Editing and proofing your work

Learn editing and proofreading strategies to make sure your work is ready to hand in.

How to check your work

Checking your work is the last step in the writing process. You are checking to ensure that you have communicated the relevant content with clarity and accuracy, used the appropriate style of writing for university, and followed the course guidelines for formatting.

When you check your writing, you are constantly searching for what it is you are saying; you are thinking of the impact your words have on the reader.

Editing your own writing is not the same as correcting someone else’s work. Often by the time you are ready to edit your own, you have probably read your essay so many times that you have trouble noticing the errors.

Some suggestions to help you edit and proofread your writing more effectively:

  • Allow some time to pass between writing and checking.
  • Read your essay, saying sentences aloud or in your head.
  • Look for one error at a time.
  • Make marks in the margin where you are unsure.
  • Check the assignment guidelines in Canvas for any specific recommendations for referencing, style, and formatting.  If you still have questions regarding these, consult with your lecturer.  

A three-step strategy

It is useful to view checking as a three-step process: revising, editing, and proofreading.

This process ensures that you are checking your essay on several levels: content, essay structure, language, style and presentation.

Revising may include adding text, deleting or replacing a text, or moving a whole paragraph around for improved coherence and unity.

Editing is concerned with making changes to smaller sections of your work. Editing involves looking at academic style (including referencing), accuracy of grammar, sentence structure and word use.

When you edit your work, you should be checking for mistakes in your grammar and punctuation, as well as making sure that your sentence structure and vocabulary is appropriate.

Editing checklist:

  • Informative and engaging title.
  • Thesis statement is included.
  • Introduction outlines the writing to come.
  • Content matches the purpose of the writing.
  • Conclusion summarises the writing.
  • Content is accurate and written clearly.
  • There are transitions between the paragraphs.
  • Unnecessary words have been removed.
  • When read aloud, the phrasing is concise and clear.
  • The tone is appropriate to academic writing.

Watch recorded workshop on ‘Editing your work‘.


Proofreading is about the overall appearance of your essay. This includes surface features like layout, spacing, font, consistent use of headings, punctuation and spelling.


Proofreading checklist:

  • Check for typos.
  • Fix any spelling errors.
  • Check all sentences are complete.
  • Check punctuation (e.g., commas, colons, semi-colons, full stops).
  • Check formatting (e.g., correct indentation, justification).
  • Check all referencing (e.g., correct citation style and format).

Additional resources

  • Create a Grammarly Premium account for help with grammar, spelling, style, and tone.
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