Tips for Effective Proofreading

Now that you have your essay written, you need to spend some time proofreading. There is no one method for proofreading that will guarantee you will find all the mistakes, or inconsistencies. The basic principle is to start with organization and content.  Then spend some time examining sentence structure, word choices, spelling, and punctuation.

Below are seven tips for effective proofreading.

  1. Allow at least a three-day rest between the time you last wrote and the time you edit.  This may not always be possible, but when it is, it gives you a chance to look at your essay more objectively.
  2. Print a hard copy.  Changing from a computer screen to paper can also change your perspective.
  3. Check for proper organization.  
    • Does your hook catch the reader’s attention, and does it flow well into your thesis statement?
    • Is your thesis statement clear and in the right place?
    • Do all the topic sentences in each paragraph support the thesis statement?
    • Are your supporting sentences reliable and adequate?
    • Does your conclusion restate the thesis, make a prediction, and add a closing remark?
  4. Read your essay for correct content.  Does your essay develop your thesis statement in a way that it is easy to read?  Are your points clear and meaningful?  Is each point well supported? Do your words “paint” the intended picture?
  5. Read to correct: (one at a time)
    • compound sentences
    • complex sentences   (Keep in mind that if you change one sentences, you will need to make sure it flows well with other sentences in the paragraph as well).
    • word choices
    • verb tenses
    • adjectives or adverbs
    • spelling
    • punctuation
  6. Have a friend read the text aloud to you.  After you have read your essay many times, mistakes or errors tend to sound “normal.”  Having someone else read your essay out loud to you, can help you pinpoint any inconsistencies.
  7. Find a tutor at a writing center at your university.  Most universities have a writing center for students that are more than willing to give students feedback and help them understand some of the more difficult areas.

Richard Carrigan, MSE

Richard Carrigan has been an educator for over 30 years and a filmmaker for the past ten years. He has experience teaching English as a Second Language in Asia and teaching university students in the United States. He earned his undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University and his graduate degree from Shenandoah University.