Proofreading is a vital and often overlooked academic skill that can improve the quality of your written work at university and beyond. But there is more to proofreading than just checking your work. This workshop will introduce you to some of the main things to watch out for when you are proofreading and some useful strategies to make sure that you are getting the most out of your proofreading and producing polished written work.

Proofreading is the process of checking text for errors and mistakes. It commonly concentrates on aspects of writing such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation; but more in-depth proof-reading might also pick out questions of tone, genre, and structure. In much academic work, you will also need to check the presentation of citations.

For something that’s apparently straight-forward, proofreading can be deceptively tricky. It's a real challenge to find grammatical or spelling errors in text, especially in writing with which you’re very familiar – your eye and your brain know what they expect to find, so they don't pay close attention to what is actually there. This is why it can help to leave written work for a day or two before proof-reading it; some even suggest reading pages from the bottom up to keep your concentration sharp.

Proofreading is important in all writing because it’s frequently the small details that matter. You don’t want your reader, whether that’s a lecturer, a potential employer, or anyone else, to be distracted by errors on the surface of your text. You want them to engage with all the good things you have to say.

Want to find out more about proofreading your own work? Watch our videos to learn some top tips:

What to Look For When Proofreading
This short video will highlight the most important things to watch out for during the proofreading process.

How to Proofread Your Own Work
This short video will offer some suggestions on how to make the most of the proofreading process to produce high quality written work.

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Academic Skills Certificate

Top Tips
  • Don’t proofread until you’re completely finished with the actual writing and editing.
  • Make sure you have no distractions or potential interruptions.
  • Forget the content or story.
  • Make several passes for different types of errors.
  • Take notes.
  • If you do make a last-minute change to a few words, be sure to check the entire sentence or even paragraph over again.
  • Check facts, dates, quotes, tables, references, text boxes, and anything repetitive or outside of the main text separately.
  • Monitor yourself.
  • Get familiar with your frequent mistakes.
  • Check format last.
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