Perfecting Your Paper Before Handing It In
Writing any form of paper can be an extremely stressful experience. Not only do you have to ensure that you are creating an original and inspiring piece of work, but there are all sorts of rules and regulations that you have to abide by to ensure that it is marked appropriately or taken seriously at the same time as avoiding serious problems such as plagiarism. While it would be easy to do the bare minimum and simply make sure that everything you submit is acceptable, chances are that you are handing in a paper for good reason. Perhaps you are completing a piece of work that will count significantly towards your overall grade for a degree. Maybe you are submitting a proposal to your workplace in hopes of receiving a promotion. You might even be trying to get some of your work published. In all of these situations and more, you really don’t want your efforts to come across as half hearted. So, how can you ensure that your next paper is one to be proud of? Here are a few steps that you can take to make the process as simple yet effective as possible.
If you are quoting or referring to others’ work, you need to make sure that you are referencing them correctly. The process of referencing is also referred to as “citing”, and thus “references” can also be referred to as “citations”. This process is extremely important, as it allows other people who are reading your paper to correctly source or locate the work you are referring to. It also helps to create a clear differentiation between your own work and the work of others. Now, here comes the confusing part. There are multiple different means of referencing out there. The most common include APA, MLA, Oxford, Harvard, and Chicago. These different bodies of referencing will have completely different rules and styles. So, you need to make sure that you know which form of referencing is expected and that you align yourself to its proper form. The institution or publication that you are submitting your paper to will have a preference and if you are in doubt of which is expected, it’s always best to ask. This can save you time having to edit and alter your referencing style once the paper is ready to submit. We cannot emphasise how important it is that you get this process right. If you fail to reference your work correctly, you could be accused of plagiarism, which can often result in dismissal from various institutions.
Generally speaking, papers will have a set format that you should try to abide by. These are just small features that make your work more easily readable and easy for others’ to reference should they refer to it. This can include page numbers, chapter titles, page headings, and subheadings. If your work is lengthy, it should also have some sort of contents page that can direct readers to the correct page for the content they need. It is generally best to format once the work is complete, as the pages that different material falls on will change as you add and remove content.
Once your work is complete, you will want to pass it through a proofreading process. While this will be the last step you take before submitting your paper, it shouldn’t be rushed, as it is essentially a quality check and an opportunity to weed out any problems in your work, ensuring that it is truly presentable. You can do this yourself, but generally speaking, it may be better to make use of proofreading services. Professional proofreaders have a particular eye for detail and it’s always good to have a new set of eyes pass over your work. Here are just a few aspects of proofreading that you should focus on, or ensure that a professional proofreader is competent in.
Some of us are born with what seems an innate ability to be able to spell correctly. At school we get one hundred percent on our spelling tests, enter spelling bees, and essentially function as walking talking dictionaries. However, not all of us are endowed with this gift. Some of us simply can’t get to grips with spelling. Regardless of which category of people you happen to fall into, it’s a good idea to use spell check software on whatever device or software you are typing your paper up on. This handy software can pick up any spelling mistakes that might have made their way into your work. Remember that no matter how good at spelling you may be, there are likely to be various typos within a lengthy piece of work and you may overlook these as you are reading your work back, as when you are reading familiar material, your mind can often skip over spelling mistakes that would be obvious to a first-time reader, as it is already familiar with what is going to be said, so fills in the gaps on your behalf.
While most pieces of software designed for writing papers have automatic spell check, relatively few will check your grammar on your behalf. However, good grammar is essential if you want an outstanding piece of work. It is worth investing in a subscription to grammar checking software such as Grammarly. To use the software, you simply copy and paste your work into Grammarly’s editor. It will then check for problems such as grammar, punctuation, wordiness, and style. Alternatively, you can download the Grammarly browser extension. If you are writing online, this will check your work automatically. Just make sure to use a little logic with this programme. If it is attempting to alter your work in a way that clearly doesn’t make sense, use your intuition and ignore the proposed alterations.
Sure, you may simply want to hand your paper in once you feel that it is complete. But the processes of referencing, formatting, and proofreading are all extremely important when it comes to presenting a professional piece of work. Hopefully, the above steps will help you to navigate your way through this process as easily and successfully as possible!