Skip to Main Content

Writing Help

Provides techniques to proofread your own paper, presentation, or other project

My paper needs help! How can I fix it?!

That depends on the amount of time you have to make changes and the kinds of changes you want to make. Keep in mind, any and all of the techniques described on the different tabs are worth doing, and might uncover weak spots in your paper that you didn't even know were there! 

The very first step (if you have time) is to let your paper sit for at least 24 hours so you can come at it with fresh eyes. If you don't have time, even just a few hours (or twenty minutes!) can make it easier to see things you might have missed before.


Big Changes = Revising

If your paper is still pretty rough, and you need to make some revisions that affect the whole paper. This includes changing the organization or structure of the paper, adding missing sections, removing unnecessary sections, or reassessing the assignment to make sure the paper does what it is supposed to do. Check out the Revising page for help!


Cleaning Up and Decluttering = Editing

If your paper isn't in terrible shape, but isn't ready to turn in, you might need to do some editing that mostly address issues at the paragraph level. If your paper has a problem with "flow," this is the section you need. This includes adding and removing parts of paragraphs to avoid repeating yourself while also providing the reader with all the information they need, as well as streamlining ideas, signposting so your ready can better understand your argument or ideas, and making sure all your sources are used appropriately. Check out the Editing page for help!


Polishing = Proofreading

If your paper is written and your ideas are all in order, but you struggle with grammar or expressing yourself, you might need to proofread. This includes addressing issues at the sentence level, like grammar, spelling, punctuation, or any of those tiny details that can be hard to spot and seem too stressful after you've just cranked out an entire paper. 

Each of these pages offers ideas for where and how to get started making your paper the best it can be. Feel free to do a google search to look for other ideas online - there are literally thousands upon thousands of different methods for improving your writing, and while this website can offer a starting place, you're the best judge for what works for you! Check out the Proofreading page for help!

Staying Organized

One of the most stressful things about revising, proofreading, and editing is keeping track of everything and staying organized. Here are some pro tips to keep you organized before you get started.

  • Create a folder of all the articles you might use for your paper so you can find them later. If you don't use them, no big deal! All the University Libraries' resources are free for students! If you're early in your program, or at the start of a big project, try a citation manager like RefWorks, Zotero, or Mendeley. All three have free options and can be really helpful for storing articles. They're not for everyone, but can be really useful.
  • Save your paper in several places and replace the old versions often: your UofM OneDrive cloud storage, a flash drive, your laptop, etc. Then if your laptop dies or gets stolen, you have at least some of your paper saved, so you're not starting at the beginning again.
  • Use the Track Changes function in your word processing program. It will let you keep track of all the changes you've made to your paper, but also has a handy "Comments" feature so you can leave notes to yourself. At the end of a writing or research session, leave yourself a note about what you were working on, any ideas you didn't get a chance to finish, what kind of source you want to incorporate next, etc.
  • Try a productivity app or planner to help keep track of projects and due dates. OneNote, Google Keep, Trello, Todoist, Toggl, Edo Agenda are all different kinds of project managers. Also great, and time-tested, is a good, old-fashioned planner or notebook; designate a section for project updates so you can see what you have already done and what is left to do.