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Editing your academic essays like a professional

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Whether they are many or few, there are always errors lurking unseen in any academic paper and more often than not, spellcheckers just don’t get them all. Chances are your professor is more adept at finding them than you are, so it’s beneficial to learn the art of editing and proofreading your assignments as well as a professional writer or proof-reader can. For some, this process comes naturally; for others, it’s easier to follow a step by step guide on how to do so.

Edit step 1: Read through each sentence methodically

Avoid rushing through your essay. Take one sentence at a time and force yourself to stop at the end of every line. Check to make sure that apostrophes are used in the right places and keep your spell-ometre finely tuned. By isolating your proofreading technique to sentence for sentence, you are more likely to find errors. Do this with your whole essay before moving on to step 2.

Edit step 2: Read each paragraph out loud

Now it’s time to check your grammar. Read each paragraph out loud to yourself and ask yourself if it sounds like something you would hear at a press conference or book release. If it doesn’t sound like an expert writer wrote it, ask yourself why and re-examine the paragraph.

Edit step 3: Wait a while, and then read it again

Now that you’ve gone through your essay twice, read it again for a third time just for good measure. Don’t assume that you can just rush through this part. Go through it slowly. Be patient and methodical. A well written essay that’s void of errors will win the approval of your teacher and leave a good impression on anyone who reads it.

If you’re still not sure whether you’ve detected and removed all the errors, you can always ask a friend or family member to double check it for you. Someone who reads and/or writes a lot will spot language mistakes easily, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Also remember that if you plan to edit your own work, there’s no substitute in editing than being a reader yourself. Learn about English punctuation and grammar rules and make an effort to apply them when you write. Once it becomes a habit, you can’t go wrong.