Most people focus on learning the techniques to write a stellar essay. However, it is easy to overlook mistakes in your own writing. To ensure you have created a quality written work, you need to proofread effectively. No matter how important the content of the piece is, if there are notable issues within the essay, you can lose a level of creditability.
If you are interested in learning to proofread with the highest level of skill, consider the following tips to get you started.
1. Step Away from the Essay
Your first step to becoming an effective proofreader is to simply walk away from your work. This allows you to return to the piece with fresh eyes, making it easier to spot mistakes. One of the biggest issues with proofreading immediately after you finish writing is that you know what you intended to say. This can lead you to simply skim across the words instead of examining them individually. By walking away, you are less likely to remember exactly what you wrote. When you read the piece again, it will feel less familiar and you will read the text more carefully, and errors will be more apparent.
2. Double-Check Important Details
If you cite specific facts, figures, or names within your piece, take the time to make sure they are correct. For facts, make sure you can find the same information reported from multiple sources, or that your single resource is highly reputable. If you include any calculations, double-check the math to ensure there were no accidental errors.
Misspelling a person’s name can be seen as a major negative, and even insulting. Whether it is the name of someone you spoke to personally to gather information or the name of someone well-known in their field, make sure that all names are spelt correctly. This is especially true for any name that has multiple acceptable spellings that produce the same sound when spoken. For example, Catherine and Kathryn are pronounced the same, even though the spelling is quite different. Make sure you use the correct version to refer to a specific person.
3. Print a Copy to Review
Sometimes it is easier to proofread an essay on paper than over a computer screen. Take the old-fashioned approach and print the document. Pick up a red pen and correct any issues you find. Once you have reviewed the entire document, make the corrections on the version saved on your computer.
The reason you should consider using a red pen is that it will stand out from the colour of the printed text. This helps you locate the changes you have made once you decide to correct them in the original document. You can choose to use another colour, as long as it will be easy to review once your corrections are complete.
4. Read the Essay Out Loud
By reading the work out loud, you are more likely to examine each word individually. While word processing may not show any spelling errors, it can’t always determine if the right word is being used. Reading the essay out loud can help locate words that are spelt correctly, but are not the right words given the context of the sentence.
It can also make it easier to find grammatical or structural issues, as they will often feel unnatural when spoken. If you prefer not to read the piece out loud personally, consider uploading the document into text-to-speech software that can read it to you. This will produce a similar effect, as you will hear which parts may be written incorrectly, but you don’t have to recite it on your own.
5. Get Help Proofreading
If you have issues proofreading your own work, don’t hesitate to get outside help. A friend, family member, or fellow student may be able to proofread your essay for you. Professional proofreading and essay help services are also available to those who may not have someone readily available to assist.