The Ultimate Guide to Editing an Essay in 2020

Ever hoped to get the Cliff Notes guide to editing an essay? You know, the type that tells you precisely what to do to edit your papers in the quickest, simplest way without wasting your time on anything else?

Well here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Editing an essay guide

Let’s start with the news you may not want to hear:

Whether you’re a freshman who is about to submit your first major essay or a seasoned PhD scholar who is hoping to publish your work in a journal, it’s critical that you comprehensively edit and proofread every essay you write.

Yep. Every Single One.

Otherwise, you’d be wasting all the hard effort you’ve invested in writing the essay in the first place and accepting average grades when you could have achieved GREAT grades.

Amazingly, a massive 60% of college students in the United States have never written a formal essay.

If you’re new to the essay writing lark, need to refine your skills, or are just fed up with mediocre grades, the editing process is crucial.

But what exactly is essay editing, what does it involve, and how can you do it with minimal effort?

This fantastic guide to editing an essay will introduce you to the following:

  • What essay editing is and the process editors follow to refine, polish, and perfect academic papers, dissertations, and theses.
  • The four key components of a great essay and the role they play in the essay editing process.
  • Critical strategies for essay editing that have been proven to work every single time.
  • Top tips for editing an essay with minimal effort.
  • A whole ton of free printables, checklists, and templates that will make editing an essay a walk in the park.

So, let’s get on with it.

Part One: An Overview of Essay Editing

What is Essay Editing?

Essay editing involves refining a draft document to improve cohesion, flow, and readability while also ensuring that any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors are corrected.

What Does Essay Editing Involve?

The proof is in the editing

On a high level, essay editors perform four tasks to make your essay better:

  • Structural editing: Looking at the paper as a complete unit to identify and address any significant structural problems.
  • Substantive editing: Finding and addressing any issues associated with the organization, readability, clarity, and flow of the paper.
  • Copy editing: Significantly improving the mechanics of the manuscript as a whole.
  • Proofreading: Fixing any remaining spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style errors in the document.

Let’s look at each of these essay editing types in more depth.

What are the Different Types of Essay Editing?

The process that an editor will follow to edit an essay will vary from paper to paper depending on the standard of the written English, the effectiveness of the document structure, and the clarity of the argument.

What do I mean by this?

Some essays may need a lot more work than others.

However, generally speaking, four different types of editing are involved.

The Four Types of Essay Editing

Four types of essay editing1. Developmental/Structural Editing

Looking at the paper as a holistic whole to assess the effectiveness of the structure

Developmental editing involves looking at the big picture. For example, when editing a dissertation, the editor will take a step back and consider what the dissertation is about and what the main topics of interest are. He or she will then help the author to develop a broad outline to support the flow and structure of the dissertation.

Typically, by the time you have produced the first draft of your dissertation, you will have developed a clear hypothesis, structured your main ideas, and developed an overall direction for your writing. If your first draft is not yet clearly structured, it is highly likely that you will require a rewriting, as opposed to editing, service.

• Reorganize the structure to ensure the main arguments flow in an effective manner
• Remove any repetition or redundancy
• Highlight any areas of inconsistency or flaws in logic

2. Substantive Editing

Comprehensively editing the content of the document to ensure it meets its objectives

Substantive editing is a form of heavy editing that includes reviewing the overall structure, style, grammar, and spelling of an academic document. During the substantive editing process, the editor will identify and fix problems associated with the clarity, organization, readability, and flow of the document. In some cases, some high-level rewriting may be required to make sure that the overall hypothesis and associated arguments are clear and that the main points are presented in a logical and accurate manner.

  • Clarify main concepts
  • Improve paragraph transitions
  • Assess quality of argument and logic of discourse
  • Check coherence
  • Restructure text where required
3. Copy Editing

In-depth assessment of the manuscript mechanics

Copy editing is imperative when finalizing an academic document. It spans several functions including identifying and fixing word usage, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax errors in the text while also ensuring that the author’s original message and voice are maintained. During this stage of the editing process, the editor will also ensure that a coherent style and consistent format are preserved throughout the file. He or she will also check for clarity, highlight any inconsistencies in the argument, and verify references to pictures, tables, and figures.

  • Ensure a consistent style and voice is maintained throughout
  • Find and fix issues with clarity and accuracy
  • Check facts
  • Improve flow and readability
  • Highlight flaws in logic
4. Proofreading

Final check for any minor grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes

Proofreading represents the final stage of the academic editing process. During this phase, the editor will perform one last check for any minor spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors that have been missed during the previous editing stages. In addition, the editor will address any outstanding formatting and referencing issues.

  • Correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes
  • Verify word usage and diction
  • Check referencing, formatting, and general style against style guide requirements

Are Editing and Proofreading the Same?

No. Editing and proofreading are entirely different processes. To put it simply, editing is improving the overall quality of the writing, while proofreading is fixing all remaining minor mistakes.

Editors and proofreaders use completely different skillsets:

The difference between an editor and a proofreader

To learn more, take a look at our snazzy guide to the difference between editors and proofreaders.

What are Professional Essay Editors?

Professional essay editors are seasoned essay experts who know exactly what it takes to craft the perfect essay.

Editors can specialize in developmental editing, substantive editing, copy editing, proofreading or a combination of all three.

Vappingo’s essay editors follow a three-step process that spans the developmental, copy editing, and proofreading functions.

Three-step Essay Editing Process

How to editi an essay: Three step essay editing process

So, now you know what editing is.

I can’t stress this enough: When it comes to your final grade, every essay counts. As such, editing is imperative.

If you don’t want to use an academic editing service to help you edit your essay effectively with the least amount of effort, you’re going to need to perfect the art of editing for yourself.

Question is:

How can you go about this?

Part two of this guide to editing an essay contains all the top editing tips you need to make your essay better.

Psst: Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of essays and know what it takes to create papers that get top grades. Order our editing services now, and we’ll help you stand out from the crowd.

Part Two Essay Editing for Better Grades

When you’re editing your essay, you will typically have one objective in mind: To get the best possible grade.

Aside from hiring an academic editing service to assist you—which is always the best option—there are several editing strategies you can use to make sure your essay shines.

How do I Make my Essay Better?

Before we dive in, let’s quickly review the four factors that contribute to a great essay.

  • Structure and organization: Your paper should be well structured, be easy to read, and flow well. A clear red line of thread should be apparent from the introduction through to the conclusion.
  • Language and formatting: It’s not just about putting all the words together to argue your case; it’s about using the right words in the right voice and tone. A single word in the perfect place can transform an essay from a reasonable effort into a great paper. Likewise, a silly error can undermine your entire credibility. The fonts you use and the way the citations, references, general layout of your essay are formatted will all have a direct impact on the credibility of the final paper.
  • Coherence, content, and analysis: Are the key facts and arguments you’re presenting useful, relevant, and succinct? Are your claims supported by evidence?
  • Purpose: After reading your essay, the reader should be able to summarize your major position using just a couple of sentences. Have you answered the question correctly?

 Four things to look for when editing an essayStrategies for Editing an Essay

So, we now know why essay editing is important, what it involves, and what high-level features editors are interested in.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and look at the specific editing strategies you can use to make sure your essays are effective, powerful, and memorable.

Here are five essay editing strategies that students frequently use:

  • Peer editing
  • Following an essay editing checklist
  • Using essay editing tools
  • Following general tips to make an essay sound better
  • Looking out for common mistakes

1. Peer Editing

Peer editing can be a useful essay editing strategy that involves asking a friend or colleague to read your essay before giving you useful input and guidance on how it can be improved.

It’s a great way to get a second set of eyes to spot mistakes and point out any flaws in the argument. It can also be a mutually beneficial process that helps the peer editor to identify how his or her writing can be improved.

Peer editing can be helpful in four main ways:

  • It helps you to view your essay from a reader’s perspective
  • It allows you to gain insights into what’s working well and access to suggestions as to what can be improved
  • It gives you a chance to revise the essay, dissertation, or manuscript with the target audience in mind
  • It provides you with a solid list of actions you can take to revised and enhance the essay

You can learn more about peer editing, check out our peer editing checklist.

2. Following an Essay Editing Checklist

An editing checklist provides a simple list of things you should be on the lookout for when reviewing and revising your essay.

Let’s remind ourselves of some of the four pillars of a great essay:

Four things to look for when editing an essay

We have created a handy essay editing checklist that takes into consideration these four pillars. You can download and print this free PDF by clicking on the image below.

free essay editing checklist. Click to download PDF.Structure and Organization
  • Does my essay have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
  • Does my introduction outline the thesis or central proposition and prepare the reader for what will follow?
  • Do I advance my argument in logical stages as the essay progresses?
  • Are the major points I make in the essay clearly connected? Do I clearly express the relationship between them?
  • Have I limited the analysis to one main point per paragraph?
  • Is it clear how each paragraph connects to the previous one?
Coherence, content, and analysis
  • Are my paragraphs clearly connected and coherent?
  • Do I commence each paragraph with a relevant topic sentence that builds on the argument presented in the paragraph before?
  • Does the discussion progress smoothly and logically?
  • Does each sentence clearly follow on from the one before?
  • Is the case presented clearly and completely in each paragraph or is further evidence or detail required?
  • Are the transitions between paragraphs and sentences effective and varied?
  • Are all the quotes I have used directly relevant to the case I have put forward?
  • Have I supported the claims I have made with data, examples, or citations?
  • Are the sources I have used during my research process reliable and credible?
  • Is the research up to date?
  • Have I cited the sources correctly?
  • Are the people I am citing authoritative sources of information?
  • Have I verified the accuracy and reliability of any statistical calculations?
Purpose
  • Is my thesis, central proposition, or main argument presented in the introduction?
  • Do I take a position on this topic? If so, do I make this position clear throughout the essay?
  • Do all the major points I make in the essay contribute to achieving its overall purpose?
  • Does the conclusion summarize my argument in a compelling way and pull together the analysis that was presented within the essay?
Language and formatting
  • Have I used clear and easy-to-understand language?
  • Have I fully explained my ideas and opinions?
  • Is my argument presented per the needs, comprehension, and background of the target audience?
  • Have I proofread the file for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and typographical errors?
  • Have I referenced all the sources I have used per the formatting conventions of the required style guide?
  • Have I applied a consistent formatting and referencing style throughout the essay?
  • Have I clearly delineated between my ideas and those of the authors I have cited?
  • Is the essay within the required word limit?
  • Is all the information contained within the bibliography correct?

Of course, this is just a sample checklist. You may wish to create your own essay editing checklist. If so, here’s a blank template for you to download and keep

3. Using essay editing tools

There are a ton of tools out there that can make the essay editing process more straightforward and that bit more fun.

Take a look at our essay tips for an overview of some great ways to make writing an essay easier.

4. Looking out for common mistakes

There are some mistakes that even the most seasoned writers make again, and again, and again.

If you’re relatively inexperienced at writing essays, you should review our guide to common English mistakes.

This will help you to familiarize yourself with some of the errors that have a habit of rearing their ugly heads.

Once you become a more experienced editor, you will start to get a feel for the mistakes that you have a propensity to make on a regular basis. For example, in my rush to churn out copy, I frequently mistype “then” instead of “than.” Its shockingly easy to do yet can completely change the meaning of a text.

The difference between then and thanOops!

When I proofread the final draft, I always double check for this minor error.

5. Following top tips for editing an essay

You can also follow some great essay tips to make sure your paper shines.

Don’t edit as soon as you finish the first draft of the paper

I get it. It’s business as usual for students to be writing essays on the last minute, and you may not have the luxury of a few days to take a break from the essay writing process.

However, if you can, you should.

The reason for this is simple: Your brain will be too familiar with the content of the essay. As such, you’ll be tricked into seeing what you think is in the essay, not what’s there.

The human brain is very easily tricked.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at the following:

Sign contains a mistake. It reads: "Don't take anything for for granted"See any problems? Are you sure? Keep looking and you’ll see it eventually.

This, and these other proofreading memes, show why proofreading your own work is difficult.

If you start editing an essay too soon after finishing it, you’ll likely be incapable of spotting all the typos, unsupported arguments, and grammar slip-ups.

Leave it to one side for a while to give you some space to clear your head.

If you do so, you’ll find that you’re much better placed to edit your essay from a fresh perspective.

Create your own essay editing checklist

Once you have become accustomed to using our essay editing checklist, keep an ongoing list of the mistakes you make most frequently and use this to create your personalized essay editing checklist.

Use software and automation tools… but sparingly

Have you got access to some great editing and proofreading software that streamlines the editing process?

That’s great.

But know this: You should never depend on it in isolation.

Even the most innovative spelling and grammar checking tools can miss obvious spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar errors.

That’s because they are incapable of reading text within the context in which it is intended to be used.

Let’s look at an example.

According to one very famous grammar checking software, there are no errors in the following:

An example of how grammar software doesn't always work and why you should use professional editing servicesThis is really quite odd because every sentence is replete with errors.

What we learn here is that context is important.

Try running the following through a grammar checker:

Thinking it was open, the window was really closed.

My grammar checker advises me to remove the word “really” (more on that later) and verify whether the sentence has been written in passive voice.

Passive voice was not used here. However, we did have the strange phenomenon of a thinking window.

And that brings us on to the next problem with grammar checking software: It is only as good as your ability to identify grammatical errors.

Grammar checks regularly flag completely acceptable grammar as bad, and vice versa. This is not due to software errors; it is because grammar is a very complex beast.

Use spelling and grammar checkers by all means, but always remember that there is no substitute for a trained human professional proofreader.

Edit the paper according to the essay outline

As I have stressed throughout this article, it is imperative that your essay flows well, remains consistent, and responds to the writing prompt.

Every single element of your paper—including the title, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion—should all be aligned with the underlying goal of your essay.

Do you know what the best essay writers do to achieve this objective?

They create an essay outline.

It may look something like this:

Or it could be completely different. The point is that effective essay writers develop a thesis statement and then follow a clear essay outline.

This ensures they present their argument in a logical manner, and this naturally gives the essay a clear structure.

Here’s a sample plan you may like to use:

When you are editing your essay, you should consider your planned outline and verify that the paragraph structure and format takes the reader on a meaningful journey along your train of thought.

If you need more help with essay formatting and planning, check out our essay formatting template.

Remove all the redundancies and fluff

The best essays are those that keep the argument concise and to the point.

I hear ya! You have a word count to meet.

But brevity is key.

Get rid of fillers and redundant words, phrases, and terms. Filling the paper with mindless jargon is not the right thing to do.

Why?

  • They dilute the argument presented in your essay.
  • They waste the reader’s time. If the reader is your professor, he or she isn’t going to appreciate that!
  • They make the essay more difficult to understand.

If you have included words to meet the word count as opposed to adding value to your paper, give them the chop.

I have developed a list of 17 words or phrases that typically serve no purpose whatsoever other than to use up words. Let’s have a look at them.

Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay

A list of redundancies in essays and how to fix themVery, Basically, Totally, Essentially, Really

Basically, these are filler words that don’t really add any value. Swap them out for more descriptive language.

Instead of this: I am really tired after playing basketball.

Try this: I am shattered after playing basketball.

Then and That

These are words that you should only use if you’re trying to clarify something. If you can remove the word without affecting the expression, then you can leave it out.

Each and every

People frequently use these filler words to express a feeling of frustration. However, you only need one or the other. Watch out for this error each and every time.

Just

Again, this is another unnecessary filler word. If your sentence works just fine without it, you can just leave it out.

As a Matter of Fact

We all love a bit of drama, and people frequently use this phrase in spoken communications to stress a point. However, as a matter of fact, there is no place for it in an essay.

Past history/past experience

Our past experience tells us that this one is very common. By their nature, history and experience are in the past. Delete the word past.

As to whether/whether or not

All you need, is “whether” or “if.” It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re writing a formal or informal document.

For all intents and purposes

If you have a point to make, make it. You don’t need to add fluffy phrases such as these, which for all intents and purposes add no value whatsoever.

Due to the fact

You can ditch this phrase due to the fact “because” will do.

In terms of

Another non-value adding phrase. Use of this indicates that your writing is weak. Be more specific in terms of what you are saying. Instead of saying, “…in terms of cost, the food was expensive,” you can say, “the food was expensive.”

In my personal opinion/It is my opinion

When you’re writing an essay, you are inherently expressing your opinion. Not that of your friend. You should get rid of this in my opinion; it’s much better to keep things simple.

In the process of

While in the process of writing an essay, don’t bother referring to the process, just get straight to the point of describing it.

With the possible exception of

Why use five words when you can use one: “except.”

Quite

Even though this word is used quite often, it doesn’t add any value. There are many more powerful alternatives available.

Many, few

Ditch the ambiguity: Many professors prefer specific details.

During the course of

You can drop this during the course of writing because it adds zero value.

Perhaps, maybe

When you’re writing an essay, maybe you want to come across as confident and knowledgeable.

Getting rid of these words and phrases will automatically lead to better, more concise essays.

Of course, if brevity is causing you word count headaches, you can always insert these words and phrases to increase the word count without committing a major grammar sin 😉

Proofread last

The very last thing you should do before submitting your essay is to proofread it one final time.

Yes, you will have picked up some errors while you were editing the essay. However, at the time, you were not fully focused on finding grammatical, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes.

Once you have completed the editing process, go back through the essay with the sole intention of finding those last remaining pesky errors.

Take a look at our guide on how to proofread an essay for some top tips that are guaranteed to help you find even the most minor mistakes in your writing.

Conclusion

As the following pie chart shows, you should invest as much time in the process of editing an essay as you do in writing it.

How you should spend your time when writing and editing an essay

If you go that extra mile and follow these strategies and tips for editing an essay, you will take your papers up a few notches and really impress your professor.

If you’re stuck in that “write it and submit it” habit, now is the time to change. Use these simple techniques, and your essay will be massively transformed… for the better!

What strategies do you use for editing an essay?

Be honest: How much time do you invest in editing your essays?

How to Peer Edit an Essay: Free Peer Editing Checklist

If you want to peer edit an essay and are looking for some top tips, check out our free peer editing checklist.

How to peer edit an essayIf you’ve got a looming essay deadline, chances are you’ll be happy to just get the dastardly paper finished on time and proofreading and editing won’t feature on your radar.

The idea of editing and proofreading your own essays, let alone asking someone else to help, may be beyond comprehension. In fact, you may think your essay is pretty fantastic already.

If so, you’re deceiving yourself.

Don’t just settle for good. You should be looking for great.

But how do you achieve this?

The majority of students settle for good. That’s enough. It will get them through school.

But good isn’t enough for the top students. They aspire to be great. They aspire to be awesome.

How do YOU become awesome?

Get a friend to help.

To take an essay beyond the draft stage through a polished version, you need a peer editor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional essay editor (although that will deliver the best results); it needs to be someone who will call you out and tell you how it really is.

When you’re looking for someone to peer edit your essay, try and choose someone who you know well and who you can trust be honest and methodical. You’re not looking for someone who’ll tell you how great your essay is; you’re looking for someone who will provide you with an objective criticism of your paper.

The purpose of the exercise isn’t to tear you down; it’s to make you better.

So, once you’ve found the ideal peer editor, how can you get the most out of the exercise?

Hand them our handy tips and the great peer editing checklist.

How to Peer Edit an Essay: Top Tips for Success

Peer editors should review an essay with the primary intention of offering advice on how it can be improved. Here are some great tips to make sure you do the task justice.

  • Ideally, read through the paper at least twice

During the first pass, you’ll familiarize yourself with the content of the essay and the primary arguments that are put forth. During the second pass, you’ll have a chance to readily understand what is being said. If you don’t understand the content after two readings; there’s a problem the writer needs to know about.

  • Position yourself as the target reader

While you’re in the process of peer editing the essay, take the role of the envisioned reader; i.e., the person who is reading the essay to learn someone as opposed to being on the hunt for pesky grammatical errors. During the peer editing process, you should be concerned with content, organization, and style. If you focus purely on punctuation and spelling errors, you may not add a significant amount of value. Your role is to help the writer ensure the essay is clear and compelling.

  • Resist the temptation to fix the issues

Your job as a peer editor is not to take over and correct any issues that you identify; it’s to provide the writer with constructive feedback on how the paper can be improved.

  • Tell the truth… constructively

If you’re peer editing a friend’s essay, you may not want to hurt his or her feelings by pointing out areas where there is a lack of clarity. However, if you fail to do so, there’s no point in engaging in the process. Resist the urge to say everything is fine and instead focus on how you can help the writer learn someone from the process. Provide constructive feedback that highlights the positive areas of the essay while also pointing out some areas for improvement.

  • Provide specific details

Don’t provide sweeping statements such as, “I don’t understand your point.” Instead, provide very precise feedback on what exactly you don’t understand and what information may help you understand it better: “Perhaps you could make your point clearer by explaining why…” Take every opportunity to explain why you found something effective or ineffective.

The Three Pillars of Excellent Peer Essay Editing

Three characteristics required to peer edit an essayFree Peer Editing Checklist

First page of the peer editing checklist

Download a free PDF version of our peer editing checklist by clicking on the image above. Here’s the full lowdown on what’s included.

Essay Introduction

  1. Does the essay begin with a clear, attention-grabbing statement or hook?
  2. Are there at least three sentences in the introduction?
  3. Does the writer make his or her intentions clear?
  4. Are you clear about what issue is being addressed in this essay?
  5. Is there a clear thesis statement?

Essay Body

  1. Are there at least three body paragraphs?
  2. Does each body paragraph contain a clear topic sentence and idea?
  3. Does each body paragraph contain a conclusion statement that leads well to the next body paragraph?

Essay Conclusion

  1. Does the conclusion contain at least three sentences?
  2. Does the conclusion refer back to the thesis statement?

Essay Flow and Coherence

  1. Do the ideas flow logically through the paper and contribute to a building argument?
  2. Are transitions used correctly?
  3. Is the essay interesting?
  4. Does the analysis presented in the paper support the thesis statement?
  5. Is the sentence structure varied?

Essay Style and Mechanics

  1. Is evidence appropriately attributed and cited?
  2. Is each reference source clearly cited according to the relevant style guide? If you’re using APA, take a look at our APA checklist.
  3. Is the paper formatted according to the relevant style guide?
  4. Are the references, tables, and figures formatted according to the relevant style guide?

Grammar

  1. Has the paper been proofread? For a full proofreading checklist, take a look at our essay proofreading checklist.

Check for:

  • Misspelled words
  • Grammatical mistakes
  • Punctuation errors
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Fragments

 

So that’s our guide to how to peer edit an essay. Got anything to add? Please leave a comment.

 

 

APA Checklist: A Definitive Guide to APA Rules

A super simple APA checklist that covers all the APA rules you need to know for your essays and dissertations.

APA checklist guide to APA rules

The news that an essay or dissertation has to be formatted in APA can come as a big blow to a sleep-deprived student.

It’s not enough that you have to research a paper, try and put it all together in a format that makes sense, and proofread the dastardly thing… now you are being asked to apply some cultish APA formatting rules that seem so complicated they make Steven Hawking look simple.

With so many APA rules to follow, it can be extremely challenging to make sure you have covered them all in your essay.

Seriously, just how can your professor expect you to read all these standards and apply them to format your essay correctly?

It gets worse: The official guide is updated on a regular basis, which only adds to the confusion.

Here’s some good news:

When you’re asked to write an APA essay or edit a dissertation, all you need is our handy APA checklist. Yup, for real!

We’ve trawled through all the APA rules for you and extracted the most important requirements to create this handy APA checklist.

The cherry on the cake:

It’s completely free for you to print out and keep!

Here’s a breakdown of what our APA checklist contains. You can go right ahead and jump to the section that is most relevant to you.

APA Checklist: A Really Simple Guide to APA Rules
APA style guide joke

APA Rules: Title Page

Checklist of APA rules for title page and general formatting

  • Running head: SHORT ALL CAPS TITLE. This is flush left, 1/2 inch from the top. Title should match the title of the paper. However, it can be shortened if required (recommended length is less than 50 characters including spaces).
  • Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
  • Full title in title case. Double spaced, centered, upper half of the page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Name. Double spaced, centered under title. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Name of university. Double spaced, centered under name. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • Plagiarism statement (where applicable).

APA Rules: General Requirements

  • The header on each page after the title page contains the title in all caps, starting from the left margin. The Header matches that provided on the title page. However, the words “Running head” only appear on the title page.
  • Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
  • Entire document double spaced.
  • Spacing between sentences is two spaces.
  • Margins are 1 inch on all sides, top, bottom.
  • Paragraphs in the body of the paper are indented 5-7 spaces or one tab stop.

APA Rules: Headings

Checklist of APA rules for headings, abstract, and lists

  • Level 1: Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings.
  • Level 2: Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading.
  • Level 3: Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 4: Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
  • Level 5: Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.

APA Rules: Abstract Page

  • Not all academic papers require an abstract.
  • The abstract appears on Page 2 of the paper, after the title page.
  • The title, Abstract, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page. It is not in bold. Times New Roman standard 12 pt. font. The abstract is 150-250 words and is block style aligned to the left.

APA Rules: Lists

  • Lists can be enumerated or bulleted.
  • For short lists, use the format, (a), (b), etc., in a single sentence. For a list of longer sentences, use a list format:
    • a.
    • b.
    • c.
  • Bullets can be used if they better represent the contents of the list.

APA Rules: In-text Citations

Checklist of APA rules for citations

  • All sources cited in the paper text are also in the “References” list with the exception of classical works and personal communications.
  • Direct quotations are followed the name of the author (or title if no author), date of publication, and specific page or paragraph number of source (Moore, 2019, p.6).
  • All quotations < 40 words are enclosed in quotation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes before the closing punctuation.
  • All quotations > 40 words are shown as an indented block quote with no additional beginning paragraph indenting or punctuation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes after the closing punctuation.
  • Paraphrased in-text citations include the author name (or reference title if no author), the date of publication and, preferably, the specific page, paragraph, or section of the source that was paraphrased.
  • The names of those that contributed to multi-author sources with > 3 and < 6 authors are all provided on the first instance. Thereafter, the first author is noted followed by “et al.” (Moore et al., 1998).
  • When more than six authors contributed to the source, the first author is noted followed by the Latin phrase et al.
  • If the in-text citation is included in the body of text and covers multiple authors, the word “and” is spelled out: Moore, James, and Holmes (2018). When an author name is repeated within a paragraph, with no other sources used in between, the date can be omitted from the in-text citation.

APA Rules: References

Checklist of APA rules for references

Checklist of APA rules for references and figures

  • The page title, References, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page on a new page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
  • All sources listed in the References section have at least one corresponding in-text citation.
  • References are listed in alphabetical order.
  • All lines are double spaced.
  • Each entry commences with a hanging indent. For digital articles, a DOI is provided at the end, if available. This takes the form of either doi:10.xxx/xxx.xxxx OR http://dx.doi.org/10.xxx/xxx.xxxx. If there is no DOI for digital articles, the publisher’s home web site is provided.
  • Initials are only provided for first and/or second names of authors. There is a space between initials, e.g., Moore, S. E. If there are multiple authors, they are listed in the order in which they appear in the original source.
  • Author names are separated by commas (even for two authors) and an ampersand is used before the last name. Titles of books, journals, and technical reports are given in italics, as are journal titles and volume numbers.
  • Titles of books, journal articles, websites are in lower case except for the first word after a colon and any proper nouns.
  • The title of article that is extracted from a webpage on a larger website is not italicized. Likewise, journal article titles and book article titles are not italicized.
  • If a citation ends with a URL, all hyperlinking (blue, underline) is removed and there is no period at the end of the hyperlink.
  • Issue numbers are enclosed in parenthesis and not formatted with italics.
  • Pages numbers are given as a range (e.g., 45-56) without using p. or pp. except for newspapers or magazines without a volume and issue number.
  • Publication information (books) includes the state two-letter code with the city and country written out in full for all international cities. All other sources, e.g., media, books, etc., are referenced according to the APA 6e Guide.

APA Rules: Figures

  • Figures are numbered with Arabic numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3) below the figure, flush left and in italics.
  • Captions that describe the content of the figure are placed next to the figure number immediately below the figure and are not italicized.
  • The figure is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”

APA Rules: Tables

Checklist of APA rules for tables and proofreading

  • Tables are numbered with Arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3) at the top, flush left.
  • The table title is below the table label (e.g., Table 1) and is in italics.
  • The table is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”
  • Horizontal rules (lines) are limited. There is always a rule under the heads and before any notes.
  • Any explanatory notes should be proceeded by the word “Note.” in italics, flush left.
  • Reference to the source should be included in the note.

APA Rules: Proofreading

Of course, it isn’t enough to just follow all the rules. You need to make sure your essay or dissertation doesn’t contain any minor spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. If proofreading really isn’t your thing. Leave it to a professional! Check out our dissertation proofreading services. Our native-English experts will meticulously check your dissertation to make sure it doesn’t contain any errors that detract from the quality of your research.

If you do insist on proofreading your essay or dissertation for yourself. Take a look out for the following:

  • Personal pronouns and rhetorical questions only appear when absolutely necessary.
  • Sequence of paper is Title Page > Abstract (where required), Body of Paper, References > Tables > Figures > Appendices.
  • Contractions and slang are not used.
  • Numbers below ten are spelled out in full.
  • Numbers above ten are in Arabic numerals.
  • Paper has been proofread by a professional proofreader.

And there we have it. A complete guide to all the APA rules you need to take into consideration within academic documents in one handy little checklist. You can download a free printable PDF version of the APA checklist by clicking on the image below.

Free Printable APA Checklist PDF

APA checklist free PDF download

18 Amazing Essay Tips Every Student Should Know

Don’t let that essay beat you. Our top essay tips will get you on track and churning out essays Harvard students would be proud of.

Writing a good essay is 10% inspiration, 15% perspiration, and 75% desperation
That essay deadline is looming.

It’s the early hours of the morning, and you’ve still yet to formulate a decent thesis statement, let alone research an argument, find suitable sources, and stick it all together in a coherent form. And then there’s the essay editing to deal with.

Temptations lie everywhere. And all distractions are extremely welcome.

But, as much as you may feel like quitting school for good right now and turning on the television, YOU HAVE GOT THIS!

Okay, maybe not just quite yet… but there are some great tools out there that will certainly make your life easier. In fact, some of them may even make writing and editing an essay a little bit of fun.

Here are 18 great ideas that could well help you increase your grades without the blood, sweat, and tears.

Essay editing service ad

18 Top Essay Tips That Will Change Your Life

 

        1. When performing academic research, use Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine. You’ll get much more relevant results that will impress even the pickiest professor.Screenshot of Google Scholar
        2. Can’t think of the right words to get your point across? Visit Word Hippo to find the words you’re looking for. It’s a nifty little tool that you can use to find definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and translations for words.
        3. If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic for a paper, write about something that really gets your goat. You’ll be able to rant on and on, and before you know it, you’ll have achieved the word count.
        4. Compiling the bibliography according to style guide requirements can be a real headache. Let BibMe do it for you.
        5. If you can’t choose between different variations of the same word or are struggling to decide whether to use a hyphenated or compound adjective, use Google Ngram to find out which usage is more common.Picture of a Google Ngram search
        6. This is by no means the most groundbreaking essay tip you will read, but it really does work. Once you have finished your essay, take a break. It will help you to see the content with fresh eyes when searching for errors.
        7. Nail your thesis statement, and you’re halfway there. Take a look at our guide to writing a thesis statement for a fantastic free template.

          Essay editing services link

        8. Haven’t written enough pages but run out of ideas? Change the font size of all periods from 12 pt to 14 pt. Sneaky… but it may just help you meet the page requirement.
        9. Need continual motivation? Try Written? Kitten! It rewards you with pictures of kittens every 100 words. What more can you ask for?

          Example of Written Kitten in use

        10. Try the Pomodoro method for maximum essay writing efficiency. Take a five-minute break every 25 minutes. Every third break should be 20 minutes long.
        11. If you’re struggling to organize tons of different ideas, try Coggle. It’s a tremendous mind-mapping tool that will inject a bit of fun into the essay planning process.
        12. If you’re struggling to structure your essay, list five main points you wish to make and then write a paragraph for each topic. See our guide to essay formatting for more top ideas.
        13. Once you’ve finished your essay, copy and paste the text into Google Translate and click on the listen icon to hear it read aloud. You’ll have a much better chance of spotting any errors and identifying areas for improvement when you listen to the text being read. See our guide on how to proofread an essay for more great essay proofreading tips.

          Using Google Translate to proofread essays

        14. Make sure you use effective transitions; they can transform the flow and coherence of your essay. Take a look at our free transitions cheat sheet for some great ideas.
        15. Rushing to get your essay finished ahead of a deadline? Significantly reduce the time it takes to research relevant articles and papers by only reading the introduction and conclusion of each document. You’ll get the gist of the topics covered in a fraction of the time and can then summarize the main ideas in your own paper.
        16. Finding it difficult to concentrate? Try Brain, a research-based online application that uses artificial intelligence to identify what music will enhance your focus.

          Essay tips: Use brain.fm to find music that will help you focus

        17. Create an essay writing checklist to make sure you have covered all the main points. Check out our free printable version here: Essay writing checklist.
        18. If all else fails… check your lecture notes and simply reword what the professor said in class. He or she will think you’ve understood the material 😉

      Need help getting your main points across in your essay? Let our essay editors do it for you.

      Of course, spending a lot of time on an essay and meticulously planning it in advance will always result in the best possible grades (and a big pat on the back from your parents).

      But everyone strays from the path of perfection every now and again.

      If you’re on the last minute, suck it up and get on with it. One advantage of starting your essay the night before is that the whole miserable ordeal will be over so much quicker!

The Essay Transition Cheat Sheet Every Student Needs

Essay transitions can make or break your academic papers. Don’t let a limited vocabulary get in your way. Download our free cheat sheet now!

Poor essay transitions ruin essays

Ever submitted what you think is a great essay only to be informed by your tutor that it lacked coherence?

Lacked what?

When your profs talk about coherence, they are basically referring to how your essay flowed from one idea to the next.

The best essays are those that present a thesis statement, and then gradually build an argument to support the main ideas.

But a great thesis statement and a well-researched argument are not enough to create a compelling essay.

You also need to take your reader on a journey as you progress through your essay in a clear and structured way.

This is where essay transitions come in.

Transitions are words or short phrases that prepare the reader for a mental shift in the argument and guide his or her thought process.

You’ll typically find transitions in the following places:

  • At the start of a paragraph: “To begin with…”
  • At the beginning of a concluding statement: “In light of this analysis…”
  • To extend an argument: “Pursuing this further…”
  • At the beginning of a sentence that introduces a new idea within a paragraph: “Another reason why…”

It sounds simple enough. So why do so many students struggle to use transitions effectively?

One of the biggest issues our essays editors regularly encounter is lack of imagination and variety.

All too often students revert to the same set of standard transitions: first, then, to conclude

For a tutor who has a pile of thirty papers to grade, this isn’t going to cut the mustard.

As such, you should be trying to make your essays, dissertations, and other academic papers much more interesting by using engaging transitions.

Think this sounds difficult? It’s actually really easy.

In fact, thanks to our free essay transition cheat sheet, it couldn’t be simpler!

Essay transitions cheat sheet

How to use the Free Essay Transitions Cheat Sheet

  • Print the sheet by clicking on the image above. This sheet was first developed as part of our guide to essay formatting.
  • Once you have finished writing your essay, go through and review all the transitions you have already used. If you encounter a word or phrase that sounds repetitive or boring, consult the cheat sheet, find the category in which the transition best fits, and identify a better substitute.
  • Read through your essay again. Check to see if there are any places in which you should have a transition but haven’t used one. Similarly, if you have used the same transition more than once, replace it with a viable alternative. This will give your work more pizazz and seamless appeal.

Simply print out this one-page PDF and refer to every time you’re writing an essay or want to improve the flow of an existing paper.

You’ll be surprised how simple it can be to take your writing up a notch.

Looking for more ideas? Check out our essay tips for some really great tools that will help you through the process of writing an essay.

Need a bit of extra help?

Check out our essay editing services now. Our expert editors know exactly what to do to transform your essay from good to great.

The Lazy Student’s Guide to Statement of Purpose Formatting

Statement of purpose formatting made easy. Want to impress the admissions committee and bag an interview for admission to the university of your dreams? Download our proven statement of purpose format template now to create a compelling statement of purpose that makes you stand out.

Statement of purpose formatting: How to write a statement of purpose

So, you’re applying for grad school. The only thing that stands in your way of the next exciting step in your education is your statement of purpose.

But what format should this statement of purpose take?

If you’re in search of the ideal statement of purpose format, the first thing you need to understand is that there is no single proven template in existence. Admissions officers actively seek individuality and diversity. As such, the format of your statement of purpose should be tailored to your unique situation and expectations.

So, if the reviewers are not expecting a set format, what are they looking for?

They will be seeking some very specific information about YOU.

More than that, they want to learn about your PURPOSE. Hence the name: Statement of Purpose.

The ideal statement of purpose format consists of 2-4 paragraphs that build on each other and explore a central theme in more depth through examples, facts, and data.

Not a cliché in sight.

If you’re looking for a statement of purpose format that will tick all the boxes. You won’t go wrong with the following:

 

Statement of Purpose Formatting: An Anatomy of the Perfect Statement of Purpose

Statement of purpose format template
Paragraph One: The Hook

An introductory paragraph that catches the reader’s attention and sets the central theme for the essay.

Avoid arresting opening statements that are designed to impress… admissions tutors have seen exaggerated descriptions of a revelatory moment or lifelong desire to pursue a chosen career time and time again. And it all gets very BORING.

Learn more: How to write a statement of purpose

Phrases to avoid:

“From a young/early age I have always been interested in…”

“For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with…”

“I am currently studying…”

“Throughout history…” or “Since the dawn of man…”

These phrases don’t really say anything meaningful. They just waste words.

Take it up a notch…

Bad: “Throughout history, only two popes have resigned from their position as head of the Catholic Church.”

Much better: “In what represented a nearly unprecedented and departure from papal tradition, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he became the second pope to resign.”

Top Tip! Present a “thesis” statement in the introduction paragraph and use this as the central strand throughout your statement of purpose. Every other paragraph should contain some form of reference to this thesis statement. The topic sentence should introduce the broad idea (your skills, experience, interest) to the reader while other paragraphs should describe HOW you learned those skills, gained relevant experience, applied your knowledge and understanding, fostered your interests, etc.

Paragraph Two: What You Want to Study and Why

Claiming you want to study something is easy; convincing the admissions committee that your interest is real and not superficial is something entirely different. Explain, in very honest terms, what you want to study, and why. Be introspective.

When they have finished reading through your statement, the admissions tutors will be asking themselves the following question:

Do I really believe that the student is excited by the thought of studying this subject at a higher level?”

Make sure the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”.

 Phrases to avoid:

“I am passionate about xxx” (Anyone can say they are passionate about something. Don’t explicitly claim to be passionate, infer your passion by describing how you’ve worked toward putting your passion into practice).

“I have always loved xxx” (Similar to the above. Show, don’t tell).

Useful phrases:

“When I was taking special laboratory courses on solar-cell energy, I was struck by…”

“To help you understand my current goals better, I would like to explain my educational experience up to this point.”

“Growing up with parents who xxx, really taught me the importance of xxx.”

“My commitment to a future career as a xxx is best exemplified by xxx.”

Read more: Statement of Purpose: Editing and Proofreading

Action step: Hire a professional proofreader or editor to make sure your statement of purpose is absolutely perfect: statement of purpose editing.

Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of statements of purpose and know what it takes to write an admissions essay that secures places in the top schools. Don’t forget, there is a difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement.

Order our statement of purpose editing services now and we’ll help you create a statement of purpose that sets you apart from the crowd.

Paragraph Three: Provide Evidence to Support Your Claims That You Are Interested in the Subject

Again, simply saying you want to study something is not enough. You need to demonstrate that you live and breathe it.

Describe the activities and research projects you have conducted to inform yourself about your target career and describe the in-depth insights you have developed through these experiences.

Demonstrate that you have realistic expectations for your future career. It isn’t so much about what you have done; it is about what you have learned in the process.

Phrases to avoid:

“I genuinely believe I’m a highly motivated person” (Show, don’t tell).

“My academic performance has been impressive” (Let the admission’s committee decide that for themselves).

“I have a thirst for knowledge” (clichés like this should be avoided at all costs. They are uninspiring, over used, and fail to communicate anything meaningful).

“Reflecting on my educational achievements” (Yawn!).

Useful phrases:

“This research is/was especially interesting because…”

“As well as providing practical experience in a xxx, the job also allowed me to develop skills in xxx, through xxx. I am particularly proud of my achievements in xxx…”

“An experience that I feel has had a major influence on my outlook was when I xxx. This really opened my eyes to xxx and taught me xxx.”

Paragraph Four: Where You Want to Study it and Why

The admissions committee need to feel confident that you understand the course they are offering and the teaching styles you will encounter.

At this point, you need to stop focusing purely on yourself and start demonstrating that you understand the specific course you are applying for and the institution at which it is being taught.

Phrases to avoid:

“Xxx is one of the world’s most renowned universities…”

“I have always wanted to study at Xxx.”

“The course on offer at Xxx is the best in the world.”

Useful phrases:

“My interest in studying xxx at Xxx is firmly grounded in the school’s focus on xxx.”

“The work that is currently being carried out by Xxx and your faculty has attracted my interest because xxx.”

“My research interest in xxx is fully aligned with the research projects that are currently in process in your faculty. In particular, I am interested in the studies that are being conducted by Xxx, and feel I could contribute by xxx.”

Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of statements of purpose and know what it takes to write a personal statement that secures places in the top schools.

Order our statement of purpose editing services now and we’ll help you create a statement of purpose that sets you apart from the crowd.

Paragraph Five: Conclusion

Present a conclusion that widens the lens and wraps up your essay without simply summarizing the information you have already presented.

Summarize your career objectives and how the course on offer will help you move closer toward achieving those objectives.

Revisit the theme you established in the hook.

And finally…

Proofread, proofread, and proofread again.

 

69 Excellent Reasons Why Proofreading is Important

1) Because most people don’t actually know what Grandma tastes like

Slogan reads: "tastes like grandma"

2) Because cows can’t read

Reads: cows please close gate
Is it that the cows are smart or that the ranchers aren’t?

3) Because the sales staff may not be happy to deliver the value-added services

Reads: buy bed free 1 night stand
Sounds like a great offer.

4) Because not everyone can stand up for what they believe in

Poster shows wheelchair-bound adult and the slogan "men standing up"

5) Because people tend to look for more appealing ice cream flavors

 

Reads: "Butt.Finger Blast"
Sounds delicious

6) Because failing to proofread can have tradegic tragic consequences

Tattoo reads "tradgey"

7) Because stating the obvious won’t win you a Pulitzer

Stating the obvious headline says, "Diana was still alive hours before she died"

8) Because your kids will thank you for it

Sign reads: "Kidsexchange" instead of Kid's exchange9) Because you don’t want to be regretting that extra consonant for the rest of your life

The word summer is spelt incorrectly10) Because your new arrival is much more than acute

Funny facebook mistake, "My Angel"

11) Because claiming to be good at something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true

Translation gone very wrong
Source: SMB Savings

12) Because you don’t want to offend Tiger

Tiger woods plays with own balls

13) Because you don’t want to offend Obama

Sign reads: "proofread unless you really don't give a tuck"

14) Because the grammar Nazis are lying in wait

Are you sure that college isn't necessary?
15) Because you don’t want to attract the wrong type of clientele

Bad slogan reads: "the best hand job in the Bronx"

16) Because without the unions she’d be teaching P.E.

17) Because some people just want to pee without the extras thrown in

Sign for male toilet is mistranslated
Source: Awesomeoff.com

18) Because not everyone’s dangerous

Sign reads: "because you are dangerous you must not enter"
Source: boingboing.net

19) Because you might end up giving viewers more than they anticipated

Reads: Catch VD
Do fans need to get themselves checked out?

20) Because if you want to share enlightening facts about Nelson Mandela, you really ought to ensure they are accurate

Nelson Mandela proofreading mistake

21) Because a missing punctuation mark can completely change your bus journey

Sign mistakenly uses a rude word

22) Because one letter can mean the difference between looking cool and a long stretch in San Quentin

Picture that shows the difference between rapper and raper23) Because some words have more than one meaning

Bad translation misuses alternative word for chicken
Source: Turkish Tefl

24) Because James should be remembered for much more than being a geometric term

Sign reads "angle" instead of "angel"

25) Because it’s important to get every day off to the right start

26) Because not everyone wants to know about your embarrassing medical problem

We have worms
Are these for general consumption, or are they referring to an ongoing medical condition?

27) Because there’s always a smart aleck about

Flyer reads: "we are closed due to short staff."

28) Because stories about crazy animal fetishes don’t make for a great morning read

Reads: Women beats off shark

29) Because you don’t want to be accused of discrimination

Reads: black baby cot for sale
A comma between the words “black” and “baby” may have avoided the possibility of the poster being branded racist… or dumb

30) Because there are better ways to let your son know he was adopted

Reads: From "Mom"
Was this guy adopted?

31) Because contradictions cause confusion

Sign reads: "Do not enter. Entrance only."

32) Because girls don’t actually like the smell of colon

User claims that spelling mistakes on facebook don't make any difference

33) Because good old-fashioned mayonnaise would suffice

Reads: Turkey w/cum

34) Because someone may take your instructions literally

A milk carton is stuck next to a flyer that says, "do not place milk cartons on fridge door."

35) Because you’re feeding the grammar trolls

Facebook spelling mistakes are not my fault

36) Because you can make yourself look pretty stupid

The word "appreciation" is spelled incorrectly37) Because chickens aren’t all that good at walking dogs

Why we need proofreaders
38) Because there really is a difference between then and than

The difference between then and than is important39) Because your message of compassion could be misinterpreted

Sign Reads: "don't let worries kill you let the church help"
40) Because your friends are lying in wait to call you out

Facebook status needs spelling check

41) Because the punishment needs to fit the crime

Proofreading fail42) Because people don’t like a bragger

Reads: B.J. Champion

43) Because you could undermine your entire marketing proposition

Oh the irony44) Because a misspelled word can fundamentally transform the job specification

Proofreader needed for spelling mistake

45) Because a placement issue could turn into a public relations crisis

Pepsi jiz poster proofreading mistake
46) Because you may inadvertently incite homicide

Freshly ground black people typo

47) Because your daughter should be remembered for more than having a face like a phallus

Genital face newspaper mistake

48) Because the way you welcome visitors does matter

Because how you welcome guests matters. Proofreading mistake on sign.

49) Because some abbreviations have unfortunate consequences

Wrigley's extra fresh what?
But will it freshen my breath?

50) Because Brian’s development is his own business

Brian is evolving

51) Because if you’re going to claim to be perfect, you really should make sure you are

52) Because parking illegally will not be fineProofreading error reads: "Illegal cars will be fine."

53) Because the animals deserve a chance at lifeBurying people's animals in bury

54) Because if you’re going to name your brand after a punctuation mark, you really should know how to use itApostrophe mistake on an advert

55) Because you can’t beat the real thing

56) Because sometimes there’s just no excuse

Business sign grammar and spelling57) Because one misplaced letter can make ALL the difference

Newspaper error

58) Because sheeps don’t go with everythingChips with everything

59) Because font selection also matters

esurance advertising fail

60) Because homonyms can confuse the uneducated

Heal or heel?61) Because if you’re going to brag about what a great writer you are, you need to write well

Donald Trump pour pore error62) Because mistakes can be VERY expensive

Yellow pages proofreading error

Source: moreniche

63) Because tuna doesn’t care

Tunashamed bumper sticker funny64) Because there is such a thing as bad publicity

maria tash mistake65) Because details matters

Details matter spelling mistake66) Because your way of spelling things may get you a reputation

Proofreading error my way of spelling things67) Because you can never quite trust autocorrect

Typo on autocorrect Prius68) Because you can never quite trust Microsoft Word

Grammar errors not highlighted by grammar software
69) And because you can never quite trust grammar checking software

Grammarly error oneGrammarly error two

7 Fabulous Memes That Prove Proofreading Isn’t Easy

Why proof-reading is so difficult

Proofreading tools, spellcheckers, and grammar software are widely available these days, so typos and grammar errors should well and truly be a thing of the past, right?

Wrong!

Unfortunately, while grammar software is beneficial, it is not yet sophisticated enough to spot all the mistakes in a written document. And it’s likely to be a long time until it is.

But we’re not exactly in a position to judge. Humans are also fundamentally flawed; especially when it comes to proofreading something we have written ourselves.

Why?

Because our brains play tricks on us, often to the extent that we simply can not see the mistakes that may be glaringly obvious to expert proofreaders.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following:

Text reads: "can you spot the mistake?"

Pretty much everyone who uses social media on a regular basis will have seen this meme at some point or another.

This is a prime example of your brain playing tricks on you. Two things are happening here:

  1. The numbers come first and are written in a light color on a darker background instead of the dark on light we have come to expect. These features tell our brains that the numbers are more important than the sentence that appears below them. As such, we focus on the numbers, not the text.
  2. The brain’s capacity for auto-correction causes us to read what we expect to be there as opposed to what is actually there. This is great when you want to read instructions really quickly, but it is not so great if you’re proofreading a critical document.

Read more: 69 reasons why proofreading is important.

Here’s another classic example:

Simple proofreading trickDid you find the mistake straight away?

Or did you have to look twice?

Can’t see it? Take a look at this one:

Sign reads: "Don't take anything for for granted"Are you taking things for granted?

Still struggling to find the mistakes?

How about a little help:

Hard to proofread the repetition of the word the

Nine out of ten people won’t spot the errors when they look at these memes.

This is not because they’re idiots or their English skills are lacking. Is it, again, because their brains have done an excellent job of tricking them.

In fact, if you regularly make these types of mistake, you should be giving yourself a big pat on the back for your superior brain power.

In an article that was published in Wired, a proofreading expert from the University of Sheffield explained how it is our intelligence, not our ignorance, that allows typos to slip through: “As with all high-level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas),” he assured us.

When your brain starts to generalize sentences, you don’t actually see what’s written on the page. You are no longer reading; you are filling in gaps. And that’s how mistakes are made.

Qualified proofreaders know how to make sure the brain is in reading mode, not recognition mode. Take a look at these essay proofreading tips for some great ideas about how you can achieve this.

The difficulties you may encounter when attempting to self-edit don’t stop there.

Take a look at this:

Example of the stoop effectCan you read the words correctly?

Again, most people will struggle with this seemingly simple task and take much longer to read the words than they would normally.

You have the Stroop effect to thank for that.

The Stroop effect perfectly demonstrates how easy it is for our brains to get confused when reading.

So, do qualified proofreaders struggle with this problem? Apparently not.

According to research involving 12 professional proofreaders and 12 control subjects, during which the participants were tested on a Stroop color-word task, the control subjects exhibited more Stroop interference than the proofreaders. These results indicate that proofreading practice really does pay off.

The following illusion highlights why typos and spelling mistakes are so hard to catch by people who have not acquired solid proofreading skills.

Simple task that explains why spelling mistakes are often missed

If you really do insist on proofreading your own writing, there’s a high chance you will be caught out by this type of thing.

Essentially, humans eventually stop being able to spot typos in their own writing. The brain enters into recognition mode, and the errors become hidden in the larger sentence.

So what makes proofreaders so special?

In addition to having advanced knowledge and understanding of English conventions and grammar rules, proofreaders haven’t seen your work before. As such, they’re reading the text for the first time and are much more likely to detect the errors you missed.

Here’s one final example for you.

How many Fs appear in the following sentence?

Proofreading trick. Count the number of FsThis is easy, right?

A surprisingly high number of people get it wrong.

Did you count six? If not, how did you miss so many fs?

There are two great explanations for this fascinating phenomenon:

  1. It’s highly likely that you mentally read the sentence. According to Mighty Optical Illusions, when people read sentences in their heads, they often subconsciously ignore the word “of” because it doesn’t add any massive value to the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
  2. A different explanation is offered by Sharp Brains. They attribute people’s failure to count the fs accurately to the fact that people think of the f in the word “of” as a “V” sound. As such, their brains ignore the actual spelling and, hence, fail to count all the fs, even if they read the sentence over several times.

Still think proofreading is easy?

The truth is that it is practically impossible to spot all the errors in your own writing. You quite simply can’t trust your own eyes and brain.

That’s what Vappingo is here for. Our online proofreaders will find all the mistakes for you, so you can publish with confidence.

Essay Formatting: How to Format an Essay That Wows Your Professor

If you want to be one of the top students in your class, you’re going to have to nail essay formatting. Learn how to format an essay and you’ll see a huge difference in your grades.

How to format an essay blog title image

One of the biggest obstacles that students face when trying to write a great essay is getting the main points across in a clear, logical fashion that actually answers the set question.

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it: Writing an A-grade essay is a science.

Very few students crack the secret of writing a great essay on their first attempt. They engage in a process of trial and error through which they work out what works… and what doesn’t.

Fortunately, you don’t need to start this process from scratch. Our essay editors know exactly what it takes to get results.

The best thing of all is that the rules on how to format an essay are incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that we’ve fit them all on one page (whoop!).

How to Format an Essay: The Perfect Essay Format

If there’s one thing that is consistent across all great essays, it’s this:

They follow a clear and logical format that incorporates effective transitions.

As such, before we delve a little deeper into what is happening in each section of an essay that utilizes optimal essay formatting, we need to take a look at transitions.

The first thing you should get straight in your mind is that a good essay is formatted to take the reader on a journey through your train of thought. Transitions help them along this journey.

With the addition of just a few strategically chosen and placed transition words, the organization of the whole essay is greatly enhanced. Transitions strengthen the flow of ideas from one sentence to the other, from one paragraph to the next, and from section to section.  You can read more here: Guide to essay transitions.

Here is a list of the types of transitions you could use when formatting your essay:

Useful Transitions for Essays: A Really Cool Cheat Sheet

Purpose Useful Transitional Phrases
Cause and effect accordingly, consequently, hence, so, therefore, thus
Emphasis even, indeed, in fact, of course, truly
Place above, adjacent, below, beyond, here, in front, in back, nearby, there
Similarity also, in the same way, just as … so too, likewise, similarly
Additional supporting information additionally, again, also, and, as well, besides, equally important, further, furthermore, in addition, moreover, then
Sequence/order first, second, third, … next, then, finally
Time after, afterward, at last, before, currently, during, earlier, immediately, later, meanwhile, now, recently, simultaneously, subsequently, then
Example for example, for instance, namely, specifically, to illustrate
Contrast but, however, in spite of, on the one hand … on the other hand, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, in contrast, on the contrary, still, yet
Conclusion finally, in a word, in brief, briefly, in conclusion, in the end, in the final analysis, on the whole, thus, to conclude, to summarize, in sum, to sum up, in summary

So that’s the transition sorted. Let’s look at how they work within the essay itself.

For the purpose of this guide, we’ll focus on a five-paragraph essay format; however, the same techniques and tips will apply regardless of how many paragraphs your essay contains.

How to Format An Essay: The Five-Paragraph Essay

1) Introduction

The introduction to your paper is critical because this is where you get your reader involved in your essay. You need a strong opening that hooks the reader into reading more. Check out our guide to how to write an essay introduction for more information.

Here are a couple of examples of great opening lines that capture the reader’s attention:

As Gru was in the process of giving his acceptance speech at the annual Anti-Villain League Employee of the Year awards, many people in the room looked on in shock. Exactly what had Gru done that had made him so worthy of this accolade?


The playwright George Bernard Shaw famously stated ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ Later, the film director Woody Allen took the definition one step further by positing ‘Those who can’t teach, teach gym’…

The second purpose of your introductory paragraph is to tell the reader what they will learn from reading your essay. As such, you should include a thesis statement that outlines what your essay will set out to prove. Not sure how to write a thesis statement? Check out our guide to how to write a thesis statement.

Here’s a couple of examples of great thesis statements:

From examining minions’ cramped working conditions, low pay, and lack of vacation entitlement, it is clear that Gru should not have been awarded Employer of the Year.


As individuals who directly impact children’s educational development, aspirations, and ability to function in society, teachers should be afforded a greater level of respect than that afforded to them by people like George Bernard Shaw.”

The third purpose of your intro is to keep the reader engaged. As such, you should include a good transitional hook that transitions him or her from the introduction to the main body of the essay.

Here’s an example of a great transitional hook:

This paper will examine some of the ways in which Gru’s minions are mistreated and prove that he is unworthy of the Employer of the Year award he recently won at the Bad Guys Conference.

So, let’s put it all together: A fabulous opening paragraph

As Gru was in the process of giving his acceptance speech at the annual Anti-Villain League Employee of the Year awards, many people in the room looked on in shock. Exactly what had Gru done that had made him so worthy of this accolade? As someone who is renowned for controlling and manipulating his minions, Gru is perhaps one of the last people who should be granted an award for exemplary employment practices. In fact, from examining minions’ cramped working conditions, low pay, and lack of vacation entitlement, it is clear that Gru should not have been awarded Employer of the Year. This paper will examine some of the ways in which Gru’s minions are mistreated and prove that he is unworthy of the Employer of the Year award he recently won at the Anti-Villain League Conference.

2) The Body

Paragraph One

So, this is where we progress to the real meat of the essay.

Open the first paragraph of the body with a reverse hook that pulls in the transitional hook with which you closed the introductory paragraph.

Whaaaat?

Okay, admittedly, that sounds complicated. Luckily, it isn’t.

Here are some examples to help you out:

Examples of Essay Transitions

Transition From Introduction/Previous Paragraph Next Paragraph Reverse Hook
This paper will argue that Gru’s minions are mistreated and that he is unworthy of the Employer of the Year award he recently won at the Anti-Villain League Conference. Gru was awarded Employer of the Year on the basis that he has offered gainful employment to over one million minions. However, if we scratch the surface we will find…
As such, the working conditions that the minions are exposed to are not aligned with the conditions one would expect to be provided by someone with the title “Employer of the Year.” Some people may argue that it is not working conditions that are of importance when determining awards of this nature, but the job satisfaction of the employees. As such, to assess Gru’s suitability for the Employer of the Year Award, it is worth examining the extent to which Gru’s minions are satisfied in their work…
To this end, although a survey of five minions indicated that they are satisfied with their working conditions, this does not prove that Gru is worthy of Employer of the year because the survey was only conducted with five minions. In addition to the fact that it is clear that the survey on the workplace satisfaction of Gru’s minions was too limited to be reliable, a third point that should be taken into consideration when evaluating whether Gru is a good employer is…

In the first body paragraph, you should aim to reel the reader in. As such, you should put across your strongest argument at this point.

Immediately following the reverse hook, state your topic for the first paragraph. This topic should be directly relevant to the thesis statement you presented in the introduction.

Once you have shared all the main points related to that particular argument, close the paragraph with…

You guessed it, a transition! (Gotta love a good transition).

Paragraph Two

From this point onward, you kinda rinse and repeat.

That is, in your second body paragraph, you use a reverse hook and then present your second strongest argument, second most significant example, second smartest point… you get the picture.

Don’t forget to relate the points you have made back to the thesis statement.

There is one super simple sentence that can help you to nail this every time:

This proves that the view that <main argument of thesis> is correct because…

The word because is extremely important here because it is at this point you present your “so what.” You’ve shared some facts that are relevant to the thesis but you need to explicitly outline how they prove your claim is true.

Once you’ve put your argument across and tied it back to the thesis, you’re ready for…

Can you guess what’s coming?

A transition!

By now this should all be becoming crystal clear. And it couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s our ideal paragraph structure…

Reverse hook > Argument/Strong example > Thesis statement > Transition

Essay Paragraph Structure

A Quick Tip on Proofreading Paragraph Transitions

When you reach the editing stage of writing your essay, take a look at the end of each paragraph and check that it connects to the first sentence of the paragraph following it. If the connection doesn’t quite seem strong enough, consider rewriting the transition by clarifying your logic or even rearranging the paragraphs.

Paragraph Three

Follow the same processes you used in paragraph one and paragraph two. That is:

Reverse hook > Argument/Strong example > Thesis statement > Transition

If you’re making more than three points, you’ll carry on the cycle with each additional body paragraph until you’ve said everything you have to say.

However, at a minimum, you should aim to have at least three body paragraphs that make at least three separate, but important, points related to your thesis.

Closing Body Paragraph

The closing paragraph in the body of your essay will follow the cycle we looked at for paras. one, two, and three.

There will be just one small difference:

The final sentence won’t just be a standard transition. It will be a concluding hook that tells the reader you’ve finished presenting your argument.

Here is an example of a concluding transition:

As such, the third and final reason why Gru should not have been awarded the Employer of the Year award is because he does not allow his minions to take any vacation, something that is in violation of the Bad Guys’ Employment Act 1018.

So, in the final body paragraph of the paper, we have:

Reverse hook > Final Argument/Strong example > Thesis statement > Concluding transition

3) Conclusion

You’ve done all the hard work, but you’re certainly not finished yet.

The conclusion is where you tie everything together and leave a great impression on the reader.

Your conclusion should contain the following:

  • An allusion to the claim you made in the introduction.
  • A reassertion of the thesis statement in alternative words to those you used in the introduction (i.e., the same claim, presented slightly differently).
  • A summary of the main points you presented in the essay.
  • A final concluding statement that lets the reader know you’re done.

Here’s an example of a great concluding statement:

In the end, then, one thing is clear: Teachers do far more than simply teach a curriculum. As the examples provided in this paper confirm, teachers directly impact children’s educational development, aspirations, and ability to function in society. Those who can, teach.

Useful Transitions for Conclusions

generally speaking in the final analysis all things considered
given these points in summary as shown above
as has been noted ordinarily for the most part
as can be seen in fact in the long run
in conclusion in short in a word
in essence overall after all
to summarize by and large on the whole
all in all altogether in any event
in either case in brief usually
on balance to sum up indeed
eventually specifically as a final point

And, we’re done.

Got any essay formatting advice to share? Any top tips on how to format an essay that we’ve missed? Leave a comment and give us the full lowdown.

How to Proofread an Essay: The Ultimate Guide for 2020

If you want to top the class, you’re going to have to know how to proofread an essay. Fortunately, we have some great tips that will get you off to the perfect start.

Reads: How to proofread an essay: Ten simple steps
What’s the secret to proofreading an essay like a pro?

That’s a very difficult question to answer.

Every proofreader is different. However, you probably know excellent essay editors who can quickly and easily spot mistakes in writing and publish error-free essays every single time.

How do they do it? Do they have some secret proofreading techniques that you’re not aware of?

Actually, chances are, they do!

Whether they know it or not, many of the students you know who are turning in A-grade papers follow some form of proofreading process to work through all the kinks in their essays and ensure their essay formatting is perfect.

Today, we’re going to let you into some of their secrets by sharing some of the proven proofreading methods that actually work.

So, if you’re sick of your professor highlighting your shoddy grammar and careless mistakes, our guide to how to proofread an essay may be exactly what you need.

Pro Tip:

Download a free bonus essay editing checklist that will show exactly how you should edit an essay, step by step.

How to Proofread an Essay in Ten Simple Steps

1) Take a break

Yep, before you do anything at all, take a well-deserved break from whatever it is you have been working on.

To proofread an essay well, you need to have a clear head and be fully focused.

Go for a run, watch TV, listen to music… just do something other than stare at the paper.

Allow yourself at least 30 minutes break from your essay, ideally much longer.

When you return to your essay, you’ll find that you can see your work from a whole new perspective… warts and all!

Suddenly the mistakes will become much more apparent and proofreading your essay will be a lot easier.

2) Get rid of any distractions

Once you’ve taken a break and cleared some time to focus on the task at hand, cut out all distractions.

Turn off the stereo, put your phone on mute, and tell your flatmates your room is out of bounds for the next hour or so.

Give your essay your undivided attention and concentrate on finding those pesky errors.

3) Read the essay aloud

This is not something we’d recommend when you’re grafting away on your essay in a busy library. However, if you can get a room to yourself, sit down and read your essay out loud word for word.

As you vocalize the words you have written, you will have a chance to both hear and see the flaws. In addition to giving yourself an opportunity to focus on the sound of the words, you’ll also spot where there are missing commas and issues with the flow.

Read each page aloud and keep improving it until the words start to sound perfect.

Pro Tip:

If reading aloud isn’t an option, paste the text of your essay into a text-to-speech program like NaturalReader and listen through headphones as the robot reads it to you. If there’s a mistake, you’ll have more chance of catching it.

4) Create a checklist of the mistakes you make on a regular basis and check them off one by one

Everyone has their own respective Achilles’ heels when it comes to grammar and punctuation.

Perhaps you frequently confuse the words “that” and “which.” Or maybe your use of splice commas has got you in trouble with your professor on one or two occasions in the past.

Whatever it is you frequently mess up, keep track and check for those mistakes before you submit your paper.

As you are proofreading each essay, you can quickly and easily jot down the errors you encounter and then use this list as your proofreading checklist next time you’re proofreading an essay.

5) Use grammar and spell checkers, but don’t rely on them

Of course, one of the first things you should do when you have finished the first draft of your essay is run the text through a spelling and grammar checker. This will help you identify some of the more obvious spelling and punctuation mistakes.

However, you should not rely on automated software as your only proofreading approach.

Even the best, most expensive grammar checkers are prone to errors. They simply cannot truly understand the language within the context it is used. As such, they can frequently point you in the wrong direction or even completely confuse you.

A further issue with grammar checking software is that you need to have an exceptional command of English grammar to be able to decipher what are true grammatical errors; the software can only tell you that there might be a mistake.

Grammar checkers should never fully be trusted. They are computer tools and are fallible. Don’t let your trust in them be misguided.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the following great articles:

6) Find a proofreading buddy

Everyone knows that it’s immensely difficult to proofread your own writing… so proofread someone else’s essay instead.

Make a pact with one of your classmates to swap papers and proofread each other’s essays. Of course, you should choose your proofreading buddy wisely and ensure you opt for someone you can trust with this important task.

Ideally, you should find a mate who isn’t responding to the same essay prompt as you; that way, there’s less chance of him or her nicking all your great ideas.

7) Perform several passes

It sucks, we know, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll catch every grammar, punctuation, and spelling error on the first pass.

Most editors and proofreaders perform two, if not three, passes of every document they proofread.

8) Try the old-fashioned route

Print out your essay, grab a pen, and don’t be afraid to use it.

Things look different on paper than they do on the screen.

When you hold a physical copy of your essay, you’ll find that the mistakes become much more obvious. It’s amazing how many more typos and silly errors you’ll spot when you use this method.

Pro Tip:

Don’t forget to make sure your transitions are effective. Take a look at our guide to essay transitions for more help.

9) Check the format last

Don’t let yourself be distracted from the main content by minor formatting issues.

Finish all the proofreading passes and then format your essay immediately before publication. If you’re working to the APA style, you’ll find our guide to APA formatting incredibly useful (it’s free!).

10) Get a pro on the job

If your essay is important and you really can’t afford to make any mistakes, get a professional involved.

Do you know the difference between an n-dash and an m-dash? Do you know when to use a semi-colon?

You may very well have an excellent idea of what written English reads well; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the know how to proofread an essay. If you don’t have an exceptional command of English grammar and punctuation conventions, proofreading will be nothing more than guesswork.

If your essay is important to you, ensure you make sure your writing is the best it can be by using a professional proofreading service.

If you need more help, our essay editors can refine the text for you, make sure you have responded to the prompt and grading scheme properly, and give you constructive feedback on exactly how you can improve your essay.

 

What are you waiting for?

Stop wondering how to proofread an essay and get on with it!

 

How to Proofread an Essay: The Ultimate Guide for 2020