How to Proofread Writing

Tips on Editing Essays and Other Academic Papers

One of the most dreaded tasks for any writer is proofreading. This step-by-step guide will help make the process simple and easy.

Proofreading is an essential step in the writing process because it ensures that one’s writing is error-free. It doesn’t matter how interesting a paper is, how much research has been done by an essay writer, or how many words have been typed. A paper with errors looks unprofessional, and readers will not pay attention to writing if errors are in the way.

Proofreading does not have to be a painful process. These simple steps will help guide writers through the process quickly and easily.

Put the Paper Down Before Editing

A writer should not try to proofread his paper the moment he finishes writing it. The mind needs time to decompress. Walk away from the paper for at least a day so the writing can be approached with fresh eyes.

Print the Paper Out Before Proofreading

Don’t attempt to proofread a paper on the computer screen. Thanks to the Information Superhighway, people’s eyes are trained to skim the page when looking at a computer. They can only see the most important information, not the details. It’s impossible to catch all those tiny spelling and grammar mistakes that will not be picked up by the computer’s software. Always proofread on paper.

Read the Writing Aloud

One of the best ways to catch mistakes is to read the paper out loud. This will force the writer to read every word more slowly and deliberately than he would if he were reading silently. Having someone else read the paper aloud is another great way to proofread. Hearing the flow of the words as someone else reads them will help the writer make important decisions about word choice and rhythm.

Proofread for Big Mistakes First

Read the paper at least twice: once for big mistakes in organization and content and once for spelling, grammar, and other details.

Read the Essay Backward

A great way to catch mistakes at the sentence level is to read the paper starting at the end. This will take each sentence out of context so the writer can simply look at grammar and word choice rather than overall meaning.

Understand Writing Weaknesses

Most writers have written several papers before, so they should have an idea of what sort of grammar or spelling problems they encounter most. Everyone has trouble with some aspects of writing, so a writer should not be ashamed to write his issues down as proofreading tips “checklist.” This way, he will always remember to check for problem areas so he will never make the same mistakes again.

Following these steps will ensure that writers catch the majority of careless mistakes in their writing. Every writer should take pride in his work and proofread every paper he shares with others. It will show that he takes his writing seriously and that his ideas are worth reading.