Proofreading Tips

Why do you need to proofread?

Constant redrafting / rethinking is ongoing during the writing process, but it is extremely important to leave time to thoroughly revise your work when finishing an assignment or essay. Editing and proofreading are about amending and correcting the final draft. Valuable marks can be gained by thoroughly checking and being critical about your work, and could enhance your grade from good to excellent. Follow these proofreading tips to get the most out of your work.

Editing

There are certain targets and criteria that need to be fulfilled in your work, for example, structure, intelligent analysis, arguments/counter arguments, adequate referencing, word limit etc. Editing is a process where you read your text and modify it to ensure that you have met your objectives and have produced a clear, coherent and accurate work.

Proofreading

Once you have a thoroughly edited piece of work and it is nearly ready for submission, the final stage of the process is to proofread the text in fine detail to eliminate mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation.

A few Editing and Proofreading tips

1.If possible, give yourself some time and space away from your finished work so you can be more objective when you return to it with a fresh approach. Mornings, after some rest, can be a good time to edit.

2. Find somewhere to work where you will not be distracted or interrupted.

3. Take regular breaks and do something else for awhile, it can be difficult to concentrate adequately for long periods. Check out our Pomodoro Technique article for further details on this.

4. Try printing a hard copy, leaving space to write corrections. Try larger text or a different font, sometimes a different format makes it easier to spot errors.

5. A blank piece of paper can be useful to cover text that you are not reading, point with your finger to help you focus on specific words.

6. Read the text slowly to yourself and then try reading out loud, as though reading to an audience. Does it make sense and explain clearly what you wanted it to say? Alternatively, ask someone else to read it out loud for you. At the proofreading stage this can also be useful for punctuation errors, are your question marks, full stops, commas correctly placed?  If you have assistive software such as Claro Read or Text Help then you can also use these to read the text back

7. Check referencing is accurate to avoid plagiarism.

8. Double check facts, figures, dates, names, statistics etc to ensure information is accurate.

9. Some people prefer to proofread looking for one problem at a time, for example, punctuation followed by spelling. If you commonly repeat mistakes, make a checklist of weak areas so you can constantly refer to it.

10. Reading backwards is a good tip to check spelling mistakes as it makes you focus on individual words instead of sentences. Use your computer spellchecker but remember this has limitations and won’t correct misused words, for example, whether, weather/ wear, where. Also make sure it is set to ‘British’ English, the default setting is usually ‘US’ English.

11. Do use a dictionary!

12. Finally, try asking someone you trust to do a good job to proofread your work for you, maybe ask another student and offer the same favour in return. It is useful for someone to look at a piece of writing, written by someone else, from a fresh perspective.

 

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