Revise, Edit, Proofread


Revising, editing and proofreading are all an essential part of writing your research project. Investing time in this part of the process will improve the quality of your work, and hopefully the grade you receive. Revising, editing and proofreading will help you look critically at your work before submitting it for assessment. You can learn more about managing your time and your project in the Managing Your Project section.

Video - What strategies would you recommend when revising, editing and proofreading? View video using Microsoft Stream (link opens in a new window, available for University members only).

Before you start this process it’s a good idea to consider any feedback you have received for your past assignments. Are there any common issues that you are aware of? If so, then you can be prepared to spend time ensuring that you have addressed these in your research project.

You might find it useful to work from the printed page rather than from a screen.



Revising your work is the first step in the process. This concerns the ‘big picture’ or the main focus of your research. This step will consider, not only the content of your project, but also the structure, your argument and relevancy, as well as criticality.

The most important aspect to focus on is: have I answered my research question?

  • Read your introduction and conclusion - do your chapters reflect the outline presented in your introduction? Similarly, consider your conclusion; do you come to a sensible and logical conclusion based on the arguments and evidence you have presented throughout your project?

  • Create a reverse outline - this can help you to identify issues with the structure of your ideas and/or arguments, the order and relevance of your paragraphs, whether paragraphs contain more than one main idea, repeat the same idea or have no point or main idea

    • Start with a complete draft or you can use a partial draft to review the organisation of the paragraphs you have written so far
    • Construct the outline by listing the main idea of each paragraph in your draft in a blank document. If a paragraph's topic sentence provides a succinct version of the paragraph's argument, you can paste that sentence into the outline as a summary for that paragraph. Otherwise, write a one-sentence summary to express the main point of the paragraph
    • Number your list for ease of reference

    • List adapted from Reverse Outlines: A Writer's Technique for Examining Organizations by The Writing Center, University of Madison - Wisconsin, 2017.

  • Finally, make sure that all your ideas, claims, arguments, assertions are evidenced, with the literature you have sourced and/or with primary research you have collated



The editing part of the writing process ensures that your writing is clear and easy to follow, and written to an academic standard.

In the editing process it can help to focus at sentence level. Therefore, some of the questions you considered in the revising process about your paragraphs and chapters can be adapted to sentence level. Ask yourself whether your sentences:

  • Demonstrate the structure of your argument?

  • Link together and add to the flow of your argument?

  • Support your overall argument and ultimately help to answer your research question?

  • Are concise and to the point. Have you used unnecessary words/phrases that don’t add anything to your argument?

At this stage it is also important to think about the language you are using. Ask yourself:

  • Have you used formal and academic language? Have you avoided colloquialisms or clichés?

  • Have you used appropriate transitions, where relevant, to guide your reader effectively through your arguments?

  • Have you used the active or the passive voice? Is this suitable for your piece of work and the guidelines you have been given by your School?

You can look at the Writing Up Your Project section for more advice on this.

You may also find the Manchester Academic Phrasebank a useful resource to help to ensure your language is academic and appropriate for a research project.

Try to provide enough time in your schedule to leave at least a day between edits. This will help to give you some perspective and objectivity about what you have written.



Proofreading your work is your final check. It is important that you do this yourself; the University of Leeds has a proofreading policy which states that only the person writing the piece of work should proofread it.

Proofreading focusses on the accuracy and detail of your work so you will be looking at:

  • Punctuation

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Abbreviations

  • Layout

  • Referencing

You might find it useful to proofread a number of times focussing on one aspect of the above at any one time.

Some questions that you could ask yourself when proofreading are:

  • Have I been consistent in my use of tenses and vocabulary?

  • Have I used a consistent style to present figures, data, tables, page numbering and content lists?

  • Have I used the correct referencing style for my school and are my references consistent?

  • Are there any requirements from my School about formatting, font size, tenses etc?

Because you are so familiar with your research project, it can be easy to miss any errors you have made. Here are some techniques that might help you to identify any issues:

  • Read your work aloud. This can help you to identify missed words, confusing sentences, and incorrect grammar

  • Read your work in a different order. You might decide to start with your conclusion first and end with your abstract

  • Make use of technology. Spelling and grammar checks can be useful, but will not pick up mistakes such as homographs e.g. their, they're, there

  • Make sure you leave enough time. This will improve the quality of your writing

Video - Did you proofread your work? View video using Microsoft Stream (link opens in a new window, available for University members only).