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Writing BattleGround: Proofreading

Proofreading with Purdue OWL

Where Do I Begin?

Proofreading can be a difficult process, especially when you're not sure where to start or what this process entails. Think of proofreading as a process of looking for any inconsistencies and grammatical errors as well as style and spelling issues. Below are a few general strategies that can help you get started. 

General Strategies Before You Proofread

  • Make sure that you leave plenty of time after you have finished your paper to walk away for a day or two, a week, or even 20 minutes. This will allow you to approach proofreading with fresh eyes.
  • Print out a hard copy. Reading from a computer screen is not the most effective way to proofread. Having a hardcopy of your paper and a pen will help you.
  • Have a list of what to look for. This will help you manage your time and not feel overwhelmed by proofreading. You can get this list from previous assignments where your instructor(s) noted common errors you make. 

General Strategies While You Proofread

  • Don't rush. Many mistakes in writing occur because we rush. Read slowly and carefully to give your eyes enough time to spot errors.
  • Read aloud. Reading aloud helps you notice run-on sentences, awkward transitions, and other grammatical and organizational issues that you may not notice when reading silently. There are three ways you can read aloud:
    1. Read aloud to yourself. Reading a paper aloud encourages you to read each word and can help you notice small mistakes.
    2. Read aloud to a friend and have the friend give you oral feedback.
    3. Have a friend read your paper aloud while you don't read along.
  • Use the search in document function of the computer to look for common errors from your list.
  • Read from the end. Read individual sentences one at a time starting from the end of the paper rather than the beginning. This forces you to pay attention to the sentence itself rather than to the whole ideas of the paper as a whole. 
  • Role-play. While reading, put yourself in your audience's shoes. Playing the role of the reader encourages you to see the paper as your audience might. 

When You Are Done

  • Have a friend look at your paper after you have made all the corrections you identified. A new reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
  • Make an appointment with a Writing Lab tutor if you have any further questions or want someone to teach you more about proofreading.
  • Ask your professor to look at the areas you usually have trouble with to see if you have made any progress.

Content from this section originally by Purdue University's "Proofreading

Proofreading with SWAPS

Sentence Structure

  • Be sure that every sentence in the paragraph supports topic sentence
  • Avoid run-on sentences
  • Avoid sentence fragments

Word Usage

  • Be sure that you have used the correct words (homophones) [examples: there / they're / their or to / too / two]
  • Avoid slang words
  • Avoid pronoun overuse


  • Be sure that subjects and verbs agree in number (singular / plural)
  • Keep verb tense consistent (present, past, future)


  • Be sure all sentences have ending punctuation
  • Use commas after items in list except for the last item
  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction

Spelling and Capitalization

  • Check for spelling errors
  • Begin each sentence with a capital
  • Check homophones
  • Capitalize proper nouns
  • Be sure apostrophes are used in contractions and possessives

Content from this section originally by the Monroe College LibGuide "Essay Writing"

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Michener Institute of Education at UHN, 2018.