Perfection on the first go-round is always hard to obtain; that’s why students typically go through several drafts before turning in any project or writing assignment. And everyone knows it can be difficult to catch your own mistakes! There are many proofreading techniques that can help students write better papers. Proofreading tips are important to know. But how to get started? Remembering and applying proofreading tips is essential to earning a good grade on all your assignments.
So, what exactly are proofreading tips, anyways? Good question! Here’s a good proofreading definition according to Merriam-Webster: “to read and mark corrections”. Okay…but correct what? When you’re proofreading your work, you should correct both content and grammar. This means that you should be assessing whether or not your content appears logically and is easy to follow and that your grammar strengthens your ideas rather than detracting from them with poorly written sentences such as fragments and run-ons.
Here are some proofreading tips regarding the most common errors students make when writing:
- Underdeveloped paragraphs.
- Uncited research.
- Lack of transitions between ideas.
- Lack of analysis of key points.
- Failure to correctly capitalize.
- Sentence Fragments.
- Run-on sentences.
- Misplaced commas or semicolons.
- Incorrect apostrophe placement.
- Commonly confused words (to, two, too…).
- Failure to correctly cite references in the text.
Many online sites offer quick proofreading practice so students can build their proofreading techniques. The more students engage in proofreading practice, the more they become better able to stop make mistakes in their own writing — or better yet, avoid making the mistakes at all! In fact, here are 20 free proofreading practice exercises you can download right now! In order to get the most out of free proofreading practice exercises, it’s important to know what your writing weaknesses are. But how can you find this out? Well, there’s two ways. First, you can talk with your teacher or professor. Ask him or her for constructive criticism regarding your writing and be ready to take some notes. Ask them for specific proofreading tips. Second, you can make an outline of weakness regarding graded assignments. Review all the assignments you’ve received from different classes and see where you lost points. Make an outline of things you need to improve upon and work to practice specific skills such as commas or stronger topic sentences. Then, apply specific proofreading techniques to target your weaker areas.
Need some great proofreading tips? Invest in some good proofreading software. While most Word programs have built-in proofreading software, you may want to invest in other proofreading software if you feel that it would help you to increase the grades on writing assignments. There are several great proofreading software programs available today; however, some are more expensive than others. Trustiko recently reviewed the best proofreading software of 2017, and Grammarly came out on top.
Grammarly is an online proofreading software program that is a subscription based service. So if you’ll be using it monthly to help review written assignments, it’s likely that as an investment it will be worth it. Not sure if you and Grammarly would be a good match? You can test it out with around 250 words to see if you like the program.
Other highly rated proofreading software includes PerfectIt by Intelligent Editing. This program works in MS Word and can be tailored to your preferences. It’s marketed for professionals but can certainly benefit students. In fact, students often write more in a year than professionals, so this could be a great proofreading tip for students — especially, those writing more complex assignments such as a thesis or dissertation. Professional software often employees more proofreading techniques than free software, so the price may be worth it.
Not sure you can spend the money on proofreading software? No problem! Check out these ten free online proofreading tools —they’re great for students. However, with most freebies there may be some strings attached. For example, some free proofreading software programs only allow a certain amount of words; while a pain, students can navigate around this by starting projects early and submitting sections to the free programs on different days. There are many great proofreading tips, but here’s an important one: try every program until you find one that’s right for you!
There are many different kinds of proofreading techniques, so we’ll cover the top three proofreading techniques that can help students earn better grades on writing assignments. One of the most important aspects of all good proofreading techniques is ample time. Don’t wait until the last minute to review an assignment. This is an important proofreading tip! Finish the assignment and set it aside for at least 24 hours; then, come back to it with fresh eyes and apply these proofreading tips to earn the best grade you can.
Read it Backwards
Begin with the last sentence and read the whole assignment backwards. This proofreading tip allows your brain to focus on each sentence independently and spot grammar or spelling issues.
Read it for Specific Issues
Review comma rules such as uses commas with coordinating conjunctions or using commas to separate items in a list and read the paper only for comma problems. Then, go back and read the paper a second time for fragments and run-ons, and a third time for the content organization. This proofreading technique allows the brain to really focus and evaluate areas where you may be weaker than others.
Read it to Someone
This proofreading tip involves two people. Sometimes reading a paper aloud allows the ears to catch mistakes; additionally, reading it to someone can provide constructive feedback. Your friend or family member may be able to point out confusing sections you didn’t notice while writing the paper. It’s important to avoid procrastinating — don’t wait until the last minute to beg someone for help! Plan to finish the assignment early so this proofreading tip can be beneficial.
While just one of these proofreading tips can help you improve your writing and earn a better grade, the more proofreading tips you apply to your assignments, the likely the better they’ll be!
Just remember: writing is a process. Your first and second drafts are likely to be riddled with mistakes, and that’s okay. Plan to spend time applying these proofreading tips and you’ll earn the grade you want. Proofreading is a process, and may take a bit of time to master; don’t worry, though, you’re up to the challenge!