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Chapter 29: Editing and proofreading the final draft.

By the end of this chapter, you should begin to ...

* recognize the importance of proofreading in a business or professional setting;

* use editing and proofreading strategies effectively; * take advantage of spell check and other spelling aids;

* use basic rules to improve your spelling; and

* recognize commonly misused words.

Once the final draft of your essay, letter, email, or resume is complete and polished in terms of content, organization, and style, you must then edit the grammar and usage (Chapters 22-28). Finally, you must proofread the writing carefully one or more times before submitting or mailing it. Almost inevitably, so-called typographical errors in spelling and punctuation (Chapters 29-31) will occur in anything we write. These are errors that we would be able to recognize and fix if we could read our own work carefully and objectively. Although these errors don't seem to be connected with the content of the writing, they may actually have a powerful--and negative--effect on the reader, in the way that a cracked plate might diminish our delight in a beautiful lobster or a slice of chocolate cake. Proofreading is like the final wiping of the plate just before you serve it to the customer. It shows that you understand and respect the customers' expectations, that you take pride in your employer and in your own work.


Now as much as we might all appreciate the importance of a clean plate at a restaurant, it may be harder to believe that sentence fragments, misplaced apostrophes, and usage errors could really affect the way we're viewed outside of the English classroom. Yet research has shown that employers do judge us by our grammar and spelling. For example, in "Ethos and Error: How Business People React to Errors," Larry Beason reports on his study of fourteen business professionals' reactions to proofreading errors:

   Some students perceive errors to be minor
   concerns and teachers who think otherwise
   to be "picky" (i.e., inconsequential). In some
   ways, these students are right. As a composition
   teacher, I might be annoyed or momentarily
   confused by error....[However, i]n
   the nonacademic workforce, errors can affect
   people and events in larger ways. (51)

Beason's findings echo my experience of teaching in a culinary college. The chef faculty, most of whom come directly from the hospitality industry, complain bitterly to me about the bad writing of some of our students. When they show me a particular paper, the problems are almost always due to lack of proofreading. The chefs are quite irritated by these errors, which are most often in spelling and punctuation, and sometimes they are frustrated by sentence fragments or lack of sentence clarity. Grammar can be quite an emotional topic!

It's also a political one. Using "good" English can be seen as a mark of status. Using "bad" English, on the other hand, may make writers appear ignorant or uneducated. John C. Bean discusses this effect in Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom:

   The sentence He brung it, though grammatical, is produced in a
   nonstandard dialect of English. Those who speak this dialect
   probably do so because it is the dialect of their parents and
   peers. Unfortunately for their success in college and professional
   life, their parents and peers do not speak the prestige dialect of
   our culture--a sociological and political issue, not an issue of
   intelligence or verbal skill. (71)

Two points are essential here. First, the way people write and speak does not mean anything about their intelligence, abilities, and value as human beings. Second, the way people speak and write can affect the way they are viewed as professionals, and that can have important consequences. Proofreading is about ethos, about the trustworthy, fairminded, and knowledgeable character that writers try to establish with their readers. (See also Chapter 16.) For business professionals, meticulous proofreading suggests that you are or would be a careful, dependable, thoughtful employee.

Research has also shown that some types of errors are viewed as worse than others by business professionals. Some of the errors have to do with "status," such as nonstandard verb forms. Others are relatively free of "status," but are nevertheless considered very serious or serious errors. Study the following lists, adapted from Maxine Hairston's "Not All Errors Are Equal: Nonacademic Readers in the Professions Respond to Lapses in Usage":

Status-Marking Errors

Type of Error         Example

Nonstandard verb      brung instead of brought, had
forms in past tense   went instead of had gone
or past participle

Lack of subject-      we was instead of we were, he
verb agreement        don't instead of he doesn't

Double negatives      There isn't no bread on the
                      table instead of There's no
                      bread or There isn't any bread

Objective pronoun     Him and Janet were the last
as subject            ones hired instead of He and
                      Janet were the last ones hired

Very Serious Errors

Type of Error          Example

Sentence fragments     Everyone talking about the new
                       policy instead of Everyone is
                       talking about the new policy

Run-on sentences       The broccoli was tender the
                       butter was melted instead of
                       The broccoli was tender, and
                       the butter was melted

Proper nouns not       The restaurant was on fifth
capitalized            avenue instead of Fifth Avenue

Subject-verb           One of the apples are ripe
agreement errors       instead of One of the apples
(not status marking)   is ripe

Usage error: of        Would of instead of would have
instead of have

Insertion of comma     They decided, to visit the zoo
between the verb and   instead of They decided to
its complement         visit the zoo

Lack of parallelism    The steak was juicy, tender,
                       and had a good flavor instead
                       of The steak was thick, juicy,
                       and flavorful

Faulty adverb forms    more saltier instead of more
                       salty or saltier

Use of transitive      The plates set on the table
set for intransitive   instead of The plates sit on
sit                    the table

Serious Errors

Type of Error     Example

Dangling          After waiting for over an
modifiers         hour, their table was finally
                  ready instead of After they
                  waited for over an hour, their
                  table was finally ready or
                  After waiting for over an
                  hour, they were finally seated

I as object       Between you and I instead of
pronoun           Between you and me

Lack of commas    The answer however was
to set off        incorrect instead of The
interrupters      answer, however, was incorrect
such as however

Lack of commas    The steak was thick juicy and
in series         flavorful instead of The steak
                  was thick, juicy, and

Tense switching   He goes to the store and
                  bought milk instead of goes
                  and buys, or went and bought

Source: Maxine Hairston's "Not All Errors Are Created
Equal" in College English 43.8 (1981): 794-806.

Editing and proofreading are not just extra work that your English teacher assigns to torment you. They are skills you will need in the workplace as well as in school, skills that contribute to the overall impression you make as a thoughtful and reliable professional.

Exercise 29.1 | Proofreading Practice

Read through the following passage at least three times, looking for status-marking, very serious, and serious errors. Correct any errors you find. (NOTE: There are ten errors, only three of which were caught by the software's spelling and grammar check.)

   Filled with indignation, Hary heads for his favorite diner to get a
   cup of coffee he's looking down ad his newspaper as he enters the
   diner and doesnt notice the uneasy expressions on the faces of the
   waitress the cook and some of the customers--though us in the
   audience see them. As he remains absorb in the paper. The waitress,
   loretta, puts the coffee cup on the counter and begins to pour in
   sugar from the glass jar. She pours and she pours, all the time
   glancing nervously up at Harry and then around the diner. On an on
   she pours, while the audience begins to chuckle and Harry remains


Proofreading requires a clear and focused mindset that has little in common with the creative energy flowing through earlier phases of the writing process. Instead of the big picture, we must concentrate on the little details. We must be careful to look at each word as it is written. If we go too quickly, we tend to "read" what we think we wrote or what we intended to write, and we can miss what is actually on the page.

First, find the right time and place for proofreading. If you can, avoid proofreading immediately after writing. Try to let some time pass, ideally at least twenty-four hours. If you are a "morning person," it might be most effective to proofread in the morning. If you are a night owl, however, there might be another time of day when your brain is best suited to careful, detail-oriented work. Some people find that listening to music helps them concentrate, while others need absolute quiet.

Next, if you've written the paper on a computer, run spell check and then print out a hard copy for proofreading. While some editing can be done right on the screen in the earlier stages of writing, the final proofreading is best done with pencil and paper.

Then, find some way of slowing your reading down so that you focus on only one word or sentence at a time. You might follow along with a finger as you read, or you might cover your paper with a separate sheet (perhaps of a different color) and move this cover sheet slowly down your paper to reveal one line of text at a time. Especially when checking spelling, some writers read their sentences (even their entire texts) backwards in order to focus on the surface details. Start with the last sentence (or the last word in the sentence); then move to the sentence before it, then the sentence before that. The idea is to separate the meaning of the passage from its grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Read your paper out loud. Reading aloud--or having someone else read the paper aloud to you--can help you find all kinds of errors. If someone else is reading, though, be sure you are also able to look at the paper or at another copy of it. Punctuation is not usually read aloud, but as you hear the sentences, you may see punctuation errors. Listen for sentence fragments and unclear phrasing. Notice any hesitation in your voice or the other reader's voice: it might signal a problem with a word or sentence. You might also read the text aloud to an audience. The pressure of a listener may help you hear the paper in a new way, and that can help with revising content and organization, as well as with proofreading grammar and mechanics.

It can be helpful to read through the paper several times, looking for different types of errors with each read-through. You may want to read once to check sentence completeness and sentence boundaries. Look at each sentence individually, from the capital letter (there should be one!) to the period. Listen for any problems with agreement or clarity. In another read-through, perhaps circle each punctuation mark. To check spelling, it can be effective to read the essay backwards. Having someone else check the essay is also useful. In any case, you would be wise to proofread it yourself at least twice and perhaps a third time before sending or submitting it.

Of course, you should always use spell check, if it's available, but realize it won't catch everything. Pay attention to the endings of words, for example, adding -d or -ed to some verbs in the past tense. Double check the spelling of proper nouns and of little words such as on, or, of; it, if, is, in; and an, and, any. Double check any numbers and charts. Look at headings, headers and footers, notes, and Works Cited pages. If you introduce a numbered list of steps, for example, or of items within a category, check that the numbers match. Be sure that you meet any special formatting instructions, such as font type and size.

Finally, think about what mistakes you are likely to make, and create your own proofreading checklist. Figure 29.1 lists the major types of errors and indicates which chapter in this book explains how to fix them. Exercise 29.2 asks you to create your own proofreading checklist. Keep track of teachers' comments and corrections. Do a readthrough that is specifically focused on your personal checklist. If you know you have trouble with certain words, use the search feature of your word-processing program to find them. Then double check the spelling and usage.

Exercise 29.2 | Your Personal Proofreading Checklist

Fill in the following chart with the five most "serious"
and/or frequent errors you tend to make. When you're
proofreading your work, read it through multiple times,
looking for one type of error with each read.

Type of Error   Example



The purpose of spelling, like that of punctuation, is to make sure the reader knows what you mean; that's the bottom line. However, spelling also reveals how much care you have taken with your writing and how well you understand the expectations of a particular audience. You certainly don't want bad spelling to show up in important business contexts, as it did in this restaurant review:

   Many of the Italian ingredients and cooking terms--arugula,
   bruschetta, mascarpone, carbonara--are misspelled on the menu. (13)

Poor spelling may seem relatively unimportant to a restaurant's success, but the reviewer adds that the restaurant's "casual approach to service can be off-putting," and her overall assessment is negative. A misspelled word is like a dirty water glass--it makes a bad impression. On the other hand, good spelling makes a good impression.

Spelling also has benefits in terms of reading and writing. (14) Good spelling isn't just about memorizing the look of a word--though that's important--but about understanding where words come from and how different forms are constructed. This deeper knowledge of spelling helps readers remember learned words more easily and figure out the meaning of new words, both of which improve reading comprehension. Good spelling also helps with the complexity of the writing process. We have to pay attention to many things when we write, from grammar, spelling, and punctuation--sometimes handwriting as well--to content, organization, sentence structure, and word choice. If we don't have to struggle with basic spelling, we have more brain power available for the other elements of communication.

But what can you do if you have trouble with spelling? First of all, don't feel too bad! It doesn't mean you can't think or write. Shakespeare spelled the same word three different ways on a single page, and he is one of the most admired authors in the English language. Second, you don't have to do it alone. Many professional writers don't spell well, but they have editors to support them, while students may visit an on-campus tutoring center. Another piece of good news is that the spelling of English words is not as random as it might seem. About 80% follow particular rules, some of which are covered in the next section, and these rules may be learned. Your instructor can help you get started or advise you about any special needs. Or you may want to explore some of the many books and websites about spelling practice. In the meantime, try these suggestions:

* Always use spell check before submitting a paper or sending an email. Although it won't catch all your typos, it's an excellent way to catch many of them. Furthermore, it makes a bad impression if you don't use it. Your readers can often tell if you haven't used spell check (if you typed deffanittly, for example), and they may assume you don't care much about your work. However, spell check works best for writers who already spell fairly well.

* BUT remember that spell check can't do everything. Spell check works by matching the spelling of each word in your document against its own "dictionary." Yet this dictionary does not contain all the words or names you may use and so cannot check their spelling. If spell check does not recognize a word, it might be that the word is incorrectly spelled (and the letters are so far off that spell check cannot suggest an alternative) or it might be that the word is correct but not in spell check's dictionary. In that case, you may want to add the word to the dictionary so that spell check will recognize it in the future. Be careful to get the spelling right when you do!

* AND remember that spell check cannot tell you whether words have been used correctly. For example, it cannot tell you that chose is incorrect in the infinitive phrase to choose. Spell check doesn't realize that dinning is not the correct spelling of dining. Does that mean you shouldn't use spell check? No, of course not. Always run your writing (including email) through spell check before proofreading it or giving it to anyone else to read.

* What about the dictionary? Sometimes we've been told to check spelling in a dictionary. The difficulty there is that if you have no idea how to spell a word, you don't know where to look. If the word begins with the s sound, for example, will you look under s or c, or even p? Scenery, certain, and psychology all begin with the same sound but not with the same letters. However, the dictionary is extremely important in helping you choose between synonyms (resolute or obstinate, for example) and in confirming that spell check has suggested or auto-corrected the right word. Definite and defiant are both spelled correctly, but only you can tell which word you mean.

* Check the spelling of commonly misused words. (See Appendix B for details.)

* Improve your accuracy by studying basic spelling rules. (See the next section.)

* Keep a list of words that you often misspell. Another helpful practice is to keep a list of the words that you yourself often misspell. You can use this list in two ways. First, you can memorize the correct spellings of the words on your list. Second, you can look for these words as you proofread your writing, and then use the list to check whether they are spelled correctly. If you find that you are misspelling words because you're confusing the meaning, write the definition as well as the spelling on your list. In addition, refer to the appendices of this book (as well as other books or online sources) for lists of commonly misspelled words, selected culinary terms, and commonly misused words.

* Check culinary terms carefully. Since the culinary world uses words from many different languages, spelling can be especially complicated. We must move smoothly from French (hors d'oeuvre, nigoise) to Italian (focaccia, prosciutto) to Spanish (paella, tortilla). We must also spell words from languages that use a different alphabet (challah, Szechuan). And, of course, we must spell all kinds of English words, such as cocoa, doughnut, leek, and Worcestershire sauce.

Exercise 29.3 | Tracking Misspelled Words

Start a list of words that you've misspelled in your essays. Look over the selected culinary terms in Appendix A, and add to your list any whose spelling you are unsure of.

Exercise 29.4 | Commonly Misspelled Words

Identify the correctly spelled word in each pair.

1. definate         definite
2. succeed          suceed
3. writing          writting
4. occurence        occurrence
5. disappointment   dissappointment
6. extremely        extreemly
7. schedual         schedule
8. probably         probaly
9. accessible       accessable
10. recieve         receive

Exercise 29.5 | Identifying Misspelled Culinary Terms

Identify the correctly spelled word in each pair.

1. restaurant    restaraunt
2. vegtable      vegetable
3. tomatos       tomatoes
4. license       licence
5. dining        dinning
6. guacemole     guacamole
7. thyme         time
8. aperitif      apperitif
9. cinamon       cinnamon
10. vinagrette   vinaigrette


No one disputes that English is a difficult language to spell. It has borrowed words from different languages and gone through various stages of pronunciation and spelling, and the end result is often confusing. However, there are certain rules that govern spelling, and it is useful to know them. Do you remember the rhyme "i before e, except after c, and when sounded like a, as in neighbor and weigh"? Thus we write ei in receive and ceiling because of the c, but ie in believe (see Figure 29.2). But of course there are also exceptions, such as seize, either, weird, leisure, and neither.

Another type of confusion concerns words that end with the sound "seed." There are three different spellings: -cede, -ceed, and -sede (see Figure 29.3).

When a prefix is added to the beginning of a word, the original spelling does not change; we simply add the two parts together. For example, con + junction = conjunction, and mis + spell = misspell. However, the prefix all- drops one l, as in already, altogether, and always. A number of rules govern the spelling of a word when a suffix is added to the end (see Figure 29.4).


Salt and sugar look very much alike, though salt granules are generally larger. However, the two have quite different tastes and chemical properties. What would happen if you mixed up the quantities in a cookie dough recipe and added a cup and a half of salt instead of sugar? Ugh! Similarly, English contains a number of words that resemble one another but have different spellings and meanings. Would you offer your customers a desert menu? Should you except or accept the produce delivery? Does it make sense to eat diner in a dinner?

Prepare for your next proofreading task by skimming through Appendix B and identifying any word pairs that you find confusing. Read and study the explanations. Perhaps make up your own personal mnemonic device to remember the difference between them. (For example, dessert--the food not the sand--has two s's because it's "so sweet.") Then, when you proofread a paper, pay special attention to these words.

Exercise 29.6 | Commonly Misused Words

Read through Appendix B: Commonly Misused Words, and write down five pairs of words that look confusing or that you know have confused you in the past. Study the explanations and examples. Then, for each word, write a sentence that illustrates its correct usage.

Exercise 29.7 | Using the Right Words

For each of the following sentences, choose the correct word from the pair in parentheses.

1. The knife had a speck of tomato sauce on -- blade. (its/it's)

2. "--important to work with a sharp knife," said the chef-instructor. (Its/It's)

3. We had already driven_the restaurant -- before we saw the sign. (passed/ past)

4. We -- the restaurant before we saw the sign. (passed/past)

5. " -- ready to bake cookies?" asked George. (Whose/Who's)

6. "I am," said Derek. " -- recipe are we going to use?" (Whose/Who's)

7. "We will use -- recipe, Derek." (your/you're)

8. " -- going to need lots of brown sugar, then." (Your/You're)

9. The customers at the local Italian restaurant look at -- menus. (their/there/ they're)

10. -- are four kinds of homemade pasta available. (Their/There/They're)



1. Find the right time and place for proofreading.

2. Run spell check and then print out a hard copy.

3. Focus on only one word or sentence at a time.

4. Read your paper out loud.

5. Read through the paper several times, looking for different types of errors.

6. Always use spell check, if it's available, but realize it won't catch everything.

7. Pay attention to the endings of words, for example, adding -d or -ed to some verbs in the past tense.

8. Double check the spelling of proper nouns and of little words such as on, or, of; it, if, is, in; and an, and, any.

9. Double check any numbers and charts.

10. Look at headings, headers and footers, notes, and Works Cited pages.

11. If you introduce a numbered list of steps or of items within a category, check that the numbers match.

12. Be sure that you meet any special formatting instructions, such as font type and size.

13. Create--and use--your own proofreading checklist.


1. Use spell check on every piece of writing.

2. Use a dictionary to check the spelling and definition of words highlighted by spell check.

3. Add words and names to spell check as needed.

4. Learn spelling rules.

5. Keep a list of words that you sometimes misspell, and check for them in each piece of writing. Add new words to the spell-check feature on your computer.

6. Refer to published lists of commonly misspelled words, culinary terms, and commonly misused words (such as those in the appendices of this book).

7. Look at your essays and note which of the commonly misused words in Appendix B you tend to use or misuse. Then add them to your personal proofreading checklist and review them carefully whenever you proofread your writing.


DIRECTIONS: PART I. SPELLING. One word is misspelled in each of the following sentences. Write the correct spelling on a separate sheet of paper.

-- 1. The customers were pleased with the hotel accomodations.

-- 2. It was necessary to chose smoking or non-smoking rooms, of course.

-- 3. Latter, they went to the hotel's three-star restaurant.

-- 4. The dinning room was beautifully decorated with red velvet curtains and gold picture frames.

-- 5. The soup du jur was butternut squash with apple slices and sour cream.

-- 6. No one was dissappointed with its creamy texture and rich autumn flavors!

-- 7. The next course followed imediately, a salad of impossibly fresh mixed greens.

-- 8. There were also hot roles and butter, as well as large Calamata olives.

-- 9. By the time the main course arrived, the dinners were not even hungry.

-- 10. After a last sip of wine, everyone headed threw the doors toward the elevators.

DIRECTIONS: PART II. COMMONLY MISUSED WORDS. Fill in the blank in each sentence with the appropriate word in parentheses.

11. The customers were unable to -- between the lemon meringue pie and the apricot flan. (choose/chose)

12. The daily special was served with a -- cup of coffee or tea. (complementary/ complimentary)

13. "Which of the -- looks good to you?" asked Marianne. (deserts/desserts)

14. "What's for -- ?" asked Joey. (diner/dinner)

15. Many Americans resolve to -- weight after the winter holidays. (loose/lose)

16. Andrew and -- shared a delicious mushroom risotto. (I/myself)

17. "May I have a -- of that New York cheesecake?" (peace/piece)

18. -- excited about trying the vodka a la penne. (Their/There/They're)

19. No one is fonder of chicken lo mein -- Vinnie is. (than/then)

20. You -- may enjoy Vinnie's favorite someday. (to/too/two)

21. Is this the pistachio pudding cake -- you were talking about this morning? (that/which)

22. Is Rachel the one -- intends to make the cake this afternoon? (who/which)

23. Rachel learned the recipe from Will, -- had learned it from his mother. (that/ who)

24. Anna saw a girl -- she had known in kindergarten. (who/whom)

25. John saw a girl -- was dancing with her father. (who/whom)

Figure 29.1 Proofreading Checklist

Check     Proofreading Checklist                          For More
[check]                                                   Information

[]        Check that each sentence is complete.           Chapter 22
[]        Eliminate run-on sentences and comma splices.   Chapter 23
[]        Check that each verb agrees with its subject.   Chapter 24
[]        Check that verb forms are correct.              Chapters
[]        Check that verb tense is appropriate and        Chapter 25

[]        Check that pronouns are used correctly in       Chapter 26
            terms of case, agreement, reference, and
            point of view.

[]        Check that modifiers are used correctly.        Chapter 27
          Correct any errors in parallel structure.       Chapter 28
[]        Check that each sentence begins with a          Chapter 30
            capital letter and ends with the
            appropriate punctuation mark.

[]        Check overall use of capital letters and        Chapter 30

[]        Check internal punctuation: commas, colons,     Chapter 31
            and semicolons.

[]        Use spell check; then check your personal       Chapter 29
            list of commonly misspelled words.

[]        Check that commonly misused words are used      Appendix B

Figure 29.2 Spelling with ie and ei

Spelling Rule        Examples            Exception

Use ie (not ei)      brief, niece,       either and neither (though
for the e sound      retrieve            there is some regional
                                         variation in pronunciation
                                         of these two words),
                                         leisure, seize, weird

BUT after c use      ceiling, deceive,
ei for the e sound   receive

Use ei when the      neighbor, weigh,    friend, mischief
sound is not e,      height
and especially
when it is a

Figure 29.3 Words with -cede, -ceed, and -sede

Suffix                   Example

-cede (several words)    concede, intercede precede, recede
-ceed (three words)      exceed, proceed, succeed
-sede (one word)         supersede

Figure 29.4 Spelling Rules for Suffixes

Spelling Rule                       Examples

Add -s to form the plural of        apples, pears, cartons
regular nouns, BUT add -es if the   BUT grasses, peaches, boxes
noun ends in s, ss, sh, ch, or x

Do not change the spelling when     stubborn + ness = stubbornness
you add -ly or -ness, EXCEPT if     EXCEPT happy + ness = happiness
the word ends in y, change y to
i, and then add the suffix

Drop the final e if the suffix      dine + ing = dining
begins with a vowel                 hope + ing = hoping

Keep the final e if the suffix      hope + ful = hopeful
begins with a consonant             EXCEPT argue + ment = argument

If the word ends in a consonant +   hurry + ed = hurried
y change y to i, unless the         hurry + ing = hurrying
suffix begins with i

Change f to v for plurals           knife/knives, life/lives, wife/

Double the final consonant before   run + ing = running
the suffix if the word ends in      occur + ed = occurred
one vowel plus one conso-nant and   BUT cancel + ed = canceled
is accented on the last syllable    (because the last syllable is not

The suffix -ful always has one l    hopeful, beautiful, plentiful
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Title Annotation:UNIT 3: PRESENTATION
Author:Cadbury, Vivian C.
Publication:A Taste for Writing, Composition for Culinarians
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Chapter 28: Maintaining parallelism.
Next Article:Chapter 30: Punctuation I--end marks, capitalization, apostrophes, abbreviations, numerals, italics, underlining, and quotation marks.

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