Your essay is 100% perfect. Grammarly has confirmed that the paper is error-free, and you’ve poured a ton of research into the subject matter.
Time to hit that big blue submit button! As you do, your face drains of color. You couldn’t think of what to title the paper, so you used a random placeholder.
You didn’t type in the actual title before turning it in. This is why proofreading is important. Your professor ends up giving you a B on the assignment.
They liked your content, but you got points taken off for your amateur mistake. You also got hit for a few grammar errors that Grammarly didn’t spot. Oops!
Giving a paper one last look over before you turn it in can be time-consuming, but as you can see, it has to be done. Keep reading to learn more about why you should proofread your work as well, as get a few tips that will make the process a lot less tedious.
You Can Be Sure You Included Everything You Wanted to Say
You’re about halfway through your paper when you run out of things that you can say. You still have to type 300 more words! Where are you supposed to find content for that?
Proofread your paper. While you’re checking over it, you may realize that there’s something that you messed. You might be able to elaborate a little further on a particular paragraph.
This little trick won’t only work for padding a paper that’s missing your desired word count. When writing an academic essay, you’ve got to be thorough.
If you don’t convince your professor that you researched the paper, they might take points away from you. You’ll also kick yourself later when you realize that you forgot to put something important in your essay.
It Allows Readers to Focus on the Piece
The main purpose when writing anything is to give your audience some kind of message that they can take away from your piece. This is true no matter if you’re penning an essay or typing up the next New York Times bestseller.
If your piece is covered in errors, what you have to say won’t matter. Each misspelled word and grammar mistake will take the reader out of it.
It shows your audience that you didn’t care enough about your work to run a basic spell-check. It could even make them question if you used credible research sources.
This isn’t what you want. You want the reader to focus on your points and recognize you as a professional in the field that you’re writing about.
You’ll Be Publication Ready
It’s always been your dream to be a published writer. You’ve been working hard at it all your life. After high school, you entered a prestigious college to get your creative writing degree.
As soon as you learn everything you need to know and graduate, you set to work typing up your first novel. It’s a long process, but you eventually get it done to the point where you feel confident about turning it in to a publisher.
After about a week, you get a rejection email. Apparently, you had so many errors that the editor didn’t feel confident enough to push the piece through. Talk about humiliating.
You can bounce back from this. Take a few months to proofread your work before you send it to a different company. You may still get turned down, but ironing out all your errors will improve your chances.
Write the Perfect CV
Most employers require applicants to turn in a cover letter with their resumes. It’s your chance to make yourself look amazing. You get an entire letter to explain to a potential boss why you’re the ideal candidate for their opening.
You can’t afford to mess it up. If you make any big spelling errors or leave out a word or two, your application will end up right in the employer’s trash can. This is true even if English skills aren’t necessary for the job.
If you want to avoid this and get started with your dream career, you’ll need to take a few minutes to proofread your cover letter. Since it’s so vital to your success, do yourself a favor and have a family member look over it as well. You can even go the extra mile by hiring a proofreading service.
Get Amazing Marks in School
You’re sitting in an exam room. Your palms are sweating, and your heart is beating out of your chest. You think you’ve included everything that you needed to say in the essay section, so it’s time to turn it in!
Before you take your paper to the front, give yourself a few moments to look everything over. When it comes to tests, a single point can be the difference between a B and a C. You don’t want to fail over a tiny little spelling mistake.
The same goes for research papers as well. Never turn the first copy in to your teacher. Take a red pen to it first, or seek out a writing tutor on campus.
Make a Good First Impression
Nine times out of ten, when you’re stretching your writing skills, it’s to reach out to someone you’ve never contacted before. You’re writing an important business email or a cover letter to hand to an employer.
Either way, first impressions matter. What you put down on the page tells people a lot about you. If you use crisp formatting with very few mistakes, it shows that you care about what you’re doing.
You took the extra few minutes to read over your work because you’re a professional with high standards.
Be Sure Your Sources Are Credible
There’s more to proofreading than checking your spelling and grammar. Before you turn something in, you also want to go over your sources one more time.
The last thing you want is to use false information from a source that was less than reputable. You wouldn’t use Wikipedia on an academic paper because anyone can go on the site and make edits to the information, for example.
If you’ve confirmed that some of your sources are a little shakey, cross-reference them to make sure you’ve got your information right and fix any false sections.
Be Free From Distractions
Now that you know why you need to look over your work before you turn it in, it’s time to learn how to proofread. The first step is to put yourself in the right environment.
It will be hard to read over your work if you’re in the same room with a loud TV or yelling children. Retreat to the quietest place in your home so you can focus on your paper.
If you’re stuck with a noisy dormmate, leave your room and head to the library to check your essay. You might even be able to book a study room here to serve your purposes.
Read Out Loud
When you’re reading your work, your brain will automatically fill in missing words and commas as you go along. The only way to catch these subtle mistakes is to read your piece out loud.
If you’re still making errors after reading it, plug your work into a software program. You may have to pay for it, but you can trust that it won’t make the same mistakes that your brain does.
Let the Piece Get Cold
Before you begin proofreading your piece, step away from it for a while. When you come back to the paper later, it will almost be like you’ve never seen the work before. You’ll spot a lot more errors.
Speaking of stepping away, it’s also important that you take frequent breaks from your proofreading. No matter if you’re staring at a screen or the tiny words on a printed page, you will lose focus after a while of reading the same thing.
Don’t Focus on Grammar and Spelling Alone
Again, spelling and grammar are important when it comes to writing. A teacher will take points off your paper for a single mistake. Still, this doesn’t mean that you should only focus on the things that Grammarly underlines in red.
You need to look for inconsistencies in formatting as well. If one of your headings is larger than the other ones, this will be enough to pull your reader out of the piece.
If you’re using bullet points, make sure all of them are the same size. Some people will swear by the old trick of increasing the font size of your punctuation.
It will help you reach your page limit when you’re writing an essay, but it will mess with your formatting. There’s a good chance the person reading your paper will take notice.
Take It One Line at a Time
Trying to tackle an entire essay all at once can be overwhelming. If your attention wavers for a minute, you could end up skipping over lines or reading the same ones over and over.
Go over your work line by line instead of paragraph by paragraph. To ensure that your eyes don’t betray you, grab a ruler and use it as a guide.
Take Proofreading Courses
Following the tips that we’ve been over so far will help you improve your editing skills, but they’re no replacement for taking proper online courses for proofreaders. You’ll learn skills that will not only help you with your work but others too.
You’ll be able to take on new job opportunities, which means more money. That is if you choose the right course for your needs.
Go to the instructor’s website to check their credentials. After all, anyone can put up a site and say that they offer classes. You want to get testimonials from other students.
The next thing you want to do is find out what kind of courses the instructor offers. General classes will help, but they may not address your weaknesses.
Let Someone Else Check Over Your Work
Before you turn something in, it’s not a bad idea to hand it to a fresh pair of eyes. You’re attached to your work. You might not be able to distance yourself from it enough to look at it objectively.
Your friends, family members, and colleagues don’t hold such biases. If you live on a college campus, there’s a good chance that they offer writing tutoring services. Don’t be afraid to take your paper to the professionals.
Look for Your Weaknesses
When it comes to writing, everyone has their bad habits. It can be hard to break them unless you’re aware of them. So, before you turn in your next essay, grab your old papers and study the spots that your instructor has underlined with a red pen.
You may notice a pattern. If you’re not in school, don’t worry, you can still use feedback to your advantage. Look back at old rejection emails to try and find your weaknesses.
Don’t Hit That Submit Button Without Proofreading
When it comes to the professional world, there’s nothing more important than proofreading. If you turn in a job application that’s full of typos, your resume will end up in the garbage can.
You won’t make it through school if you don’t take a moment to look over your work before you turn it in, either. Don’t let yourself get another failing grade. Proofread your papers, or when in doubt, have someone else do it for you.
Are you looking for more ways to make it through school and beyond? Visit the Education section of our blog for all the latest tips and tricks.