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Editing and checking Preparing assignments

This stage is to reassure yourself that everything is as it should be and to make any final changes rather than add new material.

Proofreading your assignment

It's important to proofread your assignment before sending it in to be marked. Use these checklists to help you.

General checks

  • Your name and PI (personal identifier) is on every page.
  • The title is given in full on the first page.
  • The pages are numbered.
  • Line spacing is set to 1.5 or 2.
  • Margins are wide enough for a tutor's comments.
  • The word count is given.
  • You've included all the references and set them out in the correct way, check your module guidelines.
  • You've answered all parts of the question.
  • Check you've not repeated any errors or omissions previously pointed out by your tutor.

Spelling, grammar and punctuation checks

Use the spelling and grammar checker on your computer, but also read the script as these checks won't pick up everything, such as the spelling of names and specialised terminology. Also check:

  • The right usage of words such as to, too and two.
  • Correct use of apostrophes, commas, full stops, colons and inverted commas.
  • Correct use of subjects (nouns and pronouns) and verbs.
  • Correct use of tense for your verbs.
  • Do verbs agree with their subject, for example 'the people were ...' not 'the people was ...' because if the subject is singular, the verb must also be singular.
  • Check the length of sentences. Are they too long? Can a longer sentence be split into two shorter ones to make it clearer.
  • Use a question mark for questions and not for statements.
  • Be sure you know the meaning of words you've used and avoid jargon.
  • You've copied any quotations accurately and correctly referenced them.

Style and layout

Look in your assignment guidelines or ask your tutor for information on the use of:

  • headings
  • bullet points and lists
  • I and my, for example 'In my essay I am going to describe ...', instead of 'This essay will describe ...'
  • contractions and abbreviations, for example can't instead of cannot, e.g instead of 'for example'
  • spoken English and colloquialisms or slang, for example 'There are lots of reasons ...' , instead of 'There are a number of reasons ...'
  • rhetorical questions for example 'What are the main causes of criminal behaviour?' instead of 'A number of theories have been put forward to explain criminal behaviour'.

Uses vary depending on the module. If in doubt, it's best to be more formal rather than less formal.

Assignments that use calculations

Have you:

  • shown your workings
  • clearly labelled diagrams and charts
  • included the unit of measurement for your answers
  • clearly shown which section of the question your answer applies to.

Expressing yourself clearly

  • Is there an introduction which relates to the question?
  • Do all the paragraphs have one main idea, introduced in the first (topic) sentence.
  • Is there a clear conclusion?
  • Are any of my sentences too long, with too many clauses? It’s better to have a number of short, clear sentences than long, rambling and ambiguous sentences.
  • Does my writing flow smoothly from one section/paragraph to the next?

Proofreading and editing rules

There's a distinct difference between proofreading and editing. Proofreading is the process of checking for errors and editing is the process of correcting those errors.

It can help to ask a friend to check your assignment before you send it in. You can ask them if the essay was easy to understand. Were there any unclear or ambiguous parts? Could they guess the question by reading the answer without looking at the title?

If you're asking them to proofread your work at the same time, there are some rules to be followed. The use of editing and essay checking websites is not allowed.

Proofreaders can identify, but not correct:

  • spelling
  • typographical errors
  • poor grammar
  • sentence structure
  • formatting issues
  • errors in labelling of diagrams, charts and figures.

Proofreaders can't

  • rewrite or rearrange sentences or passages
  • change words or figures
  • check, rewrite or label calculations, formulae, equations or codes in any way
  • add any content.

If you do have your work proofread by a third party (by that we mean a fellow students, family, friend or professional proofreading service) you must tell us when you submit it and understand that you're responsible for the work you've submitted.

You can't ask another student on the module to check your assignment and, unless it has been specifically agreed, it's not appropriate to send your tutor a draft of your assignment for checking.

If you have concerns you want your tutor to comment on, you can download and fill in the feedback form (RTF, 456 KB) to send in with your assignment. This asks your tutor to provide comments that focus on your concerns.

Proofreading activity

See how many errors you can find in the following activity. There's also a Word version (docx, 41KB) of this activity.

Last updated 4 months ago