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 then 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!