- Terms and names inconsistency
Some papers contain more than 5 various spellings of the same term/name. It happens just because the author didn’t pay much attention to it. It confuses the reader and creates a reason for misinterpretations.
To make sure the spelling is the same at all times, keep a list of new concepts and names you are using in your assignment, and once finished, check those items using “Search and Find” tool.
Students are often intimidated by word count limitations. They find it difficult to turn a 3000-word paper into a 1600-word one.
In fact, if you are in command of prepositional phrases, you can always find a shorter/longer alternative to what you are trying to say. Check out THIS link. You’ll be impressed how a sentence’s length can be manipulated!
- Misuse of apostrophe
In some papers apostrophe is used instead of a plural form: “I have lots of paper’s to submit”; whereas when possession is implied, some forget to put it: “The cases discussion was stopped abruptly”.
I suggest proofreading your paper for this specific mistake after you finish writing, using “Find and Replace” tool.
- Misuse of commas
Commas are a big issue in legal writing, especially because it is famous of its long and wordy sentences.
As I want to keep this post short, I won’t go into punctuation rules. I will just say that punctuation matters. To get some brilliant examples of the influence of punctuation on the meaning, have a look at THIS thread.
There are clear rules how commas should and should not be used. I think it is worth spending an hour learning this rules than risking being misinterpreted or looking unprofessional.
- Great content, but poor formatting
Examples of poor formatting are: using double spaces, manual paragraph spacing, lack of alignment, messed up numbering, etc.
Most of formatting mistakes can be fixed using simple Microsoft Word tools. I warmly recommend “Find and Replace” for double spaces and double paragraph breaks (search for ^p^p and replace it with ^p). Alignment and numbering might be more complicated, but there are user guides available.
To avoid making such mistakes, I suggest creating a personally-adjusted editing list:
- Spot the most typical mistakes you do and write them down in a list. You might want to keep this list for your future assignments. Mistakes usually show up more than once.
- Write the paper and let it “cool” for a few hours.
- Review the paper using your editing checklist. You must take into account that editing might take you a while (ranges from 2 minutes to 20 minutes per page). If you can’t think of your own checklist, download a sample. Samples are available from different sources, HERE is one I like.
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