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Proofread Your Paper


Proofreading is a careful search for typos, omitted words, and other little errors that inevitably creep into an essay. Proofreading your own work can be difficult because you know what’s supposed to be on the page, and you might see what should be there rather than what is there. And proofreading can be especially difficult if you’re bleary-eyed from staring at your paper on your computer screen. Try printing a hard copy of the paper, putting it in a new form that will make you look at it with a fresh eye. You might also proofread your paper backwards, starting with the last sentence and moving to the first, in order to remove each sentence from its context and see that sentence as a new, discrete unit in itself. Mechanical errors will stand out.

Whatever proofreading method you choose, remember not to rely on your spell checker to catch typos. It will flag some, but leave others. For instance, take another look at the first sentence of this paragraph. If I had mistakenly typed, “Whatever proofreading method you choose, remember now to rely on your spell checker to catch typos,” my spell checker would not have caught the mistake, and I would have said the opposite of what I meant.

When you conscientiously proofread your paper, you tell your readers that you care about what you’ve said in it--and that they should, too.

This material courtesy of and copyrighted by Tufts University.

Elizabethtown College