How to Effectively Proofread Your Academic Assignment

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Proofreading is the most important part of all types of writing assignments, academic and professional. Even though professional writers make sure that they put their work through this procedure, students often don’t. It is partially due to lack of awareness and to a certain extent, due to lack of time.

Proofreading
can only be done as the very last part of the process involved in a writing assignment. If you do it before you have completed all the other steps of your assignment, it will not be able to serve the purpose. This is sometimes a disadvantage because it often happens that the assignment takes longer than expected, to be completed. In such cases, the students are hardly left with any choice but to submit their work without proofing it. But unfortunately, if this one work is ignored, all the rest of your efforts could go waste as spelling mistakes can make the assignment look highly unimpressive.

The first step is to include it in your initial planning itself. When you plan your research process, leave extra time towards the end to be used in case you fail to stick to your original time sheet. That way, you will still have time left for proof reading even if your research does not get over within the expected time.

Once you have prepared the final draft, do not try to proof it immediately. You will not be able to notice or pick the spelling mistakes if you go through it immediately after writing it. Ideally, leave at least one day’s gap between the completion of your final draft and the proof-reading work. When you look at your work after that much time, it will be very easy to spot the mistakes.

If you are using a program which has a spell-checker, you can run your draft through that once. But there are spelling mistakes which even the spell checkers don’t spot. For example, there will be contexts where you want to use ‘where’ but have accidentally typed ‘were’. It is also possible that both words fit into the line, but if wrongly spelled, the line will not convey the intended idea. Hence, running your work through a spell-checker program, alone, will not serve the purpose of proofreading your document.

As the first step you can run your document through your spell checker; but after that, you have to read through your document yourself. The spell checker can be used immediately after you finish preparing the final draft of your writing assignment. But remember to wait for a day, or at least half a day, before you read through your document.

While reading your research paper, essay or any other writing assignment for proofing purposes, focus on the fact that you are looking for spelling mistakes. If you forget that, you might read on without spotting the errors. Throughout the process you concentration should be on the words you have typed out, rather than the content of the assignment.

Proofreading always runs the risk of not being perfect, if done by the writer himself. Hence it will be ideal if you can get it done by people who specialize in proofreading services.

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