MAKE IT PERSONAL
Become familiar with the mistakes you most commonly make: Review your instructor's comments on your paper. Ask a friend to read over your work and see if there are repetitious errors. Work with a coach in the Writing Center to assist you in identifying your types of errors. Once you know the types of errors you tend to make, double check for those first.
GENERAL TIPS FOR PROOFING
Use specific strategies to find and correct particular errors. Search systematically for one type of error at a time. Try these tips to improve your accuracy:
- Punctuation errors:Circle or highlight every punctuation mark. This forces you to look at each mark and how it is used./li>
- Spelling errors:Read the paper backwards: start with the last word of your paper and work your way back to the first word. Read each word separately, so the content, punctuation and grammar won't interfere. Keep a dictionary handy. Be careful when using the spell check on your computer. It can tell you if the word is spelled correctly, but it does not know if it is the correct use./li>
- Using the correct word for the meaning of the sentence:Double check commonly confused words, such as, its/it's, their/ there/they're, where/were, who's/whose. your/you're.
- Read the paper out loud:Since the mind works faster than the fingers during the writing process, some writers make unconscious errors. Read actually what is on the page, not what you think is there. Place a card or ruler below the line you are reading. This ensures you stay focused.
- Have another person read your paper.
- If possible, wait several hours, or a day, after writing before you proofread. It is also helpful to proofread in several short blocks of time, rather than all at once.
- Sentence Fragments
- Run-on Sentences
- Consistency Problems
- Agreement Problems: subject/verb-pronoun/antecedent
- Faulty Parallelism
- Dangling Modifiers
The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.~ Robert Cormier