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!

    Our top tips

    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

    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, finding it easier to see errors on paper. For more proofreading tips, see this handy guide:

    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.

    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.