15 Tips How to Proofread Your Essay Like a Pro

All writers can be divided into two groups: those who love editing and those who hate it. First group quickly sketches the first draft, treating it just like a necessary preliminary procedure. But the real writing for them starts at the time of editing and proofreading. The second group enjoys working on the first draft, creating new ideas and putting words on paper. But when it comes the time to revise their writing they feel uneasy and often postpone the process. No matter which group a person belongs to, all writers agree that proofreading is absolutely necessary. Every essay or any other kind of school or college papers need editing and this article will convince you in that.

Editing is a general term that combines revision, rewriting and proofreading. But they are not the same. Revision is a part of major editing that mostly deals with structural problems. And proofreading is the final step of editing process before the work is sent to readers. It deals with smaller problems like grammar, spelling, word choice, etc. It is good when you know the grammar and punctuation rules, because you will need all that for proofreading your essay. But if your language skill are not so strong but you still need to complete that essay, it would be better for you to order professional proofreading service. Our editor can offer you exceptional quality for a very reasonable price.

Here are some tips that our editors shared with us to help you proofread your own essay like a pro:

  • Print it out. After you finished the first draft of your essay you need to print it out on a regular paper, preferably with double spacing so you could have some space for your notes. Even though modern word processors have a spell-check option it is still very easy to miss a mistake. Having your essay on the paper before you will make you see the structure more clearly and you will be able to leave marks and make as many notes as you like. Another advantage of printing out your essay is that you will have your original version of the text before your eyes and will not lose and forget any words or ideas when crossing them out;
  • Let it rest. If you can afford that it is better to distance yourself from your writing by forgetting about it for some time. For an essay of an average length a week would be enough. But even in extreme situations preferably to sleep on it at least one night. This way you will be able to look at your writing with fresh mind and take an outsiders position;
  • Make an outline. Every writing has to be concise and to the point but academic writing even more. After reading your paper one time you should be able to see main building blocks of your essay. Write an outline of what you read. If there is some part that you can’t give name to or quite understand its purpose then you should revise your essay structure one more time. Repeat it until you will be able to see a clear comprehensive outline behind your essay;
  • Read it out loud. This tip is commonly used by all kinds of writers, from fiction to academic ones. You can read it to somebody or just to yourself. When we write we try to create descriptions applying all our five senses, we should strive to do the same when proofreading what we have written. We read the draft multiple times but we only use our eyes. This way considerably limits our perception. But when we read the paper out loud we use our voice and our ears. Using these ways of perception you can spot some mistakes that you would never notice just reading it with your eyes. If you read it to somebody you will also be able to get some helpful feedback from the listener;
  • Read writing guides. It could be hard to rewrite your own work when you are not sure what problems you are looking for. That’s why before you start fixing smaller mistakes you should read some writing style guides that would give you a lot of helpful advices on good grammar, style and composition. You can use this timeless classics like The Elements of Style;
  • Cut out the excessive. We all tend to be too wordy in our writing, what makes it boring and incomprehensive. So be merciless and cut out everything that serves no particular purpose — any excessive words, sentences or even paragraphs. Avoid leaving something in the text just because it looks beautiful or were choosing that particular for a very long time;
  • Check the word usage. Before you give your essay to the professor of teacher you have to make sure that you used appropriate style and words for your type of paper. For example a research paper on scientific subject would require use of scientific jargon. You have to try to make your paper sound as professionally as possible and avoid using slang words;
  • Get rid of the echoes. Echoes are the words and ideas that were used in the text more than once. In some cases you can just cut out the repeating idea or word, in others you will need to come up with other words to describe it;
  • Avoid negatives and passives. Negatives and passive voice constructions have their place so it doesn’t mean you have to stop using them completely. But too many passives and negatives make writing hard to read. Try to use more positive constructions. Instead of saying “don’t” you can say “avoid, refrain, stay away”. The same with passive voice — try to use activate as many of your verbs as possible. It will enliven your language;
  • Circle your verbs. Verb is the most active element of the language, so a lot depends on the choice of the right verbs. On your printed out copy circle all the verbs. In some cases you might need to find a more precise verb, get rid of passive voice, gerund or negative;
  • Circle your adjectives. The adjectives have a descriptive function. They help us to envision what is written. But too many adjectives can make the writing sound weak and passive. In some cases try to replace the adjective with a more precise noun, in some with a stronger more appropriate adjective. For this you will need the assistance of good thesaurus;
  • Cut out the adverbs. The same as with verbs and adjectives you have to keep your adverbs in healthy balance. In most of the cases an adverb can be completely cut out without any harm to the text or replaced by a precise verb. For example instead of saying “he walked very slowly” you can say “he crept, crawled or tiptoed”. Consult an online dictionary for precise meaning of words;
  • Use online tools. If you think it is too exhausting and time consuming to go through all of this proofreading steps one by one then you might find some online tools helpful. There are literary hundreds of editing and proofreading tools on the Internet. Some of them are free, some require a paid subscription. We would recommend you to try these two: ProWritingAid, HemingwayApp. You can read more about other online editing tools in this article;
  • Beta readers. Even after going carefully through all of the above steps and putting your essay through every possible online editing tool, your essay most likely still will have some mistakes. It has nothing to do with your grammar knowledge. Just after reading your paper so many times your eyes just get used to seeing the mistakes and your brain doesn’t signal you about them anymore. This is why you need to trust somebody else to read your essay. It can be your friend or relative but it would be the most beneficial to your writing if you use professional proofreading service;
  • Formatting. After you fixed all structural, grammatical and punctuation errors, it is time to take care of the general look of your essay. Don’t take this step too lightly because wrong formatting can fail even the best written essay. Formatting for your essay is like a dress code for a person — if you come to a Nobel Prize ceremony in your pajamas nobody will listen to your genius ideas. The formatting type depends on the type of educational establishment you attend and it must be given to you beforehand by your teacher or professor.

Judging from the above tips you might come to a conclusion that proofreading your own essay can be very time consuming and complicated task. If you decide to do your own editing, you will find more useful information in this post. High quality editing and proofreading involves many steps, extensive knowledge of grammar and a lot of experience. You can receive all of that online at our web site. Read this free sample to get an idea how we work.