How to Proofread Your Essay

Most students find it a tad bit difficult to go through their work after the writing process. A poorly turned in paper can lead to poor grades from the instructor. However, a silver lining exists. Proofreading can prove the difference for your paper.

What is it?

Proofreading is an intricate process of your essay editing. It includes getting rid of spelling mistakes, typos, grammar, wordiness, and vague statements. Proofreading is much more than finding and fixing mistakes on your essay. It also ensures that the writing is well-structured, coherent, and consistent. This applies to all types of essays, ranging from a simple essay to something more complex like a dissertation.

Why is proofreading important?

A single typo can sometimes ruin the hard work for your essay. Proofreading ensures you turn in a quality paper. However, there are many reasons why proofreading remains an integral part of the writing process.

In addition, it means rereading your first draft. Also, it is different from revising when you check the overall logic of a paper. It might feel tempting to skip this intricate process since it feels tedious. However, you want your writing to stand out. Here are some reasons why proofreading is important:

Improves your grades

You will get better grades on your homework when you know how to proofread. Making fewer mistakes in your papers and essays will also show that you are serious about communication and detail-oriented.

Catches errors

A single error can sometimes ruin the hard work of an entire paper. Proofreading catches those errors that spellcheck doesn’t catch. For example, missing words and vague statements that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly (like “it’s” instead of “its”).

Typos can lead to miscommunication.

It can be confusing to your reader with rampant and misleading typos in your essay. This is particularly true with multiple errors in one paragraph. A proofread essay full of typos and grammatical errors often puts off your readers. Furthermore, it reduces their attention span on your essay.

Types of Proofreading

There are various types of proofreading:

  • Basic Proofreading – This is what most people think of when they hear the word “proofreading.” It involves checking a document for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, as well as typographical errors.
  • Copy editing – This goes deeper than basic proofreading. It not only corrects spelling and grammatical errors but also looks at language fluency, style, and readability.
  • Structural Editing – This is the most in-depth form of editing and goes beyond copy editing by analyzing the structure and flow of the document.

Essay Editing Checklist for You – How to Edit Essay

There are several factors to consider for your essay edit. Here is a look at some important factors:

Spelling and punctuation

This involves checking the correct word spellings, including names and titles. You also need to check for punctuation marks. Moreover, ensure they are used in the right way. Punctuation is a small part of proofreading, but it is easily overlooked.


Proofreaders don’t need to be experts in grammar. However, they need enough knowledge to recognize mistakes. Proofreaders should know how to use commas correctly and spot run-on sentences or incorrect word choices.


Formatting is another important part of proofreading. Ensure that headings are in the right order. Also, lists have the correct punctuation, and any images or tables have been placed correctly. Some formatting styles require particular attention to detail. Therefore, pay close attention when you are preparing a manuscript for publication.

Guiding rules

Knowing the rules is important when writing in a certain style or genre. For example, it must be written in academic English instead of conversational English when submitting an academic paper. The same applies when writing a short story.

Word choice

The issue of word choice often relates to the guiding rules and context. It is the idea that you are using words that don’t fit the subject matter or context of the piece. It can also mean using overly complicated words when simpler ones would suffice.

Sentence structure

Sentence structure often implies how well your sentences flow together. You need to work on your aspect of prose with many starts or stops or awkward sentences in your essay.


The clarity, in most cases, is often not only an editorial problem but also a writing problem in general. An unclear piece is one in which none of the four “C” questions are answered: Who? What? Where? When? Answering these four questions will help you keep your writing clear for readers.


Look for smooth connections between sentences, paragraphs, and ideas. Does one thought build on another? Does it make sense to transition from one topic to the next? Try reading your essay aloud or having a friend read it if you’re not sure.


Transitions might be words, phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs that connect one idea to the next with clear references back to previous points. These can be especially helpful when writing essays in which you are connecting many smaller ideas or discussing several different perspectives on the same topic. Take a look at your transitions — do they help tell the story? Do they indicate a logical sequence of ideas? Have you indicated what each word or phrase means in context?

Tips and Tricks When Proofreading

Here is a breakdown of common tips to practice when proofreading your essay:

Read aloud.

This is one of the most effective forms of proofreading. Reading your essay aloud can help you catch simple errors that you might otherwise overlook. Moreover, reading aloud forces you to slow down. This extra time might allow you to notice mistakes that you normally miss.

Let your essay rest.

After finishing a long essay or assignment, let it sit for at least a day before proofreading. You cannot expect to proofread immediately after writing. Your brain will still see what it meant to write instead of what is there. Thus, this can lead to many mistakes going unnoticed. Taking a break will help you look at the essay with fresh eyes and help you spot any mistakes you may have previously missed.

Break it up into sections.

Take breaks after each paragraph or section to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed with a long essay. Breaking up the text makes it easier for you to edit each section one at a time. Also, it helps prevent making any editing errors that could occur when checking the entire document at once.

Check for spelling mistakes

The easiest way to do this is with a spell checker. However, beware! Spell checkers can’t catch all of your errors. For example, they will miss words that are spelled correctly but used incorrectly (for example, typing “form” instead of “from).

Proofread backward

Start at the end of your text and work backward one word at a time. This means you will not be distracted by the sense of your writing. Moreover, you are less likely to read what you think you have written rather than what is there.

Try reading your text aloud.

This can help you spot mistakes you may not have noticed when reading silently. It can help when someone else reads it aloud to you to point out any mistakes. Alternatively, try recording yourself, reading it, and then listening back to the recording. You are less likely to make excuses for mistakes when listening to yourself speak.

Use a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Using a dictionary and a thesaurus, you can double-check that you have chosen the best words to express your ideas. You can also check that the words you have chosen mean precisely what you think they mean. This will help ensure that you have used any technical terms correctly and avoided misunderstandings.

Common Mistakes When Proofreading (And How to Fix Them)

Proofreading can be a time-consuming task. It takes a lot of focus and patience. However, it is hard to be focused and patient when you are the one who wrote the text. You know what you wanted to say, and sometimes your brain will correct errors so that they look correct to you even though they aren’t.

Here are some common mistakes that people make when they proofread:

Not giving yourself enough time.

It takes you a bit of time to get into the proofreading mindset. Therefore, give yourself at least 10-15 minutes for this task.

 Try including proofreading in your schedule from the beginning when working on a tight deadline.

Only paying attention to grammar.

Think about whether your sentences make sense, whether they could be clearer and whether you’ve included everything you need to include. For example, are there some words or phrases repeated too often? Is there something missing? Is it easy for the reader to follow your train of thought? Etc.

Not reading it backward.

This is a perfect way of picking up typos. The left brain works on the word’s meaning, and the right brain works on the letters. By reading your writing backward (left to right for left-handed people, right to the left for the rest of us), you force your brain to read each letter individually. This is rather than relying on its meaning, so you are more likely to spot any mistakes.

Skimming over the errors.

When reading something repeatedly, you get used to what it says. Therefore, when proofreading it, your brain skips over any mistakes. This is because it ‘knows’ what should be there. This is why it is essential to break between writing and proofreading. It is even better when someone else can proofread for you.

Fixing the mistakes, you see first

It can be tempting to fix the mistakes that jump out at you straight away. However, focusing on only one mistake throughout the essay might leave out mistakes.

Leaving the proofreading for later

Waiting until the last minute to proofread an important document can lead to stress and rushing. Also, it can affect your concentration, possibly causing even more errors. It is good to plan and leave enough time for a thorough job. You can always leave it for later with a fresh pair of eyes. Alternatively, you can turn to an essay proofreading service for professional proofreading help.

Final Takeaway

Proofreading is an integral part of your writing process. It can make or break the effectiveness of your written communication. It can also help to offset any issues arising from grammar or spelling errors that are likely to distract your reader from the substance of your paper. Therefore, you should never ignore it.