5 Tips For Proofreading

proofreading day

A majority of our time in college is spent writing. We write essays, responses, critiques, and many other forms of writing throughout a given semester. With all of this writing, sometimes an important step can be left out: proofreading. So in the spirit of National Proofreading Day (March 8th), here are some tips for proofreading.

 

  1. Take A Break: After you have finished writing a draft of a paper, take a break. Leave the assignment, and if possible, give yourself around 24 hours to think about the topic you’re writing about. This method is most helpful for longer papers but requires you to get started early. If you have spent hours writing, you will lose some objectivity while looking over the paper. You will be too familiar with it and this will make finding mistakes more difficult. So get started early and allow yourself time to think about the paper before returning to proofread it.

  2. Read It Out Loud: Another great way of finding mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Sometimes when typing, we think something sounds correct in our heads. However, many times when we read our writing out loud we can see where an argument or sentence doesn’t make sense. This is a great way to see if your sentences are run-ons, if you repeat yourself too much, and if the paragraph or page flows well.

  3. Pay Attention To Wordiness: We all have word counts we need to meet with every paper, but many times better writing is concise writing. Sentences with too many words can be difficult to read, and you can lose your audience’s attention. Instead of adding extra words to try to finish the paper, take the time and energy to carefully choose your words. This will make your paper stronger and can lead to a better grade.

  4. Write Actively: Verbs drive language. When proofreading, look for how many times you use a “to be” verb, such as “is,” “are,” and “were.” These passive verbs make sentences weaker and can bring down an entire paper. Try to reorder the sentence so that you can remove the linking passive verbs and insert stronger, more powerful ones. To check, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard and then search for those words. It may shock you to see how many times you use passive voice.

  5. Ask Someone Else To Read Your Paper: One of the best ways to proofread is to allow someone else to do it for you! Finding other students in a specific class and exchanging papers can be a great way to find mistakes in each other’s writing and make new friends! Have you ever lost something, spent minutes looking for it, and then someone else comes in the room and finds it almost immediately? As frustrating as that can be, writing is the same way. Sometimes one glance from someone who is not familiar with the writing can be all you need to improve your paper.

 

Writing is a challenge and after completing a difficult assignment, proofreading may seem like a useless check. However, if you dedicate yourself to editing and rereading your paper, you will see an improvement in your writing, and perhaps also in your grades.

*written by Brennan Kress

 

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