Proofreading help: checking grammar and punctuation

Let's face it, proofreading is about finding mistakes. If there are two essays which have been equally well researched and written with one subjected to an outstanding proofreader and the other not so, you know that one will get a higher mark than the other. Now there are a number of aspects to proofreading including answering the question and getting the structure right. But one of the major failings of many students in their proofreading is not checking the grammar and punctuation.

Here are some ways to make sure you get those aspects of your essay writing corrected:

  1. there are free software programs to help you
  2. zoom in on the screen
  3. print your essay
  4. read your writing aloud
  5. don't get tired
  6. get help

Most computers come with software which is designed to find spelling and punctuation errors. You need to be sure that the spell check has the right version of English for your college and you need to be sure that you do not necessarily accept every change they suggest.

If you are proofreading your work on a computer screen or tablet, increase the zoom factor of your writing to as high as possible. If there are mistakes you want to be able to spot them easily and with fewer words on the screen any errors can more easily be spotted.

It's probably better that you print your essay and do your proofreading from a printed page. It is easier on the eyes and you can move the paper to whatever position best suits you. And if you are doing that, reading aloud what you have written rather than reading silently is recommended as a way of spotting spelling and punctuation errors.

But just like when you are writing your essay, if you are physically or mentally tired you will not be at your best. So if it comes to proofreading and you are weary or feeling off-colour, chances are you will not spot the mistakes. Make sure you are fit and well and up for the task. If necessary do the proofreading in short spells and take a break. Get up and move around and take your mind off the task before resuming.

There are professional online companies which will edit and proofread your work or for a fee. If the work is of such importance that you think this is justified, then certainly consider that possibility. However it is also possible to show your work to a fellow student, a friend or family member and ask them to do this basic proofreading for you.