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Editing for Mechanics: Definition & Concept

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  • 0:01 Definition & Editing Process
  • 1:12 Editing for Spelling
  • 1:48 Editing for Punctuation
  • 3:41 Editing for Capitalization
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what 'editing for mechanics' means and how to apply it to your writing. Learn what to look for when you're editing for mechanics, and then take a quiz to test your new skills.

Definition and Editing Process

When your instructor tells you to edit your paper for 'mechanics,' this means you should proofread your work and correct errors in spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Take some time away from your draft before you begin editing for mechanics. Take a walk or have a cup of coffee. Having a 'fresh set of eyes' increases the chances of catching errors. When you come back to the draft, take your time with the editing process.

It's surprisingly easy to miss mechanical errors when you proofread on a computer screen, so print out a double-spaced copy of your final draft. If you have spelling errors that are repeated many times in the paper, you can correct them in seconds with the 'Find and Replace' feature in Microsoft Word - a huge time saver.

Resist the urge to edit the essay content for things like clarity, reasoning, and conclusions. That's a separate editing process. Students sometimes check for errors in mechanics by reading their work backwards. Another good way to approach editing for mechanics is to take it one paragraph at a time, with small breaks between.

Editing for Spelling

Spelling is one thing that can make or break the effectiveness of your paper because these mistakes undermine your authority. Watch for common misspellings such as:

  • They're, their, and there
  • Except and accept
  • Effect and affect

Watch for misspelled phrases, too. Some examples are:

  • 'Use to' when you mean 'used to'
  • 'Suppose to' instead of 'supposed to'
  • 'Should of' instead of 'should have' or 'should've'

Editing for Punctuation

Make sure all of your sentences end with a period, and all your questions end with a question mark. These can be surprisingly easy to overlook. All contractions should have an apostrophe. It's common for students to place a period at the end of a phrase that is not a complete sentence, such as an introductory phrase or a subordinate clause. This creates a sentence fragment, which is considered a major error in English. Introductory phrases and clauses should be followed by commas and another clause. For example: 'When we go to the lake' is an example of a subordinate clause, so it needs to be followed by a comma and another clause to make it a complete sentence, such as: 'When we go to the lake, we sometimes bring the neighbor's kids.'

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