People are the same everywhere. Whether you receive work from the west or the east, from America or China, from Dublin, Dundee or Humberside, the same mistakes are made. Of course, if no mistakes were made then there wouldn’t be the need for proofreaders. Here are some of the common errors made by authors. Let’s start at the beginning.
Contents page – think of the reader who has to wade through it. Is there really a need for chapter headings (1), subheadings (1.1) and sub-subheadings (1.1.1) all with lengthy descriptions? If your contents page is itself longer than a page it’s too long. Call me a minimalist, but a chapter-heading page is plenty. Also, I’m one of the proofreaders who will need to redo every page number when the piece is finished.
Introduction – or the enigmatically titled ‘abstract’ opening paragraph. More often than not the notion of abstract is horribly apt since it’s rare to be able to figure out what’s coming next. And isn’t that the point of the Introduction? To set out what’s coming up? Perhaps lecturers and question-setters should abandon the word abstract, since it seems to encourage people to be more, well, abstract when they should be descriptive.
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