Those who are novices or have just be introduced to the world of essay writing are often surprised to find out that writing the essay is only one part of the whole process. Sure, it is perhaps the most important part along with generating the subject and forming the essay, but it nonetheless constitutes only a portion of a sound and complete essay. In the world of carpentry there is a timeless saying that goes, “Measure twice, and cut once”. In essay writing, there is a similar adage which goes something to the tune of, “…check, double check and then do it again” and perfectly sums up one of the most important facets of writing, proofreading.
Proofreading is quality control. It is the last line of defense to prevent mediocrity and inaccuracy from ever reaching the reader’s eyes and mind. It goes without saying that proofreading is one of the most important acts that a writer can do before releasing their work out into the wilds of society. Unfortunately, the vast majority of essays are submitted with nothing more than a cursory glance or running it through a spellchecker.
It seems that to many the act of proofreading is either overlooked or is deemed such a tall order that it is only reserved for great works. But nothing can be further from the truth. All public facing written work should undergo some sort of proofreading treatment, if for nothing else than to make sure that words are spelled correctly and that what is being written actually makes sense. Like the essay itself, an effective proofreading protocol need not be an impossible endeavor and can be better implemented when broken into smaller, bite-sized action items.
Staying on track is one of the keys to completing an essay and the same can be said for the proofreading phase. This is best accomplished by developing a check-list of items that you will be on the lookout for. Spelling, grammar, references and citations. All these are important and it is best not left to chance or to fickle memories to ensure that these are covered.
Aside from sloppy spelling and grammar there is perhaps no worse sin when writing an essay than submitting inaccurate or false information. This is a punishable offence and rightly so. The disqualification of the essay, expulsion of the student or even legal action is all ramifications of releasing faulty information. Names, figures and data should be fully vetted and accuracy ensured.
In this day and age, there simply is no excuse for the existence of misspelled words and bad grammar in essays. The technology to correct both has been around almost since word processing software has been around. Yes, there are exceptions of course; foreign words and colloquialisms come to mind.
It may seem antiquated but a lot of errors can be identified by simply reading the essay aloud. Surprisingly, this is an effective method for grammar error detection, especially in the case for punctuations. Reading the work aloud also gives the writer an opportunity to see whether the tone and emphasis that they are trying to impart carries through to the reader.
Proofreading can drown the reader in a deluge of words, figures and ideas. As a result, the proofreader will often make the same mistake as the writer and start reading the essence of the document and not the words of the document. To combat this, read and check the essay one line at a time. Physically block the lines of writing below the current line being checked using a something as simple as a sheet of paper. This method drastically decreases the odds of a subtle error going unnoticed.
Making sure that the essay is written according to the format, rules and guidelines set about by the professor, school and other governing bodies, is also part of the proofreading process. There is no point in crafting a beautifully worded essay if it breaks protocol and gets disqualified .Margins, fonts, text size, references, citations, headlines, footnotes along with a host of other parameters are all important. It would greatly behoove the essay writer and proofreader to glaze over this.
While this proofreading check-list has been extensive, there is one last yet equally important point; do it again. That’s right, repeat the process. Think of it as sifting out the irregularities and impurities from your writing. After so many sifts what remain will only be the best words, the best grammar, the best formatting and the best essay.
It may be tedious and laborious, and more than one set of eyes may need to get involved. However, there really can be no replacement for a well thought out and executed proofread. The best authors and publishers, politicians and priests, salespeople and scholars employ some sort of proofreading protocol, and so should you. Check, double check and do it again.