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Is It Important To Know How To Proofread An Essay?

August 31, 2021

You could have great research skills, be extremely creative, and know your way with words. You may be a great paper writer in terms of content quality and information presentation. But, if you don’t know how to proofread your essay, all of this could go to waste. Why? Because an essay with mistakes of any kind is considered a poorly written essay, even if it’s “just” a typo. 

This explains why is it important to proofread your writing. One should learn how to proofread an essay properly, before one submits it, or else the results of your hard work won’t pay off. You’ll end up with poor grades and will leave a bad impression on the people reading it. This guide helps you understand what it takes to be a skilled essay editor.

What is Proofreading and How to Proofread a Paper?

To learn how to proofread your writing, we first need to learn what exactly is proofreading. Let’s start with the definition:

  • Proofreading is the process of reading any piece of written content to detect and mark errors to be corrected. 

The same stands for proofreading an essay. The errors you'll be trying to detect and remove could be of different nature:

  • grammar
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • formatting 
  • inconsistency

The point is, the professors at your university won’t tolerate sloppiness of any kind in your essay assignments. And, without editing, that’s exactly what you’ll give them. So, to avoid submitting an essay that’s not 100% accurate and correct, one have to learn how to proofread like a professional.

How to Proofread an Essay in 10 Simple Steps

So how to proofread your own writing? Proofreading a paper or an essay is not a complicated task if you establish a routine that helps you do it successfully each time. The 10 steps listed below will guide you through this process and teach you how to ensure there's not a single mistake in your essay.

Let it Rest

Proofreading your essay moments after you finish writing is considered bad practice. The content of the essay is still fresh in your mind, and you know every sentence you've written.

This could trick your brain. Instead of analyzing each word, your brain will make content assumptions and recognize fewer mistakes. 

To avoid this, one should:

  • leave time for letting your essay rest
  • take a break between writing and editing
  • relax  at least a couple of hours long, preferably an entire day

If you don't have enough time to take this break, it's better to find an essay proofreading service to do it for you, than to rush and do a poor job. So, plan your essay writing process to finish at least one day before the deadline.

Print it Out

Essay editing and proofreading directly from the screen of your laptop or computer may be tiring and inefficient. You may think you’ve got it all covered while taking a look at the screen, but mistakes might easily slip by you when you do it this way.

This is why it’s a better idea to print out your essay and be able to make the corrections directly on paper.

When you print out the essay, you can:

  • make corrections and notes as you go
  • follow the lines and sentences with your finger or a pencil

It’s much more effective than just looking at the screen.

Correct Mistakes by Type

When you’re dealing with essay correction, you can’t just start reading and do it all at once. You should create a strategy that helps you do it better.

So, don't try and check all mistakes at once. Instead, look through it several times. Each time, focus on a different type of mistake. For instance, read the entire essay checking punctuation and concentrate on  every comma, question mark, bracket, and colon. Then, read again, checking your grammar.

Repeat the process until you’ve checked all types of mistakes your essay could possibly contain. This ensures you finished a detailed and more successful proofreading process.

Read Backwards

When you’re reading your essay top to bottom, your brain might lose focus over the mistakes you're searching for, and get lost in the content instead. But, when you're reading the essay backward, the content becomes meaningless. This way your brain can:

  • focus on the mistakes
  • stop making content assumptions and expectations

This type is best when checking spelling, since it allows to focus on each word individually, instead of as a part of the rest of the essay. You could combine this strategy with different proofreading tools that help you proofread essay for free. This ensures you get the best results possible.

Know Your Common Mistakes

The more you proofread, the better you’ll become at recognizing your own mistakes. 

Think about your most common mistakes in writing. Are you bad at spelling? Do you often have punctuation mistakes? If you have a weak spot that you know of, pay special attention to it each time you do essay editing.

Check Consistency

When you’re still an inexperienced paper proofreader, you can easily forget to check for content consistency. This may lead to confusion and misunderstandings in your paper, and make certain parts puzzling for the reader. 

Inconsistency might be seen in things such as:

  • terminology, when using different terms for the same notion e.g. development vs. growth
  • formatting, when creating inconsistent heading and subheading types 
  • verb tenses and agreement
  • point of view

If you find this to be too complex for you, look for an essay writer for hire. They assist you by dealing with proofreading and editing until you start doing it on your own.

Check Beyond the Body Text

The body text of your essay is supposed to be your main focus. But, don’t just check this part of the essay. There’s written text in other parts of your essay that you need to check as well. That includes the written text in:

  • image captions
  • charts
  • tables
  • lists
  • footnotes
  • reference list and bibliography

Don’t forget any of this when proofreading your essay.

Check After Editing

It often happens that you finish writing your essay, complete your proofreading, and then still have some editing to do. Even though you've finished proofreading before, you need to repeat the entire process after editing.

This is because you've made changes, added some new content, and created a whole new version of the essay.

Read Aloud

Another great way to ensure you’re taking care of each word is to read your essay aloud. This makes you slow down and focus on every word more carefully.

When you’re reading without speaking, you’re going much faster. You’re even skipping some parts without realizing it.

So, read your essay aloud at least once in the process of proofreading. This is especially important if you pay for research papers and have someone else deal with the writing part. You still need to proofread carefully, just to ensure everything’s in order.

Get Help

Finally, if you just don't know how to proofread a paper, you could do it with the assistance of other people, tools, and resources. You have several choices:

  • find a proofreading buddy and proofread each other’s papers
  • look for cheap writing services online that do proofread and editing
  • use a good website that proofreads essays
  • use proofreading tools such as grammar and spell checkers

If you can't do it on your own, there's always another solution available.

Ready to Start Proofreading Your Essay?

Proofreading an essay may not be the simplest task for students. But, with the right strategy and a solid routine, you could do it easily and successfully. The 10 steps provided above are more than enough to assist you by nailing each proofreading session. Start using them as soon as possible, and polish all your essays to perfection.