How to Proofread an Essay

Okay, so you have crafted the most outstanding piece in the world. You worked on it long and hard or not so long but equally hard. You came up with the most original ideas, followed all the guidance on structure, and feel like you are ready to hand it in. However, there is only one problem: you don’t know how to proofread your texts. It is rather common for students. They think that scanning their papers once they are done makes all the difference. But in reality, it does not. Therefore, a clear understanding of where and how to start proofreading is vital.

Bear in mind that this process is more than merely checking for some obvious mistakes out there on the surface. It centres around finding possible flaws in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Considering the fact that this process is connected to many different areas where possible mistakes can be made, there are several different techniques people can opt for when seeking the ways how to proofread an essay professionally.

One should bear in mind that it might take a lot of time. It is not merely scanning the document but searching for precise details which might have gone wrong in a text. Therefore, give it some time and save at least an hour or two for proper revision. Our guide on how to proofreading will surely be useful in this case.

So, if you have a couple of hours and are ready to start, we are going to introduce you to our methods of how to proofread an essay.

Different stages of proofreading an essay

1. Take notes.

Most people tend to make the same mistakes. For instance, you can be typing so fast that your thoughts come after your writing, so you have lots of typos in your texts. If it’s typical of you, then write such an error down. One of the secrets of how to proofread a paper is knowing what exactly to look for. Thus, you can look for such mistakes from the beginning.

Moreover, you can also ask your tutors for advice: ask them what they think are the most common mistakes you make which you should pay more attention to. They will probably have an answer. Given their experience, they find such mistakes easier than you can do with your untrained eye.

So, write all such flaws on a piece of paper and put it somewhere next to the working area or you can start a whole journal where all these things will be saved. You should also stay motivated to study common proofreading symbols if you have to proofread often as this will be very beneficial for you.

This should be your first step on a way to careful proofreading.

2. Take some time off.

Psychologists state that proofreading is not as effective as it could be if you start analyzing the paragraph right after you have crafted the whole piece. In fact, one should get distanced from it. So, if you have some free time, go for a walk or read a favourite book. Do something not even remotely connected to the writing you did. You will still hear how it sounds in your head, so it’ll be hard to point out all the mistakes.

Thus, some time off the paper is an essential requirement which means that you will have to plan such activities ahead of time. This way, you will ensure that by the time you need to revise your text, you can look at it from a different angle and with fresh eyes.

All in all, it’s an important tip. So, don’t miss it!

3. Search for the technological solutions.

Thanks to the constantly developing trends in the technological world, one can now use such solutions for paper revision. Generally, these tools save you much time and in some cases even increase the efficiency of proofreading.

For instance, one can use Grammarly which is a tool that points out typos and other similar errors in your text. It can also show you which words are repeated too frequently or have simpler analogues. This tool can also check whether the article is plagiarism free. Using it is one of the secrets of how to proofread better.

Another tool one can use to simplify the process is called Hemingway. It analyses the flow of the text. So, for instance, you can insert your text into it, and it will tell you which sentences are hard to read so that you can make them shorter and simpler for your own benefit.

Most students should also be aware of how to proofread in Word (which is short for Microsoft Word). The software usually underlines parts which still need correction and offers its suggestions.

So, to save your time, opt for utilizing technological solutions which can make your revision easier and more secure.

4. Read your paper out loud.

Now, as you have some understanding of how to proofread your own writing, you can finally proceed to the next stage which is reading your whole piece out loud. It’s even better if you have someone listen to you while you are reading. They could provide a fresh insight on what you should add or remove from the text as well as what errors they noticed while you were reading.

However, if you are reading by yourself, you can still spot some mistakes which were left unnoticed when you wrote the paper.

The only problem with this method is that if you are writing a text in a foreign language, than you might find it difficult to find the problems. So, it works better with the native tongue.

In the meantime, mark sentences or abstracts which are hard to read and comprehend as well as which have no flow. Then, once the whole text is read, stop to think of better words or sentences to use in these particular places.

5. Read the text backwards.

Well, we realize that it might sound a little bit odd, but we are also 100% sure that it is an effective way of how to proofread a document or an article.

Do you wonder what makes it efficient? The thing is that when reading an article backwards, sentence after sentence, your brain only focuses on one sentence at a time. So, instead of taking many different aspects into account, you concentrate on one section at a time and analyze whether it makes sense without its original context.

Try it, and you will see that it can actually make a difference in the whole proofreading experience. The problem is that when you are writing, you sometimes assume that your readers are on the same page with you. However, it is not always so. So, when reading each sentence, one must make sure that the target audience will be able to understand the meaning even without having the background knowledge the author has.

Try it – and you will be surprised.

6. Break the revision into several blocks.

What we mean here is that you cannot revise all the mistakes altogether. We highly recommend you focusing on different problems choosing one at a time. Thus, you might want to start with looking for stylistic errors in the text first. So, ask yourself a question of whether the way you talk to your readers corresponds and fits their expectations. Do you sound confident enough when talking to them? Are you convincing? Can one tell from your tone that you are respective of all your readers?

Then, you can correct grammar mistakes either by yourself or by using the technologies we mentioned above.

So, we recommend you focusing on one type of problem at a time to have your mind concentrated on something particular instead of losing focus all the time and trying to cover too much simultaneously.

7. Check punctuation.

This part can sometimes seem tedious but it is important, so give it some time. Having all of the commas along with other punctuation marks checked increases the quality of your text significantly. Thus, when looking for ways of how to proofread professionally you can focus on each and every comma one by one.

For instance, you can read each sentence out loud and stop at commas as needed. Then ask yourself whether the sentence makes sense when this punctuation mark is there. If so, then leave it. However, if it changes the meaning, then you should either choose a different mark or remove it altogether.

Given the impact punctuation marks can have on your paper, you need to ensure that each one of them is in its place.

8. Check spelling.

Since you already know how to correct grammar and punctuation, you should also learn how to proofread your own work with regards to spelling.

The most common errors made in this area are the ones like “there” instead of “their” or “they’re.” We have all made those mistakes, so we know we have to be careful with them.

Many tools like Grammarly can assist you here. But if you want to revise the paper all by yourself, then we highly recommend reading the whole text slowly and carefully not to lose important points.

While we are still on this topic, you can also keep track of the most common mistakes or misspellings you make by writing them down in a journal. This way you will see what errors you make in your writing most often and will be able to figure out a way to be more attentive when writing certain words. For example, many people have troubles writing “quiet,” “quit,” and “quite.” The thing is that when we write things like this we say them in our heads and then write them down the way we feel they should be written. That’s when mistakes happen. So, reading slowly and carefully can be helpful.

9. Remove the wordiness.

Another important detail is the removal of unnecessary words which don’t influence the general meaning of the text but only worsen the general flow of the reading.

Thus, you can use Grammarly and Hemingway for this purpose. Thanks to their state-of-the-art technologies, the tools identify wordiness and offer different ways to eliminate it.

However, students can do it even without special tools. Just look for places where you used expressions like “there is,” “there are,” etc. For instance, instead of saying “There are people who hate proofreading articles,” one can say “Many people hate proofreading articles.” Thus, you use fewer words and still deliver the same idea.

We hope that our tips helped you gain a better understanding of how to proofread your texts better as well as gave you an idea of common proofreading symbols. Save these tips and remember to utilize them whenever you get a chance. By using them you increase the quality of the paper you composed and ensure that all mistakes are corrected. Alternatively, one can always seek professional assistance with the revision. A lot of services and writing centres will be more than happy to answer your questions and teach you how to proofread your essays professionally.