So many of us focus our writing time on the composing process and forget that the final product deserves a finishing touch. Don’t neglect this final polish that all writing requires if it’s going to be read by another person. If you’re independent and feel capable, go ahead and use this handy list in proofreading your work. Be sure to set aside quality time and avoid distractions as proofreading requires a careful eye and attention to detail. It helps as well to have a hard copy as you go through the document.
- Spelling: Have you used spellcheck and re-read attentively for errors with homophones (e.g., it’s – its, there, their, they’re; too – to, etc.)?
- Missing Words: Have you left out any words (e.g., prepositions, helping verbs, etc.)?
- Minor errors: Have you scanned the paper for the minor errors in spacing, lettering, capitalization, etc.?
- Grammar: Are your sentences and their parts (subject-verb agreement) correct? Capital letters begin sentence? You’ve checked for fragments.
- Punctuation: Do you need to add, correct or delete any marks? Have you checked that you’ve used apostrophes correctly?
- Format: Check the entire document for consistent margins, spacing, paragraphing. Lengthy quotes are indented and citations are done correctly. The citations refer to the reference list.
- Mechanics: Have you checked capitalization, italics, or other matters?
- Check for “fussy” style expectations (e.g., that comma after “e.g.” and the various dashes in APA).
- Know your own errors (from APA style rules to your own idiosyncratic typing errors) & check for them.
- Double-check spelling of research names listed in citations and compare to the references.