26.9.14

How to Edit and Proofread Your Writing

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Proofreading requires a lot of knowledge about the English language and how it fits together. If you want to show the use of higher level English within your academic essays then you need to learn all about the written English language. 

If you have a fair amount of knowledge about the written word, then this article may be able to help you fine-tune your proofreading skills by helping you approach it in a different way.

How to Edit and Proofread Your Writing

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Get Your Subject and Verb Agreement Correct 
This is one of the trickier parts of the English written word. Do you use “is” or “are” is often the biggest sticking point. If you struggle with verb and subject agreement as a rule, then check each sentence in which these words appear: has, have, is, and are. 

Yes, there are plenty more verbs out there for you to mess up, but the most common errors happen with those four verbs. 

Check each sentence that has them to be sure you have got it right. If you are unsure, then Google the answer and often you will find an example that helps you directly. Just try to remember that a singular subject requires a singular verb, and a plural subject should have a plural verb. 

Forget the second part of that rule because you only need the first part--singular requires singular. If it is not singular it is plural by default, and that goes without saying. The only exception is if the compound subject is referring to the same thing or same person.

Contradictions can creep into your work 
It is easy to contradict your own arguments in your work if your essay happens to be a long one. You may make a very valid point in one section and make an equally valid and equally true counterargument that contradicts your first argument. 

If you intended to do this then you would have referenced the first argument before contradicting it, but if you did not mean to do this then you for weakened your essay. 

You can check for contradictions by making small notes on your work as you read it through. Pretend you are making a mini review of your essay and make a note of each argument/point. Once you are finished you can look over the notes to see if any points/arguments are contradicted by others.


Check the balance and weight of your essay 
You need to do a full read through whilst just looking for weight and balance issues. These are things such as when you have two arguments and you dedicate a lot of attention to one whilst offering a flimsy amount for the second. You can check the balance by looking at how you have weighted the word count. 

This is especially important if your essay question is in several parts because you do not want to dedicate too much word count to one part whilst almost neglecting the others. Looking through your work specifically for weight issues alone will help you pick them out.

Proofread one sentence at a time 
Many people suggest this tip because it forces you to look at each sentence independently. You can see sentence fragments doing this because on its own it will make no sense. 

You can also see thing such as when you have split a sentence or if the structure is confusing. Plus, it helps to stop you skim reading and missing errors. 

See: How to Enable Handwriting Input for Gmail and Google Docs

Use your spellchecker carefully 
This means you should not take every suggestion it throws out at you. It also means you should go over the paragraphs that contain some errors. For example, if it shows you a spelling error, then you can take the suggestion of the spellchecker and move on.

But, if it claims something such as you being too wordy, then turn off the spellchecker and proofread the entire paragraph that contains the wordy sentence. You may find that the wordy sentence is needed in order to get the point of the paragraph across in the least confusing manner.

You make mistakes consistently so keep a look out for them 
We all learn in different ways and we often learn the same mistakes that we continually commit. For example, you may have gotten into the habit of typing the word “Internet” without the capital “I”. Identify the errors you make consistently though not purposefully. 

Even with a mistake such as the Internet example, you could just use the find and replace function on your word processor, enter the word “Internet” and replace all occurrences of that word in one go with the capitalized version.


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