The Most Efficient Ways of Proofreading an Academic Essay
On finishing writing an essay, most students are in a hurry to breathe a sigh of relief and quickly put it aside, ready to hand it in. This attitude is understandable, especially if you spent many hours researching for it and writing it up. However, if it is your approach, you are very likely to miss an opportunity to draw out your essay’s full potential. The first draft of any piece of writing is rarely ideal, and by foregoing adding any finishing touches after you complete your assignment, you may sometimes get a worse grade than if you applied a little bit of extra effort.
In a fraction of the time you spent writing your essay, you can significantly improve your chances of getting a better grade. If you do not want to proofread or edit your paper on your own, you can always hire a professional from a dedicated academic assistance service like AffordablePapers or writemypaperbro.com. If an essay presents a real challenge, you can even order cheap essay writing there to get a better idea of how you are supposed to perform this kind of task.
However, let us return to proofreading. It is easy to speak about it, but how should you carry it out on your own? There are many ways to improve the efficiency of the process, and today we shall talk about some of them.
Proofreading is primarily about analyzing the text at its smallest constituent units – words, phrases, and sentences. You should distance yourself from the overall meaning and logic of your essay and try to look at it at the level of individual words. When you simply reread it, you are inclined to jump over whole sentences at a time because you remember what follows what and how in general your essay is structured. To deal with this problem, try proofreading backward, one sentence or one line at a time. This will help you concentrate on the surface elements of your writing rather than its deeper meaning.
Use a Spellchecker, but Sparingly
Spellcheckers, both the ones in your word processor and independent applications available online, can be of great help when it comes to catching spelling mistakes. Unfortunately, their usefulness is rather limited. Even the better ones among them remain rather simple algorithms that have trouble figuring out anything more complex than most basic mistakes. For example, they will not help you to distinguish between “effect” and “affect”, between “they’re” and “there” and so on. That’s why it is always a good idea to find a professional proofreader or writer to help you out, in addition to an automatic spellchecker.
Keep a List of Your Typical Mistakes
It is not something you do at the moment, but rather a measure to keep in mind whenever you receive your papers from your professor or tutor after s/he rated them. All people have their own “favorite” mistakes, the ones they make regularly. Check your previous works and figure out these mistakes so that you are always aware of them and can keep track of them. When you proofread, keep them in mind and pay special attention to these types of problems – thus you will be more likely to notice them.
Go through your Essay More than Once
You will achieve much better results if you do several rereadings, each time focusing on a single aspect of your assignment – for example, the first time on spelling in general, the second time on punctuation, the third time on your typical mistakes, and so on. Of course, it may be difficult in the case of large papers, but essays are usually small enough to proofread them several times without wasting too much time.
Take a Break
Any amount of time you spend away from your paper after you have finished writing it will help you look at it from a new perspective. Immediately after you have completed your essay, your impression of it is still too fresh. You remember it too well and will be inclined to jump over sentences because you know how they are going. The more distance you put between yourself and the finished essay, the better. You should give yourself a little time to forget about it. Even twenty minutes is better than nothing, but ideally, you should set it aside for at least one night.
When we read silently, we do not read every word in the text. Research shows that to speed up reading, we process not every letter in a word, but rather the first and the last letter of every word, letting our brains fill in everything else based on our expectations. This means that when you read silently, the efficiency of your proofreading is very limited. To pay greater attention to the text, always proofread aloud. This will force you to slow down and process every single word, noticing mistakes that would otherwise elude you.
Change the Way Your Essay Looks
Anything that helps you look at your writing from a different and unusual perspective improves the quality of your proofreading. One way to achieve it is to alter how your paper looks. Change the font and font size. Add some differences to formatting. Print it out and proofread on paper. The more changes you accumulate, the more likely you will be to notice mistakes you have been glancing over multiple times already.
As you can see, proofreading is much more than simply perfunctorily looking through your essay once before submitting it to your tutor. It is just as important a step in the process of writing a paper as research and writing per se. Follow through with it, and you will certainly improve your chances of getting a better grade.