Editing and proofreading

Presentation / format

  • Have you checked what the requirements are?
  • Have you used the font type, size and line spacing required by your lecturer?
  • Is it printed on A4 paper, on one side only?
  • Are the margins 3-4cm on the left-hand side?
  • Is an abstract/executive summary required?
  • Do you need a title page or cover page?
  • Have you complied with the word-count? (Don't include the reference list in the word- count)

Is your writing correct?

  • Checked for spelling mistakes?
  • Names, dates, and quotes accurately reflect those in your reference list?
  • Facts and statistics are clearly stated and correct?
  • Have you used words that you understand?
  • If in doubt, use a dictionary!
  • Have you avoided using "I" in your essay? (some assignments require personal opinion be sure you know what your lecturer prefers)
  • Have you deleted unnecessary words?
  • For example, 'round' instead of 'round in shape', 'summer' instead of 'summer months'.
  • Have you avoided using bullet points? (some assignments may allow them – check!)
  • Have you chosen the right words, e.g. do you want 'accept' or 'except'?
  • Have you written in a consistent tense throughout, i.e. past, present or future tense?
  • Have you used inclusive language?
  • This is writing that does not suggest bias or prejudice, e.g. avoid 'mankind' where you refer to 'society' or 'human beings' or 'people'.
  • Have you used passive or active voice?
  • Have you checked for repetition of information?

Is your punctuation correct?

  • Apostrophes show ownership e.g. the researcher's strategy (one researcher), OR the researchers' strategy (many researchers)
  • Apostrophes indicate missing letters, e.g. Who's coming = Who is coming.
  • Commas to signal a break?
  • Full stops at the ends of sentences?
  • Capital letters at the beginning of sentences?
  • Apostrophes are NOT needed when indicating plural, e.g. tests, books, houses, UNLESS to show ownership (see above)

Have you checked for homophones?

These are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings, e.g.

  • whether / weather
  • course / coarse
  • here / hear
  • there / their / they're
  • sure / shore
  • where / wear

Have you avoided the use of slang and unnecessary jargon?

  • Slang = fine in conversation but unsuitable in formal writing, e.g. 'guys' (people or men), 'fridge' (refrigerator), 'footy' (football).
  • Jargon = specialised words or phrases used in a particular profession or field (avoid unless it is appropriate in the context).


  • Have you used the right referencing style?
  • Have you referenced any idea that is not yours, including summaries, paraphrases and quotes?
  • Is your reference list accurate and in the required style?
  • Does your reference list contain all material cited in your assignment?

Final review

Introduction: Have you…

  • Addressed the question?
  • Used words from the question?
  • Clearly stated your argument and the points that will be covered in the essay?
  • Defined any key terms?
  • Avoided using "I" statements throughout? (some assignments require you to use "I" – be sure to check your lecturer's requirements)
  • Checked word-count requirements, and is your introduction about 15% of the total length?

Body: Have you…

  • Begun each paragraph with topic sentences?
  • Focused on just one point in each paragraph?
  • Written several sentences for each paragraph and supported your claims with evidence?
  • Referenced all sources of information, ideas and quotations using the method required?
  • Covered all points or issues in a logical sequence?
  • Checked that length is about 75% of the total?

Conclusion: Have you…

  • Ensured there is no new material in it?
  • Summarised the main points?
  • Checked that your final statements match the question or topic covered in the introduction?
  • Put your argument back in a wider context?
  • Checked that length is about 10% of the total?

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