How to Proofread Perfectly!
Even when you have a good idea of how to write an essay, you may often struggle with how your writing reads and looks. The best ideas can get low grades because of commas, misspelled words, and other minor problems. This guide will show you how to catch all these mistakes before you turn your essay in so that your great ideas can get great grades too.
Here’s a sample paragraph that’s full of issues:
This is an essay. I wrote it to show you how sometimes you’re essays can have a lot of issues and don’t even notice. If you raed this paragraph quickly you might miss alot of the mistakes and it wouldnt be very good if you turnd it in. Sometimes when were reading our own Writing over and over we miss easy mistakes and can’t find to fix them.
Now we’ll show a few steps to help you avoid turning in an essay that looks like this!
Step One: Use a writing program that highlights your mistakes.
The easiest thing you can do to proofread your writing is to use a word processor that proofreads for you. Microsoft Word is a great example, and the best part is that you can easily find it for free. The computers in your school library almost always have Microsoft Word installed, so all you have to do is open your essay on those computers and let Word check your writing for you.
If you don’t have access to school computers or your school computers don’t have Word, Microsoft Word is available for free online! All you need is an account on Microsoft.com and you can write and save your essays from any computer with an internet connection. Microsoft Word also has a free app for your phone or tablet that connects to the same account! Other free programs include Kingsoft Writer, OpenOffice, and WordGraph. However, using these programs isn’t enough to catch everything.
Step Two: Print your essay and read it on paper.
You may often find that if you stare at a computer screen for too long, your eyes start to hurt and it gets harder to read. This is because reading on a computer is actually harder than reading on paper! If you print your essay out in your school library or at home, it becomes easier to see it clearly, and you’re more likely to catch your mistakes. Take a pen and sit down with your essay so you can mark down everywhere you find a problem, and then you can easily take it back to the computer and fix everything you found. While you have your essay printed out, there are two more steps you can take with it to catch mistakes…
Step Three: Give your essay to someone else to read.
Like we’ve mentioned before, reading your own essay over and over can make it harder to spot mistakes. That’s because your brain knows what you mean to say, so it often fills in or skims over problems in your writing. When you give your essay to someone with a fresh pair of eyes, they can often catch mistakes you might never have seen.
The person with whom you share your essay could be a parent, a sibling, a friend, a librarian, a tutor, and even a teacher or professor! Many teachers love nothing more than to help a student who cares about their work, and they’ll often gladly take time out of their day to help you revise or proofread your work. Never be afraid to ask your teacher for help – after all, that’s what they’re there for! You can also take one more step with your printed essay that will help just as much…
Step Four: Read your essay out loud.
This is a trick most people don’t know. Reading your essay out loud forces your brain to go more slowly and look at your essay more carefully. You’re more likely to find missing words, awkward phrases, and misspellings if you take the time to read out loud. This can be done on your own or even with another person to help you. The other person can give you feedback on how your essay sounds and whether your ideas make sense when you read them. This person can be any of the people we mentioned above, but there’s one more kind of person who will be glad to help…
Step Five: Use writing tutors or your campus Writing Center.
There’s nobody better equipped to proofread your work than a professional. Not only can they guide you through your essay and point out problems, they can also teach you how to find and fix those problems yourself in the future. If you’re especially concerned about your work, you can always hire a writing tutor to help you out. However, if you’re a college student there’s likely an excellent free resource at your fingertips – a Writing Center. Most college campuses have a section of their English Department or Library that’s dedicated just to helping students with their essays and other writing.
To find your campus Writing Center, go to your college website and search “Writing Center” or “Library.” You can find information like phone numbers, hours of operation, tutor specialties, and more in the pages that show up in the search results. Writing Centers can help with more than just proofreading – they can check your arguments, your citations, your formatting, and even help you understand your source material! It’s a great resource you don’t want to miss out on.
If you followed all these steps carefully, then congratulations! Your essay should be 99% free of errors. By testing each step out, you’ll find what works best for you and how you can spend your time and energy the most wisely to write the best essay you can. Making all these steps a habit will help you write awesome essays all throughout your academic career and even into your professional life. Good luck!