Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle but wrote principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.
Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.
If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, classmate, or peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.
Your finished assignment should be properly formatted, following the style required of you. Formatting includes the style of the title, margin size, page number placement, location of the writer’s name, and other factors. Your instructor or department may require a specific style to be used. The requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide, especially when citations of sources are included.
To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.
With the help of Checklist 12.4, edit and proofread your essay.
Checking Citations and Formatting
When editing a research paper, it is also important to check that you have cited sources properly and formatted your document according to the specified guidelines. There are two reasons for this. First, citing sources correctly ensures that you give proper credit to other people for ideas and information that helped you in your work. Second, using correct formatting establishes your paper as one student’s contribution to the work developed by and for a larger academic community. Increasingly, American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines are the standard for many academic fields. Use Checklist 12.5: Citations and Formatting to help.
Checklist 12.5: Citations and Formatting
Within the body of my paper, each fact or idea taken from a source is credited to the correct source.
Each in-text citation includes the source author’s name (or, where applicable, the organization name or source title) and year of publication. I have used the correct format of in text and parenthetical citations.
Each source cited in the body of my paper has a corresponding entry in the references section of my paper.
My references section includes a heading and double-spaced alphabetized entries.
Each entry in my references section is indented on the second line and all subsequent lines.
Each entry in my references section includes all the necessary information for that source type, in the correct sequence and format.
My paper includes a title page.
My paper includes a running head.
The margins of my paper are set at one inch. Text is double spaced and set in a standard 12-point font.
For detailed guidelines on APA citation and formatting, see Chapter 9.
Writing at Work
Following APA citation and formatting guidelines may require time and effort. However, it is good practice for learning how to follow accepted conventions in any professional field. Many large corporations create a style manual with guidelines for editing and formatting documents produced by that corporation. Employees follow the style manual when creating internal documents and documents for publication.
During the process of revising and editing, Jorge made changes in the content and style of his paper. He also gave the paper a final review to check for overall correctness and, particularly, correct APA citations and formatting. Read the final draft of his paper.
With the help of Checklist 12.5, edit and proofread your essay.
Although you probably do not want to look at your paper again before you submit it to your instructor, take the time to do a final check. Since you have already worked through all of the checklists above focusing on certain aspects at one time, working through one final checklist should confirm you have written a strong, persuasive essay and that everything is the way you want it to be. As extra insurance you have produced a strong paper, you may even want someone else to double-check your essay using Checklist 12.6: Final Revision. Then you can compare to see how your perceptions of your paper match those of someone else, essentially having that person act as the one who will be grading your paper.
Checklist 12.6: Final Revision
|First Revision 1: Organization
|Do you show you understand the assignment: purpose, audience, and genre?
|Focus: Have you clearly stated your thesis (your controlling idea) in the first paragraph?
|Does your thesis statement catch the reader’s attention?
|Unity: Write your opening and closing paragraphs and place each topic sentence in between. You should have a “mini essay” with several different main points supporting your thesis.
|Are your paragraphs organized in a logical manner?
|Does each topic sentence (per paragraph) logically follow the one preceding it?
|Do you have several points to support your thesis?
|___ ___ ___
|Check whether your paragraphs are organized according to a specific pattern.
|Would rearranging your paragraphs support your thesis better?
|Have you provided a comprehensive conclusion to your essay? Does it summarize your main points (using different words)?
|First Revision 2: Paragraphs and Sentences
|___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
|Does each paragraph have main points and supporting details?
|Does each paragraph have only one main point?
|Is your approach or pattern used to develop your paragraph’s main point followed?
|Check that each sentence is relevant to the main point of the paragraph.
|Are there several sentences giving details, facts, quotes, reasons, and arguments in each paragraph?
|Is each supporting detail specific, concrete, and relevant to the topic sentence?
|Does each sentence logically follow the preceding one?
|Have you used transitional words to help the reader follow your thoughts? If not, add them.
|Paragraph length: If too short, develop further. If too long, break into smaller paragraphs or consolidate some sentences.
|Check your essay for tone and point of view.
|Second Revision 1: Sentences and Usage
|___ ___ ___ ___
|Confirm that each sentence has a subject and a verb.
|Revise fragments, splices, and run-on sentences.
|Check modifiers to see if they have been put in unclear places.
|Do you have a variety of sentence structures? (simple and complex)
|___ ___ ___ ___ ___
|Scan for subject-verb agreement in each sentence.
|Are you consistent with your verb tenses? Check to make sure there are not any confusing or irrelevant tense changes.
|Make sure that words in lists are in parallel forms.
|Think through your pronouns; what is each one referring to?
|Check for confusing “person” shifts within paragraphs. Keep the subjects consistent.
|___ ___ ___ ___ ___
|Identify all verbs and change any that are passive to active.
|Use strong verbs not weak adverbs. Say something “is” not that it “may be.”
|Check for wordiness.
|Scan to make sure you have not used the same word repeatedly in the same sentence and paragraph. Use a thesaurus.
|Look for and eliminate clichés.
|Second Revision 2: Documentation
|___ ___ ___ ___
|Have you documented all your references?
|Have you used in text citations every time they were needed? Have you formatted all your citations correctly?
|Is your references’ section complete and correct according to the JIBC APA Style Guide.
|Second Revision 3: Mechanics
|Check that all words and sentences are punctuated according to standard usage.
|Check for spelling and typographical errors.
|Third Revision: Content
|___ ___ ___ ___
|Read your essay aloud. Do you believe what you have written?
|At this point do you develop your controlling idea in a way that makes sense?
|Have you provided enough background information? Is it relevant/necessary?
|Have you primarily used paraphrasing as opposed to direct quotations?
You should now be confident you have produced a strong argument that is wonderfully constructed and that you will be able to persuade your audience that your points and point of view are valid.
- During revising, you add, cut, move, or change information in order to improve content.
- During editing, you take a second look at the words and sentences you used to express your ideas and fix any problems in grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
- Remember to budget time for careful editing and proofreading. Use all available resources, including editing checklists, peer editing, and your institution’s writing lab, to improve your editing skills.
- Organization in a research paper means that the argument proceeds logically from the introduction to the body to the conclusion. It flows logically from one point to the next. When revising a research paper, evaluate the organization of the paper as a whole and the organization of individual paragraphs.
- In a cohesive research paper, the elements of the paper work together smoothly and naturally. When revising a research paper, evaluate its cohesion. In particular, check that information from research is smoothly integrated with your ideas.
- An effective research paper uses a style and tone that are appropriately academic and serious. When revising a research paper, check that the style and tone are consistent throughout.
- Editing a research paper involves checking for errors in grammar, mechanics, punctuation, usage, spelling, citations, and formatting.