Mechanics

Has the paper been proofread?

Proofreading can mean the difference between an average job and a good paper.  One last thorough reading of your paper can be crucial.  If possible, leave at least a day between the time you finish your work and the time you proofread it.  During this last reading, check each word carefully for spelling, be on guard for errors in punctuation and grammar, awkward sentences, and any other mistakes.  Careful editing requires separate trips through the paper to check spelling and punctuation, sentence construction, paragraph organization, and one last reading, as if you have never read it before.

Do mechanical or grammatical errors distract the reader and damage the credibility of the writer?

Writers should be particularly careful about the following common errors:

     - Omitting the apostrophe to indicate possession (Jack's car, the Browns' house, journey's end, a good day's work).

     - Confusing its and it's.  Its shows possession (its blue fur makes the cat stand out), while it's is the contraction for it is (It's an outstanding blue-furred cat).

     - Confusing there, they're and their; to, too and two, affect and effect.

     - Misspelling.

     - Confusing the comma and the semi-colon.  See any handbook of grammar.

     - Not using the possessive case of the pronoun before a gerund:

                   We discussed the chance of me being on the team (should be my
                   being on the team).

     - Mispunctuation.