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WOC 059 Editing

Teacher Tips and Answers


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Student Editor


How can broccoli prevent communication? Stick a little between your front teeth, and no one will be able to focus on a thing you say.

An error in writing can be as distracting as a piece of broccoli wedged in incisors. The reader can’t focus on anything else. Consider this example:

I got only parshel credit for my essay.

What’s “parshel?” Does the writer mean “parcel?” What’s “parcel credit?” Or is it supposed to be “partial?”

So, before you publish your work, you’ll want to check it over closely. Look at each sentence, word, and punctuation mark. You’ll use a checklist to find and fix common errors. Editing your work gets rid of distracting mistakes, helping you communicate your ideas.

What’s Ahead

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Quick Guide ■ Editing

Rocket Launch

Editing helps you turn your revised writing into clear, accurate copy. You’re ready to edit once you . . .

  • revise your first draft and
  • create a clean copy of your revised writing.

Using a Checklist

An editing checklist focuses your attention on the common types of errors that you should look for and correct. (See page 64.)

First, closely read your writing, correcting any errors that you notice. Then go line by line through the checklist. When you can answer a question “yes,” check it off. Continue until you have checked each item.


Link to the Traits

Conventions ■

Carefully check your writing for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar.

Use the “Proofreader’s Guide” (pages 478–549) as you edit.

  • Use the table of contents on page 478 to find general subjects, such as punctuation.
  • Use the search function to find specific rules, such as commas.

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Editing in Action

When you edit, ask yourself the following questions. (See page 64 for a complete checklist.)

  • Does each sentence have end punctuation?
  • Does each sentence start with a capital letter?
  • Have I checked for spelling errors?
  • Have I checked commonly misused words (there, their, they’re)?

Marking Changes

The writer of the essay below used editing and proofreading marks to show where changes are needed.

Editing Example Essay

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Common Mistakes

Here are common errors to check for when you edit.

1. Missing Comma in a Compound Sentence

Use a comma between two independent clauses (complete sentences) joined by a coordinating conjunction—and, but, or, nor, for, so, or yet. (See page 484.)

Editing Example

2. Comma Splices

Do not use a comma alone to join two independent clauses. (See page 484.)

Editing Example

3. Missing Commas in a Series

Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses in a series. (See page 482.)

Editing Example

4. Misusing Its and It’s

Its is a possessive pronoun. It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” (See page 518.)

Editing Example

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5. Missing Apostrophe to Show Ownership

Use an apostrophe and s to show ownership. (See page 495.)

Editing Example

6. Sentence Fragment

In formal writing, each sentence must have a subject and a verb and express a complete thought. (See page 82.)

Editing Example

7. Missing Comma After Long Introductory Phrases

Place a comma after a long introductory phrase or phrases. (See page 484.)

Editing Example

8. Subject-Verb Agreement Errors

A verb must agree in number with its subject. A singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb. (See pages 84–85.)

Editing Example

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Use this editing checklist when you edit and proofread your writing. Also refer to “Common Mistakes” on pages 62–63 for other errors to watch for. Remember: You should carefully edit your writing only after you have revised it.

Editing Checklist

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