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Editing Checklist for Higher Grade
Proofreading list, editing checklist, or revision checklist – it comes in many names, but no matter how each university calls it, editing or revising shall remain as the final and arguably the most crucial step in writing. Proofreading is an essential step in writing be it dissertation writing, research writing, creative writing, or even in preparing your resume or a PowerPoint presentation , because this stage ensures that your paper is free from unforgivable errors. Academic writing, to be honest, can be pretty exhausting because the amount of effort every student gives in meeting their requirements is no joke, and sometimes, one tend to forget or overlook a few mistakes in the paper.
Before we go down to our actual checklist, first you need to understand the following concepts which are highly significant in proofreading.
Did you know that the subconscious part of your mind is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious mind? And in your subconscious mind is where the writing crutches latch. Writing crutches are the writing habits which you do not notice immediately, especially when you are in the groove of pouring your ideas into a paper. For instance, you got that tendency to begin your essay with a question or often utilize compound sentences even when you do not need to – it is not a mistake most of the time, but doing this in a lot of your essays can weaken your writing skills. Sure, it may sound great as you are writing it, but when you try to visit your previous works, it can be a little embarrassing. What you can do is slow down and try to catch these crutches, and allow yourself to know your writing style better. Knowing these subconscious writing habits allows you to be more aware of your writing and avoid them later on.
The Oxford Comma
The absence of oxford or serial comma can bring about a lot of ambiguities and peculiar sentences. You see, missing commas can make Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe become your parents: “I dedicate the success of this dissertation to my parents, Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe” – missing commas can even make Hillary Clinton and the current United States President Donald Trump the performing clowns in your nephew’s birthday party: “I ensured the entertainment part of my nephew’s seventh birthday party by inviting the community clowns, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump” – that does not sound right, aye? So do yourself a favor, be vigilant with your punctuation marks . The same goes with hyphenation. We all know that English is a crazy language, and same words can have two different meanings depending on punctuation such as: “Man-eating shark emerged” versus “Man eating shark emerged”.
No, you cannot interchange “which” and “that”
Darling, we all believed that “which” and “that” can be used interchangeably, however, remember your restrictive and non-restrictive clauses lesson? Yes, there is such a thing, and yes, that rule exists. The word “that” is utilized only for restrictive clauses – a clause that completes the thought of a statement, hence, cannot be removed. “Which”, on the other hand, is utilized for non-restrictive clauses – a modifier which can be deleted, yet does not change the initial meaning of the statement. This is one of the most common mistakes in writing that anybody, even the professionals, can commit.
Avoid them – avoid them at all cost. There is really nothing else we can tell you about this, just avoid them. Clichés is also one of the crutches that you need to be aware of because people who think that they are not that good as a writer, so they leans towards utilizing generally acceptable statements made prominent in ancient writings. In fact, you will be surprised how much clichés there could be in some of your paragraphs. Keep in mind, though, that there are plenty of ways to improve your writing style. Avoiding cliches is one of them.
Crutches, punctuation, clichés, and the “which” and “that” fiasco are only a few of the reasons why you need this editing checklist in your pocket whenever you are writing:
1. Did you take a break?
This may sound like a joke, however, believe us - it is necessary. You need to give yourself a rest in order for your eyes to be fresh to easily spot the errors.
2. Technical Format
- Is the text readable? The universal text style is Arial or Times New Roman at size 12 font.
- Is the text double-spaced? As a general rule, an academic paper must be double-spaced, however, there are some schools that prefer single-spacing.
- Did you set the margins at 1-inch on all sides? Dissertations and theses usually require two inches of margin from the left side of the paper for binding.
- Is it written in third person? Academic papers, unless it is a reflection, should always be written in the third person perspective – no I, me, you, her, etc.
- Does it conform to the standard style? Remember that British and American writing styles are two different entities in many ways, so keep that in mind. Be consistent.
- Did you follow the required academic style? In academic writing, every paper has to follow the rules of a specific academic style including, but not limited to, APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard.
- Did you meet the word count requirement?
- Do you have an introduction?
- Do you have a thesis statement?
- Did you separate the body paragraph(s) from your introduction?
- Do you have a topic sentence for each paragraph?
- Do you have a transition from one paragraph to another?
- Do you have a conclusion?
- Did you cite important information?
- Did you use proper punctuation marks (e.g. quotation marks for direct quotes, etc.)?
- Did you use block formatting for direct quotes over 25 words?
- Did you paraphrase other information properly?
Grammar and Word Usage
- Did you spellcheck and ensure that you have completely shied away from the common errors?
- Are there any deviant terms that need replacing?
- Did you get rid of the run-on statements?
- Are there still sentence fragments or sentences that do not represent a complete thought?
- Is your paper in active voice?
- Did you use the proper prepositions?
- Is it clear?
- Is there a weak argument?
- Is the paper interesting?
- Did you meet the instructions?
- Did you use illustrations to elaborate your thoughts?
- Did you use enough scholarly evidence to ensure the credibility of your analysis?
- Is the language appropriate for your readers?
- Is the purpose clear?
- Are there irrelevant details in the paper?
- Is the conclusion powerful enough to maintain the purpose of the paper?
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These are only the basic questions you need to include in an editing checklist, and this checklist is applicable for higher grade – even for papers meant for lower academic levels. Note that every checklist can change in consideration of the given instructions for your paper. Remember, this checklist can be your guide in proofreading your work, however, if you want a better evaluation of your work, you can always ask someone to go over the checklist for you - the best choice would be someone who specializes in this craft.
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