Introduction to Units about Style and Mechanics


Style includes all the characteristics that make your writing distinct. Word choice, sentence length, sentence variety, and tone contribute to your style. To be effective, your style must match your writing situation.

Mechanics refer to the conventions that determine proper punctuation, capitalization, and the like.

Revising your work by paying attention to style and mechanics is called editing or proofreading. These units help you practice effective style and mechanics so that you can apply those skills in your own proofreading.


In this video, professors and a novelist talk about the importance of editing. They explain that, when readers notice mistakes, their way of reading your writing changes. To keep readers paying attention to meaning, writers need an effective style and strong control over mechanics.

According to Professor Teresa Redd, proofreading requires that you “shift gears . . . not reading for meaning in the normal way” (Berkow). Professor Betsy Klimasmith explains that you shift gears as proofreader by “notic[ing] if your sentences aren’t working” and by “learning . . . what kinds of errors you’re prone to making and how to fix those errors” (Berkow).

Download transcript.


The units in all the grammar sections help you practice recognizing correct and incorrect usage so that you will be a more effective proofreader. As you work through these units, pay attention to the topics that you find challenging. Put those topics at the top of your proofreading list when you edit your papers. Most importantly, make sure your writing style best represents you by choosing words and crafting sentences carefully.