Every other college project adds to your overall academic progress. And it doesn’t even matter if you’re about to become an English, Physics, or Philosophy major – it is still important if you hand in the best quality piece of writing.
The point here is that your written work is a representation of your knowledge, as well as how you can use what you know in practice. If you happen to make mistakes in an essay, they will 100% distract your tutor from the overall idea, presentation, research (no matter how thorough it is!), and quality of your work. That is why editing and proofreading are the fundamental parts of the writing process.
Read on our checklist to proofread and edit your paper to make sure it shines bright like a diamond with its uniqueness.
1. Does your work address the selected topic clearly?
Make sure your work actually addresses the prompt. For instance, if your prompt is “Please, tell us what you value most about Thanksgiving Day and why (250-300 words),” it is important for you to address this holiday and your personality rather than including some general facts about the harvest festival.
2. Is your paper well organized?
It doesn’t matter what structure you choose for your essay. It is important to make sure that ideas in your workflow logically and are well structured. Are all the facts provided chronologically? Do they flow well? Do they stay on topic?
3. Does your voice come through?
It is important to find out if your text shows your personality and unique voice. After all, plagiarism is something that you have to avoid at any cost! Does your work sound like you? Since your college project is a reflection of your knowledge, skills, and points of view, it needs to really demonstrate who you are behind the written text.
4. Does your paper include both long and short sentences?
To make sure your work reads and flows well it is important to focus on varying its structure. Feel free to mix up various sentence styles. In other words, ensure that your essay has both short and long sentences.
5. Are all words spelled correctly?
If you read your work aloud, you will be able to easily catch all misspellings and fix them straight away. If you fail to detect all the misspellings, they will definitely distract your professor from the main idea of your work, no matter how meaningful it is. Instead of relying on various custom writing websites and spell check apps, try re-reading your prose and use colored pens to highlight mistakes.
6. Do you properly capitalize words and use punctuation?
Again, just a couple of reading sessions, and you will catch all these mistakes with ease. For instance, one of the most popular mistakes among undergrads is misusing commas.
- Wong: Man bacon makes everything better.
- Right: Man, bacon makes everything better.
7. How about the word count?
Some tips and tricks on how to deal with the word count issues:
- Show, don’t just tell
- Cut off the blocks that restate the same issues
- Make run-on sentences shorter
- Cut out extraneous adjectives
- Eliminate unnecessary details
- Include only the sentences that contribute to the chosen topic
8. Identify repetitive issues
If you are dealing with a short essay, you don’t want to repeat the same things over and over again using different words. Even if you are 100% sure that what you say is important, find paper sections you need to edit, figure out repetitive issues, and cut them out or rewrite them.
9. Come back to your essay later
If you make a pause to distance yourself from your work for a while, you will let your fatigued brain have some rest and reload. Get back to your work in a day or two (or in 30 minutes at least!) to catch ideas that make zero sense and mistakes you didn’t notice during the first editing session.
10. Approach someone else for help
Your college instructor, college fellows, or siblings can help you detect errors and make certain that your essay is flawless. Find out who is exceptionally good at writing and hit them with your idea of a paper check.
11. Save several drafts
As a rule, college and university students tend to proofread their papers by making some changes to the document without saving the original file. But the reality is that at some point, you may realize that those changes weren’t the best decision. That is why you need to be able to get back to where you started and choose to go the other way. Make sure to keep the original document of your academic assignment so you can remember your starting point and original expressions.
In order to prevent any sort of confusion, ensure to name your drafts clearly as you save them. Just imagine how frustrated you’re going to be if you hand the wrong draft in. Unless you have a real-time machine, it is important to know what exactly your college instructor is going to receive from you.
12. Create a perfect setting
OK, this one sounds pretty obvious. However, cutting off distractions while editing and proofreading enables you to work more productively and be more focused on your content. If you’re one of the students who get easily distracted by noise from TV, music, neighbors, or people in the street, ensure to find a comfy and quiet place where you can be tête-à-tête with your thoughts and ideas. It is important for an editor to devote attention to the text at hand. If classical music or café noise helps you focus, make sure you’re in the right place.
13. Proofread more than once
There is no substitute for exerting every effort and putting your time in to check and review your college project. In order to make the most of your editing session, ensure to check your work multiple times. Take a break, ask your friends to read your essay, read it yourself, get distant for a while – do whatever you possibly can to provide yourself with multiple opportunities to proofread your writing more than once. Once you deal with multiple proofreading and editing sessions, you will have more chances to detect and fix different kinds of mistakes. Keep doing it until your work is up to your expectations and include zero plagiarized materials.
14. Check proofreading rules
Not every student can boast of having an A+ in English. Moreover, not everyone has memorized all the rules on how to deal with APA, Chicago, MLA, and other styles. If your knowledge of English grammar leaves a lot to be desired, ensure to take the time to conduct a bit of research.
Punctuation and grammar rules are definitely dull; however, that doesn’t mean you should overlook them. This is especially true when it comes to your career development and how your future employers will look at your writing. Undoubtedly, it should not be the key focus of your work, but making sure you have some basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation will pay off in the future.
15. Read backward
It is recommended to read your college paper backward, one sentence at a time. If you do so, you will have an opportunity to concentrate on the sentences, rather than getting distracted by the ideas, structure, and content of the paper.
At the end of the day, both proofreading and editing are about effort, time, and desire you’re ready to invest in the process. That’s what writing every other essay, movie review, term paper, or dissertation includes to make you, as an author, stand out. Hopefully, you can use these helpful tips and tricks to hone your writing skills!