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ENGL 107 College Composition: Revising & Editing

This guide is for all sections of English 107: College Composition


One of the biggest problems in academic or scholarly writing is wordiness. It takes practice to write concisely. Check out this brief tutorial from Western Washington University's library for some tips on how to eliminate wordiness in your writing. 

Books on Writing

Reading about writing may sound like a lot, but we've got classic, time-tested books available in the library to help develop your writing. 

Proofreading Checklist

Once you have a draft of your paper, you should:

  1. TAKE A BREAK! Give yourself an hour or a day, depending on the time you have, between finishing and proofreading your work. You want to look at it with a fresh set of eyes in order to catch any errors.
  2. Give it to someone to read over. While you're waiting, you can have a classmate or friend read over your paper to spot easy errors like missing words or unclear sentences.
  3. Use technology. Microsoft Word and Google Docs both have built-in spell and grammar checkers. Make sure to use these features to catch mistakes. is also a great resource for proofreading. Their free service catches most errors and typos, while their paid service also provides helpful writing suggestions. 
  4. Print your paper. Print your paper out to proofread with a hard copy. Sometimes it's easier to catch slip-ups on paper than it is scrolling on a screen. Bonus: you can use pens and highlighters to mark up.
  5. Read your paper. Aloud. Backward. Reading your paper aloud helps you catch awkward wording and sentence structure. Doing it backward, by starting with the last sentence first, keeps your brain on its toes to make sure you catch all missing words and typos that may have lingered.

Tips for your Thesis Statement

Check your thesis statement against the following suggestions, provided by the OWL at Purdue University:

  • A thesis is not a title: Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in the education of their children (good thesis).
  • A thesis is not an announcement of the subject: My subject is the incompetence of the Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the 2000 election.
  • A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice.
  • A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problem-solution expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.
  • Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition, "A thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view" (Gibaldi 42). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a thesis statement, your thesis may require a combination of sentences.

Common Errors