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Creating Better Academic Papers: How to Edit and Proofread Your Writing

It would be great if you could proofread your own academic articles, wouldn’t it? For the sake of fast writing, no one really has time to recheck every sentence after it’s been typed—most of us leave that till later. So when the time comes to proofread and edit your paper, what steps do you follow?

If you answered, “None at all,” then you may want to consider the fact that not proofreading your work can be the difference between passing and failing. Try the following tips when doing so the next time.

Before you start

It’s not a good idea to proofread right after you’ve finished writing. Give it a few hours or even a day if you can. The same applies for the sections you plan to proofread. Keep reasonable gaps between proofreading sessions and consider making a session no longer than 30 minutes.

Check names, dates, and locations first

The first thing you should check is all your personalized details. These include:

  • Dates (make sure of the format too depending on the style)
  • Spelling of countries, states, towns and cities
  • Names of people
  • Names of your sources within your referencing section

Watch out for the usual suspects

Get into the habit of looking out for words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Examples of these are:

  • There/Their
  • Bare/Bear
  • To/Too/Two
  • Course/Coarse
  • Grate/Great
  • No/Know
  • Whether/Weather

There are many of these so you may want to source a list of homonyms on the web. The more you write, the more you’ll take notice of these words.

The zigzag method

A good way to check for spelling mistakes is by using the zigzag method. This method involves scanning over the words forwards and backwards in a quick motion so as to focus on word spelling rather than sentence structure. It'll move the spellchecking process along nice and quickly.

How to detect grammar and punctuation mistakes

Syntax errors are quickly picked up if text is spoken out loud. A short pause should represent a comma and a longer pause a period. Look out for those words that contain apostrophes. This can be confusing to many, so check on English sites for help if you’re unsure. Grammar will also be identified easily if text is read aloud.

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