Having been an undergraduate and postgraduate student myself, I can relate to the great deal of work that goes into writing an essay or dissertation. You’re understandably focused on researching your subject area and then writing it in a style that’s both easy to understand and academically rigorous. This focus on the content can mean that it’s easy to overlook the proofreading process.
It’s important though not to forget about proofreading your work, whether you hire a proofreader to do it for you or whether you try to do it yourself. Here are some of the key reasons why proofreading is so important:
- A text littered with spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors looks unprofessional – and this can reflect badly on your academic work, no matter how much time and effort you’ve spent researching your topic
- You might inadvertently give an unintended meaning through a mistake in your text
- Sometimes you might make a mistake that isn’t picked up by a spelling or grammar checker (because they are correct words in their own right, but not in a particular context) – this is why careful checking is required
- A text that has a minimum number of errors is more likely to be rated positively by readers
It can be difficult to proofread your own text. I find this hard myself, despite proofreading and editing for a living. But if you do want to do it yourselves, I’d recommend the following tips:
- Forget the content when you’re proofreading your work for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors – you can focus on that once you’ve identified and corrected any errors
- Don’t go directly into proofreading your work as soon as you’ve finished writing your essay or dissertation. Give yourself some time away from it first as you’re less likely to spot errors otherwise
- If your work isn’t too long, why not try reading it out loud? You’d be surprised at the number of errors you’ll spot this way that might otherwise be missed
- Take your time – don’t try to proofread while speedreading. Believe me, it won’t work and you’ll miss a lot of mistakes
- Proofread tables and figures separately from the main text. It’s very easy to miss errors in these and the task requires a lot of concentration so it’s best to go through the tables and figures at a different time.
- Ask a friend or family member to check your work once you’ve proofread it once
Good luck with proofreading your work. If you’re having difficulties, please feel free to contact me to do the job for you.