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Proofreading Your Manuscript: Helping Make It a Good Garden

By Barbara Gastel | March 11, 2017  | Research writing Research skills

Greetings again. I hope you’re doing well.

It’s now wildflower season in the part of Texas where I live. For many of us, the free, spontaneous look of field of wildflowers has a special appeal.

A free, spontaneous look, however, isn’t appropriate for some things. For example, it isn’t suitable for journal-article manuscripts. Such manuscripts should resemble structured gardens, and they shouldn’t have any weeds.

One way to help ensure that a manuscript doesn't have weeds is to proofread it carefully. Some people confuse editing and proofreading. Editing is done earlier, to improve drafts in all needed regards. Proofreading is done when a manuscript is essentially final, to correct typographical and other errors that remain.

Some tips for proofreading are the following:

  • If feasible, print the manuscript out. Errors often are more noticeable in print than on a computer monitor.
  • Consider using a checklist. Some possible items to list:
    • checking for typographical errors
    • looking for mechanical errors (for example, incorrect grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, or spacing)
    • making sure that each reference cited in the text is in the reference list
    • making sure that all tables and figures are present and complete
  • Read the manuscript aloud. Doing so can especially aid in noticing places where words are missing or repeated.
  • In addition to proofreading the manuscript yourself, perhaps have someone else proofread it. Such a person may bring a fresh eye.

For more guidance on proofreading, please see the AuthorAID resource library. Resources include an article on editing and proofreading one’s own work, a presentation by a professional proofreader, and a presentation on editing and proofreading.

Until the next post—


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