If you are like most people, you dread editing and proofreading your work. You'd prefer to just write the first draft and then hand it in. Well, you can do much better. The key is knowing what to do That's why we've put together this list of six tips to help you proofread and edit your next paper.
1. Don't procrastinate. Complete your first draft early enough to set it aside for at least several hours. Then pick it up again for a more objective look at what you have written. Then you will read through it several times with a different focus each read.
2. On the first read, pay attention to the content of the paper. Notice your ideas, and whether the points are clear and fit together well. Have you made a strong argument? Are all your facts accurate? Do the sentences flow smoothly or are they awkward? Sometimes it helps to read the paper out loud.
3. During the second read, focus on common careless mistakes. Check all the spelling and remember that computers' spelling check only sees if what you have spelled is a word, but it might not be the right word for the context. Look at all the punctuation marks (commas, periods, apostrophes, colons, and quotation marks) to see if they are used correctly. Watch for any repeated words or phrases.
4. On the fourth read, analyze the whole first paragraph, then the first and last sentence of the middle paragraphs, and the whole final paragraph. These sentences should hold your entire argument and be your best work. The other sentences are for explaining your ideas further and defending them. The thesis statement should be in the first paragraph and each key sentence in other paragraphs should be connected to the ideas in your thesis, and then the thesis should be repeated in your last paragraph with different wording. Often readers skim and only look at the first/last paragraphs and the first/last sentence of each paragraph (even teachers and professors!).
5. Finally, check out your quotes and references. If you are using quotes or citing sources, then you will need to follow a particular academic writing style guide (APA, Chicago and MLA are the most common). Your syllabus will often specify which a professor requires. The style guide determines how the punctuation should appear around quotes and how you write up your final reference/bibliography list.
6. Once your final draft is prepared, consider having someone else read it for you. A second set of eyes can often pick out mistakes you may have missed.
This article was written for Brainz by Paper Proofreader.com where you can get affordable paper proofreading and editing services.