Always Leave Time for Effective Dissertation Editing and Final Proofing

As the title for this document suggests, leaving time to edit and proofread your paper is important. To be clear, if you spend a great deal of time researching details, drafting, writing, rewriting, and finally get to a point where you know you have done the best that you can do, don’t stop. That’s right! Don’t stop because you are wise to give your paper one last edit. Then, give your paper one last read to catch minor grammar, spelling, and typographical errors.

“You have worked far too hard on this paper to make such simple mistakes.” That was actually written on a research paper. Minor mistakes can ruin the effect of your well-written and well-researched paper. After all, if you are working for a business, the owners will be ashamed if your letters are riddled with grammar, spelling, and word usage problems. The work you do casts a spotlight or leaves a dark spot on your employer’s reputation. Although learning to proofread and edit well will improve your grades in school and earn you higher scores on standardized tests such as the TOEFL, it isn’t as important as doing well at work because your salary for the rest of your life will depend on the quality of your work.

Editing. Make sure the style is appropriate, not overly friendly nor overly formal. Check whether all your paragraphs support the thesis and all your supporting/detail sentences support their topic sentence (the first sentence of a paragraph). Can you reasonably use more specific nouns? For example, “a doctor” can be changed to “Dr. Smith.” Are you able to make your verbs more active? For instance, “walking” can be changed to “staggering.” The second word carries more information.

Proofreading. When you proofread, make sure names and book titles are spelled correctly. Check for grammar, capital letters, complete sentences, sentence variety and so on.

Time. You may not notice errors if you do not leave time between writing and editing/proofreading, the more the better. Mental distance helps discover errors. Read your paper aloud or ask someone else to do so.

Proofreading Tips. Professional proofreaders often use a ruler to make sure they read each sentence line for line. Many proofreaders even read back to front. They do this because when humans read words in context, they look for meaning instead of mistakes. It’s easy, then, to overlook errors. Reading back to front, however, eliminates the context.

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