, but others are able to get by with the screen. Recent innovations in word processors have made the process easier, primarily with the introduction of “Tracking
Changes.”
                                                      Tracking Changes




                                                                                                                                                                                                      19
With tracking changes, instead of the confusion of not knowing what text has been added or deleted, the program points out what changes have been made by the editor. The text reads how the editor
intends, allowing an uninterrupted look at the altered text. Give it a try the next time you’re editing someone else’s work.
                                                               Editing Yourself



                    Again, time and space are essential

                    Learn your tendencies




                                                                                                     20
The same principles that cover revising are applicable for editing. Only your focus should change.
                                                       Editing Your Peers



                    Edit, don’t rewrite

                    Keep the spirit, just play with the words




                                                                                                                                                                    21
Again, when editing someone else’s work, it is important to keep their spirit. Unless you are a co-author, you should not put too much of yourself into the text.
                                           Procuring Peer Editors



                     Within discipline: Help with discipline-specific
                     terminology

                     Outside of discipline: Won’t get distracted by content




                                                                                                                                                                                                                  22
At this stage, editors within your discipline will be able to help you with the terminology and writing style of your discipline. People outside your discipline, however, will be able to focus on the writing
style, and not get bogged down by the content. They will likely need some help with terms, but their input can provide a fresh, naïve perspective.
                          Proofreading for Appearance


                    Grammar, spelling, formatting

                    Spellcheck and grammar check are not enough

                    Read each word and sentence carefully

                    Usually the last step



                                                                                                                                                                                                              23
When reviewing a text, its appearance should be your last concern, but that doesn’t mean they should be neglected entirely. Advances in word processors have helped, but they will not sea all mistakes (as
the typo in this sentence demonstrates). You need a careful readthrough in order to pick up these errors.
                                              Proofreading Yourself



                    Best results when rested

                    Learn your common mistakes

                    Last thing you do before handing in or submitting




                                                                                                                                                                                                             24
When proofreading your work, it is essential that you do it with a clear head. A tired mind will skip over entire sections and not notice subtle errors. If you tend to make the same mistakes over and over
again, you can pay special attention to these problem cases or even better, you can proactively avoid these mistakes. This should be the last thing you do before handing in an assignment or draft. You do not
want to be thinking about the strength of your argument or how you organized your conclusion when you only have a short time remaining.
                                      Proofreading Your Peers



                    Only if other aspects are clean

                    Can feel like “piling on”

                    Point out repeated mistakes




                                                                                                                                                                                                              25
While people may ask you to only proofread a paper for them, if you notice larger issues with a text and feel your advice will be received warmly, you should focus on these issues. Cosmetic issues should
be the last concern. If you’ve made substantial structural suggestions to a peer’s work, point out grammatical errors may feel like you are piling on and make your writer less receptive to your comments.
You may also want to take the time to point out where someone is making repeated mistakes and use it as a teachable moment.
                        Procuring Proofreading Peers


                    Within-Discipline: Can be a waste

                    Outside-Discipline:

                           Anal retentive friends

                           Essential for ESL students



                                                                                                                                                                                                            26
Having experts in your field proofread a paper may be a waste of their valuable time. This may be the exception to leaving proofreading until the end. You may want to have a friend proofread a paper
before giving it to an expert reader to make sure the text is as good as it can possibly be. Peer proofreading is an essential part of the writing process for ESL writers. There are just so many subtle
conventions and unwritten rules that a native speaker can use to help a non-native writer.
                                 General Proofreading Tips


                    Read aloud

                    Read line-by-line and/or backwards

                    Watch every comma (and other punctuation)

                    Hard copy vs. Electronic



                                                                                                                                                                                                             27
In general, reading aloud forces you to read each word, essential when proofreading. Isolating each line with two pieces of paper will force your to look at the smaller issues and not allow your mind to
jump ahead. Likewise, reading backwards will keep you from thinking too much about the upcoming content. Commas are a mark that people often have trouble with, so you should make sure that each
mark is appropriate in each situation. Again, you should decide whether you work best looking at text on the screen or if you need to print out a copy.
                                                                        Final Notes



                    Take a break in the middle

                    Review multiple drafts

                    Be nice to your editors




                                                                                                                                                                                                               28
For some final advice, it is important to note that reviewing a text is hard work that requires a lot of concentration. You will see the best results when you are relaxed and rested, so if you find yourself
getting frustrated or tired, take a break and come back to them later. You should always review multiple drafts as you will not find all the mistakes the first time, and sometimes the changes you suggest do
not accomplish what you thought they might. Finally, you should be nice to your editors (ie. Give them good work, not ask too much of them) because losing a good editor will make your work suffer.

				
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