Proofreading your Written Work

Proofreading is the process of checking your written work for what are often referred to as surface errors. These are errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Your teachers will expect that the work you hand in does not contain any surface errors. Here are some guidelines for proofreading that will help you to identify and then correct these errors.

  • It is not unusual for someone to make the same errors frequently when writing. Try to identify the errors you often make. Check your work extra carefully for these.
  • Slowly read what you have written out loud. You may hear errors that you did not see. Two senses are better than one.
  • Proofreading Your Written Work, eyes and earsDon`t proofread your work immediately. Take a break and then come back to your work with a fresh approach.
  • Proofreading requires intense concentration. Do your proofreading in short blocks of time rather than all at once.
  • Avoid overreliance on spell checkers. Spell checkers will not catch misspellings that form another word.
  • Avoid overreliance on grammar checkers. Because grammar checkers work with a limited number of rules, they cannot identify every error and sometimes make errors of their own.
  • Proofread your work for only one type of error at a time. For example, your first pass through might focus on spelling, your second on grammar, and your third on punctuation.
  • Proofread your work more than once. You are unlikely to find all errors the first time through.
  • Do your proofreading using a print version of your work. It is easier to read a print version than to read your work on a computer screen.
  • If possible, proofread along with another student. Begin by reading your work aloud. Then have the other student read your work aloud. Alternate as many times as needed. Two pairs of eyes and ears are better than one.

You most likely put a lot of effort into the content of your written work. Don`t negate this effort by losing points for surface errors.