Where Do I Begin?
Proofreading is primarily about searching your writing for errors, both grammatical and typographical, before submitting your paper for an audience (a teacher, a publisher, etc.). Use this resource to help you find and fix common errors.
Contributors: Jaclyn M. Wells, Morgan Sousa, Mia Martini, Allen Brizee, Ashley Velázquez, and Maryam Ghafoor
Last Edited: 2016-02-09 10:24:28
Proofreading can be a difficult process, especially when you’re not sure where to start or what this process entails. Think of proofreading as a process of looking for any inconsistencies and grammatical errors as well as style and spelling issues. Below are a few general strategies that can help you get started.
- Before You Proofread
- When You Proofread
- After You Are Done
General Strategies Before You Proofread
- Make sure that you leave plenty of time after you have finished your paper to walk away for a day or two, a week, or even 20 minutes. This will allow you to approach proofreading with fresh eyes.
- Print out a hard copy. Reading from a computer screen is not the most effective way to proofread. Having a hardcopy of your paper and a pen will help you.
- Have a list of what to look for. This will help you manage your time and not feel overwhelmed by proofreading. You can get this list from previous assignments where your instructor(s) noted common errors you make.
General Strategies While You Proofread
- Don’t rush. Many mistakes in writing occur because we rush. Read slowly and carefully to give your eyes enough time to spot errors.
- Read aloud. Reading aloud helps you to notice run-on sentences, awkward transitions, and other grammatical and organization issues that you may not notice when reading silently. There are three ways you can read aloud:
- Read aloud to yourself. Reading a paper aloud encourages you to read each word and can help you notice small mistakes.
- Read aloud to a friend and have the friend give you oral feedback.
- Have a friend read your paper aloud while you don’t read along.
- Use the search in document function of the computer to look for common errors from your list.
- Read from the end. Read individual sentences one at a time starting from the end of the paper rather than the beginning. This forces you to pay attention to the sentence itself rather than to the ideas of the paper as a whole.
- Role-play. While reading, put yourself in your audience's shoes. Playing the role of the reader encourages you to see the paper as your audience might.
When You Are Done
- Have a friend look at your paper after you have made all the corrections you identified. A new reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
- Make an appointment with a Writing Lab tutor if you have any further questions or want someone to teach you more about proofreading.
- Ask your teacher to look at the areas you usually have trouble with to see if you have made any progress.