I don’t know about all of you, but when I finally finish up the last paragraph of a paper I am always tempted to hit print, close Microsoft Word, and race off to do something more entertaining. (Or, as is more often the case, fall asleep.) While I always try to leave enough time to thoroughly edit my work before I turn it in, sometimes I don’t have that luxury. Still, even when I am pressed for time or just anxious to put the paper behind me, I always make sure to double-check the following few details before I print my hard copy:
- Is everything spelled correctly? Believe it or not, forgetting to use spell-check is a mistake far too many college students make. Spend the extra two minutes and save yourself the embarrassment!
- Does the paper follow all of the Professor’s specified conventions? Many Professors will list, either in the course syllabus or on the assignment sheet, specific rules they expect the paper to adhere to. For instance: double-spacing, including the honor code, using your WesID instead of your name, etc.
- Is it paginated? Even if the Professor hasn’t specified that he or she wants you to number your pages, it’s generally a good idea to go ahead and number them anyway. It makes life easier.
- Are all of the citations correct? Make sure that you have not only formatted everything correctly, but also used the same format throughout.
- Have I remembered to include every work cited within the paper in my bibliography? Check to make sure: sometimes an article or two can slip by unnoticed.
- Is the thesis from my introduction still relevant to what I am arguing in my conclusion? Sometimes I start out with a clear idea of what I want to argue but wind up unconsciously switching my stance halfway through the paper. I always check to make sure that the paper I ended up writing matches the thesis I started out with.
- Am I stylistically consistent? If, for instance, I argue that “one can’t be sure” in the first paragraph, I will check to make sure I don’t talk about what “you can conclude” later on in the paper.
Of course if possible, you should always leave ample time to thoroughly edit your work before you turn it in. If the thought of reviewing your paper on your own is too daunting, you can always head over to the Writing Workshop: just let the tutor on-call know you’re scrunched for time. But when you’re too rushed for that, at least stick to this quick checklist to avoid getting marked down for an easily preventable mistake!