The Final Steps

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 12018

Every new car needs a final polish, a new house needs fresh paint, and a research paper needs a final touch-up. Some editing and proofreading ensure the final product is error-free and lookin' good!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


How many different types of errors can you find in a research paper? Just like dangerous snakes, it helps to know what they are so you can avoid them!

The task of revising and editing is really an ongoing task from the time you write your rough draft.

This task is beneficial for more than one reason — it improves your paper, eliminates errors, and it allows you to learn from your mistakes. Editing refers to content, while proofreading refers to grammar and mechanics.

If you missed or need to review any of the previous 10 Related Lessons in this Writing a Research Paper series, now is the time to check them out in the right-hand sidebar.

Before beginning this process, it's important to be aware of all the requirements for the paper. Review any guidelines and instructions you received, and when in doubt, ask your parent or teacher for clarification. If an evaluation sheet is provided, review that as well, to ensure you have met all of the requirements. Review the evaluation sheet for this paper, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand side bar: Research Paper Evaluation Sheet.

Learn the basics of both proofreading and editing from the article, Revising Your Paper, created by the Odegaard Writing & Research Center.

Gavilan College Writing Center also provides a helpful checklist to use while editing and revising: Revising and Editing Your Essay.

While it is important for you to revise and edit your paper, it is also helpful to have another set of eyes look over your paper as well. This step is typically called peer editing. The checklist provided by Germanna Community College is helpful for both self editing and peer review. Ask a peer to use this list as he or she reads through your paper: Self-Editing Checklist for College Writers. Use it yourself to do your own evaluation as well.

  • What categories of errors do the checklists mention?
  • Which of these types of errors do you think you make most frequently?
  • How are these tools useful in evaluating your own written work?

Another thing to check before turning in your final copy is your formatting. For this particular paper, MLA formatting is required. Read the information provided at MLA Format for Essays and Research Papers, created by Sandhills Community College. Read through each specific instruction and make sure you have followed those guidelines throughout your paper.

The very last page of your research paper is the works cited page. Fortunately, you completed much of this work when you created source cards in Related Lesson three of this series on preliminary research (right-hand sidebar). To create the works cited page, you simply transfer the information from the source cards to a document on the computer. Five guidelines for creating the works cited page, as stated by Amy M. Kleppner and Cynthia Skelton in Research Paper Procedure: High School, are as follows:

  1. Arrange cards alphabetically by author.
  2. Punctuate carefully.
  3. Double-check publication information.
  4. Capitalize the first letter of words (except articles when they occur in the middle of the title), prepositions, coordinating conjunctions (and, or, nor, for, yet, so, but), and "to" in infinitives.
  5. Start a separate digital file for the works cited page.
    • Begin the works cited at the top of a new page.
    • The title, "Works Cited" (no quotation marks, no underline, with proper title capitalization) is placed at the center on the top line of the page.
    • Double-space the entire works cited page.
    • Begin each entry flush with the left margin.
    • Indent five spaces (or one-half inch) all lines following the first for each entry.
    • Use "—-." instead of repeating an author's name for the second entry by the same writer.
    • Proofread carefully.
    • Number the works cited page consecutively with the rest of the paper. If the paper ends on Page 7, then the works cited page is Page 8.

View a sample works cited page from the Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA Sample Works Cited Page.

Before turning in that final draft, practice a few of the editing and revising skills in the Got It? section.

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