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PROOFREADING, REVISING, & EDITING SKILLS SUCCESSIN 20 MINUTES A DAY
PROOFREADING, REVISING, & EDITING SKILLS SUCCESSIN 20 MINUTES A DAYBrady SmithN E W Y O R K
Copyright 2003 LearningExpress, LLC. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by LearningExpress, LLC, New York. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Smith, Brady. Proofreading, revising, and editing skills : success in 20 minutes a day / Brady Smith.1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 1-57685-466-3 1. Report writingHandbooks, manuals, etc. 2. ProofreadingHandbooks, manuals, etc. 3. EditingHandbooks, manuals, etc. I. Title. LB1047.3.S55 2003 808'.02dc21 2002013959 Printed in the United States of America 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 First Edition ISBN 1-57685-466-3 For more information or to place an order, contact LearningExpress at: 55 Broadway 8th Floor New York, NY 10006 Or visit us at: www.learnatest.com
About the AuthorBrady Smith teaches English at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the Bronx, New York. His work has been previously published in textbooks, and this is his rst complete book. He would like to dedicate this book to Julie, Gillian, and Isabel, with love.
INTRODUCTION How to Use This Book PRETEST LESSON 1 LESSON 2 LESSON 3 LESSON 4 LESSON 5 LESSON 6 LESSON 7 LESSON 8 LESSON 9 LESSON 10 LESSON 11 LESSON 12 LESSON 13 LESSON 14 LESSON 15 LESSON 16 LESSON 17 LESSON 18 Understanding the Writing Process Writing Sentences Avoiding Awkward Sentences Creating Sentence Variety Shaping Paragraphs Using Transitions Establishing a Writing Style Turning Passive Verbs into Active Verbs Making Sure Subjects and Verbs Agree Making Sure Nouns and Pronouns Agree Using Modiers Checking Capitalization and Spelling Punctuating Sentences Using Commas Using Semicolons and Colons Using Apostrophes in Plurals and Possessives Using Quotation Marks Using Hyphens, Dashes, and Ellipses
ix 1 13 21 33 41 49 57 63 75 83 91 99 109 121 127 137 143 147 153
LESSON 19 LESSON 20 POST-TEST APPENDIX A
Checking for Commonly Confused Words and Clichs Putting It All Together Proofreading Symbols
161 169 179 189 191
APPENDIX B Additional Resources
How to Use This Book
ince you are reading this right now, let us assume you have at least one draft of your writing that you want to proofread, revise, and edit in order to present a well-written and clear nished piece. As all good writers know, a rst draft needs to be cleaned up, trimmed down, and organized. This book is designed to help you do just thatin 20 short lessons in just 20 minutes a day. This book stands alone as a teaching tool. You can pick it up and learn a new skill at any point during the writing process. Whether you are prewriting, drafting, editing, revising, or working on a nal copy, this book will become a useful reference guide. You may nd it helpful to turn to this book as you nish different sections of your writing because it can help you correct as you write. Or you can read the lessons in this book and then go back to your own piece of writingjust to reinforce important writing skills. No matter which method you choose, you will accomplish what you set out to do: master the skills you need to proofread, revise, and edit your writing. Proofreading, Revising, and Editing Skills Success in 20 Minutes a Day begins with a discussion about the steps to create a piece of writing, and then gives you the coaching you will need to correct any errors you nd in your work. It walks you through the revision process by showing you how to transform your sentences from awkward and choppy sentence fragments and run-ons to clear, concise expressions. It shows
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you how to organize paragraphs and how to use transitions skillfully. You will also learn the fundamental rules of noun/pronoun agreement as well as subject/verb agreement. When you are nished with this book, you will nd that your writing has improved, has style and detail, and is free of cluttered sentences and common errors. Some writers think that once a word has been written, it is sacred. Successful writers know that change is an important part of the writing process. Early drafts that may seem nished can most likely be improved. Since writing is a process, you have to be willing to change, rearrange, and discard material to achieve a well-crafted nal product. Very few writers create the perfect draft on the rst try. Most writers will tell you that writing the rst draft is only the beginning and that the majority of the work comes after the initial drafting process. You need to look very closely at your writing, examine it sentence by sentence, and ne-tune it to produce excellence. Your writing is a reection of you. The proofreading, revising, and editing processes provide a mirror in which you can examine your writing. Before your writing goes public, you must iron out the transitions between ideas and make sure your paragraphs are structured correctly. You need to clean up your writing and pick out the unnecessary auxiliary verbs from your sentences, perfect your tone, and polish your verbs. Your efforts will show. Even if you are not currently working on a piece of writing that you need to hand in, present to an audience, or send to a client, this book will teach you the skills that will improve your everyday writing. Each skill outlined in this book is an important part of a good writers toolbox. While you will not use every tool for each piece of writing, you will have them ready when you need to apply them.
If you are job hunting, perhaps you need to revise a draft of a cover letter.. This piece of writing is the rst impression your employer will have of you, so its important to submit your best effort. Perhaps you are working on an essay for school. Your teachers assessment of your abilities will certainly improve if you turn in a composition that shows thoughtful revision, attention to detail, and an understanding of grammatical rules. Like your ideal nal draft, Proofreading, Revising, and Editing Skills Success in 20 Minutes a Day has no ller or uff. It is a book for people who want to learn the editorial skills needed to revise a piece of writing without doing a lot of busy work. Each lesson introduces a skill or concept and offers exercises to practice what you have learned. Though each lesson is designed to be completed in about 20 minutes, the pace at which you approach the lessons is up to you. After each lesson, you may want to stop and revise your own writing, or you may want to read several lessons in one sitting and then revise your work. No matter how you use this book, you can be sure that your nal drafts will improve. Start by taking the pretest to see what you already know and what you need to learn about proofreading, revising, and editing. After you have completed the lessons, you can take the post-test to see how much you have learned. In the appendices, you will nd a list of proofreading marks to use as you write, as well as a list of additional resources if you nd you need a little extra help. If you apply what you have learned in this book, you will nd that your writing gets positive attention. Teachers, employers, friends, and relatives will all notice your improvement. It is certain, though, that you will be the most satised of all.
PROOFREADING, REVISING, & EDITING SKILLS SUCCESSIN 20 MINUTES A DAY
efore you begin the lessons in this book, it is a good idea to see how much you already know about proofreading, revising, and editing and what you need to learn. This pretest is designed to ask you some basic questions so you can evaluate your needs. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses can help you focus on the skills that need improvement. The questions in this pretest do not cover all the topics discussed in each lesson, so even if you can answer every single question in this pretest correctly, there are still many strategies you can learn in order to master the ner points of grammar and style. On the other hand, if there are many questions on the pretest that puzzle you, or if you nd that you do not get a good percentage of answers correct, dont worry. This book is designed to take you through the entire proofreading, editing, and revising process, step-by-step. Each lesson is designed to take 20 minutes, although those of you who score well on the pretest might move more quickly. If your score is lower than you would like it to be, you may want to devote a little more than 20 minutes of practice each day so that you can enhance your skills. Whatever the case, continue with these lessons daily to keep the concepts fresh in your mind, and then apply them to your writing. An answer sheet is provided for you at the beginning of the pretest. You may mark your answers there, or, if you prefer, circle the correct answer right in the book. If you do not own this book, number a sheet of
P R E T E S T
paper from 150 and write your answers there. This is not a timed test. Take as much time as you need, and do your best. Once you have nished, check your answers with the answer key at the end of this test. Every answer includes a reference to a corre-
sponding lesson. If you answer a question incorrectly, turn to the chapter that covers that particular topic, read the information, and then try to answer the question according to the instruction given in that chapter.
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