Having put the last full stop in your writing assignment you usually sigh with relief. The hard part is over, right? Nevertheless, passing the first draft as a final version might not end as well as you hoped. To make sure your essay, research paper or whatever you’ve been working on gets the highest grade possible, you need to proofread and edit it before submitting to your professor. There are some tips, that will let you polish your writing like a pro. The interesting stuff is coming!
Let It Simmer
Once the first draft is ready, the wisest thing you can do is to leave it aside for a while. Reading the same text once again you’re likely to develop a blind spot for typos and obvious grammar mistakes. To regain sharpness of the eye, you could focus your attention on something else and move to editing your homework a bit later. This will help you have a fresh look on your work and come up with a much better, more sophisticated variant of it.
Reading text from a computer screen is a universally accepted norm at a modern workplace. However, when your purpose is not just absorbing information, but spotting little drawbacks in the text, making a hard copy can help you hit the target more precisely. Printing your writing out will help you gain a fresh look onto it and see the inaccuracies much better. Plus, taking notes in pen is like practicing the forgotten magic nowadays. It might be quite fun!
There seem to be just one drawback to the whole thing: it involves killing innocent trees. If environmental issues trouble you, use scrap paper and make every sheet count!
Walk In Your Audience’s Shoes
This one is more applicable in case you’ve created a paper in a particular narrow field of studies. Let’s say you’ve written a research paper and want to publish it in a journal. Are you sure people will get everything you wanted to say from the first time? Is your writing good enough to make them want to reread the parts that weren’t quite clear? Ask yourself these questions to avoid being misunderstood and underestimated. You obviously shouldn’t re-write the whole paper in simplistic language. To facilitate reading for your audience, you may want to explain all the specific terms and check for smooth transition between your ideas. Good academic writing is clear writing. Aim for that.
Read Out Loud
People have different channels for perceiving information. Dealing with your papers obviously involves a great level of visual perception. Having written and reread your piece for what seems to be a hundred of times, you may develop editor’s fatigue, not mentioning being sick of the whole thing. Reading out loud really helps here. Switching to auditory channel you wake your attention up. You may read the paper on your own or ask a friend or a family member to do it for you. Either way you’ll notice weird language and odd figures of speech at once. The experiment appears to be worth trying, isn’t it?
Well, this last tip is for truly crazy ones. In case your goal is perfection and nothing else, you may want to try reading your piece of writing backwards. The scope of items for revision depends on your meticulousness: you may either read by sentences, paragraphs or just go to the last page of your work and go to the beginning. This way you may not see logical blunders, but all the missed commas and misspelled words will strike your eye immediately. And it seems to be a pretty brutal exercise for your mind, right?
Thorough editing is a great contribution to your success. It brings you much closer to the perfect version of your assignment, thus, to the result you hope for. The final tip here is not to get paranoid: you may get so swamped with the drafts of your paper, that to forget where you started. Follow our tips, allocate your time efficiently and be an awesome editor for yourself. Good luck, work hard and, most importantly, have fun!