How to Self-Edit Like a Pro
I've heard this question many times: Can you take a quick peek at my paper? I really need a second set of eyes on it.
While peer review is a helpful (and necessary) part of being a student and writer, it's important to be conscious of how we can go about successfully self-editing. If you're in a time crunch, or just can't get into a peer's schedule, here are some tips on how to keep your writing cool, calm, and corrected.
Don't ignore your word processor. If something is highlighted in red or green, it's worth taking a look at. Although word processors can be unreliable for many proper nouns, foreign words, etc., they may be picking up on real grammatical or structural errors. If it's wrongly marked, left-click the underlined section and unflag it.
Re-read, re-read, re-read. Have you ever printed an essay, brought it into class, looked down at the first page, and noticed a very obvious typo? Most mistakes can be avoided by re-reading your entire piece at least twice. It's a little time-consuming, but worth it.
Think about your word choice. Just the other day, my word processor corrected the word "fluorescent" into "florescent." While both words are technically correct in their spelling, they mean drastically different things (light vs. flowering). If you're unsure of a word, don't hesitate to look it up in the dictionary for clarification.
Read aloud. Something that sounds good on paper might not sound right when it's spoken out loud. This will help you to ensure that the grammar and overall flow of the piece is in good shape.
Remember formatting rules. What font are you using? What size is it? Do you have citations? Does your piece need to be in MLA or APA format? Asking yourself these questions will reinforce that you are fulfilling the proper guidelines for submission. You don't want a good piece thrown out just because you used Comic Sans!