How to proof-read your essay

Proof-reading your essay needn’t be left for someone else to do. Although there are obvious benefits of having a sharp eye pass over your work, there are also good reasons why you should be doing it yourself.

The key element of successfully proof-reading your own essay is to leave enough time to do so. Bad planning and the tendency to want to hit the send button as soon as you placed your last punctuation mark often mean that students don’t make the most of their ideas. In this article we discuss some other key factors in good proof-reading.

Remember to edit first!

Sometimes proof-reading is mistaken for editing, however proof-reading is less about making changes to general arguments and structure then it is about making small amendments to grammar, spelling, a check of correct references and potential changes to sentences. According to most essay writing service websites, proof-reading should be the last thing you do before you send your work off.

Attention to detail

Even the most accomplished of writers won’t get the sentence right the first time around. There might be slight grammatical errors, or a better way of saying something. It is only after you have put down your piece of work that these will come to your attention. Even after editing, some will be so glaring as to jump off the page – you may have noticed this about old essays. If you are new to proof-reading then most essay writing service websites advise you to be more focused on detail than speed. So really set your mind to the task and go through your essay slowly. Like any exercise, the more you practice, the quicker and better you will become.

Memorising and improving for next time

Your essay, especially if it is relatively short, should serve as a useful tool for future academic writing or revision. The more you read it, the more familiar you will be with the arguments you have used. In fact, proof-reading could serve you very well in an exam for two reasons: firstly, you will begin to write quicker and more accurately the more you repeat the process; and secondly, you will find that you will better retain information that might be useful, such as theories or dates of publication etc.

It is also very likely that you will be better able to build on the arguments you have used for having remembered them. In this sense, proof-reading is a type of mnemonic technique.

Something you wanted to say but missed

Time permitting, there is nothing to stop you from adding or changing parts of your essay at the proof-reading stage. Think of the process like an assembly line. Proof-reading is the final quality check and there might be good reasons to go back to editing.

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