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Experiment with these strategies to use your editing time more productively.

Once you believe a draft conveys the basic information you want your readers to understand, you can begin attacking it at the sentence level. After working hard to develop the substance of a message, you may be weary of it and eager to turn it over to your instructor. If possible, set the draft aside and work on another assignment before trying to edit it.

Tips to Evaluate Your Work at the Sentence Level

The following techniques can help you critically evaluate your document at the sentence level:

  1. Don't try to copyedit a document all at once. Instead, alternate editing with other activities. For example, try editing after you first wake up, then after lunch, and then before dinner. Are you surprised that you can keep finding ways to improve the document?
  2. There are three strategies you can use to help ignore the content of your message and concentrate solely on grammatical, mechanical, and formatting errors:
    • Try reading your document sentence by sentence backwards
    • Place sheets of paper above and below each sentence in the document as you read through it
    • Place slashes between each sentence and then evaluate each one separately
  3. If you are using a personal computer, try printing the document with a different font, such as size 14 or size 10 point instead of the normal size 12.
  4. Look for mistakes to cluster. When you find one error in paragraph seven, for example, carefully examine the surrounding sentences to see if you had a lapse of concentration when you wrote and copyedited that section.
  5. Look for errors that you often make, such as sentence fragments or subject-verb agreement.