RS_Grammar_Proofreading and Copyediting

When reviewing your grammar and sentence structure, it can be easy to lose track of individual errors. After all, you have spent more time with your work than anyone else, and after so much time looking at the same sentences, it can be easy to miss mistakes you would otherwise catch. A common strategy for catching these errors is to ask someone else to look over your paper. However, it’s still possible for you to alter the way you read your paper in order to make catching your own mistakes more likely.

An effective strategy for copyediting your own work is to read through your paper in reverse, starting with the very last sentence and working your way back to the first. This keeps you from focusing on the content of your work and frees you to focus on the elements of grammar. Reading backwards also helps you to read more slowly and deliberately, helping you focus on the details you might miss if you were reading more quickly.

As you read, you may want to focus on one mechanic at a time, such as subject-verb agreement or punctuation, or you may review all elements of a single sentence together. Make sure to read slowly, focus on one sentence at a time, and read more complex sentences more than once. Another technique for noticing grammatical issues at the sentence level, covered elsewhere in this guide, is to read these more complex sentences aloud to see how they sound and whether you’re able to follow them.

If the project you’re editing is longer, you might find it useful to break up your edits by section, or leave yourself comments to remind yourself of recurrent errors. Remember to take breaks!


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