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How to Proof an Essay

When you have typed or printed out your revised and edited essay, give it a final careful inspection to correct errors.

Essay Writing

Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Check your weakest area. If you are a poor speller, highlight any words you are in doubt about. If commas are your nemesis, check all of them. If you confuse word choice, check that.
  2. Check your punctuation carefully. Look over places where you have used semicolons and colons, check for incomplete sentences, and be sure quotation marks and parentheses come in pairs.
  3. Check spelling throughout. If you can, use a computer spelling checker, but remember that such programs are most useful for catching typographical errors. They don't catch important errors in word usage.
  4. Check the format of your paper, including layout. Be sure that titles are italicized and that quotations are indented when appropriate. Also, if this is classroom related, review any guidelines from the teacher.
  5. Get help from your friends. Proofreading can be tedious. When you are reading a paper for the second or third time, it's easy to miss errors. Enlist a fresh eye if you can.


  1. Leave plenty of time before the paper is due for proofreading. Catching glaring errors can often dramatically improve your grade.
  2. If you have a question about word choice, usage, or other language issues, you can usually take advantage of the professor's office hour, the staff at the Writing Center, or many online resources.
  3. Try reading your essay out loud. Hearing the flow of the sentences can often help you to catch mistakes. You may also try reading the paper to a friend and asking him/her to give you feedback.


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