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When proofreading, it is important to use a checklist, to make sure that you have not missed any essential features. Most proofreading services will use a separate checklist for each kind of document they proofread, but the elements are essentially the same- they will be looking for spelling and grammar errors and formatting mistakes.
When proofreading an academic essay,it is important to check for the following things:
Clarity- Is each sentence clear, employing the correct terms? If not, suggest alternate terms in a comment to the author.
Spelling- Are all words spelt correctly? Remember that the automated spellchecker is far from fool-proof, and many words can come up as correct in the spellchecker but still be incorrect in the context of the document.
References- Are all references in the correct format? Check which referencing style is being used and refer to the guide. Double check the punctuation in the references as some styles require commas between information, whilst others call for full stops or semi-colons.
Contractions- In academic writing, there should be no contractions (e.g. ‘can’t’ should be written as ‘cannot’).
It’s- This is a common problem. Remember that ‘its’, used as a pronoun, does not have an apostrophe. As there should be no contractions, there should also be no instances of ‘it’s’ used as a shortened form of ‘it is’!
Fonts- Are all headings in a bold font and larger than the main body text? Are main and sub-headings distinguished by different sized fonts? Is the main body text all the same font and size?
Spacing- Is spacing consistent throughout the essay? Most academic essays need to be double spaced, so check the requirements.
Acronyms- are these used correctly? Usually the first time an acronym is used, it should be written out in full with the acronym in brackets, e.g. ‘British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’.
E.g. and i.e. - These terms are commonly misused.‘E.g.’ means ‘for example’, and ‘i.e.’ means ‘in other words’. Go through and check if each has been used correctly.
There are, of course, other features you can check, but this is a short list to give you an idea of the kinds of things proofreaders will generally be looking for. If you are a proofreader, one of the most important aspects of your role is to try and correct mistakes but not alter the tone or meaning of what you are working on. The work should remain the author’s, minus any errors. Resist the temptation to ‘improve’ a piece of work too much as, especially for academic work, you run the risk of plagiarism. Being a proofreader is a bit like being a painting restorer- you are trying to cover the blemishes, not to add anything new to the work!
I work with a team of professional proofreaders , who work freelance. Our work mostly involves academic proofreading but we do also proofread many other kinds of writing such as novels, CVs, and reviews. At Proofread My Essay, we strive for the highest standards in proofreading at all times. Please get in touch to see how we can help you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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