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Proofreading and Editing Your Essays, Assignments and Dissertations

One of the easiest ways to lose marks on an assignment is to neglect to proofread adequately. It is crucial to review your work carefully before submission. Although it is advisable to ask someone else to proofread your work, sometimes it is difficult to find someone willing to do this. This article will give you some general tips for proofreading and editing your own work if no one else is available.

How to Know If Proofreading and Editing is Required

While proofreading is always a necessary step of the writing process, for some students it might require more attention. These warning signs should alert you to the need for extra time for proofreading and editing:

Spell check alerts

If you use a Word Processor with a spell check or grammar check function, you can get a general overview regarding the amount of spelling and grammatical errors your work is likely to contain. While these programmes should never be relied on for accurate proofreading, they can offer a general gauge of the quality of your writing.

Prior feedback from tutors

If tutors have previously commented on your writing style this is a key indication that you need to carefully check over future assignments. Their comments may be found in the assignment cover sheet, or on the pages of the work itself – be sure to check both carefully and make a note of their suggestions for future reference.

Reading your work aloud

One of the best ways to know if your work needs editing is to ask someone else to read it out loud to you. If the punctuation is correct they will be able to read it clearly without hesitations or confusing, run-on sentences. If they struggle in this sense then you need to review your work carefully for correct punctuation and grammar.

Tips for Editing and Proofreading

Print out a copy. Many people find it easier to proofread their work if they read it from a printed copy rather than on screen.

Read each word separately. Try to read each word separately to check for any spelling mistakes. Pay careful attention to short words such as ‘a’ and ‘the’ and be sure you haven’t inadvertently written them twice.

Read it out loud. If you can’t get someone else to read your work out loud, you can do this yourself. Try to listen to yourself as you read, or better yet record yourself.

Read sections out of order. If you proofread parts of the work out of order it can help you to overcome your familiarity with it, which can otherwise prevent you from spotting errors.

Proofread separately for separate issues. Instead of trying to watch for every kind of error at once, it can help if you proofread multiple times, looking for specific issues each time.

Check for clarity and structure. Each sentence should contain one distinct idea, and each paragraph should make one general point.

Don’t forget the bibliography! Correctly formatted citations and references are essential.

If you are confused, seek help. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you are unsure about correct writing conventions. Most universities offer student support services that provide advice of this nature for students. Alternatively use professional editing and proofreading service.

Further Reading:

Greetham, B. (2013) How to write better essays. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Northedge, A. (2005) The good study guide. [S.l.]: Open University Press.