Editing (Sentence-level writing issues)

Instructional Materials

Simpson WAC

Sample Assignment: Sentence-level Editing/Proofreading


  • The following assignment sheet could be used as a peer review or personal revision activity. The purpose is to help students conduct a carefully targeted proofreading of their writing.
  • This assignment focuses on sentence-level editing, not revision or content, and it may be combined with a revision activity if the goal is to have students improve both content and sentence-level issues.

Feel free to adapt this for your class. The worksheet is divided into sections which can be used as separate activities or as a longer out-of-class activity.
Goals: Students read a paper to identify and edit writing issues within sentences.

Advantages: Students practice closely reading their own or a peer’s writing with attention to words, not content.


NOTE: FANBOYS is an easy way to learn how to connect two complete sentences or ideas. It is essentially a comma rule. Six of the eight most common comma errors occur when two complete sentences or ideas are incorrectly joined. The St. Martin’s Handbook has an entire chapter of comma rules that will help you avoid all eight of these comma errors. FANBOYS is a single rule that will help you avoid six comma errors.

Directions: Read the explanation of FANBOYS below and use the FANBOYS sentence structure rule to compose sentences with correctly used commas.

FANBOYS is an acronym. The letters stand for words:
These words are coordinating conjunctions, words that join two complete sentences or ideas. Consider the FANBOYS words RED FLAG words that warn you to check your punctuation. Whenever you see a FANBOYS word, stop and check the sentence structure.  If they join two complete sentences or words, they MUST follow a comma.  Here is what the FANBOYS sentence structure looks like:

Complete sentence (CS)    +    ,    +    FANBOYS word    +    complete sentence (CS)    +    .

Example One:
Dogs bark, and dogs run.
Explanation: A CS must have two parts—a SUBJECT and a VERB. In the example above,“Dogs bark.” is a complete sentence. “Dogs” is the SUBJECT, and “bark” is the VERB. Identifying complete sentences is very easy when writers use active verbs (verbs that describe an action, such as walk, run, talk, sit, laugh, smile, act, etc.). The SUBJECT performs the action, and the VERB is the action that someone or something performs.

This means that the FANBOYS sentence structure really looks like this:

Subject (s) + verb (v) + , FANBOYS word    + subject (s) + verb(s) + .

Example Two:
Fall classes have begun at Simpson College, and students have returned to campus.
Explanation: Two complete sentences have been joined with the FANBOYS structure.  The first sentence is “Fall classes have begun at Simpson College.” The subject of that sentence is “classes,” and the verb is “have begun.” The second sentence, following the “, and” is “Students have returned to campus.” The subject is “Students,” and the verb is “have returned.”