Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading are often used to mean the same thing, but they are different processes. Editing is larger scale and looks at the overall structure and argument of your assignment. Proofreading is smaller scale and focuses on correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and referencing. You need to do both for a polished assignment! 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Using a checklist helps you to focus on one thing at a time when reading through your own work. Our ‘Top 5 checklist’ below prioritises the essential things to check in order to give you the confidence to submit your work.

Use a checklist

Using a checklist helps you to focus on one thing at a time when reading through your own work. Our ‘Top 5 checklist’ below prioritises the essential things to check in order to give you the confidence to submit your work.

Read it through twice

Do at least two separate read-throughs of your work:

  1. Check overall argument and coherence;
  2. Check sentence-by-sentence for mistakes and referencing errors.

It is very difficult to edit and proofread at the same time as it will mean your attention is pulled in two directions.

Plan your time

Ideally, you can get a more objective perspective on your work by leaving it a day or two, but this means planning ahead and protecting time for this important stage. See our page on time management for more planning advice:


The main things to check for when editing are: Have you answered the question? Does your introduction and conclusion match what you said you’d do? Do you have one clear topic for each paragraph? Do your paragraphs follow on from each other and build to support your conclusion?

Use your feedback

Make a list of the things you need to work on, or tend to get wrong. Look out for these especially when you are editing. See our page on making the most of your feedback:

Concise writing

A common concern when editing is needing to cut down words to make the word count. See these tips on cutting unnecessary words:


Although you may want to get someone else to proofread your work, it is an important academic skill to develop for yourself too. Many people find it helpful to print out their work when proofreading, as it can be easier to see errors on paper. For more proofreading tips, see this handy guide:

Use Immersive Reader

It is often hard to focus on what we’ve written when reading on a screen. There are many useful features in Immersive Reader, such as a read aloud function, the ability to change the background colour, and the ability to adjust the text spacing between lines and letters. These features can make it easier to focus on the details of your own work to check it through. Watch this video guide to using Immersive Reader in both the desktop version of Microsoft Word and the online Office 365 version:

Read it aloud

Reading your work out forces you to hear what you’ve written not what you think you’ve written. It can also help identify overly long, complex sentences. Give yourself distance from your work by having it read by a screen-reader like NaturalReader or use functions in Word to listen to your document: 

Use grammar checkers cautiously

Microsoft Word and Google Docs both have inbuilt grammar checkers which add a wiggly line under potential mistakes and offer suggestions. It can be helpful to use this function thoughtfully to see where you have made errors so you can correct them. However, trusting them completely and making changes without being aware of why something has been highlighted as an error can cause problems as the suggestion may not convey the meaning you want. Using the inbuilt function to spot errors is a good start, but it is also good to understand why it is grammatically incorrect. The same advice goes for grammar apps like Grammarly. These apps may offer more advanced options than the inbuilt functions in Word, but they can still distort your writing if you accept them without thinking.

Remember your references

Does every in-text reference match with an entry in your reference list? Have you remembered quote marks around any quotations? Do you know how a full reference for a book, article and website should be formatted? Having accurate references will gain marks and avoid any possible problems with plagiarism.

External proofreaders

The University doesn’t have a proofreading service as we want to encourage you to develop your own skills. If you decide to use an external proofreader, make sure they are only checking for mistakes and not editing your content.