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Basic Grammar and Punctuation

An AARC writing resource

How To Proofread For Errors

Proofreading can be difficult because your mind remembers what you meant and doesn't always see what you actually wrote. However, there are some ways to shake up your perception so you can see your paper with fresh eyes and spot any errors.

1) Work ahead. The best way to see your paper fresh is to walk away from it for a few days. This means you need to have your rough draft finished a week before it is due.

2) Listen to your teachers. If your teachers say you have run-on sentences, then look for run-on sentences. Take advantage of their expertise!

3) Plan to read your paper several times – see the tabs above for each different challenge:

  1. Look for sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
  2. Check to make sure you have used the correct verb.
    • Does your verb agree with your subject?
    • Do you stay in the same tense throughout?
  3. Check that you use pronouns correctly.
    • Is it clear who or what you refer to?
    • Have you used the correct form?
  4. Check for commonly confused words such as their, there, and they're.
  5. Check your punctuation.

4) Always run spell-checker AND grammar checker. It won’t catch every error, but it can compare a paper space by space to an established standard.

For a fresh read of your paper, reset your editor - 

5) Read your paper out loud. Saying the words out loud forces you to slow down and look at what your eyes skip over.

6) Circle your suspects. If you’re prone to run-on sentences, circle every comma in the paper. This also works for verb or pronoun problems.

You can also use Search and Replace in Word to substitute an exclamation point for each comma so you can easily spot and evaluate them. 

7) Use a ruler. Place a ruler or blank piece of paper under each line as you read. This is a good technique if you find a whole page of text overwhelming.

8) Read from the bottom up. Using a ruler as a guide, start reading from the bottom of your paper. Read the last sentence, then the next to last. Reading your sentences out of order helps you focus on structure instead of content.

9) Get a second opinion. Submit your paper to the OWL-Online Writing Lab in D2L or come to the AARC!