Now that you’ve finished writing and revising your essay, you might think that your work is done. But that’s not the case! There is one more step to go before you’re ready to turn your paper in. That step is proofreading. For many students, proofreading feels like a waste of time that could be spent getting other work done, but proofreading is one of the most important ways that students can earn back a few points that they might otherwise lose for simple errors that could make the difference between letter grades. The process doesn’t have to take a long time, and we can help make proofreading go faster with our ten-step guide to proofreading an essay quickly.
10 Steps to Proofreading an Essay Quickly
- Take some time off. The more time you spend looking at your essay, the more difficult it can be to identify errors. Take some time away from the paper so you can look at it again with fresh eyes. It’s best to take at least 3-4 hours before you start proofreading, but if you can leave it overnight, that’s even better. The more time you have to let the paper rest, the more errors you’re likely to catch when you proofread.
- Double-check key facts, figures, and names. The easiest errors to make involve numbers and spelling. Whenever you use statistics or data, go back, and make sure that each number is correct. It’s very easy to hit the wrong key and enter the wrong number. Similarly, proper names are often a source of misspellings. Double-check the spelling of every name to make sure you have the right person named in your essay.
- Use your spell-checker and grammar checker. Your computer will give you a heads-up about potential problem areas by highlighting possible spelling and grammar errors. Use the help to start the proofreading process, but remember that computer suggestions aren’t always right. Be sure to review them carefully before accepting suggested changes.
- Use a dictionary, not just a spell-checker. Your computer’s spell checker can only go so far in terms of telling you whether you have the right word. It will tell you whether the word is spelled correctly, but it can’t always distinguish whether you are using a word correctly. When in doubt, turn to a dictionary to check your words to make sure you’ve used the right word the right way.
- Create a checklist for proofreading. As you write more and more essays, you’ll discover that you make many of the same errors over and over again. Make a list of the most common errors that instructors have noted in your papers and use that list to check future papers to make sure that you don’t make those same errors again.
- Read your paper in a printed hard copy. Reading an essay on a computer screen can be challenging because we process screen data differently than printed words. Print your essay on paper so you can review it in hard copy, where you will be more likely to see errors that might pass by unnoticed on the screen.
- Read your essay out loud. Looking at your essay will only take you so far. When you try reading your essay out loud, you’ll find that you can hear grammar errors that you might not see, and you’ll be more likely to discover missing words that your eyes simply pass over as you read silently. Reading out loud will help you make sure your essay sounds as good as it looks.
- Read your essay backward. Reading the sentences in reverse order will help you to look at the text in a new way and to focus on the mechanics of each sentence rather than the overall flow of the argument. If you read each sentence backward, you can also focus more clearly on spelling issues without being concerned about the grammar of each sentence.
- Read through multiple times for different errors. Instead of trying to proofread for every kind of error all at once, read through your paper multiple times, each time concentrating on a different kind of error. By doing this, you will be able to devote all of your attention to, say, sentence structure, or punctuation rather than trying to flit from one set of information to another all at the same time.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! A friend can offer fresh eyes that might catch errors that you’ve missed. As an option, you have a great opportunity to delegate your assignment to professional academic writers with the request to write my essay quickly within your deadline.