The final stages of the writing process include proofreading and editing, but many writers do not realize these are separate processes. During editing, you should look at the structure and flow of your sentences. When you edit, think about if a sentence fits within a paragraph and if the point is clear. While proofreading, look for errors related to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Everything written for someone else to read should be edited and proofread.

Below are some strategies for you to try. Experiment with different methods until you find one that works well for you or try a combination of strategies.

  1. Take a Break

    Allow yourself some time between writing, editing, and proofreading. Even a five-minute break can be productive because it will allow you some distance from what you have written so you can return to your paper with a fresh eye and mind.
  2. Read Aloud to Yourself

    Reading what you wrote out loud to yourself can help you catch both grammatical errors and awkward organization or development of ideas.
  3. Involve Others

    If you are fortunate to have someone else who can proofread your paper for you, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity. Asking a friend or family member to read your paper will give you another perspective on your writing. Also, a fresh reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
  4. Proofread with a Ruler

    Another technique is to place a ruler or index card under each line of text as you read. Move the ruler down the page, line by line, while you are reading. This proofreading strategy forces you to read the line of text, not the sentence, and can assist you in finding unnecessary words and sentence structure errors.

Other Tools

Use the tools below to maximize your opportunity in learning how to write well.

The Spelling & Grammar Check function in Microsoft Word  can help you quickly find the spelling and grammar mistakes in the Word document. To check for errors, click on the “Spelling & Grammar” button in the “Review” tab of Microsoft Word. Or, if you notice Microsoft Word is underlining your words in red, green, or blue, simply right click on those words and Word will offer you suggestions on how to correct the issue.

Did you know that Microsoft Word can read your paper out loud to you? By using the Speak feature in MS Word, or the Text-to-Speech feature for Macs, your computer can read your paper to you, allowing you to listen for awkward or confusing sentences.

Want feedback on your paper before you turn it in? Submit your paper for review! A writing tutor will review your paper and provide you with feedback and an action plan for revising your paper. Need help submitting or retrieving your paper for review? Visit our Paper Review page.

Need help proofreading your paper for grammar and punctuation errors? Use Grammarly to get instant feedback on where you have errors and how to correct these.