Perhaps you’re juggling a lot of projects and need some advice on finalizing your work. Maybe English is your second language. You might find it difficult to make sentences and paragraphs flow naturally. Or perhaps you simply lack confidence – you may feel that you are not a good writer. For those of you who need guidance, here are five quick tips:
Don’t over-rely on the Microsoft spell and grammar check
This checker is great for spotting obvious errors, however, in my experience, it has suggested “corrections” that are not correct (particularly the insertion of semicolons). In addition, when it is correcting spelling errors, it may suggest the wrong word. For example, if you spell “principle” wrong, it may suggest a similar word, “principal,” which has a very different meaning.
Check my paper… by reading aloud
Reading aloud is a technique that you can use to help you proofread your paper; it is particularly useful when you are giving the document a final read. By actually reading the words out loud, it draws your attention to any small errors (e.g. missing words, awkward sentences) and gives you confidence that you didn’t miss anything. (This video from the UNC Writing Center goes into more detail… http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/reading-aloud-demo/.)
Check my paper… by getting feedback from others
Getting feedback on your paper from others (e.g. faculty, fellow students) is a great way of identifying problems (e.g. sentences that don’t make sense, missing information). When you have addressed any problems, this can give you the confidence to submit your work.
Check my paper… by hiring an academic editor
An academic editor should be able to help you with the following:
- Correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
- Checking papers for typographical errors and formatting issues.
- Revising the text for improved clarity and readability.
- Correcting poor word choice and phrasing.
- Providing recommendations on further improving the document (e.g. highlighting gaps in information and inconsistencies).
Take a break from the paper
If you are tired of re-reading and re-reading your paper, take a break and return to it when you are feeling refreshed. If you have the time, I suggest giving yourself a break of at least two days (a week is preferable). Hopefully, you will find that the document will be easier to edit/proofread when you return to it with fresh eyes.