So many students simply neglect the last stage of writing, which is actually meant for editing and proofreading. You’ve already spent hours, if not days, writing a piece, so dedicating another hour or two to re-reading it again seems like a lot of work for many. Some students even don’t like reading their own texts due to their insecurity and doubts about their work. Reading what you have just rode may start many self-doubts in their heads. So they avoid doing it altogether. But, of course, such an approach is very wrong and can do no good to those young people.
On the other hand, some students approach editing like it is just meant to check some spelling errors and grammar mistakes. That is another common and unfortunate misstep on their side. There is a whole essay editing checklist to go through when you are trying to improve your work. Overall, this stage is your last chance to perfect your paper, so wasting it only on searching random misspells. In fact, you have a lot more to do here than just that. Let’s see the main stages of the professional editing checklist that every student must complete after finishing their academic paper.
First of all, you should better check whether you complied with the guidelines provided by your instructor. See how well you followed all your instructions. Missing out on some of the requirements can be your first mistake. To avoid this, read your instructions once again and check every point of that list.
Start with the formatting. See whether you understand the formatting right. Maybe read the rules of your prescribed format once again. Next, see how well you did with the in-text citations. For instance, MLA formatting requires the name of the author and the page number of each citation you put in your text when APA needs the author’s name and the year of the publications. This is a big difference that can really cost you if you confuse those.
In addition, check all the smaller details like the title page, spacing, fonts, indentations, etc. Everything must be perfect and follow the exact requirements you were given. It seems small to you, but your instructor will notice the differences right away. After all, formatting and style guidelines are there to respect the academic standard of writing.
Once you are done with checking your writing style, it’s time to check your structure. First of all, the structure of your work will depend on the type of paper you are writing. Hence, you have to take the nature of your assignment into account. However, the most common paper structure is a so-called ‘five-body paragraphs’ structure. It implies that you must have:
- Main body.
Make sure you are not missing any section that was required by your instructions, such as an abstract or reference page.
The logical organization of your sections and paragraphs is also important. See that you introduce your evidence and arguments in the right order, or else it won’t be comprehensive for the readers.
Any proper proofreading checklist will always include the flow of your text. At this stage, you should read your work and see how well you deliver your message. Logical flow can be crucial in people’s perception of your paper. Hence, you have to make sure your text is easy to read. First, you must have proper transitional sentences between each paragraph and section. These transitions allow your readers to move in between your main ideas without losing your flow of thought. Second, transitions allow you to create logical links between your main ideas, creating a more coherent and convincing text.
A good editor will always focus on the content of the text. Here, you will need to pay attention to what you are saying and how you are doing it. First of all, see whether you are consistent. First, your tone must be the same throughout the text. Secondly, see if you are actually delivering on the promises that you made in the beginning. You can’t promise your readers one thing and start talking about the other midway. This is the inconsistency that will most definitely lower your grade.
Lastly, see whether you have enough evidence to support your statements. It’s not enough to provide your ideas and arguments without explaining why they are worthy of your readers’ trust. The evidence, references, and collected data should deliver a sense of reliability that you can reach with only your words and opinions.
No writing editing checklist is complete without checking the grammar. It is a necessary task for you to do. However, as you can see, the quality check comes way below in the overall editing checklist. Why? Well, because you will have to do a lot of work, revising, and correction before you can get to this point. During all the previous stages, you will still make a lot of changes in the text. Hence, it is still incomplete, and you better focus on perfecting the structure and content. Also, While doing so, you may notice some of the mistakes you made and be able to change them as you go, which is convenient.
However, up until now, you had bigger tasks at hand. Professors will often be more forgiving about a few punctuation or grammar mistakes than about failing to meet the right format or lacking important evidence in the text. (Unless you are writing an English paper, where grammar plays a crucial role, of course.) So, overall, the grammar check should be among the last stages of your revision.
Nothing speaks of poor attention and lack of professionalism other than poor spelling work. Sure, often, those are just these little petty mistakes that we make completely unintentionally. However, they can cost us. A misspelled word, small typo, or lack of consistency in writing certain terms or words can have sad consequences for you.
Working on a tight deadline can be very stressful. Most mistakes occur due to stress and lack of focus. This is when you can miss out on that little apostrophe. This is also why we should all follow the revising and editing checklist to avoid that from happening.
Also, make sure you use all your words correctly in the right context. Sometimes the formal writing style can be overwhelming, and we try too hard to make it sound more ‘academic’ than it needs to. In such cases, we make many grammatical mistakes.
By now, you must know where your weakest spots are when it comes to punctuation. For instance, many get confused about where to put commas in long sentences. Others tend to overuse semicolons, placing them where they could have avoided them at all. So, learn to know your weak spots and either work through them or avoid any positions where you may fail. For example, you can always make two short sentences instead of one long sentence. Also, unlike in previous points, here, you can rely on a grammar site to spot most of your errors.
Last but not least, don’t forget to run your text through the plagiarism check. Even if you were completely original with your ideas and narrative, you still might get in trouble for plagiarism. You could have made some mistakes in your referencing style or did poor paraphrasing of other authors. Overall, the check won’t hurt. Besides, it will be much better if you personally detect plagiarism and correct it compared to your professors finding it independently.