Aug 16th 2018

Know the Difference: Revision, Editing, & Proofreading

Guest post written by Carla D. Bass.Independent thinker and individual leadership concept. Group of pigeon birds on a wire with one at the other side. Flat style vector illustration isolated on white background.

 

Pfshew! After considerable effort, you’ve finally completed that draft document. A cursory proofreading and you’re done, right? Absolutely not … Three critical steps stand between you and success … revision, editing, and proofreading. That application for a grant, submission to a request for proposal, response to a congressional inquiry, essay for the college application, or other product by which you hope to influence the audience … all depend on how effectively you complete these steps.

In completing the initial draft, you’ve presented yourself with a lump of damp clay … congratulations. I state that with utmost sincerity, because you succeeded in creating something – a place to start. You must now painstakingly mold that clay … your draft … into the final art form ready for display … or the written product to present to your audience.

Step 1 — Revision:

 Take a breather, step away from the draft, then return later for a fresh review. Examine it objectively using criteria such as those listed below delineated in a three-step, sequential process: revision, editing, and proofreading. These are neither synonymous nor simultaneous. Each serves a different purpose.

Continuing the sculpting analogy, the artist first molds the clay into the general form desired – little push here, little pull there, add or remove clay, shaping as needed, and continuing until the image emerges. The artist then steps away and allows the clay to dry bit.

This equates to your revision, the overall, substantive review of product. Begin by outlining the draft; some call this technique, “the reverse outline.” Identify the skeletal structure: the title, thesis, main points, topic sentences, supporting data, and conclusion. Consider the following:

  • Does your draft match your original outline?
  • If not, why not? Is your revision to the original outline warranted?
  • Did you find information gaps in your draft; where should you add more? Did you include any unnecessary tangents?

Read your draft slowly and from the audience’s perspective. If you received this information, how would you respond? Other points to consider are listed below. Several revisions might be necessary – and that’s OK, even advisable.

  • Know your audience; tailor your product accordingly
  • Address issue(s)/question(s)/concerns of the audience
  • Use form and style appropriate to the product/audience
  • State goal/purpose clearly
  • Define terms
  • Sequence information logically; rearrange or delete, as necessary
  • Provide supporting evidence for all positions addressed
  • Anticipate/respond to questions not posed
  • Organize and connect sections
  • Identify/respond to counter arguments objectively and factually
  • Present balanced, logical arguments
  • Eliminate tangential information
  • Extend or limit concepts
  • Eliminate bureaucratic blather (imprecise, convoluted, run-on sentences)
  • Complete the circle: harmonize the opening and conclusion

Step 2 — Editing:

The artist resumes his work, applying different, more precise tools to his now dried artifact of clay. Bit by bit, the final art form emerges in glorious detail from what began as that damp lump of clay.

You do similarly in the editing process, examining your final, revised draft sentence by sentence to identify errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and typing, and other items listed below:

  • Application of Word Sculpting tools (from “Write to Influence!”)
  • Clarity of title
  • Overly repeated, mis-used, or overly used words
  • Sentence structure and syntax
  • Rhythm and flow (sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph)
  • Accuracy of cited references
  • Length of document (i.e., number of pages or words)

Be careful with automated tools to check grammar and spelling. Why? From “Write to Influence!” … “Automated systems may recognize valid words but will not correct spelling relative to the context. The following sentence is exaggerated for effect but reinforces this point. Automated systems will revue you’re hole product but will knot be two effective and they’re observations will often lead ewe a rye.”

Here are some editing tips I teach my students:

  • Read your draft slowly and aloud. This is an important and different dimension to editing. Listen … You will hear how words flow … or don’t, identify thoughts that simply don’t connect, and catch words that are excessively repeated.
  • Read the paper backwards. This will help preclude substantive distraction.

Here are some others from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

  • Look for errors – one variety at a time. You risk losing focus when trying to identify too many kinds of errors simultaneously.
  • Circle and validate every punctuation mark. As you circle, verify that the punctuation is correct. [My note: This solves only half of the problem. Why? It doesn’t highlight punctuation you neglected to include.]

Step 3 — Proofreading

The artist puts finishing touches on the sculpture; you apply the final polish to your product. This is the last step before formally submitting your document. The story line is now tight, arguments well organized and logically substantiated, conclusion is synchronized with the opening, etc. Your last step is purging the document of mistakes. Look carefully for:

  • Sentence structure
  • Grammar (e.g., verb tense and punctuation)
  • Spelling, typos, use of quotations
  • Accuracy of citations

Pfshew! After considerable effort, you’ve finally completed that draft document. Are you done? If you’ve revised, edited, and proofread … YES and congratulations! You, too, have created a masterpiece.

About the Author:

Carla D Bass, Colonel, USAF (Retired), authored the award-winning book … “Write to Influence!” … and now gives engaging, interactive workshops tailored for professionals in the workforce to students from high school through graduate school. During her 30-year career, she taught professional writing to thousands of people – to rave reviews.

Credits:

https://slc.berkeley.edu/editing-vs-revision
http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/tips-howtos/revise-edit-30116.html
http://sites.middlebury.edu/peer_writing_tutors/2011/02/14/revision-editing-and-proofreading-what%E2%80%99s-the-difference/
https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/

 

 

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Aug 9th 2018

Motivate your kids to study

Parents Helping Children With Homework At Table

 

Guest post written by Eveline Heston.

Getting your children to knuckle down and study hard for their tests or do their homework can be very hard. Understandably, work like this can seem too complicated and too much of a strain for children, causing them to switch off and to avoid it. Avoiding studying or homework can start as an innocent act, but can end up in a dropping of grades, disciplinary from the teacher, and a sudden change in behaviour from your child. What is even worse is that the more they experience the result of their lack of work, the more they will descend into not working and misbehaving. Children need to study, it is beneficial for them and can help increase their knowledge and double their understanding, so here are a few tips on how to get your child to study.

Rewards: You could reward your child if they work hard for a certain amount of time, or get a specific piece of homework done. Now you might be thinking this means a material reward like money, a new video game or something similar to that, but it doesn’t have to, rewards can be anything, from material gifts to just vocal praise and encouragement. As unresponsive as your child may be, we as humans somewhat depend on gratification when we do something well. You tell your child that they are doing well, lets them know that you are aware of the hard work they are doing and that you are proud of them for it. This will encourage them to study more and to finish their duties.

Patience: Though you might want to get your child to finish all their work as quickly as possible, sometimes that is not the best way to go about things. Would you work better if your boss stood over your shoulder and poked at you until you had finished everything that you had to do at work that day? Exactly! People require their breathing space to complete things. Be a mature parent and take a step back, if your child has done an hours’ work and their concentration is wavering, let them have a break for a while and come back to their work after some rest. Tell them to play with some anti-stress toys and get all their stress out! They will go back to their studying in a more concentrated frame of mind than before. Have them rest or eat something to make them feel more alert and ready to study.

Understanding: Your children do not need to write an essay online just yet! What I mean by this is, though the work they are doing at the moment is essential, there’s no reason to think that they will understand everything entirely at first. They may have struggled in class with a specific aspect of the work, and that’s why they are now struggling with writing a critical analysis at home. Their confusion is not always a ploy to get out of work, and although you may not be an English professor or a mathematician, you owe it to your child to sit down with them and try and work through it to help them towards an answer. You may improve their understanding of the task greatly, and they will be able to proceed on to the finish line, all because you sat down with them and helped them through it. But even if they don’t end up understanding it, you will have tried your hardest to help them, and they will appreciate that in the long run.

The Bigger Picture: What are some of your child’s aspirations? Musician? Sports star? Astronaut? Well, they are more likely to achieve these if they do this work! Try and show them the palpable difference that doing this piece of homework can cause. It might help their understanding of the course leading to a better grade, which means overall better grades, which means a good university which leads to good connections and degree and results in a fantastic job! It may sound long and drawn out, but that is what happens! We cement our understanding in secondary school, and then we display that understanding at the university.

There are just a few tips to help your child to study, and to motivate them to complete their work. With schools getting tougher as they try and push grades upwards, we need to understand the position our children are in, and they have a whole lot to deal with. Looking around us at the world as it is today it’s a wonder they can even concentrate at all. But if you follow these steps, I am certain that with your help they will be able to study and retain an understanding of the work that they are doing!

About the Author
Eveline Heston is a freelance writer who has a year of experience in writing for educational resources. She majored in pre-school education and English language and literature, which helps her during her researches and guides.

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May 22nd 2018

Improve your writing and not just the grammar

Best writing improvement tips for 2018

A good writing is not just about grammar, it is about how well you can engage the readers. Having good writing skills is invaluable; whether you are sending professional emails, making reports and presentations or creating a captivating blog, it can help you to grab the attention of the audience. No matter how good your content is, if it is poorly written then your audience may not take you seriously.

I have listed down a set of steps that you can implement in your daily life to improve your writing and not just the grammar. Whether you are sending a professional email or making a report for your boss, you would want to make a strong impression.

With no further ado, let us get into it.

1) A structure is important: No matter what you are writing, having a structure is important. It should have a beginning, a main body and a concluding statement. Before you start writing, make a mental note of the outline. It does not have to be complicated, but make sure that you know what goes where: what will be in the introduction, in the body and in the conclusion. In case of blogs and reports, you are usually restricted by word count. In such cases, you need to divide the word count as well. Typically, 10% of the word count goes into the introduction and conclusion and the rest is for the body.

2) Choose your words carefully: Most of us unknowingly make the mistake of tautology. For the uninitiated, it involves repeating the same set of words frequently. Let me clear that up for you with an example: if you have written “organization” in one sentence, try writing “firm” in the next one. Use synonyms to avoid tautology. Not only will it boost your quality of writing, but it will be pleasing for the readers as well. However, using a variety of synonyms requires you to have a good base of vocabulary. You can improve it by reading a lot. Make it a habit. It will allow you to learn new words and their usage.

3) It should flow like a river: A moment ago, I talked about having a structure in your writing, which typically should have a distinct beginning, a body and a conclusion. Not matter what structure you follow, the transition between each segment of your writing should have proper continuity. You cannot abruptly start a new segment, which does not have a direct connection with the preceding one. Despite of having structural segments, your writing should read in a flow, where the transition between each segment is continuous.

4) Do your research: A good piece of writing is a conjugation of sufficient data, good vocabulary and structure. This is where your content comes into play. Make sure that the information that you are providing are accurate. Wherever possible, you need to reference the source of the information. The last thing a reader would want is well-written false information, so be careful about that.

5) People are busy, make it worth their time: Since brevity is the soul of wit, why do not we use it in our writing. You need to consider the fact that your audience consists of busy people. They do not have time to read through chunks of text to find very little information at the end. Be precise; you should not stretch a point more than it is necessary. Avoid filler words; although they may add a flair to the writing, but do not over use them. Put bulleted or numbered points wherever relevant. Make the paragraphs short; it goes easy on the eyes. If it is a report, give proper headings.

6) Proofread for spelling and grammar: Yes, they are important. Read what you have written and make it a habit. However, when the deadline is right on your throat, you may not have the luxury of doing so. In such cases, you can use applications like Ginger. It makes proofreading a breeze.

Improvement can only come from practice. Keep these six points in mind whenever you are writing something. It should definitely help you to improve your skills.

About the Author
Peter Lewis is a professional blogger. He specializes in the area of technology, current affairs and e-commerce. Through his insightful articles, he puts forward his views and facts on various areas of interest that can have thought provoking impact on the readers. Presently he is a contributing author in Penmypaper.

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May 17th 2018

Tips for Non-Native English Speaking Students

tips and tools

Writing in English can be a challenge, especially if you’re a non-native speaker. Writing academic essays in English is even more challenging, and many non-native English speakers struggle with this in college every day. It takes a lot of skill in language, syntax and grammar to effectively express your ideas, and this intimidates many non-native speakers to write in English. The language barrier seems like a hard wall to break through, but the truth is that any language can be learned, and good academic English writing can be accomplished in no time.

We have come up with a number of useful tips and resources to help non-native English-speaking students improve their English writing skills.

Read as Much as You Can
If you’re a non-native English speaker, you need to read everything you can get your hands on. Read books, magazines, blog posts, newspapers and anything else that you think you’d find interesting. Reading is the easiest and fastest way to learn a new language. Why?

  • It expands your vocabulary – The ideal way to learn new words is to see them being used in sentences. If you want to learn English specifically in your field of interest, you might want to stick to reading material that uses terms from your field. For instance, literature majors may want to read books with “bolder” English words, while business students may want to read articles that have business-related terms.
  • It helps you infer meaning through context – Forget about carrying a dictionary with you everywhere. Reading lets you practice contextual learning, which is when you read, word and infer its meaning based on how it was used. Plus, the more you encounter the word, you’ll naturally memorize it and come to know its meaning.
  • It gives you an idea of what different styles of writing are like – There isn’t just one sole type of writing. Sure, college almost always requires students to write using technical terms, but if you have creative writing classes (or maybe your professor just wants you to write in your own style), technical writing just isn’t a one-size-fits-all case.

Practice Your Writing
Reading would be useless if you didn’t put what you had learned into practice. Whenever you can, write — you could even create a personal blog where you narrate your daily experiences just so you can get the feel of writing. Let your native English-speaking friends read your work so that they can give you feedback. There’s no better critic than someone who knows and uses the English language on a day-to-day basis.

You could also practice copying because it helps you study each word as you write it down, understanding how it functions when placed alongside other words.

Use a Paper Writing Service
At some point (or at all points), every college student will become overloaded with writing college papers. It helps to be well-versed in terms of the English language — if you’re equipped with a high vocabulary and comprehension, then producing high-quality college essays can be a piece of cake. But, when there are too many papers to turn in, it can be difficult to write multiple technical essays and term papers of excellent quality, especially if you’re having trouble writing in English.

Paper writing services, such as College-Paper, can help you produce impressive and professional essays that your professors will admire. You simply need to provide the instructions for your writing assignment, pay a student-friendly fee, and wait for your paper to be finished. With your paper out of your hands, you can focus on other assignments while you continue to hone your English-speaking skills.

Make Use of an Online Grammar Checker like Ginger Software
You might have a brilliant idea for your paper, and you already know how you’re going to construct your essay. The only problem is, you aren’t a hundred percent confident in your grammar and spelling. This is a common problem faced by many, if not all, students, but there’s a quick student hack that can help you write the most kick-ass essay.

Online grammar checker tools are designed to correct your writing as you write. If you’re confused with the difference between “they’re” and “their”, or “its” and “it’s”, these online grammar checkers edit your text and highlight mistakes as you go along. Ginger Software is a handy tool for non-native English speakers, which lets students write on a clean and user-friendly interface. Mistakes are highlighted and suggestions are given for improvement.

Don’t be ashamed of using an online grammar checker — even the pros use it!

Study Both American and British English Writing
Although you aren’t obliged to learn both American and British English, it does help to familiarize yourself with some of the terms that may be different in both kinds of English. Knowing how they differ can help you write a consistent all-American or all-British essay, which for some classes really does matter. In spelling, for example, Americans write labor while Brits write labor. In a similar way, Americans use the term vacation to describe a getaway, while Brits would call it a holiday.

With these tips and tools, you can become an expert in all aspects of the English language, from spelling to grammar, and from vocabulary to tenses. You’ll finally get to write the most impressive essays — you might even write an award-winning piece, for all you know!

All it takes is discipline, patience and determination and you will be well on your way to writing flawlessly in English.

About the Author
Nancy Spektor writes about digital marketing and advertising strategies. She strives for learning and improving every day. Her favorite things to do are reading books, cooking and playing with her dog, Bok Choy.

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May 14th 2018

Guidance to Improve Your Knowledge of English

how-to-improve-your-english-skillsGuest post written by Ellie Singh on May 5, 2018 

I want to talk about how to build a system of independent study of English (or any other) language, using modern and not very technology. A system where all elements are connected and support each other. But before deciding to learn, let’s focus the reasons why language learning is postponed indefinitely.

Lack of resources
Many believe that a teacher or a course is an integral part of learning. But it takes time and money, which is always lacking. As a result, English is transferred to better times, which never come. In my opinion, the number of opportunities for the initial study of the language is now so great that one can start today without leaving home. Hundreds of applications, sites for learning languages, electronic translators, movies, lectures and commercials in English, so this is a huge and very affordable arsenal. Teacher you need later, when moving to more complex levels.

Lack of purpose
Another reason for shifting the study to later is the lack of the goal of learning and the way to maintain the achieved level. Many believe that if the language is taught without the perspectives of constant use, then it is useless. I think that there is a very simple way to keep up the level of English as long as you please – it’s reading.

If you constantly read, then you lose only the conversational skills, but at the same time you are increasingly understanding the structure of the language and increasing your vocabulary. The active reader restores conversational skills very quickly. Reading in English has never been easier than it is now, and this is the first component of the plan that I want to talk about.

Interval learning of words
There are many systems of the interval learning into which you load your words and drive them around. Over time, the system itself removes everything that you have learned and leaves what you do not yet know. It is important to download words manually, providing them with comments and notes. If you just start learning, each of the systems will offer ready-made sets of the most popular words. Words can and should be sorted by folders. You can write out not only words, but also phrases.

All systems are equipped with applications, you can use them while traveling on the metro, in line to a dentist and so on, without eating away from your normal day. It is very important not only to remember the words mentally, but also to tell them in a whisper. You will also need headphones, because these applications speak each word, which allows you to debug your pronunciation according to the pattern.

Grammar
After you have typed the vocabulary, you need to start somehow combining words with each other. And here I will disappoint you. To study the grammar, nothing new has been invented-one will have to learn the rules and do exercises in the usual textbook. But there is also good news: the tutorials have changed – they are perfectly composed, easy to use, do not let you get bored, contain exercises and answers to them. I can advise here this series:

  • Elementary level tutorial for beginners.
  • Intermediate level textbook for continuing.

I usually mark important and interesting places with the marker, and note the absolutely new information for me with bright stickers, so that it would be easier to find these places and repeat them. Usually my textbook looks like this:

Perception of speech
With that abundance of content in any language of the world, even with subtitles, it’s even inconvenient to talk about speech recognition training. Do not think that you can learn the language only by watching movies and TV shows in English. More precisely, it is possible, but for people with a propensity for languages. If you have not yet learned English and are interested in this review, then I very much doubt that you treat them. Most likely, you will need the entire proposed arsenal.

Conversational skills
You can travel and try to talk at least on tourist topics, you can visit language courses in English-speaking countries, find accomplices for talking on Skype. But it is obvious that the conversation is the only thing that you cannot do on your own, alone. Everything else is in your power. This allowed us and our teacher not to waste time at the elementary level and memorizing words, and immediately proceed to the complex issues that interested us. In general, do not delay. Learning a language is too long a process to wait for a convenient moment.

About the Author 
Ellie Singh is a prominent English Lecturer in the Nation Institute. Furthermore, she provides student assistance at Essay Writing Services UK for their academic voyages.

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