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How To Spot Common Mistakes When Proofreading Your Essays

Review, rest, and review again! It can be so easy for you to miss even the most obvious spelling, structural, and other mistakes in your recently completed essay. Take the time to step back from your work, and forget about it. Then, call it up again, and look it over with well-rested eyes and a fresh perspective. It will make a huge difference in your ability to spot common mistakes when you proof read your composition.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that get missed when proofreading an essay.

  1. Ensure your introduction is clear and your thesis concise.

    It's not difficult to get caught up in one particular paragraph or argument, and lose sight of the big picture. You should always have prepared an outline. Go back and check to make sure that your thesis has been clearly stated. Have a good starting strategy, stick with it, and keep it simple.

  2. Is your argument clear and your defense well laid out?

    Do your supporting paragraphs do their job? They should provide a definitive defense of the thesis you stated in your introduction. Does each supporting paragraph correspond to a key point made in your introduction? Make sure you have not gotten sidetracked. Make sure there is an example, scientific evidence or historical facts to back up each of the main points that you are making.

    Make sure that you have provided sufficient proof that defends your position, or clearly confirms your analysis. You started with a solid plan. Make sure the finished work sticks with the plan, and that your message gets delivered.

  3. Do you have reliable, properly cited references?

    This is something that can get easily overlooked, but is critical to provide in academic essays. Online websites can provide complete information to ensure that you have correctly cited all of your sources.

  4. Have you checked (and double-checked!) your spelling and grammar?

    With the wide variety of spell-check and grammar-check software available, there is no excuse why mistakes of this kind should lower your grade!

Tips To Make Your Proofread Perfect

  • Leave it be for a while before you go back for review. If time permits, give yourself at least a couple of days. If not, take a walk, have dinner or go for a coffee. Then come back to your essay with a more rested mind.
  • Know you weaknesses. If you are a compulsive rambler, F grade spelling bee participant or not so great at grammar, admit it. Be especially vigilant when checking for errors you know you are prone to make.
  • Read it aloud. It's a great way to pick up on mistakes you may not have noticed as you read through the paper
  • Get an outside opinion. It never hurts to have a fellow student go over your paper "You show me yours, and I'll show you mine". It probable that both papers will be the better for it.