Proofread your manuscript
When you are proofreading your work you are generally looking at two key elements:
Coherence and clarity: This is about confirming that the structure of your manuscript is logical and your meaning is clear. Your focus is generally at the paragraph- and section-level.
Accuracy: Here you are carefully checking each sentence for:
- Incorrect grammar, spelling and punctuation
- Typing errors
- Inaccuracies in mathematical or statistical content
- Incomplete or inaccurate references
- Style consistency, for example, are you using the same spelling of a word that has variations? Have you written each date the same way?
Top 10 tips for effective proofreading
- Build it into your writing schedule and don’t leave it until the last minute.
- Wait 24 hours. If you try to proofread just after you have completed your final draft, or after making peer review changes, you will be far too mentally exhausted.
- You may need to do several proofreading rounds, looking for different things each time (e.g. one for punctuation, one for spelling, and a separate check for elements, e.g. tables or statistical formulas).
- Read the paper backwards, sentence by sentence.
- Show the draft to someone else who can view it with a fresh, unbiased pair of eyes.
- Know what mistakes you commonly make, for example, words that you commonly misspell, and look out for these in particular.
- Try printing it. Sometimes it’s easier to spot errors in a paper version and you can also use a ruler to stop your eye moving down the page too quickly.
- Don’t rely on spell check. It has been known to make embarrassing errors.
- Make use of the ‘find and replace’ function if you spot an error you may have repeated elsewhere.
- Read each sentence carefully, focusing on its accuracy.
Investing a little time in ensuring your manuscript or case study is easy to follow can really help readers absorb your key messages.
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