Proofreading your own writing can be a difficult enterprise. You’ve read the material so many times that your eye doesn’t catch what can be glaring to an outside reader. Errors or typos are too quickly lost to your own field of vision. After all the hard work of conceptualizing, researching, writing and revising, you want to submit a document that appropriately reflects your efforts.

While most writers rely on outside proofreaders for “high stakes” writing, here are a few tricks that have helped other writers proofread their own work:

1. Increase font size & spacing so that you’re not squinting in this fine-tuned reading.

2. Allow your Word software to work for you! Envisioning a ruler in hand, scour your documents for any automatic notations on your electronic document. Make those changes.

3. Make a hard copy of the document & prepare your desktop for a clean workspace. Begin proofreading:

a. Find a colored pen/pencil to make visible corrections on the copy.
b. Correct sentence level issues: duplicate & misspelled words, phrasing, subject-verb agreement, typos, punctuation, etc.
c. Correct surface issues: title page, margins, paragraph indentations, headers, page numbers, spacing, etc.
d. Transfer all these corrections onto electronic document.

4. Return font size and spacing to original specifications.


Anne Maxham

Director, Antioch University Writers’ Exchange