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Everything You’ll Ever Need To Know About Proofreading
Did you know that 54% (according to Jobvite.com) of the employers out there would reconsider their decision of hiring you if they noticed any error in your Tweets or Facebook posts? Now that says a lot about the weight that is added to the importance of flawless English and grammar. While we do not have any figures for what your professors and assessors think of you and your paper when you forget to proofread, we can only imagine the stats of disapproval would be a lot higher than 54%.
Well, the bottom line is –
PROOFREADING IS IMPORTANT.
It is one of those essential tools that make all the difference between a good article and great article. Because, as a writer (even if you’re just writing an academic essay for school), you’re trying to say something in an assertive way in your own voice. Your points may be sound, the structure faultless and the research impeccable, but it’ll all fall flat if the paper is full of tiny, little, apparently harmless typos and other similar bloopers. Your voice would be lost to your audience, and the once engaged and captivated reader will start looking elsewhere for something good to read. That’s hardly a pretty picture. In fact, Confucius has a very important advice to give in this regard –
“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.”
Take it from this great Chinese editor, teacher and philosopher and adopt proofreading as a strict regime by all means. We’re here to help you get started.
Let us begin with what Proofreading can Help you Achieve.
• Proofreading can create a Good Impression
You’ve worked so hard to write this essay. You pulled off several all-nighters, you’ve been to more libraries than you can count on your fingers and you’ve even taken the trouble to ensure every reference is in place. You don’t want your struggles to be wasted just because there are a handful of spelling and grammatical errors. Proofreading is the only way out, and it can help you create the desired impression.
• Proofreading can Help you Improve your Spellings and Grammar
Some words are long and particularly tricky to spell. Even the rules of grammar can get very overwhelming at times. But proofreading can remove all of these obstacles that come your way when you sit down to write. When you check your work, you’ll learn about the correct spellings and the right syntax, and pretty soon your paper would be naturally error-free.
• Proofreading can Enhance your Grades
You know, nothing puts off your teachers more than careless mistakes, and it is for this reason that you end up getting a B instead of an A. However, if you iron out these careless mistakes by proofreading and show your sincerity through it, your grades will automatically improve. All the marks that you were losing out on due to silly slip-ups will now be added back to your report card.
• Proofreading can Expand your Vocabulary
A part of proofreading is eliminating repeated words and replacing them with synonymous terms to create a better effect. That means you’ll have to keep referring to a Thesaurus (whether online or offline) now and then to find out new words, which will consequently enhance your vocabulary.
• Proofreading can help you place all your Sentences in Order
When you’re writing in a flow, it so happens sometimes that the sentences in your essay get jumbled up and you don’t even realize it. Proofreading can help you get each and every sentence in a sensible and sequential order.
So you see, proofreading is not only good for your academic papers, it’s good for you too. It helps to improve your personal English language skills as well and there’s no reason why you should not start practicing it for every paper that you ever write.
We’ve even Compiled some Very Useful Tips on How to Proofread for You!
Take a look at them, and you’ll realize that proofreading is much easier than it looks, even if you argue that you cannot proofread your paper after spending so many hours writing it.
1. Don’t kick-start the Proofreading Process till you’re done with the Writing
You may be tempted to initiate the proofreading process as and when you write so that you don’t have to do it later, but that would be wrong. The thing is – the mode you’re in when writing and the mode that you’re in when proofreading are entirely different. The creative phase your brain is in when you’re writing can make you overlook some of the commonest errors, even though you’ve just re-read the sentence written.
2. Double-space your Word Documents for Easy Error Detection
Also, enlarge the font by at least up to two sizes than your normal for easy visibility and reading. That way, you won’t strain your eyes to notice the errors or end up missing them because you weren’t able to spot them clearly. Moreover, double-spacing every document that you write gives you enough space to make changes above and below your sentences. These changes are easier to incorporate in your final write-up as they are plainly noticeable.
3. Get a Printout and use a Red pen to Alter Mistakes
You may unconsciously not be able to find quite a few grammar and spelling faux pas on a word doc, if that’s how you’ve written your paper in the first place. Printing it out (especially in a different color) will help as subconsciously, you’ll be looking at your paper in an entirely different light, and your mind will be able to notice even the tiniest of errors. Take a red pen (or any color that doesn’t match that of the font’s) and strike out and suggest alternatives for the mistakes you find. But don’t worry if you don’t have a printing machine handy or don’t have the time to get a printout. Just change the font style and color, and the results will be the same.
4. Read Every Word Out Loud
The biggest advantage of reading out loud and checking your mistakes is unlike reading in your mind, your pace is much slower which allows for clarity. This clarity will help you spot errors that you may skip when you read silently. But if reading out loud feels awkward to you, you can still pronounce every word under your breath to achieve the same effect. Even so, if that too is not your style, there’s still another option. You can make someone else (a friend, a member of your family etc.) read your write-up loudly. When that person will be reading, it’ll be your job to pay close attention to every word that’s being spoken and make notes of the sections that appear problematic when heard. Every time he/she falters, you can take it as an indication that something’s missing or wrong. Fluency matters too, and if the reader is unable to read in a flow that could mean your sentences have not been properly phrased or that the punctuations used are incorrect. However, if you’re asking someone else to read out for you, ensure you choose someone who is fluent and well-versed in English language and marks out the difficult portions in your paper for you.
5. Create a Proofreading Journal to Record your Mistakes
You can call it your very own proofreading ‘log’ like that of a captain’s aboard a ship. Well, this journal can come in very handy when you sit down to proofread. Fill up the log with all the gaffes you make frequently and turn it into a reference list that you use as a starting point every time you proofread. But how do you know of all the blunders you typically make? Simple. Just take out the stack of previously graded papers, scan through them for common boo-boos and list them down in your blog
6. Break up your Proofreading Sessions for Longer Body of Works
Say you’ve been asked to do a dissertation. Now that can be anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 words, and proofreading it all at one go is nearly impossible. Your brain would get too tired beyond 1000 words to be able to spot any further faults in the write-up, and the whole exercise will prove to be futile. Therefore, when the body of work is this vast, it’ll be wiser to break it up into small chunks and then proofread.
7. Make full use of the Proofreading Tools Microsoft has to Offer
Microsoft Word is a pure genius that can be of great assistance while proofreading. You can run a cursory spell check on the entire document before you actually start reading each and every line of what you’ve written. Additionally, it has a very useful feature known as ‘track changes’ under the ‘review’ tab that allows you to add comments, make changes and view the changes you’ve made at the side of your document in small word bubbles. You can even decide to keep or reject the edits you’ve made through this feature. Pay attention to all the green and red lines that Word Doc flashes and right click them to view the suggestions. Just exercise caution though and don’t take every recommendation at face value as they may not always be right.
8. Go Line by Line and Keep it Slow
Whenever you’re proofreading, always make it a point to read each and every line as slowly and as carefully as possible. This’ll help you to focus on how you’ve used the words, punctuations and rules of grammar to your advantage. If anything seems amiss, change it. Also, to prevent yourself from getting distracted by the lines that follow, cover up the portions that come right below the line you’re reading. This’ll increase your focus and prevent you from skipping ahead of potential mistakes.
9. Check and Double check Stats, Facts, Quotes
Facts, figures and quotes – these are meant to enrich your write-up and add tremendous value to it that can be instrumental in taking your grades a notch above. This is why you need to double check each of these when you’re proofreading. So keep the source handy while scrutinizing them for any possible error or you’ll lose more marks than you would otherwise.
10. Start the Process Backwards
If correcting spelling mistakes is your only concern, you won’t find a better technique than this. Your mind is actually capable of observing spelling errors twice as better when reading the entire document, from end to the beginning. You’ll also be more alert of the way you’ve used punctuations, and in all likelihood will be able to catch maximum of the errors made.
No, this blog doesn’t end here. If proofreading manually isn’t to your liking and you’d rather make use of a shortcut, you can employ online proofreading software and tools. Here’s the top 5 that we recommend.
PolishMyWriting is a very effective tool for finding any and every spelling error that is present in your copy. The user interface of this proofreading tool is very simple, and you just have to copy-paste your paper onto the box present on the website. Every spelling error made will be highlighted in red, and the correct suggestions for each of those words will be made in blue. Grammatical mistakes you make will be highlighted in green, and you’ll get suggestions on how to turn passive voice sentences into active ones.
2. Google Docs
Just like the Microsoft Word has its own basic, rudimentary proofreader, so does the Google Docs. The only difference is that Google’s tool is much more powerful. You can not only create documents in Google Docs; you can edit and proofread them too. The greatest benefit of making changes to your document on Google Docs is that the altered version will automatically get saved on Google Drive if you have a Google account, and you can get access to the altered document from any system all across the globe.
Ginger is a bit different from the rest. Although the layout is quite similar to PolishMyWriting, the unique feature of Ginger is that it also points out the wrong use of articles and tenses. The accuracy with which Ginger corrects your document is unmatched and the icing on the cake is that it’s free tool!
PaperRater is the one for you if you like the straightforward, gold old fashioned approach to editing and hate installing plugins on your system in order to proofread your copy. Much like every other tool out there, you have to visit PaperRater’s website, paste your article and see the list of errors you’ve made unconsciously throughout your document. The advantage here though is that PaperRater also provides plagiarism reports so you can avoid the unpleasant situation of submitting a plagiarized document. Plus, it has other features too such as proofreading your paper according to the level of difficulty you specify or its type (term paper, dissertation, etc.)
This tool is perfect if you’re working on a group project and need to proofread your individual section. And the good thing is that the track changes you make will be available for every collaborator to see. However, this is not a free tool, although you get a 14-day trial. If you want a free substitute for collaborative editing, we suggest you try Google Docs.
Proofreading is one aspect of your assignment that you shouldn’t take lightly. Not only does proofreading provide you with a polished, crisp and error-free document, but it also reveals your sincerity towards your work to your teacher, and saves you from creating a negative impression. Turn this into a general habit and your grades will soar.
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Proofreading is indeed an art and you need to have an eye for spotting errors, or the whole exercise is moot. Don’t worry if you don’t have that keen an eye, and find it impossible to proofread your own paper. Just connect with MyAssignmenthelp.com, and our team of expert proofreaders and editors will get cracking on your assignment right away.
Each member of our proofreading and editing team have completed professional courses in editing and proofreading and have years of experience in the proofreading field. They also detect plagiarism (if any) and make the relevant changes before sending out the copy to you. Price is never an issue with us, and you can be sure that we’ll never overcharge you. Call us on +61-2-6100-3843 to know more.