Proofreading Hints

A writing tip from the Writing Center

You've finished your essay at 2:00 a.m. and it's perfect. You read over each page again and again: the words sing flawlessly, reflecting your brilliance, your deft pen, your hard work. Only later, when your professor returns your evaluated essay, you discover you were not so perfect after all; she notes misspellings, comma splices, even an entire page missing from your document.

How could this be? Theory suggests when looking at their own work, writers often read what they wanted to write, rather than what they have written. Therefore, here are some proofreading suggestions to catch errors you might not otherwise:

  1. Read your essay, sentence by sentence, starting with the end and moving forward. This way, you are reading each sentence in isolation and are more apt to catch errors.
  2. Read your essay out loud, pen in hand. By doing so, you are more likely to catch errors than you would be reading silently. (Just be careful-your roommate might believe you've lost your marbles, talking to yourself like that.)
  3. Have someone else read your essay out loud to you or have someone else read the essay silently to themself. Another pair of eyes will always catch errors you cannot find (and, of course, the Academic Resource Center provides those eyes, free of charge.)

Last modified: , by David M. Hansen