Proofreading is a challenging but necessary part of any writing. And it is crucial when it comes to an academic assignment. It is completely normal when proofreading and polishing your essay takes a decent amount of time. After all, the first draft is rarely perfect.
A professional proofreader will tell you one rule – essay editing is equally as important as research and writing. It includes not only grammar or spelling, but also logical flow, meeting requirements, and argumentation. If you want to polish your essay to perfection, follow these steps.
Step 1. First Read
Reread your essay to understand how fully it answers the question raised. The first thing to do after you’ve finished writing is to put it away for some time. You need to recharge your cognitive powers and relax for a couple of hours or even a whole day if you have the time. After that, you can start reading it.
The first thing to check is how fully the subject is covered. Consider it as a whole paper and try to analyze whether you’ve answered the topic question. Ask yourself the following questions.
- Have you provided the necessary arguments?
- Is the flow logical and understandable?
- Is it easy to comprehend?
- Does your essay follow the usual structure?
Step 2. Double-Check
Read the assignment requirements once again. Professors usually provide students with quite specific instructions regarding an essay. Now it is time to check once again whether you’ve followed them correctly. Examine everything – from the number of words to coverage of a specific topic. Have you used appropriate sources? Have you followed the guidelines correctly? Precision is the key.
Step 3. Deeper Analysis
Now is the time to analyze each structural part individually. Effective proofreading takes time as multiple techniques will help you check each aspect of writing. Some of them include starting from the end and analyzing each sentence without context. Other proofread by reading backward. One of the best tips here is to print your essay out – it is easier to spot any mistakes on paper than on screen.
Read each structural part separately – the introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. Is the introduction concise? Have you developed your thesis statement correctly? Is it easy to understand the thesis statement you are making? The introduction sets the tone of the essay and gives a preview of what you are going to dwell on. Make sure that it serves that purpose.
The main body follows the paragraph structure. Each paragraph should develop one idea or argument at a time. The general rule is to build your argumentation from the strongest point to the weakest. Make sure that you’ve done it. Each paragraph starts with the sentence presenting a supporting argument for the thesis statement.
The conclusion is not just a repetition of the introduction. It is an extremely important part as it is the last thing the audience will read. It should be powerful, memorable, and consistent with the whole paper.
Step 4. Read Out Loud
Present it aloud or ask for help. It is better to have some time after the previous step and this one. Maybe the next day, so you can rest from your own essay and be more concentrated on finding any weak spots. If one does every step in one sitting, it is easy to get tired and look over the errors.
To have a more objective view of a revised essay, one can read it aloud. Do it as though you had to present it to the audience, with necessary pauses and accents. It helps to feel the overall writing flow. This will also allow you to understand how powerful it is in terms of argumentation.
Another great idea is to ask someone to read it and give their feedback. If it is your fellow student, you can get a more professional opinion. If it is someone who is not specialized in this topic, you’ll get an objective opinion on how comprehensive your explanation is.
Step 5. Spelling And Grammar
Now, when you are sure about the structure, writing, and argumentation, it is time to get into details. The first thing is to check spelling and grammar. You can use software tools like Grammarly to find any imperfections that the naked eye might have missed. It is a great tool but one still needs to be critical about any suggestions as you know your own writing better.
Secondly, check the readability by software like Hemingway editor. It gives the overall grade of text’s simplicity and highlights any imperfections, like the use of passive voice or adverbs. Here, you can tweak all hard-to-understand sentences.
And last but not least is to check the text for plagiarism. Any academic paper should be at least 90% unique so it is an essential step. There are several online services that can help with it. If any similarities are detected, you can make alterations or make sure that the source is cited properly.
Step 6. Take Care Of Formatting.
This is the final step before an essay is perfect. It is time to take care of all the formal details. Prepare a cover sheet with all the essential information. Make sure that page formatting and structure is according to university requirements. Number the pages. Also, make sure that your references page and all the citations conform to the desired format – MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.
If you are not sure how to reference an online source, just find it in Google Scholar. In the search results under each source, there is a quotation sign. Click on it and you’ll see the box with the reference formed in MLA and APA. You can just copy the one you need and paste it in the “works cited” page.
Sometimes, proofreading and checking everything takes as long as writing. And it is quite common, as there are several crucial steps. The secret is to have a decent amount of time to follow them. Start by evaluating the quality of your draft and how it answers the main questions. Always make sure that the essay follows professors’ guidelines, it formatted correctly, and contains no mistakes.