Often students fail to find errors when they proofread their work. Here is a list of strategies you can use to proofread successfully.
1. Read the paper out loud as you proofread. If you read silently "in your head" the chances of catching your mistakes are far lower.
2. Look for specific errors that you know you often commit. For example if you know you frequently confuse "i.e." and "e.g." make sure that you check your usage of each before you submit your paper.
3. Try reading the paper backwards. Start with the last paragraph of your paper, reading it as you normally would, from the first word to the last. When you are done, move to the second-to-last paragraph in the paper. Continue until you are back at the beginning of the paper.
4. Do not wait until the last minute to finish your paper. When students run out of time because they are working up against a final deadline, the first thing that is cut out is often the crucial proofreading step. It's best to proofread a paper a day or two after you finish the final draft!
5. Ask a friend to proofread your paper. You can ask them to correct errors, or you can ask them to read the paper out loud while you follow along, correcting the errors.
6. Proofread more than once. If you only read your paper once after finishing your final draft, you are likely to miss a few errors and mistakes.
7. Don't just look for errors and mistakes. Try to improve your writing all around. Do your sentences sound complex enough for your grade level? Do you have any sentences that are overly wordy and lengthy? Does your writing flow smoothly? Do you employ a variety of sentence structures, including the way in which your sentences begin and end? Are your ideas clear and focused? Do you digress into irrelevant distractions that take away from your purpose?
8. Grade your own paper, pretending that you are the instructor. What grade would you give your paper? If you are not satisfied with the grade you would give yourself, then you should keep working on the paper.
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Image Credit: Proofreading by Delwar Hossain from the Noun Project