How To Proofread An Essay

When you are editing an early draft, you don’t want to be bothered with thinking about punctuation, grammar, and spelling.If your worrying about the spelling of a word or the placement of a comma, you’re not focusing on the more important task of developing and connecting ideas.Is your use of gendered language (masculine and feminine pronouns like “he” or “she,” words like “fireman” that contain “man,” and words that some people incorrectly assume apply to only one gender—for example, some people assume “nurse” must refer to a woman) appropriate?Have you varied the length and structure of your sentences? Does your writing contain a lot of unnecessary phrases like “there is,” “there are,” “due to the fact that,” etc.?You should proofread only after you have finished all of your other editing revisions. But like it or not, the way a paper looks affects the way others judge it.

Once you have identified a pattern, you can develop techniques for spotting and correcting future instances of that pattern.We consulted these works while writing this handout.This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find the latest publications on this topic.You can edit on several levels: Have you done everything the assignment requires? If it is required to do so, does your paper make an argument? Is all of the information in your paper relevant to the assignment and/or your overall writing goal?(For additional tips, see our handouts on understanding assignments and developing an argument.) Does your paper have an appropriate introduction and conclusion?Sure, this takes a little extra time, but it pays off in the end.If you know that you have an effective way to catch errors when the paper is almost finished, you can worry less about editing while you are writing your first drafts.It’s worth paying attention to the details that help you to make a good impression.Most people devote only a few minutes to proofreading, hoping to catch any glaring errors that jump out from the page.One way to check the structure of your paper is to make a reverse outline of the paper after you have written the first draft.(See our handouts on introductions, conclusions, thesis statements, and transitions.) Does each paragraph have a clear topic sentence? Are there any extraneous or missing sentences in any of your paragraphs?

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