Good writing is more than just putting words on paper. It’s a process that involves planning what you’re going to write, deciding how to write it, drafting, proofreading, and revising your work. Whether writing in a first or second language, good writing takes time and effort.

Effective proofreading is a skill that becomes easier with practice. Here’s how you can improve your proofreading process:

How to Proofread

  1. Take a Break: After finishing your writing, take a break. Leaving time between writing and proofreading allows you to see your work with fresh eyes. Ideally, leave it for at least a day. If that’s not possible, do something different for a few minutes—go for a walk, make a cup of coffee, or take a short nap.

  2. Read Aloud: Read your work aloud, either to yourself or to a friend. Reading aloud slows you down, making you less likely to skip over words. If you’re in an exam, mouth the words without sound. This technique helps you spot mistakes more effectively.

  3. Change Presentation: If you’re working on a computer, changing the font, colour or size or your type may help.
  4. Know Your Common Mistakes: Pay attention to the types of mistakes you commonly make. Language teachers often use marking symbols to highlight errors in your written work. Do you frequently make punctuation mistakes? Forget to use the third person “s”? Mix up prepositions? Neglect plurals? Have issues with tenses or passive structures? Focus on one area at a time, starting with the most frequent errors, and then move on to the next type. Keep past feedback handy—previous mistakes are valuable learning tools.

  5. Ask for Help: If you’re writing a paper, ask a friend to read over it for you. A second pair of eyes can catch mistakes you might have missed.

Do you have any tips for proofreading that work for you?

Proofreading is an invaluable skill for all writers. By taking the time to carefully review your work, you can improve your writing, enhance your language skills, and present your best self in every piece of writing you produce. Happy proofreading!