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A list of most effective paper proofreading strategies

Proofreading is such a crucial step in producing a good paper because it’s the process of looking for and correcting mistakes. Some of the common mistakes that proofreading can catch include spelling errors, punctuation errors, its/it’s confusion, subject-verb agreement, proper tenses, etc.

A proof-reader must read slowly and their eyes must be trained to look for mistakes. Your spell checker should always be used, but you will have to supplement it with human eyes because it doesn’t catch everything. For example, it doesn’t always catch when you improperly use then instead of than because they are both spelled properly; just used in the wrong context.

Use the following proofreading techniques to increase the effectiveness of your proofreading skills:

  1. Make sure you are proofreading after the final revision. It doesn’t make sense to make corrections at the sentence level when you haven’t revised at the paragraph level. What if you don’t even keep that sentence you’re proofreading? Revise first, proofread last.
  2. Do something else totally unrelated to your paper in between revising it and proofreading it. Your eyes need a rest.
  3. Know what to look for. You probably already know which words trip you up, like their, there and they’re perhaps?
  4. It’s more effective to work from a paper printout than a computer screen. Or, you can do both. Your eyes see things a little differently on each platform.
  5. Read your academic paper out loud. Read the words you actually see, not the ones you think should be there. Hearing yourself read it will help you catch mistakes.
  6. Use a blank piece of paper to underline the line you’re reading and cover up the ones below. It lets you see one line at a time so you’re more likely to spot an error.
  7. Use the search function on the computer to search for words you’re likely to confuse with each other. Use a dictionary to help you figure out which one you should be using. For example, effect vs. affect, then vs. than, because vs. because of, and so on.
  8. Use a writing handbook or a writing stylebook. They can be helpful in knowing what to look for.
  9. Hire an expert proof reader if you can’t be bothered with the time and effort this will take. There are many available online.
  10. Make sure you correct all the mistakes you find, and then it’s time for one last final read of your paper, just to ensure you’re finished.


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