eGuide: Proofreading

Last updated: November 2018

Mistakes in grammar and spelling are an easy way to lose marks so it is important to proofread work before submitting. Better safe than sorry: proofreading your work (University of Manchester Library) is an excellent guide explaining proofreading techniques.

Proofreading checklist:

  • Spelling – read through the text and check for mistakes; don’t just use spellchecker.
  • Grammar – make sure you are using the correct grammar. For help on grammar, spelling and punctuation see Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation (University of Bradford) and Thinking about grammar (University of Reading).
  • Meaning – does your sentence/paragraph make sense? Could you explain your point more simply? When reading through your work consider whether your point will be easily understood. To make your point clearer, it may be helpful to divide your comment into smaller sentences.
  • Presentation – check the margins, line spacing and font meet the required guidelines.

You should also check you are:

  • Meeting the criteria
  • Answering the question
  • Structuring effectively – e.g. the introduction and conclusion reflect the main essay content.
  • Referencing– check you are using the correct style and being consistent. For information see our eGuide: Citing references. Find questions to ask yourself when checking your references at University of Bedfordshire.
  • Varying your phrases – notice if you are using the same words, phrases and linking words within your work. Find alternatives in the Academic Phrasebank (University of Manchester).


How to proofread successfully

  • Read the text out loud. You will hear errors. If it is difficult to say, doesn’t flow well within the paragraph or just sounds odd, consider ways to rephrase your point.
  • Print your assignment – seeing the essay in a different format will help you notice the mistakes. Perhaps use a ruler and focus on each line at a time.
  • Read the essay backwards.
  • Take a break – leave time between completing your essay and proofreading.
  • Ask someone else to proofread – sometimes it is helpful to have another person proofread your work. If you receive help, it is important to follow the rules set out by the University of Cambridge.


More top tips can be found at Effective proofreading (University of Reading) and Revising, editing and proofreading your work (University of Leeds).

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