Writing is a process, which means a paper is rarely, if ever, finished after the first draft. Once the writer has finished the first draft of the assignment, it is time to begin editing and proofreading this draft. These are steps that are necessary to make the paper a polished, error-free final copy that truly represents the student’s abilities as a writer.
Editing is improving upon the actual writing form. Is the thesis statement clear? Can more details be added? Can the writing be made clearer and easier for the reader to understand? Does the vocabulary need to be improved or otherwise changed? Do sentences or whole paragraphs need to be rearranged or omitted? Did the author use sentences that make for smooth transitions between paragraphs? These are some of the questions the writer needs to ask himself or herself when editing a paper. Do not be afraid to cross out words or sentences, draw arrows, highlight, or make other stray marks. The goal is to make the paper the best it can be, not to have a neat looking first draft.
Proofreading for commas and capitalization is another necessary step in the writing process. Knowing the rules for where commas are required will make it easier to proofread for them. However, it is perfectly acceptable to use a guide that specifies the rules of comma usage when proofreading. When checking for capitalization mistakes, remember that the first letter of every sentence, as well as proper nouns need to be capitalized.
After the essay has been proofread, it is always helpful to print it out, double-spaced, and check over it again one more time. Having a friend or family member also check it over with fresh eyes may help to catch mistakes that were missed. Only print out a final copy when all errors, no matter how insignificant they may seem, have been corrected. The writer should be proud to hand in the final copy.