Binita Mehta points out the importance on proof reading your academic work in college

With college, out goes alt145 homeworkalt39, and in come assignments.

Though assignments differ from stream to stream, there are assign

ments in almost every course.

With such academic work comes writing.

Students have to dish out essays, reflection papers and very often, presentations as part of these assignments.

Given the time spent researching, assessing and coining these, it stands to reason that the very medium by which this information is conveyed should be equally scrutinised. Here within lies the importance of academic proofreading.

‘No proofreading is not just for newspaper and magazine editors. It is for everyone who wants to present an error free document, and students should be at the top of this list since their evaluation depends on the quality of these documents,’says instructional writer Megha Patodi, who moonlights and a proofreading expert for academic dissertations and theses.

Far from being an optional last step, proofreading an academic assignment is more than just checking for glaring errors. Spell check is simply not enough.

It is essential to ensure that a piece of writing is error- free, precise, and flows in a logical fashion to guarantee the readers engagement with the text right through to its conclusion.

‘Many things, however, can hinder this, not least spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Even if the writer correctly uses an extensive vocabulary and complex grammatical structures, nobody is immune to typos,’says communications expert and teacher Radha Patel. Added to this is the fact that a long document, is almost certainly written over many sessions. This leaves the document open to errors such as loss of continuity, a change in tense perhaps, or a train of thought that.

Keep in mind, all this happens before any assessment is made of the actual content! ‘One must also confirm that the writing is coherent, checking specifically for underdeveloped points, repeated information and ambiguous turns of phrase. Paragraphs should flow logically from one to another, arriving at a justified and comprehensive conclusion.

Last but not least, source references must be verified, as must the formatting style and presentation,’says Patodi.

If you are new to college, you might not yet realise the importance of these errors, since even in college you may get by. But, then the ill- formed habit is hard to discard, and it sticks on forever, throughout academic and professional life. At that point you do not want to me errors.

‘Proofreading is something that should be done once your assignment is completely finalised, since proofreading a draft might not cover extra things or modifications you make subsequently.

Proofreading begins with checking your spelling and your grammar. Spelling can be checked with any word processor, though make sure the correct language is set, and the correct usage,’says Patel, indicating that the English spelling differ in American and British versions.

Word processors also check for grammar, but you should rely on yourself and not a computer to ensure that your grammar is correct.

‘A great way to proofread is to read the sentences backwards,’suggests Patodi, who is quick to point out that it can be hardly used for lengthy documents. ‘It can, however, be used for headings, and subheadings, and text that stands out,’she says. In addition, Patel says that it is imperative to proofread ( or reread) on a hard copy or a printed version of the document. ‘You will be amazed as to how many errors can be spotted in the hard copy that the eye misses in the soft copy,’she says. Another suggestion she has is that you could zoom the document to a very large size on the computer, say as much as 200 per cent or more, depending on the screen size, which makes spotting the errors much easier.

Whichever the method you choose, be sure to submit at error free assignme

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