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Proofreading an Essay: How to Do it Right!

How to Proofread an Essay: Preparing for Proofreading Session

Every student must master how to proofread an essay because such assignments make a big part of many curriculums. Proofreading goes deeper than catching obvious mistakes. And many of us fail because when reading, the eyes move in jumps known as saccades. That means the eyes focus only on a few words and only ever appear in the peripheral vision. Reading with speed means focusing on a point or two per line, meaning most of the words appear in your peripheral vision.

Peripheral vision is not good when going through text for accuracy. You can easily miss mistakes as your peripheral vision fills in details and assumes correctness. Most of these mistakes start with poor preparation. Many learners do not realize that proofreading an essay is a process that requires almost as much preparation as the writing process.

 

  • Set aside plenty of time. Preparing well will enable you to go through your work with ease and ensure you notice every correction that needs attention. 
  • Print out a hard copy. Having a hardcopy of your paper and a pen helps you note mistakes that may be difficult to identify on the computer screen. 
  • Jot down a list of what to look for—this will help you manage your time and not feel overwhelmed by proofreading. Lastly, be in a quiet environment, away from noise and distraction.

 

How to Proofread an Essay

Follow these steps to go through your academic paper before submission. 

1. Print out your essay.

Many learners find it easy to read when text is on a printed page than on a computer screen. It helps to be conservative. Minimizing printing activities will save on power and, of course, the trees used inproducing papers. That aside, when your grades are on the line, you have to do whatever it takes to make sure that in the end, you excel with good grades. A printed out essay is easy to go through, word by word, allowing you to notice mistakes that could affect your result. It is also known as the old-fashioned approach to proofreading. When you revise a physical copy of your essay, you will see mistakes you may miss on screen. 

2. Get into the mindset.

Under this step, pretend to be the receiver of the essay, not the owner. You can use a pen and play the role of the marker. By doing so, you will be able to single out mistakes while reading through your essay. Going through your work with a fresh look will give you an excellent result at the end. Going to a different location can create some physiological distance between you, as the author, and you as the marker or the essay checker.

Move to a desk in another room if possible. If the essay is long, you can take it to another location altogether. It is very important to ensure that your environment is quiet and distraction-free. Concentration matters when learning how to proofread an essay. Getting into the mindset means viewing the essay differently. It enables you to see what you couldn't see while writing. It helps your mind to think differently.

3.Take a break before proofreading.

One must refresh their brain before proofreading an essay. Do not jump straight from writing an essay to proofreading. Take a break, relax your mind, take some water or coffee, and stroll around to clear your brain. You can freshen up if you feel exhausted, then once you are ready, put your mind to work again. Proofread your essay keenly.

4.Tame your eyes.

When reading, your eyes move in jumps known as saccades. That means your eyes focus on only a few words, which means some words only ever appear in peripheral vision. When reading with speed, you might only be focusing on a point or two per line, meaning the majority of the words appear in your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is not good when going through text for accuracy. You can miss things as your peripheral vision fills in details and assumes correctness.

You must control the situation by forcing your eyes to slow down and focus on each word at a time. Use your finger or a pen to trace below each word as you read it. Try a ruler or a piece of paper when checking your work to expose only the essay area you are going through. You'll be surprised how many errors you'll come along if you spend time going through your essay word by word.

5. Know yourself.

From previous essays, you probably know the kind of errors you are most likely to commit. Some common mistakes are bound to happen whenever you are writing an essay. These include;

 

  • It's and its 
  • You're and your 
  • There, they're and their 
  • Affect and effect 
  • Principle and principal 
  • Use of commas and semicolons 
  • Correct capitalization of words 
  • Consistency with sentence tenses 
  • Verbs agreeing with their subjects

 

If the text is long, you can consider checking it in stages. First, read through checking for correct word use and spelling. Do a follow-up check to look for punctuation mistakes. Use correct tenses and other possible errors. It is one of the best ways to learn how to proofread an essay.

6.Read backward.

If you are doing an essay and have no access to a spell-checker, then reading backward may suffice. It is also helpful to learners who are weak in spelling. If you read backward, it becomes easy to note mistakes without much struggle. Often, our brains will trick us into reading a correct spelling based on the context of the rest of the sentence—and whatever word we are "expecting" should appear at that point. You can solve this issue by reading each paragraph backward, starting from the last word to the first. The misspelled words will be exposed, leaving your paper free of grammatical errors. Reading from the end is a technique. It forces you to pay attention to erratic sentences, and not to the ideas of the paper as a whole. 

7. Checker for consistency.

Check your work to ensure you are not chopping and changing between different options on issues such as;

  • When to use 'single' or 'double' quotation marks. 
  • Full stops after bullets. Or not. 
  • The US English or British English spellings of words 
  • Capitalization of Technical Vocabulary that might not need capitalizing 
  • Have you defined Any Technical Acronyms (ATAs) exactly once before using the ATA throughout your document? 
  • Policy on spelling, writing numbers as words or numerals. For example, you might spell out "one" to "nine" and use digits for 10 (ten) and above. 8.

Check twice after every tweak.

Learning how to proofread anessay is not as hectic as you may think. Many times you will notice a clumsy sentence that needs rewriting on the last review before submission It is okay to make adjustments here and there, but be sure you check the amended paragraph twice. If you find yourself making many edits, pause the proofread phase completely to give you're essay another edit. Return to proofreading only for accuracy once you have done all your edits. It becomes easier to single out mistakes after editing. 

1.Don't just check the body text

While proofreading, don't just focus on the body. Errors often hide in places like;

  • Footnotes and endnotes 
  • Bibliography / reference sections 
  • Captions, chart and figure labels 
  • Even your titles These are some of the places to check to avoid errors that could hide in your work. Always check each section separately.

 9.Check the numbers.

Check out for outdated in-text references such as "see Figure 8" or "see Section 2." If you have been editing, the document structure and the Figure / Section numbers may have been updated or changed. Likewise, if you ever refer to the total number of sections or parts of an essay, ensure the number you quote is the final number you ended up with after the last rounds of edits. 

10. Don't ignore proofreading tools.

Spelling and grammar errors are likely to occur. Run through all the colored words and phrases to make the necessary changes. Keep in mind that not all detected errors are mistakes. Some are just framing, and so all. You will therefore need, to use your judgment in some instances. Grammarly is a writing tool that assists every writer to auto-check an essay. It is not perfect, and will often flag correct words and phrases as errors.

Still, it better to try it than to miss out on potential errors that may express a different version of what you intended to mean. If you don't have any tools to use, hire an expert to do the job. If you can't risk any mistake in your essay, get a professional and give detailed instructions on what you expect. Professionals have experience writing an essay. They know the correct choice of words, use of punctuations, which may be confusing to you.

11.Avoid plagiarism as much as possible.

Plagiarism is detected when you have copied other persons' work. A copied essay, especially one lifted from the internet, will automatically reflect on a plagiarism tool, and its sources will be identified. Universities and colleges mostly make essay submissions through Turnitin, which will point out essays with a high percentage of text that match other sources online. Even if you did not intend to cheat, sometimes a careless late-night library moment can allow passages of the text you used in your essay.

Copy-pasting will affect your grades significantly. The best way to do it is to not copy-paste text directly from articles or any other source unless it is a marked direct quote. To be sure about the originality of your essay or article, consider running it through plagiarism checked. It is also a perfect way to learn how to proofread an essay, as these tools can help you learn some mistakes to avoid.

General Strategies While Proofreading.

  • Don't rush; many mistakes happen because we hurry. Be slow and careful to spot errors. 
  • Read aloud; you can read out loud to a buddy, to yourself, or have a friend read out aloud as you pay attention to catch any mistakes. 
  • Reading aloud helps you notice run-on sentences, awkward transitions, and many more grammatical and organization issues that you may not note when reading silently. 
  • Reading aloud also encourages you to read word by word and can help you notice small mistakes. Lastly, use a proofreading tool to check for common errors.

In conclusion,

One must refresh their brain before proofreading an essay. Do not jump straight from writing to proofreading. Take a break, relax your mind, take some water or coffee, and stroll around to clear your brain. You can freshen up if you feel exhausted, then once you are ready, put your mind to work again. Most of these mistakes start with poor preparation. Many learners do not realize that proofreading an essay is a process that requires almost as much preparation as the writing process.

Learning how to proofread an essay is not as difficult as you imagine. However, it requires patience and detail to attention. Many times you will notice a clumsy sentence that needs rewriting on the last review before submission It is okay to make adjustments here and there, but be sure to check the amended paragraph twice. If you find yourself making a lot of edits, pause the proofread phase completely to give you're essay another edit Once your final work is ready, it's wise to let someone else go through it before submission. A new reader might help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.

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