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The Final Mile: Editing and Proofreading Your Academic Paper

Often students get so tired of and frustrated with their latest essay that the moment they write down its last word they are too eager to get rid of it to give it another glance. However, it is this last effort that often makes all the difference. By forgoing the final bout of editing and proofreading, you often willingly decrease your grade. You can, of course, get your paper from essay writing service Customwritings.com or another agency of this kind, which will both write and proofread the text for you. However, if you want to get a decent grade on your own, the only way out is to learn the proper procedure and approach to this work – and this article will help you with it.

1. Take a Break

Always strive to complete your paper at least a couple of days before the deadline. If you let it lie for at least 24 hours before proofreading, the efficiency of this procedure will improve dramatically. The thing is, you get too acquainted with your own text as you write it. When you try to find mistakes and flaws in it, you do not so much read as recall it. You are inclined to just jump ahead instead of really paying attention. If you give your memories of the paper some time to fade, you will be able to look at it more objectively.

2. Focus on One Type of Mistakes at a Time

If you simply read your essay trying to locate mistakes, your attention is a bit scattered – you do not focus on anything in particular. Instead, look for a single type of mistakes at a time: first spelling, then grammar structures and so on. When you are trying to find something, in particular, you are more likely to do it.

3. Create a List of Your Typical Mistakes

You can improve the efficiency of the above-mentioned approach by preparing a list of mistakes you know you are likely to make. For example, if you know that you have problems with a particular type of grammar structures or tend to mix up certain words, write it down and dedicate an extra reread to rooting out these particular flaws.

4. Check the Facts

You can find grammar and spelling mistakes on their own, but errors related to facts are less obvious. Check if you got all the names, dates and figures right. Use reliable sources to do so.

5. Change the Way Your Paper Looks

Sometimes we get too used to the layout and look of the paper to notice that there is something wrong with it. You can get a fresh perspective on your writing by changing it. Choose another font type and size. Print it out.

6. Read from the Bottom Up

Another way to get out of the familiarity trap is to read your paper backward, sentence by sentence. You can improve the efficiency of this approach by using a ruler to cover everything above the line you are currently reading. Thus, you will be able to study each sentence in isolation from the text as a whole and be more critical of the word choice and structure.

7. Read the Paper Out Loud

When you read to yourself, your brain often processes the text too fast to pay attention to individual words. Research by Cambridge University shows that the brain does not even care about the order in which letters are placed within words – only the first and the last ones matter. We can read texts where all the other letters are scrambled perfectly well – which means that you can easily overlook typos and more complex mistakes. By reading the text out loud, you force yourself to slow down and pay attention to every word.

8. Use Several Different Spellcheckers

Microsoft Word’s spell checker does not catch all the mistakes, not even close. Some other tools are better at it. However, none of them is ideal, and none can replace the services of a professional human proofreader. Run a few different tools, compare their results but be critical of their conclusions: they do not notice all the mistakes and often see problems where everything is alright.

9. Get a Second Opinion

And a third, and a fourth – if you can afford it and are serious about your effort to write a perfect essay. It is not necessary to hire a proofreader, although it is always a good idea. A fellow student, an on-campus tutor, a friend, or a relative you know to be good at writing will do. Just make sure you ask somebody whom you can trust to be attentive to and critical of your writing.

Proofreading is a much more complicated process than simply rereading your essay one more time before handing it in. Paying attention to it and making a good job of it can significantly improve your chances of getting a good grade, so do not skimp on time to do it!

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