Use the checklist below to make sure that you don’t make any of following common errors
Have you used 12 point Times New Roman font?
Is your work double-spaced?
Do you have a uniform margin of 2.5 cm all around?
Did you check your spelling and punctuation?
Remove any contractions: i.e., don’t, can’t, shouldn’t – write them in full, e.g., do not.
When using the possessive form of “its” (e.g., the computer should be left on its desk) do not use an apostrophe. The apostrophe form of “it’s” is only used for the contraction of “it is” (which is not to be used in academic writing – see above).
Do not use clichés such as “solid as a rock” or colloquial expressions such as “figured out” or “lab report”.
Do not use sexist language (he or she). To be safer use the plural form (they).
If using the first person do not use the royal plural (“we”) when in fact you mean “I”.
Generally, use of an ‘active voice’ rather than a ‘passive voice’ is preferred i.e., “We conducted the survey in a controlled setting” rather than “The survey was conducted in a controlled setting”. The exception here, however, is when you want the focus on the object or recipient of the action over the actor. For example, “The camera was placed behind the one-way glass’ emphasises the placement of the camera, not who placed it there.
Apostrophes should be used to show possession. For example, “A participant’s score was …” “All of the participants’ scores were …”
Assume the reader knows little about the issues being discussed. Define all important terms.
Avoid using jargon. For example, “Like many clients with PDs, Mr S also has a comorbid Axis 1 problem”. Be specific and clear, for example, “While Mr S’s primary diagnosis is paranoid personality disorder, the evidence also suggests a comorbid mood disorder”.
Use short words and short sentences as they are easier to comprehend.
Check your grammar. Make sure your sentences have verbs and that the verb agrees in number with the subject. For more information on using correct grammar, refer to the APA Publication Manual (7th Ed).
Write a draft of your work and revise it several times before handing it in. Proof read your work to ensure that your grammar, spelling, structure, referencing, and logic are all in order. Read your work aloud to yourself. Try asking someone else to read it and give feedback on how to improve it. The effort taken to do this will pay off for you.