What do you do when you’ve finished writing your essay?
- Hit the print button?
- Switch to Facebook to reward yourself after a job well done, and come back and worry about your essay later?
- Read quickly through your essay to make sure it looks good, then print?
None of those answers are entirely right and the first one is downright wrong.
Yes you need to check your essay, but don’t do it straight away and definitely don’t do it quickly. What you should do is get up from your laptop (after saving your masterpiece of course!) and do something that doesn’t involve text, so don’t go on Facebook – go outside, or even watch TV. Better yet (if you’ve been organised and have left yourself enough time!), don’t go back to your essay for a whole day.
But why not just check it there and then?
Because we see what we expect to see.
Just like the businessman who made it through an airport security checkpoint with a loaded gun in his laptop bag, typos and grammatical errors will make it past you if you check your essay too soon after you’ve written it. Airport security didn’t expect to see a gun in the laptop bag because it’s such a rare event. You don’t expect to see typos just after you’ve written something because you see what you thought you wrote – a perfect essay.
Going back later means you’ve forgotten what you meant to say and what you thought you said; so instead you see what you did actually write.
But what about Spell and Grammar check? Don’t they find all these errors for me?
No, they don’t. Computer Spell and Grammar check programmes, like in Microsoft Word, are notoriously bad. To have your essay checked properly you need to do it yourself or get someone to do it for you (a human, not a computer).
However, these topics are for another couple of posts. So check back next week as we go through how to proofread your essays – so what you are handing in is free of all typos and spelling mistakes and is grammatically perfect.
Photo Credit: Loren Sztajer via Flickr