Editing and proofreading are key parts of the assignment process as they ensure your ideas are communicated effectively to your audience. While your research and ideas may be amazing, your overall work will suffer if your writing contains errors and cannot be read or understood.

In brief, effective editing and proofreading involves:

  • Editing for content, structure and style errors during the writing process, ideally after each draft
  • Proofreading your final draft for submission, making sure to pick up any missed grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors
  • Reviewing your reference list carefully, as the placement of capitals, italics, commas and periods are crucial and may be different with each referencing style
  • Using the range of editing tools available to you to ensure that your writing is at an appropriate level for academic work.


Ideally, editing happens during the assignment process between drafts. Editing as you go ensures that your work is cohesive, well-structured, and that the content addresses the assignment task and marking rubric. It requires as much focus as the other steps in the assignment process.

Tips for editing effectively include:

  • Give yourself space from your work: Before editing, ensure you haven’t looked at your assessment for at least 20 minutes. The time away from your work means you will return with fresh eyes and be able to notice errors you may have missed previously.
  • Read your work out loud: Your assignment should sound mostly natural when read out loud. If you stumble over sections or they sound strange, consider making an edit to that section.
  • Look at one element at a time: If you look for every element simultaneously, you have a higher chance of missing errors or forgetting important considerations. You should review your work multiple times, looking for a different element each round.

There are multiple elements to consider when editing: content, structure and style. These should each be done separately, meaning you are editing your work with a different focus each time.

Content editing

Content editing refers to reviewing what the document says.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Structural editing

Structural editing refers to how the content is organised. The goal here is to make sure your ideas are in a logical order and clearly identifiable.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Information about effectively structuring assignments and paragraphs can be found in the Writing structure guide.

Style editing

Editing for style is examining how your content and ideas are expressed. It focuses on sentence clarity and making your writing readable.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Common mistakes

There are a range of common content, structure and style mistakes in writing that should be edited to improve your writing.

In some cases, word substitution can be considered academic misconduct.

When you are integrating a source through paraphrasing, summarising or synthesising, you will need to do more than simply swap words in a sentence. You can adopt a scholarly tone in your writing without having to replace every single word in a sentence.

Content to come.

Content to come.

When conveying complex ideas and analysis, sentences can become convoluted, hard to read, or difficult to understand.

Here are some examples:

  • Is artificial intelligence on employees mentally unhealthy?
  • The results showed that the data from the results could not be the result for the population.
  • Whilst programming an AI model, the potential of programming the model might have an impact on innovation and efficiency.
  • The question to consider is that a positive outcome? Damage from AI is affecting creatives and jobs which is greater than the good but it can save lives.

Above are examples of confusing written expression. They are vague and don’t provide meaningful information. Including this much information makes it hard to follow and understand, even when read more than once.

How to fix: Review your work for sentences that are difficult to follow, where the meaning is unclear, and where there are repeated words. Once identified, break the sentence into smaller sentences or rewrite it into a clearer, more straightforward passage. Linking words and sentence construction can assist with this.

Knowing which pieces of information need evidence can be difficult, so unfounded claims can sometimes slip under the radar. You will need to provide evidence for any claims you make that can be contested.

Here are some examples:

  • “AI development will lead to the end of humanity.”
  • “Using AI, doctors have saved lives.”
  • “While it is true that technology can lead to social isolation and dependency, it also offers numerous benefits.”

Although these statements may be believable, they are assumed knowledge or cannot be proven. You need to provide evidence to add legitimacy or prove that the statement is true.

How to fix: Look through your written work for personal experience or beliefs, widely assumed knowledge, and statements where you have made a claim but provided no evidence to support this. Once identified, provide a citation for these sentences or remove the sentence completely.


Proofreading is a final check where you read through the final draft and look for any grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting errors. In this process, you ensure consistency and accuracy before submitting your assessment.

When proofreading, look for the following things:

*Note: this point doesn’t apply when writing a reflective assessment.

Reference lists

As each referencing style has its own rules around reference punctuation and formatting, you must also proofread this portion of your assessments. This includes:

  • Different words and elements requiring different capitalisation styles within the same reference list entry
  • The specific placement of punctuation marks, such as periods and commas
  • Different elements underlined or in italics.

For further details on the layout of punctuation and styling, download the referencing checklist from your relevant referencing style guide and view the components and formatting of each resource type.

Common mistakes

Some errors in grammar and punctuation can be easy to miss when proofreading. Ensure you pay attention to these areas to avoid common mistakes.

Commas are only needed to separate different items, set off introductory phrases, or indicate pauses for clarity. If over-used, it disrupts the flow of sentences and creates awkward pauses where they aren’t needed.

Example: “The artificial intelligence field is rapidly expanding, with new developments, and breakthroughs occurring regularly, impacting various industries. Researchers are exploring innovative applications, and technologies, pushing the boundaries. Despite challenges, artificial intelligence continues to shape the future, and its potential is limitless.”

How to fix: Read your work out loud, pausing at each comma. Do these pauses feel natural? Sometimes, pairs of comma are used to offset unnecessary information. If you removed the words between the commas, would the sentence still make sense and convey the same meaning?

Run-on sentences are long sentences that make it difficult to follow what is being said. In most cases, it becomes tricky to pick out which information is most important. You can identify these sentences when reading your work out loud.

Example: “Artificial intelligence is a significant development in technology and in global spheres, causing concern for what it might do to certain industries, including healthcare, education, entertainment and more, these may be disrupted and face huge consequences as the technology is adopted, but could also experience benefits.”

How to fix: Split the sentence into multiple smaller ones or remove excess information.

Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences that can appear anywhere during your work when a thought is left unfinished or a sentence is missing a crucial piece of information.

Here are some examples:

  • Like a virtual brain that learns, predicts, and solves problems.

How to fix: Add additional words to pad out the sentence or rewrite another sentence to include the information in the fragment. View the sentences explained section in the academic writing guide for more information on sentence structure.

Editing tools

When editing and proofreading your work, you may like to utilise a tool to assist with spotting errors, tweaking flow, and/or suggesting improvements.

Most word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Google Docs, have access built-in editing tools. Ensure that the language used by these tools is set to English (Aus). If unavailable, English (UK) can be used as it is the closest equivalent.

Ensure you check and approve/deny these suggestions before submitting your assessment.

Track changes is a function in word processing programs that allows you to see all changes made to a document. These changes are non-permanent and let you preview the final product before accepting and finalising any edits.

To use track changes effectively in Word, do the following:

  1. Turn on the track changes function by selecting the ‘Review’ tab and selecting ‘Track Changes’.
  2. Begin editing by typing anywhere in the document or moving or deleting items. These should appear in a different colour throughout your text. You can also add comments for any additional notes you want to make.
  3. To tweak how many edits you can see, select ‘Mark up view’ and change the option to your liking.
  4. Go through your entire document or chosen section and make your edits.
  5. Before approving changes, save another copy of your document for your records so you can refer to previous drafts if needed.
  6. To approve the changes, either right-click on a specific edit and click ‘accept’ or highlight the section you want to finalise and click ‘accept change’. You can also reject changes that you don’t find useful. Ensure you do this before submitting your assessment, otherwise any deleted text will remain visible.
  7. When you are done, return to the review tab and turn off ‘Track changes’.

Grammarly is an online AI editing program that can assist with the mechanics of your writing and its style, including sentence flow and writing level.

When using Grammarly, you should carefully review each suggestion it provides before accepting it as a final change. As an AI tool, Grammarly may miss contextual information or make an incorrect choice when faced with unfamiliar information.

To use Grammarly effectively, ensure you have set your goals to give you suggestions appropriate to your writing. Usually, this prompt appears when you open a document for the first time. If not, it can be found in your Grammarly document on the right-hand side under ‘Goals’.

For academic writing, we recommend the following goals:

  • Domain: Academic
  • Intent: Depends on your assignment type and brief (e.g., ‘Inform’ for reports, ‘Convince’ for some essays)
  • Audience: Knowledgeable
  • Formality: Formal

Make sure that you review suggestions before accepting them. Selecting the small ‘i’ in the suggestion box will explain why the improvement or suggestion is being made.

As a Curtin student, you have access to the premium version of Grammarly. You can access this via Blackboard, under ‘Study support’ > ‘Library resources’. Ensure you are using this Curtin-approved premium version of Grammarly and keeping a log of your drafts to avoid academic integrity issues around generative AI.

Hemingway Editor is a free online editing app that makes your writing clearer. It can identify sentences that are difficult to read, instances of passive voice, and the use of adverbs or weakening phrases.

Do not use the paid, premium version due to its access to generative AI tools. Using this is a breach of academic integrity standards.

Editing tools

While a range of other editing tools are available online, you cannot use any tools that rewrite your work or generate content for you. Our gen-AI guide provides more information about appropriate generative AI use.