Proofreading – it’s the final stage of any written assignment, and it also might be the very worst.
Normally, I like writing, I really do. Where essays can be dreadful things, I think there’s something something really elegant about being able to bring together information and make an argument. Of course, I’m a huge nerd – writing is my passion. Even then, proofreading continues to be an utterly dreadful process. And frankly, it makes me nervous too: handing something in is always followed by hours of contemplation on whether or not I caught every little mistake.
(Proofreading the day before the paper’s due)
So, I thought, it’s time to get together some little tricks that, if done carefully, will almost always let you catch every little thing. Here are my 7 proofreading hacks that will make finishing papers a lot easier!
- Read It Aloud Slowly – you’ll catch all kinds of little things with this. Whether it be spelling errors, weird sentences, or misplaced punctuation, taking the time to read what you’ve written is valuable. It’s important too to read it as you’ve written it, as to get a feel of your sentence flow – if you need to stop and breathe somewhere, add a comma, for example.
- For Troublesome Spots, Repeat #1. That’s right – if there’s a place in your paper that just isn’t working out, read it and re-read it, making little adjustments. Eventually, you’ll find the perfect combination of words to get your point across. Trust me, I know it takes time, but this has saved plenty of my past paragraphs.
- Print A Copy And Mark Yourself. There’s something about reading off paper that makes proofreading a lot more effective. In fact, it’s been shown that reading a hard copy of something allows people to engage more with what they’re reading. So, take a paper copy, a pen, and maybe a highlighter, and go at it. Mark down what needs to be fixed, then go back onto your computer and fix it up.
- Have a Friend Check Your Work. Though your friends cannot actually edit and change anything, as it’s a form of plagiarism, having them read through and suggest edits is perfectly fine. Fresh eyes on your work will totally provide a new perspective. Not to mention, your friend will be able to tell you which parts you might need to rework to have the clearest paper possible.
- Let It Sit For A Couple Days. Sometimes, doing a proofreading process all at once gets a little mind numbing, and little mistakes can be missed. So, make sure you give yourself the time to have more time. Let the paper sit for a few days after a first proofread, then a day or two before it’s due, go at it again. Distance might not only let you think about changes that could be made, but gives your mind time to forget. This should give your eyes a fresh view when you go back to proofreading.
- Use the Academic Skills Center. They’re not going to proofread your entire paper, but if there are a few places where you want help with word choice or sentence structure, the RGASC is plenty helpful! Some classes might even have drop-in hours for certain assignments – if you need that help, go for it!
- Time – Use It Well. In the end, giving yourself the right amount of time to carefully proofread can make a huge difference. It will give you the chance to go over things multiple times, to give yourself the right amount of time for contemplation.
No amount of technique is going to make proofreading fun – if you like it, you’re a lucky duck, if you don’t, it’s not likely to change. But, there are ways to make certain you do it effectively. For me, this takes away all kinds of anxiety about making small mistakes – after all, they are the worst kind. I hope that these hacks can be the same for you. So, for your next assignment, make sure you fix all those little typos. Nothing’s nicer than getting back a paper without marks reduced for spelling, after all! If you have any other suggestions to add to this list, please let me know!