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Skills for Learning: Editing & Proofreading


Editing is an important part of the academic writing process. This is where you check your work and make changes to improve your final submission. It takes time to edit your work. Good quality editing always equals higher marks!

A simple explanation of editing and proofreading is that it is a two-step process:

  • A general check of content and structure. 
  • A final proofread for issues with spelling, grammar, punctuation and referencing.

In reality, editing and proofreading can be more circular. You might edit, check, do something else, then come back and review your work again! With longer assignments, such as dissertations and major projects, you can edit and proofread each section as you work on the next. Think about how you like to work, then schedule the time you need for this.

We run interactive workshops to help you develop your writing skills. Find out more on the Skills for Learning Workshops page.

We have online academic skills modules within MyBeckett for all levels of university study. These modules will help your academic development and support your success at LBU. You can work through the modules at your own pace, revisiting them as required. Find out more from our FAQ What academic skills modules are available?

Editing and proofreading top tips

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Always plan to finish an assignment a couple of days before the deadline. That way, you can take a break from your work before you start to edit and proofread. You’re much more likely to notice issues that need resolving if you’ve had time away. Our Assignment Calculator will help you factor in time for this step. If you haven't already, consider any feedback you have been given about previous assignments. Download the Feedback Action Plan Worksheet to help you.

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Have you included key information about your topic? Have you provided evidence for all the points you have made? Have you explained why that evidence is relevant? Asking yourself questions about your own work can help you to be more objective. Download the Academic Writing Checklist Worksheet to help you.

You can also reflect on this and develop your skills by watching a recording of our Writing Academically interactive workshop below.

It sounds obvious, but it’s vital to check that you have followed the assignment brief. If you miss part of the question, you are likely to lose marks. Similarly, you can lose track and answer a slightly different question than the one set. An easy way to check this is to use the PEAL paragraph structure. See our PEAL interactive activity at the bottom of this page. Your ‘link’ sentences at the end of each paragraph should address the topic clearly. If they don’t, then you need to make changes to ensure your argument is focussed. Download the PEAL Paragraph Structure Worksheet to help you.

You can review the overall structure of your assignment using reverse outlining. Download the Reverse Outlines Activity Worksheet to help you.

Your job in an assignment is to show that you have understood the course content. When marking your work, tutors will notice problems with spelling, grammar and formatting first. If you minimise these errors, you will communicate your ideas better, thus increasing your marks. Spend time ensuring your layout is consistent, paying attention to fonts, paragraphing and headings. You can also use editing software to check for grammar, punctuation and spelling issues. We recommend Grammarly.

Sounding ‘academic’ isn’t about using long, complicated words and lengthy sentences. Rather, what’s most important is that you get your point across. If you re-read a sentence and aren’t sure what it means, you need to simplify it. After all, your tutors won’t give out marks for ideas they can’t understand. The Hemingway App can help you write in a clear and concise way. You can also check text in Grammarly for clarity and style.

Reading your work aloud is another way to check whether it makes sense. There is a 'Read Aloud' tool in Word which will read text whilst you listen.

When you finish writing an assignment, checking your references might be the last thing you feel like doing. But referencing accurately (both in-text citations and the reference list) is an easy way to impress your tutor and gain marks. Follow our LBU referencing guide Quote, Unquote to avoid unnecessary mistakes. Our Referencing and Plagiarism pages contain detailed information about referencing and referencing management software. 

Check the reporting verbs used when you cite sources in the text. In particular, check for over-use of your favourites! Download our Reporting Verbs Worksheet to help you.

To focus on developing your Harvard LBU referencing skills, you can also watch a recording of our interactive workshop below.

Be careful if you ask someone else to proofread your work. This can cross a line where they edit or change your words. This would be a breach of the the Academic Integrity regulations (Collusion). If you are in any doubt, speak to one of your module tutors or request an appointment with the Library Academic Support Team for advice on how to approach editing and proofreading. 

Artificial intelligence tools

Before using any generative artificial intelligence or paraphrasing tools in your assessments, you should check if this is permitted on your course.

If their use is permitted on your course, you must acknowledge any use of generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT or paraphrasing tools (e.g., Grammarly, Quillbot, etc.), even if you have only used them to generate ideas for your assignment or for proofreading.



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This is because Skills for Learning live events have finished for this academic year. You can find recordings of sessions that ran this year on a range of topics on our Building on Feedback page.

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