So, it's time to edit your paper. After you've addressed higher-order concerns about your argument, organization, and explanations, you can shift focus to lower-order concerns, like editing and proofreading.
We've probably all heard these two terms before, but what are the real differences between those activities? Below is a brief explanation of how these tasks can be applied to revising your own writing:
Once you feel comfortable with what you've written, you can turn your attention to sentence-level editing, which focuses on grammar, punctuation, and mechanics. If you know you have issues with anything in particular (subject-verb agreement, commas, run-on sentences, etc.), try focusing on those first so you can become more familiar with where they come up in your writing and how to address them. If you don't feel as confident about this type of editing, try working with a Writing Center tutor. We can help you understand these issues and give you tips for how to deal with them in future writing.
Proofreading happens at the very end of the writing process when you feel that you're done with your essay and it's time for the final read-through. With proofreading, don't be afraid to go slowly. Look for misspelled, misplaced, or missing words. Since it's often hard to catch these mistakes in your own writing, try reading through your paper backward, sentence by sentence. This allows you to go more slowly and read more carefully. The point of proofreading is to find any last-minute things that need changed before you turn your writing into a teacher, publisher, or boss.
Don't be afraid to edit often and consistently, and save proofreading for last. While these two acts are a little different, both are crucial to the writing process. I promise: it's worth the time!