Proofreading may be simply defined as the reading of a thesis or a dissertation or an essay in order to detect any sort of grammatical, lingual, statistical errors and errors also with regards to the content of the thesis or dissertation. Proofreading is the final and essential step that must be taken before a thesis or a dissertation or an essay or any other research paper is considered to be complete.
Why is it necessary?
Proofreading is important for the following reasons:
- If you do not proofread and make sure that you have eliminated every error possible then your research work will not look at its best.
- While the originality and organization of your research work are the most important facets of any academic paper you write, the way you present your ideas in your thesis or a dissertation or an essay also says a lot about the kind of care that has gone into your writing.
- Your research paper should be not only neat but also readable; in terms of how well you have formatted and placed your content.
- Good research papers (not only well written but also well edited and formatted) tend to reflect an individual’s thinking through their writing to the readers of the paper.
How does one proofread a paper?
Firstly, follow any instructions given by your professor.
Following are the guidelines one can follow to in order to avoid overlooking errors and typographical mistakes:
- Double-space your essay or thesis or dissertation or single space as per the university requirements.
- Use a common font in a size that can be easily read; for example, Times New Roman 12 point (as per your university or college guidelines).
- Limit yourself to one or two fonts for the entire research paper. You can use italic or bold as appropriate. Change font sizes to indicate heads and subheads.
- Set page margins at approximately 1 inch. (as per your university or college guidelines)
- Number your pages, except for the first one.
- Check your paper for spelling and grammar mistakes. Pay special attention to your use of its/it’s, their/there/they’re, you’re/your and other homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings). You may also want to use a computerized spell-check program. Don’t rely on a spell-checker alone; it misses many types of mistakes. A spell-checker may catch a misspelled word, but may not highlight a misused word, especially if it’s a homophone.
- Be sure each sentence is a complete one. Reading your sentence aloud and out of its context can help you identify fragments, run-ons and wordy constructions.
- Another helpful strategy is to have a friend read your paper. Another set of eyes may pick up something you missed.
Once this part of the proofreading of the document, the overview editing is complete and even the grammatical mistakes have been rectified, it is very important to verify the sources mentioned in the document and ensure that the style of formatting and referencing is adhering to the standard referencing style that has been recommended to you.
After all, a poorly written paper cannot communicate its message to the reader!