You need to do a number of things in preparing the final draft of an essay. Most important, you need to make sure you have something of interest to say. But you also need to make sure that this final version of your essay looks and sounds as good as you can make it. If revision is work with what you have to say, with your ideas, then editing is work on the document you are making.
Edit your prose for clarity and style. Proofread it for correctness. Document your sources. Be thoughtful about document design—fonts, margins, spacing, images, captions, and the like.
Your essay should conclude with two sections: a note of Acknowledgments and a list of References. Use your note of acknowledgments to thank people who have helped you imagine, draft, and revise your essay—friends, roommates, classmates, members of your writing group, Writing Center tutors, and others. Make your thanks as specific, generous, and graceful as you can. I’ll ask you to follow the Chicago Manual of Style in preparing your list of references. Include in it any texts you quote or paraphrase. We’ll look at examples of both acknowledgments and references in class.
In editing your essay you also need to think about its paratext—literally, the text that runs alongside your main text. The classic example of paratext is the signature on a letter. It’s not part of the text you’ve written; it’s not included in your total word count. And yet paratext is a key part of a document. It helps identify, locate, authorize, and organizes what you’ve written.
The essays you write for this course should include the following paratext:
- Assignment and draft (e.g., e1d3)
- Running head with name, short title, and page numbers
- Headers for title, section heads [if any], acknowledgments, and references