After revising your paper to address problems in content or style, you will complete one final editorial review. Perhaps you have already caught and corrected minor mistakes during previous revisions. Nevertheless, give your draft a final edit to make sure it is error-free. Given how much work you have put into your research paper, you will want to check for any errors that could distract or confuse your readers. Using the spell- checking feature in your word-processing program can be helpful, but this should not replace a full, careful review of your document. Be sure to check for any errors that may have come up frequently for you in the past. Your final edit should focus on two broad areas:
• Errors in citing and formatting sources
• Errors in grammar, mechanics, usage, and spelling
For in-depth information on these topics, see the chapter on Grammar, the Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, or a print writing manual, such as The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
During the process of revising and editing, Jorge made changes in the content and style of his paper. He also gave the paper a final review to check for overall correctness and, particularly, correct style for his citations and formatting.
Writing at Work
Following MLA style guidelines may require time and effort. However, it is good practice to learn how to follow accepted conventions in any professional field. Many large corporations create a style manual with guidelines for editing and formatting documents produced by that corporation. Employees should follow the style manual when creating internal documents and documents for publication.
Ask yourself the following about your draft to help you revise for:
• Does my introduction proceed clearly from the opening to the thesis?
• Does each body paragraph have a clear main idea that relates to the thesis?
• Do the main ideas in the body paragraphs flow in a logical order? Is each paragraph connected to the one before it?
• Do I need to add or revise topic sentences or transitions to make the overall flow of the ideas clearer?
• Does my conclusion summarize my main ideas and revisit my thesis?
At the paragraph level:
• Does the topic sentence clearly state the main idea?
• Do the details in the paragraph relate to the main idea?
• Do I need to recast any sentences or add transitions to improve the flow of sentences?
• Does the opening of the paper clearly connect to the broader topic and thesis?
• Do entertaining quotations or anecdotes serve a purpose?
• Have I included support from research for each main point in the body of my paper?
• Have I included introductory material before any quotations so quotations do not stand alone in paragraphs?
• Does paraphrased and quoted material clearly serve to develop my own points?
• Do I need to add to or revise parts of the paper to help the reader understand how certain information from a source is relevant?
• Are there any places where I have overused material from sources? Does my conclusion make sense based on the rest of the paper?
• Are any new questions or suggestions in the conclusion clearly linked to earlier material?
• Does my paper avoid excessive wordiness?
• Are my sentences varied in length and structure?
• Have I used points of view (pronouns) effectively and appropriately for the assignment?
• Have I used active voice whenever possible?
• Have I defined specialized terms that might be unfamiliar to readers?
• Have I used clear, straightforward language whenever possible and avoided unnecessary jargon?
• Does my paper support my argument using a balanced tone—neither too indecisive nor too forceful?
• Does my paper avoid vague or imprecise terms? Slang? Repetition of the same phrases (“Smith states…, Jones states…”) to introduce quoted and paraphrased material? Exclusive use of masculine pronouns or awkward use of he or she? Use of language with negative connotations? Use of outdated or offensive terms?
Grammar, Mechanics, Punctuation, Usage, and Spelling
• My paper is free of grammatical errors, such as errors in subject-verb agreement and sentence fragments. For additional guidance, see: sentence writing, pronouns, verbs.
• My paper is free of errors in punctuation and mechanics, such as misplaced commas or incorrectly formatted source titles. For additional, see: commas, semicolons.
• My paper is free of common usage errors, such as alot and alright. For additional guidance, see: word choice, commonly confused words.
• My paper is free of spelling errors. I have proofread my paper for spelling in addition to using the spell-checking feature in my word-processing program. For additional guidance, see spelling.
• I have checked my paper for any editing errors that I know I tend to make frequently.
• Within the body of my paper, each fact or idea taken from a source is credited to the correct source.
• Each in-text citation includes the source author’s name (or, if no author is given, the organization name or source title).
• I have used the correct format for in-text and parenthetical citations. If my source gives page numbers, I have included page numbers in parentheses directly after the quote or paraphrase taken from that page or pages.
• Each source cited in the body of my paper has a corresponding entry in the Works Cited at the end of my paper.
• All entries in my Works Cited are in alphabetical order by author’s last name (or by title or organization if no author is listed).
• My Works Cited is consistently double spaced (both within and between entries), and each entry uses proper indentation (“hanging indent”: indented on the second and all subsequent lines).
• Each entry in my Works Cited includes all the necessary information for that source type, in the correct sequence and format.
• My paper includes a heading (with your name, course information, and date) in the upper left-hand corner of the first page; if no heading is used or your instructor requests it, substitute a title page for the heading.
• My paper includes a title that reflects the topic of my paper.
• My paper includes a running head (page numbers, or a header in the upper right-hand corner of each page of the paper).
• The margins of my paper are set at one inch. The text is double spaced and set in a standard 12-point font.
This material is adapted from the following open textbook:
Crowther, Kathryn; Curtright, Lauren; Gilbert, Nancy; Hall, Barbara; Ravita, Tracienne; and Swenson, Kirk, "Successful College Composition"
(2016). English Open Textbooks. 8. https://oer.galileo.usg.edu/english-textbooks/8.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.
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