Tips To Improve Your Vocabulary

Improving your vocabulary

Improving your vocabulary has become incredibly easy in recent years, with the introduction of many accessible and convenient ways to discover new words, like phone or laptop applications, online ‘word of the day’ websites, or even just using the ‘synonyms’ option on Microsoft Word. Below is a list of ideas you can use to improve the range of vocabulary that you use:

  • Applications (apps) on mobile phones, such as ones offering a word of the day option can encourage you to try alternative words to what you would normally use. There are also many dictionaries that you can download, some of which may also offer word of the day, or can just be used to look up words or synonyms.
  • You can find lots of different gimmicks that supply a word of the day, such as calendars, tissues, and toilet roll. Each time you are given a new word that you think could be useful to remember, write it down in a vocabulary journal.
  • Several websites offer a sign up word of the day section, where you will be emailed daily with a new word and its definition.
  • Many smartphones now have a feature where you can highlight a word and find its definition.
  • When reading books, it is a good idea to research any words that you do not know the meaning of in a dictionary or online. Firstly, this helps you to better understand your book, but it can also be useful for improving vocabulary in general. When there are words that you think you may find useful, note them down in a vocabulary journal.
  • The same can be done when reading newspapers, magazines, articles, etc., repeating the process of researching the word’s definition and writing it down.
  • Putting subtitles on when watching TV or movies can help you to actually acknowledge what words are being used, and you never know – some may come up that you have never heard of, which you can then look up.
  • A fun way to improve your vocabulary is to do crosswords. Either buy a book or do the ones that come free in the newspaper. When you have filled in all of the words that you can, start trying to find the others online or in a dictionary. Over time, you should start to find crosswords easier to complete as your range of vocabulary increases.
  • Synonyms are alternative words that can be used in place of a word you want to change. Synonyms can be found on Microsoft Word by typing a word, and then right-clicking on it and selecting ‘synonyms’. A good idea is to keep a list of synonyms for words you use regularly in your work to help improve your vocabulary.

Proofreading Academic Work

Proofreading Academic Work

Why Proofread?

Before submitting a piece of academic writing, it is always a good idea to take the time to read through your work and make sure that there are no mistakes in your spelling, punctuation, grammar, typography, use of language and formatting. Most academic work allows some marks to be awarded for correct language and structure.

Therefore by proofreading your work before you decide that it is complete, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of achieving the highest marks.

Proofreading is not necessarily about editing the content of your work and making changes to what you have written, but it is a task focused solely on the finer details. Proofreading involves checking over your work carefully, and is a task that takes time, concentration and attention to detail. It is for this reason that you should not leave proofreading until the last minute. In professional companies that publish work, such as magazines or medical journals, there are people employed specifically to proofread the material before it is released to avoid the embarrassment of mistakes being made.

Proofreading Tips

It is a good idea to start with a dictionary and thesaurus by your side when beginning to proofread. Or, if doing so on your laptop, you can use the ‘synonym’ option to help you when you feel that a word is not right. Proofreading can be a mundane task, so ensure that there are no distractions around you by turning your phone off and not using the Internet for any other purpose than to help you in your task of proofreading.

When proofreading your own work, you are often so familiar with the content that it is hard to disconnect your mind from focusing on what you think is written. In order to allow the language and format of the work, along with any mistakes, you need to allow this to be your focus. In order to help you focus, it may be beneficial to find a quiet, tidy space to carry out your proofreading as this will reduce the chances of you being distracted.

Another tip is to print off the work and proofread it on paper instead. It can be a lot easier to concentrate on the words that you are reading when they are on paper, and it will reduce the amount of time you have to spend looking at a screen. Then go through your work with a coloured pen or highlighter to mark any changes you need to make on the paper copy. This way, when you use it to edit your typed work, the parts you have changed will be easy to find.

In addition to this, some people like to take the time to read the work backwards. This can take a lot of time and be quite hard to get used to, but it will make any typography errors stand out as you are entirely focusing on the word, not its context.

Remember, that although you can use grammar and spell checking tools on your computer, these may not be reliable, and the only fool-proof way is to proofread your work yourself, or ask a friend or family member to do so for you if you are struggling to disconnect from the content.

Obtain an instant quote for our proofreading service

At Express Proofreading we offer a professional academic proofreading and business proofreading service. We are able to ensure that your work is not only free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but we also check syntax, sentence structure and are able to recommend improvements and suggestions that are relevant to your work. We also as part of our standard proofreading service recommend content improvement suggestions and we will also check that your tables and footnotes are accurate and consistent with your bibliography.

To obtain an instant quote for us to proofread your work, click the Instant Quote button below and upload your document and our Quote Generator will calculate an instant quote based upon the word count of your document. Once you are happy with your quote, you can then click Place Order and proceed to our secure checkout page.

Making Your Writing More Persuasive

The purpose of persuasive writing?

Persuasive writing is fundamental to academic writing. As persuasive writing is used to put your arguments across to your reader in an engaging and compelling form, and thus convince them to agree with your line of thought. Moreover, persuasive writing may even be used to encourage the reader to do something or to take a positive action.

Knowing your audience

Your first consideration should be, do you know your audience. If you have a better idea of who your writing is aimed at and what it is you want to persuade them of, you are more likely to succeed. As if there is little chance in persuading your reader(s) to your specific view point, then it may be wise to pick a different topic if possible. Also be sure to write in a positive manner about what you are trying to persuade the reader of.

Researching your subject area

Secondly, ensure that you have carried out extensive research into the subject area that you are writing about, as being well informed will help you to write with ease. There is nothing more likely to make your writing unpersuasive than not knowing your topic in depth. Correct and relevant facts, figures, diagrams, pictures, can all help to put forward a persuasive argument. Let your reader know why they should listen to your ideas, whilst using the correct tone of voice. You also need to maintain this same, neutral tone of voice throughout your writing. No reader wants to feel like they are being ‘told’ how they should think and behave.

Using repetition

The third thing to think about when writing persuasively is that, unlike with normal writing, it is okay to be repetitive, as this reinforces the positives of the point you are trying to make.

Addressing objections

Fourthly, if you address objections to the point you are trying to persuade your reader of head on, they will be able to see that you have considered other points of view and looked at all sides of an argument before trying to persuade them of something.

Remaining consistent

The fifth thing to think about is that you must remain consistent in what you are saying and how you are saying it. This will enable the reader to build their trust in you, which increases the likelihood of your writing persuading them. Ensure that each paragraph within the main body follows the same pattern of writing. One example that could be used is PEEL – point, evidence, evaluate, link.

Start each paragraph by stating a point, and then back this up with evidence. Evaluating can be hard, but ensure that you assess what the point you have made means and refer to any counter evidence. This is where you can show your reader that you have looked at other points of view and present the reasons for why you have chosen to disagree with them. End the paragraph with a link to what will be discussed next. This will help with the structure and flow of your writing.

Make your writing personal

Lastly, it is important to make the writing personal, reaching out to the reader about their views on a topic. Making your writing more directed to the reader themselves will help you to be ultimately more persuasive.

Common Grammar Mistakes Continued

In the previous article, we looked at common grammar mistakes, including the misuse of certain words and commas. In this article, the focus will be on apostrophes.

Apostrophes are possibly the most commonly misused piece of punctuation. Often people put apostrophes in words when they are not needed, in the wrong place within a word, or forget to use them at all. The incorrect use of or lack of an apostrophe can completely change the meaning of a word, and could also make the word incomprehensible.

The first way in which apostrophes can be used is to replace a missing letter. This means that either two words or one long word can be shortened using an apostrophe. For example:

Do not = don’t
Will not = won’t
Cannot = Can’t
I have = I’ve
Would have = would’ve (people often confuse ‘would’ve’ for meaning ‘would of’, but in English grammar this is incorrect)
They have = they’ve
You have = you’ve
You are = you’re
It is = it’s (this can often be confusing and will be further explained, but as can be seen in this example, ‘it’s’ is a contraction and not possessive)

However, with respect to all of the above examples it is best not to use such contractions in academic writing, as it is less formal. ‘I cannot begin to understand the significance of apostrophes’ will be better received than ‘I can’t begin to understand the significance of apostrophes’ by the person reviewing your work. So when writing a formal piece of academic work it is best to write in the full form.

As mentioned above ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ go against the normal rules of grammar and apostrophe use, which can confuse even the most advanced of writers. ‘Its’ is often used as a possessive adjective and does not need an apostrophe in this case. For example:

The mouse scuttled into its hole

The second way in which apostrophes can be used is for possessive nouns. For example:

The cat’s bed
The school’s motto
Travis’s bookshop
The boy’s shoes
Alison’s car

However, when these are describing plurals, the apostrophe is placed at the end. For example:

The cats’ beds (beds belonging to two or more cats)
The schools’ mottos (the mottos of two or more schools)
Travises’ bookshops (two or more bookshops belonging to the Travis’)
The boys’ shoes (shoes belonging to two or more boys)
Alisons’ cars (cars belonging to two or more people named Alison)

It is important to remember that apostrophes must never be used to represent plurals (more than one of something). The following examples show an incorrect statement in red, and the correction in green:

TV’s for sale TVs for sale                                    TVs for sale
100’s of offers 100s of offers                            100s of offers
Apple’s grown here Apples grown here            Apples grown here
Discounted sofa’s Discounted sofas                Discounted sofas

Common Grammar Mistakes

As modern technology continues to evolve and become a greater part of our lives, improper use of grammar is becoming more and more common.

There is now no longer a need for people to focus on what they are typing into their devices as there is an assumption that ‘autocorrect’ will pick up and correct any errors. This reliance on technology and the increasing use of text speak is leading to a reduction in the quality of academic writing as many people forget the basics.

Some of the most common grammar mistakes include incorrect use of the words ‘they’re’, ‘their’ and ‘there’, as well as ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Looking at these examples, once a person understands the definition of each term, it is much easier to use them correctly:

• ‘They’re’ – a contraction of ‘they are’, They’re going to the shops
• ‘Their’ – belonging to a person, They forgot their lunches
• ‘There’ – where something is, I found my glasses over there

• ‘Your’ – belonging to you, Is that your car?
• ‘You’re’ – a contraction of ‘you are’, You’re going to be late for school

As a whole, contractions tend to confuse a lot of people. To decide whether or not you are using a contraction correctly, first try using the whole term within the sentence. If ‘they are’ would still make sense in the same sentence, then the contraction ‘they’re’ can be used.

Recently, it has become prevalent on social media that more people have started to confuse the words ‘genuinely’ and ‘generally’. The two words have very different meanings, and using them incorrectly in an academic piece of writing would be seen as a big mistake:

• ‘Genuinely’ – authentic, real and true, I genuinely passed my exam
• ‘Generally’ – usually, as a whole, in general, I generally don’t enjoy jazz music

In addition to the incorrect use of words, grammar mistakes can come in the form of improper use of punctuation. The most commonly misused or forgotten includes colons, semi-colons, commas and apostrophes. In this article we will look at commas and their various uses.


Commas have many uses, but a lot of people either put them in the wrong place, or do not use them in a sentence where they could be beneficial to the writing. Commas can be used to separate articles in a list:

‘I went to town and bought a bag, a purse, three pairs of jeans, and a pair of boots’ (the last comma is optional, known as an ‘Oxford comma’)

Commas can also be used to separate independent clauses. An independent clause is something that can form a sentence on its own. If the second part of a sentence would make sense as a complete sentence, then add a comma in between. For example:

‘David and I went to the beach, and we spent the whole day arguing’

Finally, a comma may also be used following an introductory word or phrase:

‘However, we made up on the drive home’
‘In addition to this, we forgot to put our towels in the boot’

Obtain an instant quote for our proofreading service

At Express Proofreading we offer a professional academic proofreading service. We are able to ensure that your work is not only free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but we also check syntax, sentence structure and are able to recommend improvements and suggestions that are relevant to your work. We also as part of our standard proofreading service recommend content improvement suggestions and we will also check that your tables and footnotes are accurate and consistent with your bibliography.

To obtain an instant quote for us to proofread your work, click the Instant Quote button below and upload your document and our Quote Generator will calculate an instant quote based upon the word count of your document. Once you are happy with your quote, you can then click Place Order and proceed to our secure checkout page.

How To Use The Colon?

The colon acts as a pause which introduces related information. It indicates that the reader should look forward to information that follows on from the earlier statement. Some of the main ways a colon can be used are shown below.

To introduce a list

The colon can be used to introduce the items in a list.

Topics discussed will include: the structure of viruses, virus families and current concerns in virology.

Students joining the department undertake to: attend all lectures and tutorials, meet deadlines for written work and
contribute to tutorials and seminars.

To introduce an explanation, conclusion or amplification

The colon can also be used to introduce an explanation, conclusion or amplification of an earlier statement. The use of the colon separates and highlights the second statement, showing that it follows on from the first.

Tai chi is more than a form of physical exercise: it is meditation in movement.

After extensive research, the committee came to its conclusion: development could not take place without further funding.

Semi-Colons: How To Use Them?

Semi-Colons: How To Use Them?

Using semi-colons

The semi-colon represents a break within a sentence that is stronger than a comma, but less final than a full stop. It enables the writer to avoid over use of the comma and preserves the finality of the full stop. Semi-colons are used to separate items in a list and to link closely related sentences.

To separate items in a list

Use the semi-colon to separate items in a list when one or more items contain a comma.

The speakers were: Dr Sally Meadows, Biology; Dr Fred Eliot, Animal Welfare; Ms Gerri Taylor, Sociology; and Prof. Julie Briggs, Chemistry.

The four venues will be: Middleton Hall, Manchester; Highton House, Liverpool; Marsden Hall, Leeds; and the Ashton Centre, Sheffield.

The main points in favour of the system were that it would save time for buying, accounts and on-site staff; it would be welcomed by the reception staff; it would use fewer resources; and it would be compatible with earlier systems.

To link sentences which are closely related

Closely related sentences are often linked to emphasise their relationship and to vary the pace of the writing. For example:

I read the book in one evening. It was not very helpful.

One way to link these sentences is with a comma and a word such as and, or, but, nor, for, so, yet (called co-ordinating conjunctions).

I read the book in one evening, but it was not very helpful.

For variety in sentence structure, the semi-colon can be used to link closely related sentences instead of a co-ordinating conjunction and comma.

I read the book in one evening; it was not very helpful.

The semi-colon tells the reader that the second clause is closely linked to the first clause. Note how sentences joined in this way are similar in either theme or grammatical structure as shown in the example below.

Personal writing utilises the first person form; impersonal writing utilises the third person form.
He was nervous about giving the speech; he asked for water several times.
The deadline has come forward a week; everyone’s help will be needed.

For use with otherwise, however, therefore…

The semi-colon can be used to link sentences which also use words such as otherwise, however, therefore, as connectors. These connectors (known as conjunctive adverbs) also include: moreover, nevertheless, thus, besides, accordingly, consequently, instead, hence.

I did not finish reading the text; instead, I watched the news.

(Notice that the connecting word instead is followed by a comma.)

The research is far from conclusive; nevertheless, it has some value in this case.
Dr Suptri argues that the research shows an increase in such occurrences; however, many experts would dispute this.

How To Write An Essay

How To Write An Essay?

The Art of Essay Writing: How to Write an Essay

When writing an essay, the planning stage is just as important as the writing itself. Deciding what information you would like to go into the essay. As well as how to structure this information to be most readable is extremely important when writing an essay, as it enables you to set out your arguments in a clear and logical manner. In most English speaking countries around the world the use of essays is essential in assessing competence and learning development. The most common form of essays used to this aim are discursive essays, such essays may typically vary in word count from 1,000 to 5,000 words, above which would be approaching the realm of a dissertation. However, when approaching such essays there are certain steps and practices that you can take into account to help you along the way.

The first step is to read the question! This may seem obvious, but often people can misinterpret questions and not fully understand what they are asking. A good starting point is to write out the essay title, then highlight the most important parts of it. For example:

‘People who go to private schools are more likely to get into University’. To what extent do you agree with this statement?

In the above example, the most important parts of the essay title are highlighted. Looking at these, it can be seen that the focus of the essay title is whether or not the writer agrees that attending a private school increases the likelihood of a person being accepted into University. Throughout the essay, the writer must ensure this topic is the focus of the discussion, and that the question of how much they agree with the statement is answered.

Understanding the Concepts

The second step when thinking about how to write an essay is to determine whether or not there are any words or concepts in the title that you do not fully understand. In the above example, there aren’t any complicated concepts, however some writers may not know much about private education or the University application and acceptance process, so may want to research these.

Write Down your Initial Thoughts

The third step when considering how to write an essay is to write down the initial thoughts that come into your mind when reading the question. This could be done in a spider diagram or just as a bullet point list. For example:

  • I don’t agree that having a private education increases a person’s likelihood of being accepted into University as everyone should have a fair chance regardless of their background
  • Universities are meant to look at academic achievements, personal statements, and in some cases interview outcomes to decide whether to offer an individual a place
  • However, it is possible that some Universities may be more concerned with financial situations than with academics
  • Some Universities may allow their decision to be influenced by factors other than academics, regardless of whether this is fair

Due to the essay title asking the question ‘To what extent do you agree with this statement?’, the writer must recognise that they are expected to consider both sides of the argument. This means that, regardless of personal opinion, the essay must be written without bias and with consideration for all possibilities, before finally coming to a conclusion weighing up all of the key points. Following this, directed research can be done to find the right resources to support your arguments. Often with academic assignments, whomever you are writing the piece of work for (school, University, etc.) will have composed a reading list to guide your research in the right direction. It is advisable to use these recommended sources if available. A combination of online resources and books, journals or articles will help to form a well-rounded knowledge basis, as well as ensuring that you have a variety of references.

How to Structure your Essay?

The fourth step when thinking about how to write an essay is to determine how best to structure your essay. Here is an example of a plan for the previous essay title:

  1. Introduction – this is where you should address how you are going to tackle the question, highlighting what the essay will aim to look at and how you plan to answer it. For the example question, the writer would aim to discuss the controversies surrounding private schools and University applications, as well as to discuss how the essay will be set out and what arguments will be looked at.
  2. Main body paragraphs – depending on your word count, the main body can be covered across many different paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a focus, and look to cover one side of the argument. It is necessary for all arguments to be supported by evidence. For the example question, the first two paragraphs would look at evidence to disagree with the statement, followed by a couple of paragraphs showing evidence that would support agreeing with the statement.
  3. Conclusion – this is where the key points discussed throughout the essay are summarised, with the final closing statement showing what side of the argument you believe to have been best supported by the evidence reviewed. A sentence can also be included on personal opinion of the topic if relevant. For the example question, the writer would establish what the key points were to influence whether or not they agreed with the statement, followed by the final decision as to what extent they agree with the statement having reviewed the evidence.For more information about how to write a conclusion see our conclusion writing guide.

Understanding the Criteria

The final step when considering how to write an essay is to look at the word count for this essay and what criteria is to be met to ensure all necessary information is included to achieve the outcomes. In addition to this, the writer must establish what style of referencing is expected and how many references they should include. To do this, look at the guidelines for your own piece of work. For more information on how to reference in Harvard style, look at our referencing guide in the resources section. A good piece of advice is to reference as you go, as people often struggle at the end of their work trying to remember where they got their information.

Use of Sources and Referencing

There are three main types of sourcing that are commonly used these include citations, footnotes and endnotes. Citations are in-text references, whilst footnotes and endnotes are references given at the end of a page or piece of work, using a numbering system with footnote or endnote markers. For more information about how to use sources see our sources guide.

Determining which type of method you use will be determined by the referencing system that you adopt. As each referencing system will have its own rules about how to cite information. Referencing is a system used in the academic community to highlight where certain ideas and information, theories, quotes, and any other evidence and information used to undertake the assignment has come from and can be found. See our referencing guide for further information. You may also want to consider using the Cite this for me tool if you are struggling with your referencing.

Finally, Proofread your Essay

Once you have written your essay, the final and often one of the most overlooked steps is to proofread your essay and ensure that you have not made any errors. At Express Proofreading we offer a professional academic proofreading service. We are able to ensure that your work is not only free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but we will also check syntax, sentence structure and are able to recommend improvements and suggestions that may be relevant to your work. We will also check that your tables and footnotes are accurate and consistent with your bibliography.