Up until now I’ve been saying ignore any spelling and grammar errors because I didn’t want you to spend time fixing them if you were going to turf them out in the review stage. (Time is too precious.)
Now start looking at those red and green lines and get rid of them (but don’t always believe that your spell and grammar checkers are correct). Check your sentence structures. Make sure you have spelt the words correctly. Find suitable transition words and phrases to help you move from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. Fix your punctuation.
This process can take some time, but it’s where your draft becomes a piece of writing. Stage 5 is the time to make your writing the best piece you can possibly create. It’s also a goodtime to recheck that everything is there and in the right place.
Some common errors people make that you can check for at this stage
- Verb and subject agreement
- Overuse of particular words or expressions
- Unclear relationships between sentences and paragraphs
- Too many ideas in a paragraph
- Unclear reference words—do you know what they refer to?
- Overuse of vague qualifiers (for example, quite, as in Quite a few people responded. Be specific.)
- Use of jargon that your audience might not be familiar with
- Overuse of passive voice
Stage 6—Final Stage—Proofreading
This is it; you’re almost finished. Now it’s time to polish away those last few greasy fingerprints.
First take a break. You will have read your writing so many times by now that your brain thinks it knows what is on the page, so it may be difficult to see your errors unless you create some distance. At least 15 minutes, but an hour, or even a day or week is better if you have the time.
Read your work out loud. Word by word. This will help you hear if you have used any words too often, or if you’ve missed out a word. It will also help you see your mistakes.
Things to watch out for
- Common homonyms (words that sound the same) and typos. You know the ones. Should it be:
- Too, to or two
- For or four
- It’s or its
- Piece or peace
- There, their or they’re
- Hear or here
- Who’s or whose
- He or the
- Affect or effect
- Advise or advice
- License or licence
Make sure that you have both opening and closing parentheses and quote marks.
Delete words you don’t need.
If you have used UK English, make sure everything is UK English. Same for US English. Check for consistency.
When you’re happy that everything is correct, walk away and start your next project.