Proofreading means reading your paper carefully. Proofreading requires a line-by-line reading of your work.
First, use the following proofreading techniques:
- Read a printed copy. Most people read more accurately when reading type on paper rather than when reading it on a computer screen. Print out your paper in 14-point type so that you can see every word and punctuation mark.
- Place a ruler under each line as you read it so that you must look at only one line at a time.
- After you have read from beginning to end, read again. This time, start at the end of the paper so that you can look at each sentence out of context and as a separate unit.
- Read the paper aloud, very slowly, and distinctly pronounce exactly what you see.
- Read against copy, comparing your final draft one sentence at a time against the edited draft from which you copied it.
- When checking punctuation, circle any mark that seems questionable, and make changes after you have checked a handbook for punctuation rules.
Second, use the following checklist:
- Is all end punctuation used correctly?
- Are commas, colons, semicolon, and dashes used correctly?
- Are apostrophes used when needed?
- Are quotation marks used correctly with other punctuation marks?
- Is capitalization conventional?
- Are all words spelled correctly?
- Are numbers that can be expressed in one or two words spelled out?
- Are figures used for large numbers or exact references?
- Are abbreviations avoided except for titles, names, dates, and some businesses?
- Is the paper free of typographical errors?
- Were any words omitted, repeated, or wrongly copied during the typing of the final draft?
- Does the word at the top of a page correctly follow the word at the bottom of the preceding page?
- Are the following appropriate for your particular writing assignment: margins, type font and size, line spacing, line breaks, indentation?