A final draft is a piece of writing that will be handed in as your best work. Students should treat crafting a final draft as a task of increased importance, because it is their last chance to enhance their paper and correct any flaws.
Steps for Crafting the Final Draft of an Essay
- Take a break after writing your second draft. You will have to revise your second draft at least three more times until it is put in order—have a rest before starting the final copy of your paper.
- Do a spellcheck of your second draft. You should revise your paper in terms of misspelled words, typos, and accidental word repetitions; you could also perform a punctuation check at this interval.
- Do a grammar check. It is a process that requires extreme caution, because grammatical mistakes may be far less obvious than spelling errors. This check implies correcting faulty parallelisms, problems with noun-verb agreement, dangling participles, improper usage of passive voice, and so on.
- After you’ve checked the language of your paper, it is time to pay attention to its technical aspects. This includes the formatting style, your reference list, in-text citations, and the title page. Make sure all of these correspond with the requirements of your teacher or the publication you are submitting your essay to.
- Revise the whole piece of writing once again. Since it is the last time you will read through it with an intention to make corrections, be extra-attentive and check every little detail in the text. Evaluate the structure of your essay, the way your arguments are organized, and the credibility of these arguments. Check for poor or non-existent transitions between paragraphs, pay attention to grammar, stylistics, syntax, and punctuation.
Key Points to Consider
- Reading your final draft aloud will grant you an opportunity to take a fresh look at what you have written. Weaknesses in writing are usually easier to notice when heard.
- Your paper should be written in your own words, except abstracts where you are using citations. It is always better to show your own understanding of an issue, even if it is incorrect, than to frame your ideas in another author’s words. A final draft is your last chance to exclude any possible signs of plagiarism from your paper.
- Using a computer for proofreading is a sound idea, since text processing software often has a function of automatic spelling and grammar checking. However, proofreading on your own once again after the computer check is still recommended to avoid mistakes a computer may not have found.
Do and Don’t
Common Mistakes When Crafting the Final Draft of an Essay
– Incomplete references. Students often tend to hurry when crafting the final draft to finally finish the writing process, and forget about the proper formatting of in-text citations and sources in the reference list.
– Forgetting to spell out abbreviations. You should provide a complete transcript of a certain term or name before using an abbreviation for it.
– Not explaining the meaning of uncommon words. Students use a term with a specific meaning, but forget to specify it; spell-checkers may not flag the term, and neither will these students pay attention to it while proofreading since it may have been spelled correctly.
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Writing essay drafts
Writing the first draft
Write a ﬁrst, rough draft of your essay, using the points made in your plan as the basis for paragraphs or sections.
- Always try to keep to one main point per paragraph: make the point at the outset, then support it with arguments, evidence, or discussion.
- You may not keep strictly to your original plan since your thoughts will develop as your writing proceeds, but make sure that you have an introduction, a main section (or body), and conclusion.
- Once you have written a ﬁrst draft, you might ﬁnd it helpful to read it through quickly to check that you have addressed all the points raised by the question and that you have not wandered off the subject.
- Do not worry about grammar, punctuation, and spelling at this stage: these are matters to be addressed at the end of the essay-writing process.
- Put your ﬁrst draft aside for a day or so (if you’ve planned enough time to do so). This will give your mind a rest and allow you to look at the essay with a fresh eye later on.
Preparing the final draft
This is essentially an assessment, redrafting, and checking process.
- Look at your ﬁrst draft critically: think of your reader, and rewrite or sharpen up passages that seem unclear, rambling, or badly worded. For guidance on language and choosing the right word, read our top tips for word choice.
- Assess the essay’s structure for logical order and coherence. Make sure your sentences and paragraphs are linked and make sense.
- You may wish to reconsider the beginning and end of the essay in the light of what you have written or revised in the main body of it: does the introduction still clearly state your approach and does the ﬁnal conclusion incorporate and sum up your key arguments?
- Check your facts and evidence. Have you provided all the relevant supporting data and referenced all your sources in a consistent and accurate way?
- Write a Bibliography or References section.
- If you have been asked to keep to a particular word count for the essay, then now is the time to count the words and reduce or expand your text as necessary.
When you have ﬁnished writing and reﬁning it, read the whole essay once more for clarity, logical structure, and relevance to the question.
The ﬁnal stage of the essay-writing process should be a thorough proofread.
- This is the point at which you must check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting very carefully.
- You should read the essay more than once for such mistakes, and might ﬁnd it useful to ask a friend to proofread your essay as well if they have time: another person can often spot errors that you might have missed.
- Lastly, check that you have attached any supplementary or supporting material, such as graphs, tables, or diagrams, and that you have put your name, the date, the essay question or title, and any other necessary information (such as a module or course title) at the top.
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