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Since 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 finished piece.As all good writers know, a first draft needs to be cleaned up, trimmed down, and organized. This book is designed to help you do just that—in 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....

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  3. 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 writing—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Proofreading—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. Editing—Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Title. LB1047.3.S55 2003 808'.02—dc21 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:
  4. About the Author Brady Smith teaches English at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the Bronx, New York. His work has been pre- viously published in textbooks, and this is his first complete book. He would like to dedicate this book to Julie, Gillian, and Isabel, with love.
  5. Contents INTRODUCTION How to Use This Book ix PRETEST 1 LESSON 1 Understanding the Writing Process 13 LESSON 2 Writing Sentences 21 LESSON 3 Avoiding Awkward Sentences 33 LESSON 4 Creating Sentence Variety 41 LESSON 5 Shaping Paragraphs 49 LESSON 6 Using Transitions 57 LESSON 7 Establishing a Writing Style 63 LESSON 8 Turning Passive Verbs into Active Verbs 75 LESSON 9 Making Sure Subjects and Verbs Agree 83 LESSON 10 Making Sure Nouns and Pronouns Agree 91 LESSON 11 Using Modifiers 99 LESSON 12 Checking Capitalization and Spelling 109 LESSON 13 Punctuating Sentences 121 LESSON 14 Using Commas 127 LESSON 15 Using Semicolons and Colons 137 LESSON 16 Using Apostrophes in Plurals and Possessives 143 LESSON 17 Using Quotation Marks 147 LESSON 18 Using Hyphens, Dashes, and Ellipses 153 vii
  6. LESSON 19 Checking for Commonly Confused Words and Clichés 161 LESSON 20 Putting It All Together 169 POST-TEST 179 APPENDIX A Proofreading Symbols 189 APPENDIX B Additional Resources 191 viii
  7. How to Use This Book S 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 fin- ished piece. As all good writers know, a first draft needs to be cleaned up, trimmed down, and organized. This book is designed to help you do just that—in 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 final copy, this book will become a useful reference guide. You may find it helpful to turn to this book as you finish differ- ent 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 writing—just 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 proof- read, 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 find 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 ix
  8. –H O W T O U S E T H I S B O O K – you how to organize paragraphs and how to use tran- If you are job hunting, perhaps you need to sitions skillfully. You will also learn the fundamental revise a draft of a cover letter.. This piece of writing is rules of noun/pronoun agreement as well as sub- the first impression your employer will have of you, so ject/verb agreement. When you are finished with this it’s important to submit your best effort. Perhaps you book, you will find that your writing has improved, are working on an essay for school. Your teacher’s has style and detail, and is free of cluttered sentences assessment of your abilities will certainly improve if and common errors. you turn in a composition that shows thoughtful revi- Some writers think that once a word has been sion, attention to detail, and an understanding of written, it is sacred. Successful writers know that grammatical rules. change is an important part of the writing process. Like your ideal final draft, Proofreading, Revising, Early drafts that may seem finished can most likely be and Editing Skills Success in 20 Minutes a Day has no improved. Since writing is a process, you have to be filler or fluff. It is a book for people who want to learn willing to change, rearrange, and discard material to the editorial skills needed to revise a piece of writing achieve a well-crafted final product. Very few writers without doing a lot of busy work. Each lesson intro- create the perfect draft on the first try. Most writers duces a skill or concept and offers exercises to practice will tell you that writing the first draft is only the what you have learned. beginning and that the majority of the work comes Though each lesson is designed to be completed after the initial drafting process. You need to look very in about 20 minutes, the pace at which you approach closely at your writing, examine it sentence by sen- the lessons is up to you. After each lesson, you may tence, and fine-tune it to produce excellence. want to stop and revise your own writing, or you may Your writing is a reflection of you. The proof- want to read several lessons in one sitting and then reading, revising, and editing processes provide a mirror revise your work. No matter how you use this book, in which you can examine your writing. Before your you can be sure that your final drafts will improve. writing goes public, you must iron out the transitions Start by taking the pretest to see what you already between ideas and make sure your paragraphs are struc- know and what you need to learn about proofreading, tured correctly. You need to clean up your writing and revising, and editing. After you have completed the les- pick out the unnecessary auxiliary verbs from your sen- sons, you can take the post-test to see how much you tences, perfect your tone, and polish your verbs. Your have learned. In the appendices, you will find a list of efforts will show. proofreading marks to use as you write, as well as a list Even if you are not currently working on a piece of additional resources if you find you need a little of writing that you need to hand in, present to an audi- extra help. ence, or send to a client, this book will teach you the If you apply what you have learned in this book, skills that will improve your everyday writing. Each you will find that your writing gets positive attention. skill outlined in this book is an important part of a Teachers, employers, friends, and relatives will all good writer’s “toolbox.” While you will not use every notice your improvement. It is certain, though, that tool for each piece of writing, you will have them ready you will be the most satisfied of all. when you need to apply them. x
  10. Pretest B 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 finer points of grammar and style. On the other hand, if there are many questions on the pretest that puzzle you, or if you find that you do not get a good percentage of answers correct, don’t 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 1
  11. –P R E T E S T – paper from 1–50 and write your answers there. This sponding lesson. If you answer a question incor- is not a timed test. Take as much time as you need, rectly, turn to the chapter that covers that particu- and do your best. Once you have finished, check lar topic, read the information, and then try to your answers with the answer key at the end of this answer the question according to the instruction test. Every answer includes a reference to a corre- given in that chapter. 2
  12. –A N S W E R S H E E T – Pretest 1. a b c d 21. a b c d 41. a b c d 2. a b c d 22. a b 42. a b c d 3. a b c d 23. a b 43. a b c d 4. a b c d 24. a b 44. a b c d 5. a b c d 25. a b 45. a b c d 6. a b c d 26. a b 46. a b c d 7. a b c d 27. a b 47. a b c d 8. a b c d 28. a b 48. a b c d 9. a b c d 29. a b 49. a b c d 10. a b c d 30. a b 50. a b c d 11. a b c d 31. a b 12. a b c d 32. a b 13. a b c d 33. a b 14. a b c d 34. a b c d 15. a b 35. a b c d 16. a b c d 36. a b c d 17. a b 37. a b c d 18. a b c d 38. a b 19. a b c d 39. a b c d 20. a b c d 40. a b c d 3
  13. –P R E T E S T – 1. Which of the following is a complete 5. Which of the underlined words in the follow- sentence? ing sentence is an unnecessary qualifier or a. Because night fell. intensifier? b. Jim ate the sandwich. Many experts consider the stained glass in c. On a tree-lined path. that church to be the very best. d. In our neck of the woods. a. experts b. stained 2. Which of the following sentences is correctly c. that punctuated? d. very a. In the dead of night. The van pulled up. b. Chuck would not, give Jaime the seat. 6. Determine whether the italicized phrase in the c. Over coffee and toast, Kelly told me about following sentence is a participial phrase, a her new job. gerund phrase, an infinitive phrase, or an d. Lemonade. My favorite drink. appositive phrase. Having missed the bus, Allen knew he 3. Which of the following sentences correctly would be late for work. uses a conjunction? a. participial phrase a. I cannot play in the game until I practice b. gerund phrase more. c. infinitive phrase b. I hid in the basement my brother was mad d. appositive phrase at me. c. Victor erased the answering machine mes- 7. Choose the best conjunction to combine this sage Nora would not find out. sentence pair. d. She scored a goal won the game. We can ask directions. We can use a map. a. and 4. Which of the underlined words or phrases in b. but the following sentence could be deleted with- c. or out changing the meaning? d. because Various different companies offer incentive plans to their employees. 8. The following sentence pair can be revised a. different into one better sentence. Choose the sentence b. incentive that is the best revision. c. plans The bicycle tire is flat. The bicycle tire is on d. employees the bike. a. The bicycle tire is on the bike and the bicy- cle tire is flat. b. The flat bicycle tire is on the bike. c. On the bike, the bicycle tire there is flat. d. The bicycle tire on the bike is flat. 5
  14. –P R E T E S T – 9. Choose the sentence that begins with a phrase 12. Which of the underlined words in the follow- modifier. ing sentence is considered transitional? a. He kept his bottle cap collection in a shoe- We did not catch any fish; as a result, we ate box. macaroni and cheese. b. In the event of an emergency, do not panic. a. did not c. I was pleased to see that my coworker had b. any been promoted. c. as a result d. The octopus has been at the zoo for 20 d. and years. 13. Which of the underlined words in the follow- 10. Select the letter for the topic sentence in the ing paragraph is a transition word? following paragraph. A National Park Service employee annually a. He was born in 1818. b. He was educated inspects the famous Mount Rushmore in the universities of Moscow and St. Peters- National Memorial near Keystone, South burg. c. In 1852, he abandoned poetry and Dakota. He uses ropes and harnesses to take a drama and devoted himself to fiction. d. Ivan close look at the 60-foot granite heads of Turgenev was a critically acclaimed Russian George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, author. Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. If he finds a crack, he coats it with a sealant, 11. Identify the type of organizational structure thereby preventing moisture from cracking it used in the following paragraph: chronologi- further. cal order, order of importance, spatial order, a. annually or order of familiarity. b. near When you enter the mansion, the great hall c. and has three ornate doorways and a grand stair- d. thereby case. The doorway to the left leads to the kitchen area, the doorway to the right leads to 14. Identify the purpose of a composition with the library, and the doorway straight ahead the following title: leads to the formal dining room. The staircase “Good Reasons to Always Drive Safely” curves up to the second floor. Directly above a. persuasive you will see the famous “Chandelier de Grou- b. expository ton,” with over 4,000 crystals shaped like c. narrative teardrops. d. descriptive a. chronological order b. order of importance 15. Identify whether the following sentence is fact c. spatial order or opinion. d. order of familiarity The voting age should be raised to 21. a. fact b. opinion 6
  15. –P R E T E S T – 16. Which of the following sentences does NOT 20. Which of the following sentences does NOT use informal language? use passive voice? a. Everybody said his new car was a “sweet a. She is known by the whole town as the best ride.” goalie on the hockey team. b. Susanne totally couldn’t believe that she b. The puck was hurled across the ice by the had won the lottery. star forward. c. The letter arrived in the morning, and he c. She won the Best Player Award last winter. opened it immediately. d. The women’s ice hockey team was founded d. I always feel cooped up in my cubicle at five years ago. work. 21. Identify the correct verb for the blank in the 17. Identify the appropriate type of language to following sentence. use in a letter requesting information from a Laura and her friend ____ for their trip to government agency. Peru in an hour. a. formal a. leaves b. informal b. leave 18. Which of the following sentences uses the 22. Identify the correct contraction for the blank active voice? in the following sentence. a. Peter was given a laptop to use when he ____ Jake and Mariela have to work worked at home. tonight? b. The mountain was climbed by several of a. Don’t the bravest hikers in the group. b. Doesn’t c. The favors for the birthday party were pro- vided by the restaurant. 23. Identify the correct verb for the blank in the d. Randy and Thien won the egg toss at the following sentence. state fair. We, the entire student body, including one student who graduated mid-year, ____ the 19. Which of the following sentences uses the school colors to remain green and black. active voice? a. wants a. Several ingredients were used by the chef to b. want make the stew. b. The chef used several ingredients to make 24. Identify the correct verb for the blank in the the stew. following sentence. b. To make the stew, several ingredients were A committee ____ policy in all matters of used. evaluation. b. The stew was made by the chef using sev- a. determines eral ingredients. b. determine 7
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