Revising and Proofreading
A lot of students skip over these steps. But a first draft hardly ever makes for a good essay. You’ll need to go though and tighten the focus and organization, improve the grammar and sentence structures, and scan for typos and mistakes. Editing is a part of essay writing, not something separate or less important.
Good editing takes place in two steps. First is the revision stage, where you pay attention to the large-scale issues. This is where you add and delete sentences, move paragraphs, and rewrite or delete anything that isn’t working or distracts from your thesis. Make sure every paragraph addresses a single idea, and that idea is reflected in the topic sentence. Check your thesis statement—does it accurately reflect what your paper is about? During this stage you’ll also want to pay attention to how the paper sounds. Does it flow well? Are there transitions? Are all the sentences too long or too short, or is there a good variety? And consider the format of your paper—does it look professional?
Then, when you’re happy with the paper as a whole, you can begin to proofread. This involves editing for good grammar and spelling, eliminating unnecessary words, and checking facts, page numbers, and quotes to make sure they’re accurate. This reason you should do this last is that, if you don’t, you might spend a lot of time fixing the grammar in a sentence only to realize later that sentence needs to be deleted because it’s off topic. And remember not to rely on Microsoft to do these tasks for you—spell check doesn’t catch everything, and grammar check is just plain wrong at least half the time.