10 Proofreading Rules to Apply to Your Academic Paper Before Hiring a Professional Editor

10 proofreading rules for academic writers


When you’ve finished writing that academic paper, regardless if it’s an essay, dissertation, abstract, or an article you’d like to publish in a journal, read through these 10 proofreading rules before submitting your work or sending it to a professional editor. Don’t rush the process. These 10 guidelines, when followed, could garner you high honors and financial rewards. Why? Because most students will skip this step.



Ten proofreading guidelines for every academic writer

Here are the ten proofreading rules to apply to your academic paper before hiring a professional academic editor.

1.  After the writing phase is complete, set the work aside for two days. Schedule sufficient time before your deadline date to allow for the two-day rest period before you look at your materials again. You will see more errors when you take two days’ off than you will if you try to proofread your work immediately after writing it.


2.  Simplicity sells more than complexity. Read through your document and look for wordy phrases, words that an eighth grader wouldn’t understand, and extra-long sentences. Revise your paper with an eye for turning long sentences and paragraphs into multiple sentences that are easier for the reader to understand.


3.  Format the text in your document before setting it aside. Make sure that you have followed and applied the requirements and guidelines necessary for submission or publication. When you correctly format your document, you will more easily see errors and typos with the text that were not visible previously. For example, the right-hand margins should not be justified, and the font sizes and types must be consistent throughout the paper.

4.  Ask a friend or fellow student to read the words in your document to you while you listen. This might sound strange, but when another person reads your typed words, it will be extremely easier for you to hear the errors. When you’re reading text in a digital document, you could pass over crucial words or awkward phrases that should be corrected.

5.  Read the text out loud to yourself and listen for consistency errors. If your paper is written in the third person, make sure every sentence is consistent with that rule. This implies that your writing style will appeal to the reader. However, if you change suddenly to first person, or use an omniscient voice, the inconsistencies should be immediately apparent, and then you can correct your original document. The reason this is important is because sometimes documents are not written in one sitting. You might have written the document over several weeks or months, and the pronoun and voice errors will not be as apparent until you follow this rule.

6.  Check your document’s grammar with a software program. Many word processing programs have a grammar checker already available, but if you have not set the program to check for grammatical errors, you could be robbing yourself of a higher grade or having your paper accepted. The purpose of a grammar checker is to catch as many simple errors as possible before you hire a professional editor or turn in your paper for submission.

7.  Double-check any design elements inside your document. It’s important that you pay attention to and correct any design elements before submitting your paper. For example, does your paper include tables, charts, images, or graphic design elements? If yes, then it’s important to check everything that is not text-based before handing off your document.

8.  Check your document for plagiarism. This might shock you, but sometimes when you’re writing a document, researching the facts, etc., you could inadvertently have illegally used a copyrighted sentence, paragraph, or phrases. How do you check your document for copyright issues? You can use free programs online, or for five cents a submission, you can check up to 2,000 words through Copyscape (http://www.copyscape.com). Sometimes authors forget about these issues, especially when using quotations, creating an index, or styling words on your title page. It’s not worth the risk to skip this step. Validate your document before submitting it.

9.  Target your document to the audience who will read your paper. By reading every word, sentence, and paragraph, you can make sure that if you’re writing to the wrong audience, you’ll be able to rewrite a phrase or two so that it appeals to them, not just to you.

10.  Revise, rewrite, and revisit the document one last time. After you have completed the previous nine proofreading rules, go through the list one more time to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. When you’re sure you’ve done your best, then hire an academic editor at WordsRU to go through your document. Also, ask for written feedback for any areas that you’re doubtful about, and want advice.

2015 Best Practices

In conclusion, when you complete these ten proofreading rules, you’re ready to submit your document to a professional academic proofreader for one final editing pass. Good luck!

Editing One Million Words – Tracking Your Milestones

Life events and accomplishments sometimes share the same playing field, especially when the person doing the task measures the results, like Michael did during his freelance editing career. You see, Michael offers his editing expertise to clients who hire him through WordsRU, a professional editing and proofreading services company. Possibly you’re thinking to yourself, “What’s so great about Michael working as an editor?” But the real question should be, “What was he measuring, and how does that relate to tracking milestones through life events and accomplishments?” Here’s his story.

editing two million words

Freelance Editor, Michael

When Michael became a freelance editor at WordsRU, he was given his first assignment. That editing gig paid him a specific amount of money, per word, based on the number of words in the document. He completed the editing job, sent the revised version to the client, and waited for the client’s response. After a few back-and-forth tweaks to the written document, the client signed off on the project, and approved of the final revised edit.

The client left a five-star review for Michael’s editing expertise. (Five stars is the highest rating any editor can receive from a client.) At the end of the month, Michael reviewed the tally of editing assignments that he had completed for clients, and he looked forward to receiving payment for his services.

The following month, Michael accepted more and more editing jobs, and that’s when he decided to begin tracking the number of words that he edited for every job. Returning to the prior month’s invoice, Michael recorded the number of clients he had completed editing work for, along with the initial word count for each job.

Tracking Number of Edited Words

Michael didn’t think much about how many words he had edited until quite a few months had passed. That’s when, out of curiosity, he noticed that a sub-total amounted to a little more than 300,000 words. Before the year had ended, Michael was amazed to see that he had edited more than one million words. Now, maybe to you, it makes no difference how many words one freelance editor edited and wordsmithed to please the company and his clients. But, when I heard this story, it reminded me of how everyone around the world tracks performance with numbers.

For example, you may have heard about FitBit, which has an app and several types of devices that lets you track how many steps you’ve walked within a twenty-four-hour period. It also measures your health and fitness numbers. Or, how about stats that are accrued for every sports figure around the world? Students in every type of school imaginable receive grades and points based on their performance.

The point is that we are about to step from one year of goals for 2014 into a new year of 2015 goals. Have you thought about something in your life that you could measure and keep track of that will amaze you at the end of next year? Maybe you’re not a “numbers” person, and you feel that keeping track of something is a waste of time. But, like Michael, who tracked the number of words he had edited, it gave him a feeling of accomplishment. He matters to the world, and so do you!

Tracking Your Milestones

If you’ve never tracked anything before, the task might sound daunting, and you might have no idea where to begin. If that’s you, then WordsRU has a gift they would like to give you, yes, at no charge. Just click this link: Tracking My Success to download a PDF file that you can save and print out. Just fill in the headings for what you would like to track. Keep the document handy and record your stats. Before you know it, you will be amazed at how well you’ve become at tracking your milestones.

Sharing Your Results

If you’d like to share your personal results with us, or tell us what area of your life you’re planning to track, just leave us a comment below. Oh, and if you’d like to acknowledge Michael for his celebration of editing one million words, you can say hello to him in the comments field below, too.

Until next time, I’m wishing you success with tracking your milestones.

Candace, Contributing Editor


Dissertation Proofreading & Editing

Some universities have a requirement that their doctoral candidates must have their dissertation proofread and edited before final approval is granted. Whether you are considering dissertation proofreading because you have to or because you want to make sure your dissertation is compliant with both citation style rules and your university’s requirements, having your dissertation proofread and edited will result in a final product that reflects the huge effort you have already put into it.

Think of it this way: You’ve been looking at this paper for so long that even obvious mistakes might not be so obvious to you anymore. If your Chair and committee members have also been reading your various renditions, they might not be seeing errors in sentence-structure, spelling, and grammar, in addition to citation or university style requirements. A fresh set of eyes—in the form of an editor who is seeing your paper for the first time—will pick up issues that have become invisible to you.

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