Yesterday’s blog on checking your essay draft focused on content and making sure that you have constructed an essay well. After the essay writing is finished, how do you go about editing and proofreading your work?
Proofreading your essays
The reason you want to present your text in the best light possible is that you want to help the reader understanding your meaning. The reader, in this case, is your tutor and you don’t want them to misunderstand your meaning and mark you down. You also want to check that you haven’t made any silly mistakes that would be embarrassing.
Key essay writing points to check
The common mistakes in writing are:-
- Incomplete sentences.
- Punctuation problems – particularly where to put commas and how to use the apostrophe.
- Spelling – Some people continue to have problems choosing the correct word from these groupings:
- Confusables. These words are very close in spelling, but different in meaning, e.g. practise/practice and effect/affect.
Other points to consider
- Headings – Have you used headings to divide the text in a way that makes sense? Headings are used as signals to tell the reader about what will be coming next. The headings and the sections they refer to should be presented in an order that makes sense.
- Fonts – Avoid fancy fonts. It can be dull to always type in Arial or Times New Roman, but an essay – even one on the History of Art – is not the place to show your design skills. The reader (your tutor most likely) wants to focus on the content of the essay, that is the arguments that you have presented and the way you have structured your thoughts.
- American or British English – You may want to write or speak to your tutor to check which spellings they want. They may have a particular preference with language and if you write this way it could get you brownie points.
- Quotes – Over and over again, check that you have used quote marks where necessary and that you have footnoted material effectively. Referencing is one of the most important things to do well, since a mistake could lead to an accusation of plagiarism.
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