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How to Proofread an Essay: Vital Prompts for Beginners

If you need to proofread your finished essay below are some vital prompts for beginners to use.

What steps can you take to thoroughly and completely proofread your paper?

  • First you need to take some time off. Seriously. Once you finish writing an essay give yourself a triumphant day off wherein you relax and think nothing of the recently finished essay. Chances are you have spent so much time with it over the last few days or weeks that your brain is focused only on it. You cannot return and proofread effectively if your brain is still stuck on content mulling every piece around over and over. The problem here is this: your brain knows what you wanted to write. And auto-correct is no friend. If you wanted to say “this is definitely” you may have actually typed “this defiantly” and auto correct will not find it. But when you read over the paper you will not note the two errors because your brain reads what you intended to write not what you actually wrote. So take a day off before you return so that you alleviate this risk.
  • Print off a hard copy of your essay. This is the first step in reviewing your paper in no time. A hard and tangible copy that you can read in your hands is imperative. Keep it double spaced and bring the traditional red pen to mark any errors. But leaving it double spaced you have given yourself space in which to write notes.
  • Read the hard copy out loud. Start out by reading it out loud. Listen to it and see if you stumble. When reading an essay out loud your mind will stumble over the errors. You will quickly see where you put “this defiantly” rather than “this is definitely”. You can take a red pen to the error so that you know to go back and fix it.
  • Read over it once for flow and content. Search for bigger picture items such as missing evidence or a lack of transitional statement.
  • Go back to your document and fix all of the errors you made with your red pen.
  • Print off another hard copy. This time read over it line by line for grammatical or typographical errors. Find those improperly placed commas. Remove the period after the question mark.

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