Do’s and Dont’s for Essay Proofreading

Why is essay proofreading necessary?

Have you ever gone back and looked at something that you wrote months before and then spotted glaring errors that just jump off the page? None of us are perfect writers and even the very best writers will use an essay proofreader or editor to ensure that their writing is finished and polished to perfection. Essay proofreading is a necessary step prior to submitting your work at any level in academia if you want to ensure that you gain the grades and results that you expect.

How do you do essay proofreading?

What follows are some very simple tips to help you to do your proofreading in an effective manner to ensure that you manage to catch and eliminate all of the problems within your essay. Following these tips carefully and methodically will ensure that your essay proofreading is done efficiently:

  • Use your spellchecker and grammar checker before you start; your computer will be able to spot many issues such as spelling mistakes, sentence fragments and other grammatical issues. However do not think for one minute that it will capture every error.
  • Look at the big picture of your essay first; does your essay have the right structure? Does the body support the initial hypothesis? Does the essay deliver what the title promises?
  • If you usually write your work directly into the computer use a hard copy to do your proofreading.
  • Read your work in reverse; reading from the end of your essay will help you to spot errors easier. You may also try increasing the font size, using a ruler to hide the next sentence from view, using a pencil to go from one word to the next in turn.
  • Consider every word that you have used and every sentence. A useful proofreading checklist can help you to ensure that you are looking for the right issues within your essay.
  • Read and record your essay; listening to how the words and sentences flow will quickly help you to identify issues.

What to avoid when essay proofreading

In addition to knowing what you should do it is also very helpful to understand what you should not do. That way you can be aware of and avoid some of the potential issues with your essay proofreading:

  • Don’t proofread your own work; find someone else to do it for you. If this is really not possible you should leave as much time as possible before you start to proofread; 2-3 days minimum.
  • Never rely on your computer as your sole method of proofreading an essay; computers will often miss words that are spelt incorrectly as another word and may even suggest incorrect changes and other issues.
  • Never edit as you write a research paper; always finish the essay and come back to it at a later date.

When to stop essay proofreading

Editing and proofreading are tasks that could easily go on forever. Some writers will create draft after draft never being happy with what they have written. At some point you have to decide that you have finished and that your essay is ready for submission. If you have worked through all of the suggestions and tips above and you find yourself at the point where you are just changing sentences and then changing them back again then it is probably time for you to decide that your essay is ready for submission.